Song Review: Billy Currington, “Wake Me Up”

Yawn. Do me a solid and “Wake Me Up” when this song is over, would you?

Billy Currington is one of those mid-tier artists that has been forced to ride the trendy waves washing over the country genre in order to survive, and while he’s proven to be a pretty good surfer (his last single “Do I Make You Wanna” became his seventh No. 1 hit of the decade and eleventh of his career), it’s left him without much of a musical legacy. (I can only name two or three songs of his off the top of my head, none of which were released after 2009.) His latest single “Wake Me Up,” the fifth release off of his Summer Forever album, does nothing to help his cause, as it’s a generic, forgettable track that’s basically Luke Bryan’s “Light It Up” without (almost) all of the phone references.

The production here is a bit more restrained than Bryan’s song: The melody here is passed between acoustic and electric guitars instead of being exclusively electric-driven, and the percussion (both real and synthetic) are not as hard-hitting or in-your-face as much here. (Heck, there are even some random steel guitar stabs tossed into the background.) However, the riffs here don’t stand out as much as they do on Bryan’s track, and despite the reliance on minor chords, this song’s tone never rises above general seriousness, and is nowhere near as unsettling or haunting as Bryan’s was. (Even the guitar solo on Currington’s song seems bland by comparison.) In short, the mix here feels like a diluted, less-impactful version of “Light Me Up” that gives the listener nothing to grab hold of and remember.

Currington is a decent enough singer, and he’s certainly got enough charisma to come across as believable in the role of a pining narrator, but something feels a bit off in the vocals tracks. Most of this seems to stem from the harmony vocals: They don’t blend very well with Currington’s delivery, and make him sound a bit washed-out on the choruses. His range is fine and his flow on the faster sections is surprisingly good, but beyond that…meh. It’s okay, but it lacks that something extra that it needs to catch the listener’s attention.

The lyrics here describe a narrator pleading with a lost love, begging them to reach out to him anytime without worrying if they will interfere with his life (he’s already waiting, so a call won’t “wake [him] up”). Again, while it’s not as explicitly phone-centered as “Light It Up,” the two are essentially the same song, and neither one is terribly interesting. The imagery here is pretty boilerplate stuff (night driving, drinking at a bar…heck, even blowing up phones is blasé now), and there aren’t any clever turns of phrase to hook the listener. To be fair, there’s nothing offensive or misogynistic about the writing, but that’s because there’s nothing here period. To be honest, I would call “Light It Up” a better song than “Wake Me Up” on all counts, as the former at least had decent production and used the sheer brute force of repetition to stick in peoples’ heads (even if what stuck was “why won’t this guy stop talking about his stupid phone already?”) Currington’s song, on the other hand, just flows in one ear and out the other without leaving a trace.

Overall, “Wake Me Up” is a lightweight song that can’t even measure up to its mediocre competition. It’s a step back from “Do I Make You Wanna,” and at best it’s generic radio filler that will take up space until something more interesting comes along. If it’s all the same to Mr. Currington, I’d rather stay sleep until then.

Rating: 5/10. It’s not worth your time.

2 thoughts on “Song Review: Billy Currington, “Wake Me Up”

  1. Admittedly I’m a sucker for minor chords in music (no matter the subject matter), so this is a pretty easy sell for me. Lyrically I’ll agree with you, nothing bad here, but nothing exciting either. When it comes to the vocal performance, I’ve always thought of Billy as one of the most naturally charismatic performers next to Blake Shelton, so his performance here is also pretty good to my ears (like you said, his flow is surprisingly solid on the faster sections). I don’t know, for me it’s somewhere in the 6-7 range.

    What I want to know is, why are we getting a non-buzz worthy fifth single from a two year old album? It’s not as if Billy has sold a lot of albums (or singles) this era, so I have to wonder from a business standpoint what the pay off here is. They got lucky with “Do I Make You Wanna” but I have to seriously wonder if this might hinder Billy’s momentum going forward.


    1. That’s a good question – Summer Forever didn’t have a ton of buzz to begin with, so why stretch it this far past its expiration date? Part of me wonders if Mercury Nashville thinks Currington’s career is winding down (he’s over 40, maybe his record deal is about to end), so they’re just milking him for all he’s worth now.

      Then again, other artists have remained popular into their forties, and Currington is the label’s only consistent radio presence (and there’s no obvious heir to his throne – Easton Corbin? Lauren Alaina? Maybe Chris Stapleton, if they would stop botching his single rollouts). Why not go all-in on at least one more album instead of squandering whatever momentum he has left? The whole thing just confuses me.

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