Oh, Jake Owen has another boring song for us?
I’ll be honest: I have absolutely zero interest in hearing what Owen has to say anymore. The garbage he keeps foisting upon us is sleep-inducing at best and headache-inducing at worst, ranging from creepy (“If He Ain’t Gonna Love You”) to copypasta (“I Was Jack (You Were Diane)”) to cookie-cutter (“Homemade,” his most recent single). “Made For You” is the fourth single released from his Greetings From… Jake album, and what a surprise: It’s yet another unremarkable soundalike song that feels bland even by Boyfriend country standards. If you took Tom T. Hall’s “I Love” and removed all the interesting details from it, you’d be left with this watered-down excuse for a song, one that is best used as a non-habit-forming sleep aid.
The production here is fairly sparse: A single acoustic guitar opens the track, and it dominates the mix from the start to finish, with a scattering on other instruments (background piano and organ, a few electric guitar stabs, some barely-there drums) trying to fill out the sound. The instrument tones are left fairly dark here to reflect the depth and seriousness of the narrator’s feelings, but the whole arrangement runs together to become an monotonous, indistinguishable mess (seriously, couldn’t they have added some more instruments or riffs to break things up, or make the bridge solo do more than just stall for time?) that doesn’t really give us a sense of the narrator’s love for their partner. Worse still, the lack of volume and tempo makes this the most lethargic, plodding track I’ve heard in a while, so much so that I’d avoid listening to the radio while operating heavy machinery in case this song comes up and lulls you to sleep. Less can be more sometimes, but less is just less here.
Owen seems to be stuck in the same doldrums as the production here, as his performance is as lifeless and uninteresting as his acoustic guitar companion. He’s always been a strong technical performer and this is no exception (he handles the minimal range and flow demands of this song without breaking a sweat), but there’s just no passion or emotion in his delivery. Even when the production kinda-sorta swells up on the choruses, Owen never steps on the pedal in response and continues stoically reciting his lines like an evening newscaster. This lack of emotion is a major misstep from an artist who’s been around long enough to know better, and it makes the audience question just how deep his devotion to the other person actually is. (It’s a good thing the postal service is still operating amidst this pandemic, because Owen really mailed in his performance here.) This song would sound the exact same if it were sung by anyone else, on for a talented artists like Owen, this is unacceptable.
And then *sigh* we get to the lyrics:
Water towers are made for hearts and names
Friday nights are made for football games
Fallin’ leaves are made for fallin’ in
Front porch steps are made for goodnight kissin’
And I was made for you, yeah I was made for you
We know that, Jake. You know how we know? Because every song in country music history has told us that. The other verses are no more novel: An extended curfew-breaking date vignette, barroom dancing, backseat lovemaking, starting a family (yeah, didn’t see that coming. What a surprise. Totally.), and so on. The weaksauce “made for you” hook is bad enough on its own, but even with the repetitive “X was made for Y” format, it feels disconnected to the song, as the writers wait too long to tie them back to the rest of the song (until the very end, the song seems to be telling someone else’s story). To its credit, the song is a much more mature take on relationships than we usually get from the genre these days, but it relies on the same generic Boyfriend country tropes, which makes it no more interesting or memorable than its brethren. It’s just another overly-serious love song that fails to justify its existence.
“Made For You” is a song that’s made for everyone and no one. The production is boilerplate and ill-fitting, the vocals are uninspired, the writing is generic and weak, and the whole darn thing lacks any hint of emotion that would make the song resonate with its audience. In other words, it’s a typical Jake Owen song, and the world yawns in unison at its lukewarm nothingness. Personally, I’m sick of it, and my hope is that Owen eventually releases something worth listening to or stop releasing songs altogether.
Rating: 5/10. Next!