Remember when Jason Aldean cared? I know it can be hard to remember with all of the bro country hits and his brief dip into hick hop, but he used to release at least decent music. Now he’s pretty much mailing it in and his newest single “Any Ol’ Barstool” perfectly exemplifies this. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a bad song at all. But after listening to it I’m left wondering if this is really it. Of course this was the whole problem with his latest album They Don’t Know. Every song sounds interchangeable and vanilla. “Any Ol’ Barstool” is no different. The song itself is a breakup song with the man left drinking at a bar in the aftermath, telling us to ask any barstool what he’s been up to. It’s a perfectly fine theme, but it fails to standout because nothing is really expanded upon once we’re presented the story. Again, where’s the rest of the song? As a result the song just feels so generic and listless. Right after it ends I forget about it. The production is your standard Aldean sound. It’s drifting somewhere between banal arena rock and pop country sensibilities, although something extra is actually added this time with some lingering, soft pedal steel guitar in the background. It gives the song some warmth, but it’s not enough to cover up the songs flaws and issues. Maybe a few years ago he would have cared enough to make this song good, but he knows like the rest of us that he can mail in these average songs and watch country radio play the shit out of this all of the way to #1. Fans will continue to buy his music. Rinse, wash and repeat.
Recommend? – Meh
Written by Deric Ruttan and Josh Thompson
You know I was really wanting to like Blake Shelton again. I thought for sure that Shelton’s divorce from fellow country music superstar Miranda Lambert was the kind of life-changing event that would make him pursue more serious music. After all a divorce is quite serious and something that makes you experience a plethora of emotions. Many artists harness these emotions to create beautiful music. But Blake Shelton? It’s pretty much business as usual with him. This comes after I wrote a lengthy piece on why Shelton deserved another chance and how he could easily realize his full potential again. He could still accomplish this on his album set to come out on May 20, titled If I’m Honest. But if the lead single “Came Here To Forget” is an indication of what the album will be like, then it will definitely fall short.
“Came Here To Forget” is your typical pop and R&B influenced “country” song that isn’t really country. You’ll notice the drum machine loops right away and realize this is just a continuation of Shelton’s painfully boring last album Bringing On The Sunshine. There is absolutely zero heart or soul in the music. It’s robotic, formulaic, paint-by-the numbers in the production, lyrics and instrumentation. And keep in mind this is a sad, drinking song when there’s nothing about the song that attempts to be sad except the cliché lyrics. A country music heartbreak song needs to be emotional and pull at a listeners’ heartstrings. It’s something Shelton is capable of doing. But here all he does is put you to sleep. While his vocals sound good, he sounds completely uninterested throughout the song.
But you know what the biggest problem is with this song? It’s what Shelton had to say about it leading up to its release. In several interviews he said the song was personal and said stuff like this in an interview with Country Countdown USA:
I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, and that’s put all I’ve gone through and put it into music, and I never felt more connected to a record before. When people hear this record, they may not know what happened to me, but they’re gonna know how I felt about it. And that’s exciting for me, to just lay it out there for people.
There’s absolutely nothing personal about this single, except maybe the line about “getting even with her.” We all got to see this lat year at the CMA Awards, which completely backfired in Shelton’s face as he looked like a huge jackass for pulling such a stunt at one of country music’s biggest events of the year. But can you really even say this line was personal? It’s arguable because Blake Shelton had nothing to do with writing this song. You see when someone has a personal song I like to think they wrote it. When I think of a personal song I think of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” which he wrote for his wife. I think of Sturgill Simpson’s “Turtles All The Way Down,” where Sturgill writes and sings about his journey of taking drugs and realizing that love is all you really need. These are personal songs. “Came Here To Forget” was written by Craig Wiseman and Deric Ruttan, who were also responsible for writing one of the worst country songs ever, “Boys ‘Round Here.” I think that says all you need to know about these writers and this song.
Blake Shelton’s “Came Here To Forget” is generic garbage that is devoid of emotion and any semblance of a true country heartbreak song. I’m sure this song is guaranteed to be a hit because Blake Shelton fans don’t have standards and will eat up anything he puts out. Secondly, Shelton is one of the select group of artists that is in country radio’s back pocket and that guarantees him a lot of airplay. There’s not much else to say. You’re better off avoiding this song and listening to almost anything else. Sam Hunt songs at least incite rage. “Came Here To Forget” just makes you wish you had that three minutes and 40 seconds of your life back.
David Nail is an artist who hasn’t had the most consistent success with his singles. The man has three top-ten singles under his belt, with “Let It Rain” topping the charts in 2011, and “Whatever She’s Got” getting to number 1 on the Country Airplay in 2013. But in between each top ten is a single release that didn’t clip the top 20. You can listen to his albums and tell that David Nail has the desire to make good music and not rely completely on mainstream trends. With Nail gearing up for a new album release, he’s dropped his first single from the forthcoming record with “Night’s on Fire.”
You can sort of guess what this song consists of: it’s a trendy song about nighttime love. Nail is driving his lady around on a Friday night until she’s ready to pull over and steam up the windows. Writers Jonathan Singleton and Deric Ruttan do offer more descriptions of the night than what you’d find in a Florida Georgia Line song with lines like: “Sunset melts all the blue away, blackbird watching on the telephone wire” or “River of stars close enough to touch.” The other good thing you could say about the song is that there’s no mention of the cornfield or backwoods, per say. The only description of the location we have is “off the highway.” The production, however, relies a bit too much on the modern trends. Firstly, I find the “oh oh oh’s” throughout the song to be quite obnoxious. It gives the song a heavy pop feel and reminds me quite a bit of Hunter Hayes’ “21.” Toss in a second verse that adds in overproduced musical effects behind Nail’s vocals and “Night’s on Fire” becomes a full-fledged pop song.
“Night’s on Fire” just sounds too familiar and too unoriginal. There’s a bit more effort in the writing to describe the night more than what’s happening in the parked truck off the highway, but the song is very much another anthem about hooking up with someone in the truck on a summer Friday night. Nail’s vocals are good here, and he sings the song well enough to relay the passion and excitement back to listener. However, it’s just not enough to make an overdone story sound fresh. “Night’s on Fire” is just too common a song. Hopefully it’s only an attention gainer for his album.