This title feels very appropriate for a song that could double as a non-habit-forming sleep aid.
Unlike Mark Chesnutt, Dan + Shay have found themselves in the right place at the right time, as their pop-styled, lightweight, and generally awful declarations of love were the perfect fit for the Boyfriend country trend that swelled up over the last few years. Songs like “Speechless” and “All To Myself” rode the wave to become Top 40 hits as well as country chart-toppers, and their pairing with former teen heartthrob/current pop icon Justin Bieber “10,000 Hours” climbed all the way to #4 on the Hot 100. After “10,000 Hours” peaked in late January, however, the pair inexplicably dropped off the radar for the next six months, watching from the sidelines as the Cobronarivus trend took over the genre. Now, the duo have gotten back up off the bench and released “I Should Probably Go To Bed,” the presumed second single from their next album. The song is the answer to the burning question, “What would happen if we took Cole Swindell’s “Stay Downtown” and made it worse in every possible way?” It’s a poorly-executed track that completely falls apart at the end, one whose only redeeming quality is being eco-friendly: It passes in one ear and out the other without leaving a trace.
The production only does half of its job here, reflecting the seriousness of the situation but not the tension generated by the narrator’s internal conflict. The song is driven exclusively by a moody piano whose tone sits in the awkward middle ground between light and darkness, with a string section featuring a robotic-sounding cello joining the party for the first few choruses. While the mix comes across as very clean and formal, the slow tempo and smooth textures make the track feel more like a conventional love song rather than an internal struggle to avoid reviving a failed relationship. The choppy violins and rapid-fire lyrics on the bridge attempt to ratchet up the pressure and give the listener a sense of the narrator’s state of mind, but the moment is short-lived. The producer then throws their hands in the air and gives up on the atmosphere completely, dropping in a loud, generic percussion mix that dominates the final “chorus” and drowns out what little the lyrics have to say. Things go from “meh” to messy in the span of about two minutes, and the listener is more than ready to move on when the song finally ends.
Lead singer Shay Mooney does a pretty decent Gary LeVox impression, but he tries to be Adam Levine on this track, and he misses the mark badly. Just like the production, Mooney’s shtick is mediocre but tolerable to start, showcasing his decent technical skills and doing a passable job filling the narrator’s role (although the performance feels a bit too slick and clean for someone wrestling over meeting or avoiding their ex). The harmonies start sounding a bit too robotic on the bridge, but Mooney does step up and add some frenetic urgency to his delivery…and then he suddenly decides to show off his falsetto and climbs the ladder far beyond his comfortable vocal range, with ear-splitting and headache-inducing results. (The title of this article is a perfect description of this: Dan Smyers was aiming to imitate Pet Sounds (a 1966 Beach Boys album), but what we got were pet sounds in the form of Mooney imitating a dog whistle.) The final stretch is just Mooney trying to shatter our eardrums over the top of the drums and the Transformers’ harmony vocals, and by the time the outro hits, the audience is pleading for the song to just end already.
The lyrics are surprisingly bare-bones here, as the song boils down to the narrator learning that their ex will be at whatever function they were planning to attend, and then wrestling with “do I stay home or go out?” for the remainder of the track. The lack of detail here is just astounding: We learn nothing about the event, nothing about what might find in the two people meet (all we get is a vague mention about a vague future apology), and nothing about the two people involved aside from that they were once involved. The listener never feels a connection to the narrator because they never get a picture of who they are or how deep the previous relationship was, and thus they’re never compelled to become emotionally invested in the story—in fact, given how repetitive the song gets, by the end they’re just yelling at the narrator to freaking go to bed already. It’s a song that’s far too reliant on the listener to fill in the gaps with their own experiences, and simply doesn’t convince the listener to care about the story.
The only good thing I can say about “I Should Probably Go To Bed” is that despite being uninteresting, poorly-constructed, and generally mediocre, it’s still a step up from the tire fire that was “10,000 Hours.” That said, this track is nothing more than radio filler, with ill-fitting production, vacuous writing, and an overly-ambitious vocal performance that probably should have been left on the cutting-room floor. With Boyfriend country being pushed to the back burner in 2020, I’m curious to see if Dan + Shay can pivot to something a bit more substantial and maintain their dominance on their airwaves. Based on what I’m hearing here, the early returns don’t look promising.
Rating: 5/10. Zzzzz…