Song Review: Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada”

Wait, wrong video:

Okay, now can we admit Nashville is out of good song ideas?

I was underwhelmed by Brandon Lay’s debut single “Speakers, Bleachers And Preachers,” and apparently so was country radio, as I can find absolutely no record of it ever appearing on Billboard’s airplay chart (the best I can find a Pulse Music Board thread saying it didn’t even crack the Mediabase Top 40). Undeterred, Lay and his team have pushed forward with his second single “Yada Yada Yada,” immediately leaping into the discussion of the worst song title in history. While the song is admittedly better than you might imagine from its title, it’s still a far cry from being any good, and “yada yada yada” ends up being a fitting description of its content.

The production here feels way too dark and moody for a song teasing what should be a fun night in. It’s actually a pretty sparse arrangement, with an electric guitar borrowed from Cole Swindell’s “Middle Of A Memory” driving the melody and a clean, modern-sounding drum set providing the foundation. (There’s an organ floating around deep in the background, but after the intro it’s basically impossible to hear.) The drums do a decent job of injecting some energy into the track as it progresses, but the darker instrument tones and regular minor chords create this super-serious atmosphere that does not mesh with the lyrics at all. Whereas my last review talked about how some songs (try to) use this sort of darker sound to inject some danger and sensuality, this song is in full-on Aldean mode, adding darkness just for the sake of darkness and draining all the fun out of the mix in the process. It’s not catchy, it’s not interesting, and it’s not something I’m terribly interested in listening to.

I’m going to change things up today and talk about the lyrics first, which I would describe as a solid idea done really, really poorly. The story here involves the narrator telling their partner that they don’t need to go out and party with their friends, and can stay in and hang out together instead. (The “yada yada” hook refers to the fact that all the trappings and descriptions of such a night are just a wall of noise when the couple is together, and yes, it’s as weak as it sounds.) On paper, it’s a solid attempt to co-opt the language of clichéd genre activities (going out to drink and party), repudiating these activities while still including them in the song. When executed well, this technique can broaden a song’s appeal by playing to groups that both enjoy and can’t stand the activities in question (think Easton Corbin’s “A Girl Like You” or Kelsea Ballerini’s “I Hate Love Songs”). Unfortunately, it’s not well executed here for several reasons, including the repetitiveness of the writing (rehashing the verse on the bridge, awkwardly repeating lines in the second verse, rhyming “tunnel vision” with…itself?), the use of the hook to obscure events at the subdivision (“yada-yadaing” over the private get-together means the clichés are all we really get to see), and most of all Lay’s limitations as an artist (we’ll get to that). Although there might be larger reasons for the song’s inability to connect with its audience, the writing deserves its fair share of the blame.

If you’re going to attempt the language co-opting technique, you need an artist with solid delivery and a large reservoir of charisma to draw from. Corbin and Ballerini have both, but sadly Lay has neither. Even within the range restrictions of the song, Lay’s voice comes across as weak and raspy, especially in his lower range (without the woman harmonizing behind him, he’d be in serious trouble). His flow over the faster portions of the song is tolerable, but when the song needs him to deliver some impassioned lines on the chorus, his performance is flat, monotonic, and completely unbelievable. (He kinda-sorta shows some fire on the verses, so why he doesn’t on the chourses is beyond me.) Much like Jason Aldean, Lay’s performance is dominated by unwarranted seriousness, and despite the promise of an exciting night in with the person he loves, he doesn’t sound like he’s enjoying any part of it. If his night was as uninteresting as he makes it sound, I wish he’d have “yada-yada’d” over the whole song and not forced me to listen to it.

“Yada Yada Yada” is exactly that: A story that you’re better off skipping over. Both Brandon Lay and his production ruin the mood with their dour performances, and there’s not enough in the writing to entice the audience to keep listening. After the disaster that was “Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers,” Lay had better step up his game, or three years from now we’ll be “yada yadaing” over his entire career.

Rating: 4/10. No thank you.