Song Review: Joe Nichols, “Undone”

It’s almost 2017, which means it’s about time for Joe Nichols to become relevant again…except that he’s not.

If you plotted Nichols’s career on a graph, it would resemble a sine wave: He catches fire for a single or two, drops back into forgettable mediocrity, and then just when you’re about to stick a fork in his career, he catches fire again and the cycle repeats itself. He’s on the downward swing of this wave right now (his last two singles have missed the top twenty on Billboard’s airplay chart), and I don’t see “Undone,” the second single off of his yet-to-be-released new album, changing this trajectory.

On the production side, there’s nothing terribly bad here—it’s the standard-issue blend of acoustic and synthetic instruments that you’ll find on most modern country songs. However, instead of setting the sort of sexy mood demanded by the lyrics, the music sets an  unsettling, almost foreboding tone that doesn’t fit the song at all. Above all, however, the production comes off as generic and forgettable, and doesn’t leave much of an impression either way.

The lyrics are…well, the guy wants to get with the girl and get it on. The song is just one of a surprisingly-large group of un-sexy sex jams in country music today, and the bland, uninteresting lyrics do nothing to separate this song from the rest of the pack. The sole memorable moments are the possibly-unintentional R-rated double-entendres—for example, the phrase “baby you know how to make me come [undone]” generated a few snickers in the YouTube comments.

Nichols is a skilled vocalist and normally has the chops and charisma to sell his material, but his attempts to make this song sound sultry completely miss the mark. The combination of uninspired lyrics and sterile production prove to be too much for Nichols to overcome. (Also, either I need to invest in a better sound system, or they auto-tuned the heck out of Nichols’s vocals. If the latter is true, it makes no sense—Nichols is one of the better singers in the genre, so why would you ever mess with that?)

Overall, “Undone” is a boring, inoffensive song that elicits no emotional response from the listener, and will likely be nothing more than radio filler. For his sake, Joe Nichols had better find some stronger material to work with soon, or the only thing coming “Undone” will be his career.

Rating: 5/10. I could take it or leave it, but I’ll most likely forget it.

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