This song is boring and forgettable. For Dustin Lynch, this constitutes progress.
Jordin Davis may have had the worst song of 2017, but with two songs in my bottom five, I’d argue that Dustin Lynch was the big loser of 2017. His production was unimaginative Bro-based garbage, his lyrics were lazy and tone-deaf, and his vocals embodied all the creepiness and of the Metro-Bro era. He easily replaced Michael Ray as the artist I had the least respect for in country music, and after radio surprised everyone by delivering a righteous smack-down on “I’d Be Jealous Too” (even Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation” scored better than the #34 peak “Jealous” got!), I hoped that we’d finally seen the last of Lynch, of at least this awful version of him.
It seems that my wish was half-granted: Lynch and his team responded to this humbling by abandoning his Current Mood album, going back to the studio, and returning to the radio with “Good Girl,” a lightweight track that celebrates the woman that has entered his life. The song may still feature some questionable production choices and blatantly steal some ideas from “Take Back Home Girl,” but I can listen to this song without grinding my teeth or switching the station in disgust, and that’s more than I expected.
The production opens with the awkward pairing of a dobro and a drum machine (harkening back to Florida Georgia Line’s “Smooth”), with a slick, barely-there electric guitar trying (and failing) to carry the melody. A few other acoustic instruments are sprinkled in later—token banjo, background steel guitar stabs, a brief acoustic guitar portion—but the percussion is the most prominent piece of the mix (even the guitar solo is choppy and inconsequential). Like every Dustin Lynch single, it leans on an unnecessarily-large number of minor chords that don’t match the song’s happy vibe, and Lynch’s addition of “waddup!” to the end of a few (more-serious) lines is completely nonsensical and out of place. There’s enough here to establish a breezy, celebratory atmosphere while avoiding the swampiness of “Smooth,” but it’s nothing to write home about.
I’ve talked in the past about artists elevating questionable material, but I think the opposite is true here: Lynch sounds like the same unrepentant Bro we all know and despise, but the lyrics are high-minded enough to make him seem a bit more sympathetic this time around. That said, he’s made some microscopic improvements in his delivery this time around; While he still sound far too serious for the subject matter, he emotes a tiny bit more here than on past singles, and at least gives the slight impression that there’s a decent probability that he might possibly be having a little fun (maybe). The song also feels a chord or two low for his voice, but he handles it just well enough to keep it from being a distraction. It may not be a good or memorable, but it does feel like a step in the right direction.
The lyrics, despite their shallow depth, get most of the credit for elevating the song as much as they do. Rather than lording his partner over outside observers or wasting time talking about himself, the narrator simply celebrates how great his partner is and how much better his life is now that they’re together. It’s not novel, and I’d hesitate to call it enlightened (the “girl” counter clocks in at a disappointing fourteen), but it at least keeps the focus on the woman without objectifying or demeaning them. The bit about “take you home to Mama, take you to the church” feels like an obvious ripoff of Chris Lane and Tori Kelly’s “Take Back Home Girl,” but when combined with thoughts like being together for 55 years, it adds a layer of maturity and sympathy to the narrator, things that have been in short supply in Lynch’s earlier material. It lacks that extra something that could make the song more memorable or impactful (and it doesn’t get any help at all from the singer or the sound), but it’s easily the best part of the track.
Is “Good Girl” a good song? No, but it’s not an unqualified train wreck either, and that counts for something (albeit very little). The writing adds a bit more respectability than you’d expect from a Dustin Lynch song, and the production and vocal performance don’t do as much damage as you might expect. I won’t remember this song existed in a week, but it also won’t make my year-end worst list, and if Lynch wants to regain his chart momentum, he’s got to start somewhere.
Rating: 5/10. Being forgotten is better than being remembered for the wrong reasons.