Sometimes in life you hope that if you ignore something enough, it’ll just go away and you won’t have to ever address it. But then it continues to hang around and keep rearing its ugly head. Finally you realize you have to address the problem. This is the case with Kane Brown. Just like Sam Hunt before him, I was hoping he would just be a one-hit wonder or ideally a no-hit wonder before fading off into the sunset. While Brown has yet to score a major hit at radio, it’s looking inevitable. So now I have to talk about the self-proclaimed “Justin Bieber of country music,” which by the way is one of the worst self-descriptions I’ve ever heard. Brown has had a “meteoric rise” over the past year by going viral on Facebook and streaming services. It comes off as a whole rags-to-riches story. At least that’s what Brown wants you to think. The real story is Brown and his manager Jay Frank used a giant shell game to manufacture his rise and parlay it into a major label deal with Sony Music Nashville. Basically Brown found holes in the system, exploited them fully and convinced a bunch of executives he’s a rising, marketable talent. Now with major label backing, Brown is set to add further to the destruction of country radio with his current single, “Used To Love You Sober.”
After listening to this song, I can see why he calls himself the Justin Bieber of country music. Brown’s basically ripping off Bieber’s style, as he goes for the same brooding, pseudo dark vibe that Bieber has been using in his recent singles. Brown is trying to paint himself as this sensitive badass, which I’m sure the more gullible female listeners will eat right up. Really he’s just another con-man exploiting the current popularity of country music because he knows if he went to the pop genre he would be forever irrelevant. But on Music Row ripping off other genres is their go to business plan. Brown’s voice isn’t completely terrible like Tucker Beathard or Sam Hunt, as he isn’t unlistenable like Beathard nor always flat like Hunt. But one thing he shares with Hunt is a complete lack of charisma. Brown’s voice completely bores me. The song itself is about a man coping with his woman leaving him by drinking away his pain. This isn’t a bad theme, but the instrumentation and Brown’s vocals do not match up with it. The lyrics make the song sound sad, yet Brown shows no emotion in his voice to express this (hence why he bores me) and the instrumentation has a standard pop sound. It’s a very thrown together song that does nothing to connect with the listener.
Overall “Used To Love You Sober” is at best a very ho-hum, boring song that belongs more in pop than country. At worst it’s a terrible attempt at appearing to be sensitive and emotional, when really it’s just another douche anthem that Sam Hunt has championed at country radio over the last year or so. I’m sure fans of Affliction and Ed Hardy t-shirts will disagree with me though. The one surprising conclusion I’ve come to about Kane Brown is that he isn’t definitively the worst artist at country radio, which is pretty sad considering Brown is a boy band reject from The X-Factor. The only way this isn’t a hit at country radio this summer is if the major country radio companies go under beforehand (possible) or if radio decides to embrace the Stapleton wave (doubtful). Either way, “Used To Love You Sober” is a bad song that could be worse, but not much worse.