Song Review: Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town”

“Nothing to Do Town”? More like “Nothing To Hear Song.”

So far, nobody seems terribly enthused to have Dylan Scott hanging around country music. His first two singles “My Girl” and “Hooked” eventually reached #1 and #2 on Billboard’s airplay chart respectively, but each one took over a year to do so, and sales dropped off considerably for “Hooked” once the new-artist shine had worn off. In response, Scott and his team had closed the book on his self-titled debut album and opted for a shot of leadoff-single buzz, releasing “Nothing To Do Town” as Scott’s next single. However, there’s nothing new about this song: It’s the same old small-town party song you’ve heard a million timed before, featuring the same old urbanized sound, the same old 90s-era name drops, and writing that stands out only in how annoyingly repetitive it is. It’s a forgettable combination that fails to justify either Scott’s or the song’s existence in the genre.

The mix is…well, it’s a standard Metro-Bro arrangement that’s been done to death in the genre lately: Slick, clean electric guitars (with some hard-rock chords for the chorus), some sharp acoustic strumming for the verses, a single steel guitar riff repeated a few times for street cred, and a synthetic hand-clap track that transitions to a skittery beat for the choruses even as real drums are introduced, all set to a “Cruise”-like cadence that marches along diligently from start from finish. The vibe, like all party songs, is lighthearted and celebratory, backing the narrator’s assertion that despite not having all the attractions of the big city, they still have their fair share of fun out in the sticks. However, there’s nothing in the mix that really distinguishes the song from its many peers, and thus it comes across as generic and unmemorable, and feel like little more than background noise on the radio.

Similar to Kane Brown, Scott’s calling card is his deeper voice, which he can use to give his performance a distinct flavor and stand out from the faceless mass of young male country singers. However (and also similar to Kane Brown), “Nothing To Do Town” traps Scott in his mid-to-upper range and makes him sound about as indistinct as possible, taking away the one thing that might make people say “Hey, that’s a Dylan Scott song.” Unlike Brown, Scott does not have the natural charisma to fill this gap, and while his flow is passable enough for the faster portions of this track, there’s a noticeable lack of excitement in his delivery that keeps his audience from sharing in his joy surrounding small-town party life. Give this song to one of Scott’s fellow country artists, and the darn thing would sound the exact same, and that’s a really bad sign form someone who’s still trying to lock down a place in country music.

And then we get to the writing, which is about lazy and generic as a song like this can get. The narrator proclaims that despite not having the clubs and bars of a larger city, he and his fellow small-town folk can still get together and drink, blast the radio, and run all night just like the city folk. I’d like to say that this is just another rural party song that says absolutely nothing clever or original (and it is), but it’s so much worse than that:

  • The writing is incredibly repetitive, especially on the chorus:

    Who says there’s nothin’ to do
    Who says there’s nothin’ to do
    Who says there’s nothin’ to do
    In this nothing to do town

    Good grief, and I thought “Closer To You” was monotonous…also, if I may channel my inner Chandler Bing: Could the hook be any weaker?

    There’s also a line claiming that “We ain’t got a lot, but we sure do a lot with the little bit that we got,” which sounds like a lame attempt at Clint Black-like wordplay minus Black’s wit and cleverness.

  • Despite their attempt at salesmanship, the narrator comes across like they have a massive inferiority complex to those gall darn city slickers. Noting the lack of rooftop bars in town in one thing, but to only be able to claim that “yeah, you might not hate” partying in the backcountry? Seriously, you can’t even say that people might like it with a straight face? (Then again, if you’re just sitting around a fire drinking and blasting Tim McGraw, perhaps you’re better off not overselling the experience.
  • Speaking of McGraw, you can probably guess the 90s-era stars the narrator name-drops while talking up their small-town throwdown (McGraw, George Strait, and Brooks & Dunn), which is both predictable and a little depressing. Do people not realize that Strait’s music is just not made for blasting? (Because nothing gets your blood pumping like “Today My World Slipped Away” at full volume.)

Add it all up, and there’s absolutely no reason to listen to “Nothing To Do Town.” It’s a bland, milquetoast ode to backwoods parties with unremarkable production, unimpressive vocals, and ear-grating lyrics. This sort of song has been done before (a lot) in country music, and it’s usually done a lot better than this. A few more releases like this, and Dylan Scott may discover that he has nothing to do in Nashville either.

Rating: 4/10. Next!