Unfortunately for Jake Owen, it seems that the winds of change in country music are not blowing in his direction.
Owen’s last single “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You” currently holds the record for the worst rating I’ve ever given a song, and the track mercifully ended up crashing and burning in the high 30s on the Billboard airplay chart. With the genre shifting back towards more-traditional material and Owen himself on record saying that he’d like to “make music that means something to people,” (granted, he said that before releasing “Real Life” and “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You”) I wondered whether Owen would take this opportunity to release something deeper and more substantial to country radio. Instead, we got “Good Company,” a sleazy island-flavored track that finds Owen plowing the same old ground he’s been working for the last decade.
Production-wise, this song sound like what would happen if Jimmy Buffett decided to try his hand at Bro-Country. The melody is shared between an electric guitar and a ukulele, the percussion is a mixture of real, synthetic, and island-flavored drums, and a horn section is draped over the whole thing for flavor. The mix is going for a relaxed, easy-going vibe, but it’s a little too uptempo to capture that feel, and the prominence of the horns and the electric guitar’s bright tones makes the song feel a bit sleazy, like it was stolen from the soundtrack of a pornographic film. Unfortunately, the seedy feel of the track doesn’t stop at the production, and instead seeps into the rest of the song.
To be fair, Owen isn’t really the reason this song veers into the ditch—in fact, he’s probably the only redeeming part of the song. He demonstrates good range, a decent flow, and his exceptional vocal charisma is on full display. The problem, however, is that his charisma works against him just as it did on “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You,” as he seems a bit too believable as a lazy beach bum who wants (nay, demands) a beer to drink and a girl to make out with.
If Owen is the highlight of the song, the lyrics are definitely the lowlight. Just take a look at this poetry:
We’re in good company
Yeah, the only thing missing
Is a pretty girl sitting next to me
Kissing up on me, and I got a spot waiting on you
So B.Y.O.B, it means bring yourself over, babe
Got what we need to make good vibes, good times
And a damn good memory
We’re in good company
Yeah, yeah we’re in good company
It’s not Florida-Georgia-Line “Sun Daze” bad, but it’s pretty close.
The narrator comes off as a real creep here, and while he’s not as bad as the girlfriend-stealing slimeball from “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You,” his requests to the object of his affection to “kiss up” on him and jump in the pool sound more like orders than suggestions. (Also, the references to other people being around make the whole event sound like one giant orgy.) Combine the sub-par lyrics with the sleazy production, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster no matter who the singer is. Owen’s been putting out party material like this his entire career (“Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Beachin'”), but his parties are rarely this bad.
Overall, “Good Company” is a step up from “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You,” but it’s still a pretty bad song, and it feels very dated and out of place on the radio today. (It’s more “Outta Style” than even Aaron Watson’s dated pop culture references.) It’s a sleazy summer jam surrounded by much better competition, so do yourself a favor and find some better company than this track.
Rating: 4/10. Skip it.