If this is the best American Idol could do, I can see why the show got canceled the first time.
Trent Harmon is a Mississippi native whose big break came in 2016 when he voted the winner of the “final” season of Idol (final, at least, until the lukewarm ABC reboot this year). I’ve generally been pretty impressed with the singing competition alumni that make their way into country music (Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery, Danielle Bradbery, etc.), but Harmon hasn’t impressed me at all so far. I found his official debut single “There’s A Girl” to be pretty meh, and his follow-up “You Got ‘Em All” comes across as an off-brand, inferior version of Eric Church’s “Round Here Buzz,” that stretches Harmon’s voice far past its breaking point (and breaks my ears in the process).
The production, for its part, isn’t the problem here—in fact, its biggest sin is that there isn’t enough of it here! The song starts out with a light, methodical piano and a barely-there snare drum, and slowly ramps up with some atmospheric organ swells and background electric guitar riffs (the guitar eventually steps up and delivers a tolerable solo). The result is a minimal, reflective atmosphere with a thoughtful vibe that encourages the listener to pay close attention to the lyrics (a poor decision in hindsight, sadly). I wouldn’t call it terribly memorable or interesting, but my biggest issue here is that the volume balance is way out of whack, causing Harmon’s vocals to completely drown out the instruments and forcing listeners to choose between not hearing them at all or having their speakers blown out by Harmon’s subpar vocal performance. My decision was easy: I just hit the mute button.
As far as the vocals, there’s no other way to put this: Harmon sounds terrible on this track. His voice gives off a strong Keith Urban vibe, much like Hunter Hayes on “Yesterday’s Song,” but his voice is trapped in his upper range for much of the song, where his voice become painfully thin and shrill, reaching a nails-on-a-chalkboard level of annoying really fast. While “There’s A Girl” protected Harmon by rarely pushing him to his range limit and backing with some decent harmony vocals, this track basically hangs him out to dry, with neither the production nor the harmony vocals packing enough raw volume to help cover him. If you can get past Harmon’s upper-range struggles, there are still some promising signs here: His flow is decent, his lower range is passable, and he brings enough charisma to allow him to sell the song. None of this matters, however, when the song take the singer’s weakest part of his repertoire and continuously shoves it in your face.
The lyrics here are nothing special, as they tell the tale of a sad narrator whose partner left them in a small town to chase the brights lights of the city. Although it’s the same premise as Eric Church’s “Round Here Buzz,” the writing isn’t as effective or impactful because it lacks the interesting environmental details that Church included, leaning on clichéd lines involving “West Coast lights” and “spread[ing] your wings.” Furthermore, the narrator comes off as a bit lazy and unsympathetic, as they’re just sitting around “waiting for life to begin again” for “waiting on love to give a second chance” when they probably could have, say, just followed their partner to the West Coast? (There’s also a line early in the song talking about “the things you always thought that I could be,” implying that the partner who left town was fed up with the narrator’s lack of drive.) It’s not a terrible song, but it’s not interesting either, and it’s certainly not enough to make you overlook Harmon’s earache of a performance.
“You Got ‘Em All” isn’t an inherently bad song, but it demonstrates what can happen when you put a singer in an uncomfortable position and leave them there for an entire track. Harmon may deserve some of the blame for his awful delivery, but ultimately the buck stops with whoever made the decision to make Harmon sing a song that makes him use a faux falsetto for the majority of the lyrics. He made have had the skills the win American Idol, but he needs more help if he’s going to win over country radio.
Rating: 5/10. “You Got ‘Em All”? More like “You Got Nothing.”