Song Review: Jordan Davis, “Singles You Up”

Move over, Jake Owen—you’ve got company.

Jordan Davis is a Lousiana native who signed with UMG Nashville back in 2016, but just released his debut single “Singles You Up” (which is apparently a phrase he and his co-writers invented) last month…and after over a year of preparation, this is the best song they could find?! I’m not going to mince words here: This song is a sleazy, tone-deaf, Metro-Bro pile of garbage that immediately displaces Dustin Lynch’s “Small Town Boy” as my least favorite single of 2017. It’s tone and theme are eerily similar to Owen’s disgusting “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You,” and the only question left is whether it can surpass Owen as the worst-reviewed song on this blog.

The production here is a standard-and-unabashed Metropolitan mix that features slick-sounding guitars and uses a drum machine for its foundation. It follows the “acoustic verses, electric chorus” pattern seen in a lot of songs these days, but the former is much more pronounced in its role while the latter tends to get pushed into the background (it even gets overshadowed by Davis during its bridge solo). To its credit, the mix establishes a bright, energetic atmosphere that is easy on the ears (even if it doesn’t really match the tone of the lyrics), and it embraces its modern sound by not including even a token banjo, steel guitar, or any other “country” instrument in the mix. Truth be told, the production is probably the high point on the song…but it all goes downhill from here.

Davis himself sounds pretty “meh” to me. There are shades of Sam Hunt in his voice (although his delivery is more traditional than Hunt’s talk-singing approach), and his flow on the faster lyrics is impressive, but otherwise his sound is pretty unexceptional. His biggest flaw is his lack of vocal charisma: Unlike Owen, Davis is just not terribly believable is the narrator’s role here. While that mostly works in Davis’s favor on this track (he doesn’t come across quite as sleazy as Owen did), when he drops a line like “I’m sorry if I’m overstepping boundaries,” you don’t buy his apology at all.

And then we get to the writing, and it’s beyond terrible. At its core, the song is a copy of “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You”: The narrator decides to hit on a girl who already has a boyfriend, saying to look him up if the relationship goes south. Here are my problems with the song.

  • No consideration is ever given to the woman’s feelings and/or decision process. The narrator completely ignores the possibility that she’s “sippin’ white wine instead of whiskey” and being “a little more city” because that’s just what she wants to do,  leaving the narrator looking shallow and self-serving. It reminds me a lot of Lee Brice’s clueless “That Don’t Sound Like You,” where the narrator just attributes any undesired changes to their girlfriend to the evil guy she’s with. Word to the wise, guys: The trend in country music right now is to give women more respect, not less.
  • There’s no indication that the relationship the narrator is targeting is on the rocks. The only evidence offered by the narrator is that the guy isn’t looking at the woman enough and doesn’t sing along to her favorite song. It’s not enough to convince me that the woman needs to be saved from a bad relationship, and it makes the narrator come off like a slimy douchebag trying to break up a seemingly-solid relationship.
  • The opening line “I ain’t heard you laugh like that in a long time” indicates that this is not a spur-of-the-moment outburst, but rather something the singer has been thinking about for a long time. It amps up the creepy factor and makes you wonder “Is this guy just stalking this girl hoping she sees the light and hooks up with him?”
  • It’s a minor nit, but the made-up title/hook is confusing enough to ask Google what the heck it means (which failed, by the way). Encouraging people to dig deeper into this lyrical mess is not going to help matters.

There’s no blatant sexual innuendo here, but the Bro-Country undertones bleed through this song like a Sloppy Joe overflows its bun. Pair all of this with Davis’s inability to elevate the concept to something respectable, and you’ve got a narrator who comes off as creepy, selfish, and unsympathetic (not to mention unoriginal), and that’s a really bad look for a singer, especially on a debut single.

Quite frankly, “Singles You Up” has no business being on country radio in 2017. With its overly-modern production, Bro-Country attitude, and unremarkable vocal performance, the label should have voted this one down and told Jordan Davis “Try again, dude.” I wouldn’t rank it ahead of “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You” in terms of outright awfulness, but it deserves a place right next to it in Kyle’s Country Music Hall of Infamy.

Rating: 2/10. Avoid this like the plague.