Does Dan + Shay have any sort of core musical philosophy? Because it feels like they’re just flinging songs at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Dan + Shay kicked off their Obsessed album with the ready-made wedding ballad “From The Ground Up,” then pulled a complete 180 with their melancholy followup “How Not To” (a No. 1 single that seems to have already been forgotten). For the album’s third single, the duo has switched gears again by releasing the Bro-sounding summer anthem “Road Trippin'” (which will actually see its meaningful chart life happen after the summer), and frankly, it’s a major step backwards from their last few singles.
The production here is very reminiscent of Florida-Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” with its bombastic synthetic beat, rock-band guitars, and even a token banjo for good measure. The off-brand Bro-Country sound is a jarring transition from the restrained country-pop sound of “How Not To,” and it doesn’t fit Dan + Shay’s style nearly as well. The song strives to give off a fun, carefree vibe, but it fails because its tones are too dark (especially the guitars), its tempo is too slow, and its minor chords introduce too much uncertainty. Of all the songs I want blasting from my speakers as I cruise down the highway in a convertible, this one is pretty low on the list.
Lead singer Shay Mooney’s Gary LeVox impression is the clear high point of the song, as it’s the only thing providing the bright, fun-sounding tone that the song requires. While Mooney’s low range doesn’t sounds as full or rich as LeVox’s, he can match the Rascal Flatts singer note-for-note in his upper range, and the song wisely keeps Mooney there for the choruses and bridge. (However, he sounds a bit awkward when the song stress-tests his flow during the fast-rapping portions of the chorus.) Most importantly, Mooney sounds like he’s having a good time singing the song, and he has the vocal charisma to pass that energy and enjoyment on to his listeners.
The song itself is basically a man trying to sell his significant other on the prospect of a fun road trip, describing all the things they could do. Unfortunately, the imagery here is all bland and boilerplate, mostly checking off the usual things you’d here in a Bro-Country tune. (Nighttime driving? Check. Imbibing a libation or two? Check. Skinny-dipping in a river? Check.) While it omits the overt misogyny of most Bro-Country tunes, it still feels like a song we’ve heard a hundred times before. (In particular, Lonestar’s “What About Now” did a much better job covering this topic back in the day.) In addition, the rap sections here feel really out of place, and the constant repetition of the title phrase (“Row-whoa-whoa-whoa trippin’, trippin’, trippin'”) gets old fast. Combine this with the poor production, and you’ll be reaching for the “Skip” button pretty quickly.
Overall, “Road Trippin'” is a disappointing song that missed its relevance window by a few years. The writing is forgettable, the production is generic and aritifical, and the vocals aren’t enough to cover its flaws. I thought that Dan + Shay had some “potential staying power” after hearing “How Not To,” but not if they release subpar singles like this.
Rating: 4/10. It’s not worth your time.