The song may be called “Losing Sleep,” but it’s really a warning about what happens when a song loses focus.
Chris Young took a fair bit of heat for his last album I’m Comin’ Over, as several critics found the project to be incredibly bland and generic. Young had the last laugh, however, as all three singles ended up topping the Billboard airplay charts (and the last of the three, “Sober Saturday Night,” wound up as one of my favorites songs of 2016). “Losing Sleep” is billed as the leadoff single for Young’s next album, and while it bears some similarities to Young’s last leadoff single “I’m Comin’ Over,” the song is not nearly as effective because it is confused as to what sort of song it’s supposed to be.
The primary offender is the production, which is of two minds here. The song opens with a slick-sounding electric guitar and some synthetic percussion, establishing a sensual atmosphere and positioning the song as a run-of-the-mill sex jam (and unlike a lot of sex jams I’ve reviewed, this one actually sounded sexy). Once the song hits the chorus, however, it suddenly cranks up the volume and energy levels, and the listener is suddenly hit with heavier (real) drums and louder, in-your-face guitars. The abrupt change completely ruins the mood set by the first verse, and instead makes the song sound like more of an uptempo country-rock jam. The pattern repeats itself on the second verse and chorus: the sexy atmosphere returns, and then gets squashed again. The bridge tries to split the difference by turning down the guitars a little, but by then the damage is done, and the listener has absolutely no idea what to make of the track. It feels like the song is trying to be two different things simultaneously, but it doesn’t wind up as much of either one, and leaves me feeling ambivalent about the whole thing by the end.
The writing here isn’t all that impressive either, as the lyrics (which describe the narrator’s desire to make love with his partner) feel vague and generic through most of the song:
Light a candle
Turn all the lights down low
Baby let’s just lose control, lose control
I can handle
Every single curve, you know
That I love you, let me show you
It’s not irritating or offensive by any means, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve heard it all before (and that “every single curve” line feels like a direct callback to Sam Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road”). The main hook also feels a bit awkward, as the repeated “when we’re losing” phrase feels a bit out of place and adds more confusion to the mix than anything else. On the whole, the lyrics aren’t awful, but they’re not terribly interesting either.
The track’s one redeeming factor is Young himself, as he delivers yet another standout performance on this song. Young is inarguably one of the best singer in the genre today, and where the lyrics come off as bland by themselves, he does an impressive job of selling the story and adding a desperately-needed dose of emotion and sensuality. However, he also dutifully follows the production’s abrupt shift in tone on the chorus, further squandering the song’s potential as a sexy mood-setter. While he certainly sounds both excellent and believable in the narrator’s role, his vocal’s are not enough to salvage this song and leave a meaningful impression on his listeners.
Overall, “Losing Sleep” is a song that isn’t quite sure what it wants to be, and thus it misses its chance to be much of anything. Had Chris Young and his team just picked a direction and stuck with it, this song could have had some real impact and personality, or at the very least could have been “I’m Comin’ Over, Part 2.” As it is, however, it’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” that succeeds at being just one thing: Forgettable.
Rating: 5/10. Don’t lose any sleep over this one—you’re not missing anything.