Song Review: Michael Ray, “One That Got Away”

Just when I thought Michael Ray might make something of himself…

Ray’s discography reads like an inventory list at a landfill, complete with hot garbage such as “Kiss You In The Morning,” “Real Men Love Jesus,” and “Think A Little Less.” However, with his second album Amos and its leadoff single “Get To You,” Ray had to chance to rewrite his story and take a few small steps towards making actual quality music. His latest single “One That Got Away,” unfortunately, finds Ray showing off that obnoxious, misogynistic Bro persona he broke in with, and the result not only has no business being on the radio, but it might just be the biggest piece of junk I’ve ever reviewed on this blog.

The production here tends towards the light, summery feel that “Kiss You In The Morning” had (in fact, they almost sound like the same song), but it’s more of a Metro-Bro mix than straight-up Bro-Country: The electric guitars sound slicker, and there’s a fair bit of synthetic percussion mixed in with the real stuff. The song features a piano and organ floating around in the background to give it a slight beachside flair, but otherwise it feels like the same, generic sound I’ve heard from the Bro crowd a hundred times before. It’s admittedly got some energy and bounce behind it, and it does establish a devil-may-care atmosphere that complements the lyrics (which is actually a problem when the lyrics are this terrible; more on that later), but it just feels like empty sonic calories, forcing a party when one it definitely not warranted.

Michael Ray officially assumes the mantle of “The Honey Badger” on this track, because he just doesn’t give a you-know-what (warning: NSFW language in video). He actually demonstrates some decent range and flow here, but his performance as a simple-minded, unsympathetic boor is so believable it’s disgusting. While there’s probably no elevating a song this poorly-written, there was at least a small chance to frame the narrator as the offended party and thus be a teeny, tiny bit sympathetic…except that Ray comes off as such a douche that by the end, you’re practically rooting fro the woman to dump him. There’s such a thing as playing a role too well (Jake Owen learned this the hard way), and Ray’s performance not only fails to connect with the audience, it actively pushes them away.

And then we have the lyrics…I won’t mince words here: In nearly two years of running this blog, this might be the angriest a song’s writing have ever made me. On the surface, the story is similar to Adam Craig’s “Just A Phase” (which isn’t a promising place to start): Guy meets girl, guy just knows girl’s going to leave him and tear his world apart, and instead of taking the initiative and actually doing something about it, guy just kicks back and enjoys the fruits of the relationships while it lasts, proclaiming that she will be “one hell of a one that got away.” Forget the narrator’s lazy attitude for a moment, or his blanket assumption about the woman’s feelings, or even the fact that the lyrics feature some really awkward analogies (“tax-free under the table”? Really?) What really aggravates me in the way he refers to the woman, especially in back-to-back lines as the song transitions from the first verse into the chorus:

Yeah but I’m gonna hold her like a trophy tonight
She’s decorating my car…

Excuse me? A trophy? Decorating your freaking car?! News flash, pal: Women are human beings worthy of respect, not prizes to be won, and they’re certainly not hood ornaments for your stupid ride! The guy’s celebrating this hookup like he won the goddamn Super Bowl, and he’s gonna milk his trip to Disney World for everything he can. This loutish attitude makes my stomach turn and my blood boil, and all four of the fools who wrote this song deserve to be slapped in the face and thrown into the nearest lake.

Dierks Bentley upended my “best songs” list last week, and now Michael Ray has done the same to my  “worst song” list with “One That Got Away.” This is a disgusting track whose mediocre, generic production winds up being its only redeeming quality, as Ray and his writers serve up such a pile of filth that even Jordan Davis would give them a disapproving look. As far as I’m concerned, Ray needs to get the heck out of country music and not let the door hit him on the way out.

Rating: 1/10. As a wise man once said, “Get that garbage outta here!”

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