Hey look, another molehill that we made into a mountain.
My fellow Kyle over at Saving Country Music has been banging the drums of war for months now over King Calaway, the latest creation from the mad scientist labs of Music Row to hit the airwaves. Their website brands them as a “multi-national supergroup” whose members “aren’t looking to blend into the crowd,” while SCM labels them a “manufactured boy band” that is “hopscotching hundreds of more worthy entertainers” on to way to a nationwide single release. The reality, as it often is, lies somewhere in the middle: The band is a inoffensive, middle-of-the-road “Dan + Shay + 4” soundalike that blends seamlessly into the rest of the forgettable lightweight material on the radio these days. I wouldn’t go rush out and buy a ticket for these guys, but I wouldn’t call up Paul Revere and sic the dogs on the sextet yet either.
The production is even more safe and milquetoast than you’d expect: Bright acoustic guitars with a light touch, the cleanest, slickest electric guitars providing some simple chord work, a few piano notes to indicate the depth of the narrator’s feelings, and a barely-there clap track with absolutely zero punch. It’s as if everyone involved with this project anticipated the blowback from creating a country version of the Backstreet Boys, and were trying to make their sound as non-threatening as possible to try to mitigate the problem. As it is, it’s got a bright, positive sound and a pretty decent groove, but its utter lack and power and volume keep it from generating any energy or momentum as it goes along, and it doesn’t have anything to make it stand out from its competition and entice the listener to pay attention. The mix is standard “lightweight love song” fare, and almost seems afraid to be anything more than that. I can’t blame them too much for their cautious approach (visceral reactions like SCM’s coming out even before their music dropped seems to justify the move), but I’m more than allowed to be bored by it.
The group lists three different members (Jordan Harvey, Chad Jervis, and Simon Dumas) as lead vocalists, but Harvey and Dumas do most of the heavy lifting here, each getting a verse to themselves while Jervis is left closing the choruses by himself. As equitable as the arrangement might be, it’s also completely unnecessary: The three artists sound so similar that I didn’t realize multiple people were covering the lead until I watched the music video. Technically speaking, while I can’t tell which person is showing off their falsetto on the bridge, the collective range and flow demonstrated are solid and the vocal transitions are smoothly handled, and all three lead singers have enough charisma to credibly perform the narrator’s role. They don’t really transmit their happiness to the audience, however, so while I’m sure they’re all head over heels about someone, I don’t really feel the love myself. I also don’t find the band’s harmony vocals terribly distinct, and feel like any set of generic backup singers could have given the song the same feel. It’s the kind of performance I hear once, think “that’s okay, I guess,” and immediately forget about the moment the next song starts playing.
The writing is just as lightweight and predictable as the production: The world is a fast and busy place, and the narrator wishes they “could build a world for two” where they could slow down and focus on (making out with) each other. It’s a cookie-cutter piece that hopes you’re so caught up in the production and the vocals that you won’t notice how bland the lyrics are or that the setting and activities are mostly recycled from the Metro-Bro era (so much for not blending in, huh?). To its credit, the track avoids the most obvious talking points of the last decade: There’s no drinking, no clubs, no trucks, no mention of various female body parts—in fact, the other person in this scene is never described beyond the ten times they say “girl.” The whole thing is nothing more than a vehicle for the group to demonstrate their sensitivity and sex appeal, and while I’d heard much worse on the radio over the last few years, I’ve run across much better songs as well.
“World For Two” is a forgettable song from a group that’s indistinguishable from the rest of the genre, and certainly not worth the network traffic generated by the alarmists of the country music critical community. Regardless of whether or not King Calaway is country music’s answer to The Backstreet Boys, their safe production, copycat vocals, and reheated lyrics suggest that they’ll be more of a field-filler than a radical new direction for the format. In other words: Despite with Saving Country Music and others might have you believe, there is…
Rating: 5/10. Don’t waste your time with this one.