…And we’re back to boring again.
I called Kane Brown “arguably the first mainstream country performer to rise to prominence through social media,” but North Carolina native Priscilla Block has a much more interesting story to tell. Driven to TikTok by the pandemic, Block rose to prominence on the strength of her viral novelty hit “Thick Thighs,” and then exploded when a crowdfunded recording of “Just About Over You” reached #1, spurring UMG Nashville to add her to their roster and push the song to country radio. Success does not necessarily mean quality, however, and true to form, the label took a quick look at songs like “Thick Thighs” and “PMS” (which are at least interesting and demonstrate some decent songwriting chops) and decided to roll with “Just About Over You,” a boring, generic breakup song that adds to the glut of lost-love songs that are suddenly everywhere on the airwaves. It may have been the safe choice, but it was also the wrong choice.
The first mistake here is in the production, which is basically the same guitar-and-drum mix everyone else is using, except it’s then buried under a million coats of slick Nashville polish. (Seriously, did they seal all the mics in amber before the recording session?) The track opens with some restrained electric guitars and an underwater drum machine, then segues into a acoustic-guitar-driven section for the first verse, and finally brings it all together on the first chorus with some more-textured electric axes and real drums. (A piano adds some notes here and there throughout the track, but doesn’t add anything of note to the atmosphere.) The minor-chord-centered structure and darker instrument tones certainly give the track a serious tone, but not a terribly sad one—instead, I’m left with the feeling that I’ve heard this song a million times before. The narrator may not have moved on, but the listener is more than ready to do so by the time this track is over.
Vocally, Block brings to mind a higher-pitched version of Miranda Lambert (especially on her other tracks), but she’s nowhere near Lambert’s level when it comes to song-selling. Part of this is the track’s fault, as its rapid-fire sections force Block to concentrate solely on getting the words out instead of putting sort of feeling behind them (she’s fine on the less-intense verses, but her tone gets really monotonous on the choruses). Her performance just doesn’t give me the sense that the narrator is really that disturbed by the reappearance of the ex, and in turn she isn’t able to share her emotions with the audience and convince them to sympathize with her plight (or to even care about it at all). In the end, there’s just nothing ear-catching or distinguishing about this performance—it just kind of exists, and that’s the absolute worst thing an official debut single can do.
The writing is a mixed bag, but there are at least some flashes of potential mixed in with the typical clichés. The overall story is you classic case of a narrator struggling to get over an ex, losing all of their progress the moment said ex comes into view (think Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again”), but the context is never fleshed out here. As catchy as references to doomscrolling and hoop earrings might be (and Sam Hunt already beat Block to the punch on the former reference), we’re never given any hint as to what led to the breakup in the first place (Lying? Cheating? Pandemic fatigue?). Heck, the other person doesn’t even act like there’s any bad blood between them and the narrator at all. With no sins to highlight, the audience starts questioning the breakup long before the narrator does (and they aren’t doing it because they’re drunk!). Beyond this, the scenes are pretty boilerplate: Tracking the other person’s vehicle, wishful images of the other person hanging out with the guys or another woman…it’s a fairly standard and mostly unoriginal lost-love track, which doesn’t do a whole lot for your Q rating when you’re trying to establish yourself.
“Just About Over You” is just another song, featuring the same old production, incomplete writing, and a “meh” performance from Priscilla Block. It’s a terrible choice for a debut single, and what’s most frustrating about this is that it didn’t have to be this way. I wouldn’t call a song like “Thick Thighs” great, but it’s definitely attention-grabbing, and seems like the kind of fun, self-aware song that could resonate with a larger audience (you know, just like it already did on TikTok). For my money, Nashville is playing things way too safe right now, and as a result we’re getting a bunch of boring, interchangeable material on the airwaves, the sort of stuff that isn’t conducive to breaking in a new artist. Usually I say “this artist needs to find stronger material fast,” but Block had that strong material in hand this time—labels like UMG just need the vision and the chutzpah to release it.
Rating: 5/10. *yawn*