Oh joy, another generic, mediocre male singer making dated love-as-a-drug references to convey the depth of his passion. Just what the genre needed!
Dylan Scott is a Louisiana native who had been releasing singles to absolutely zero acclaim for several years before finally catching lightning in a bottle with “My Girl,” a half-fast, half-slow, all-boring ballad that took over a year to reach the top of the charts. Now, Scott is try to follow up his success with “Hooked,” and while the song is a bit more sure of what it wants to be, it’s the sonic equivalent of empty calories, a fast-paced tune that provides energy and nothing else.
The production here is the song’s main selling point, mixing the bombast of Bro-Country with the toe-tapping feel of an old-school country stomper. The mix is primarily beat-driven, with a prominent bass drum shouldering the load on the verses and the full kit jumping in on the chorus. The chorus also features hand claps and a rolling banjo, both of which sound much more natural and authentic than on most Bro-Country tracks. Beyond that, the mix is surprisingly minimal, with only some guitars floating around in the background (the electric guitar only comes to the forefront on the bridge solo). Some crowd noise is pumped in artificially to add some noise, but I found that this detracted from the mix and just made the song harder to hear. Overall, though, the tempo and intensity of the track generate a ton of energy, and the vibe is a decent mix of seriousness and positivity. There’s potential here in the sound, but sadly there’s nothing else here that measures up to it.
Vocally, Scott reminds me a lot of Kane Brown, as both men have an impressive lower range that they can show off at will. However, while “My Girl” gave Scott a few chances to show off his deep baritone, “Hooked” traps him in his much-less-impressive upper range, which makes him sound like just another guy. (The verses allow him to get kinda-sorta low, but not enough for his voice to resonate like it does on “My Girl.”) Scott’s flow sounds fine, and he certainly sounds like he’s having a blast singing the song, but there’s something missing here that would really make the song stand out and memorable, and thus the performance just flows in one ear and out the other without leaving an impression.
That “something missing” is likely the songwriting, which is about as bland and generic as it could possibly be. Not only is the song based on a typical Bro-Country trope (meet a girl at a bar, reduce her to her physical characteristics, immediately take her home and sleep with her), but it leans on a love-as-a-drug metaphor (he “hooked” and “buzzing” on her) that’s been done to death in the genre (Zac Brown Band’s “Beautiful Drug,” Chris Lane’s “Fix,” Thomas Rhett’s “Craving You,” etc.). The song does its level best to paint the narrator’s intentions as noble, dedicating the entire second verse to the fact that he isn’t going to leave the girl even though he totally could, but there’s still a layer of sleaze here that the lyrics can’t mask. It’s a story I’ve heard a hundred times before, and it’s not one I’m itching to hear again.
Overall, “Hooked” is a track that is all style and no substance, with its in-your-face production trying really hard to convince you not to look behind the curtain and notice its unmemorable vocals and uninspired writing. It just ends up feeling kind of “meh,” and there are better love songs on the radio right now (“For Her,” “Unforgettable,” “A Girl Like You”) that are more worthy of your time.
Rating: 5/10. Don’t bother with this one.