“You Time” isn’t much of a way to spend your time.
How’s this factoid to make you feel old: It’s been nine-and-a-half years since Scotty McCreery burst onto the scene with his American Idol victory in May of 2011. The near-decade since then, however, hasn’t been terribly kind to McCreery: He needed the Hail Mary that was “Five More Minutes” to save his career back in 2017, and while he’s now notched three consecutive #1 singles, it takes him a loooooong time to climb the charts (his latest offering “In Between” took nearly fifteen months to top Billboard’s airplay chart). Still, the fact that’s he’s at least kinda-sorta relevant in 2020 is an accomplishment in itself (compare him to, say, 2011 Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina, who’s pretty much been reduced to feature credits on other artists’ tracks), and after getting three singles out of his Seasons Change album (hey, it’s more than Justin Moore got from Late Nights and Longnecks), and has dropped “You Time” as the presumed leadoff single for his next project. Unfortunately, this song continues McCreery’s slow slide into mediocrity, coming across as an unremarkable Boyfriend country track that fails to take advantage of McCreery’s talent.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The production is the same old guitar-and-drum routine you’ve heard a million times before on a million other tracks. It open with your standard (and slightly repetitive) acoustic guitar and a barely-there synthetic percussion line, brings in the electric axes and the drum set for the choruses, and that’s all you get. I’m really struck by the contrast between this mix and that of Moore’s “We Didn’t Have Much”: The instruments sound so much more generic on this track, with each one featuring much less texture and failing to stand out amongst its peers in the arrangement. The song does it best to create a bright, cheery atmosphere to accentuate the narrator’s joy at spending quality time with their partner, but you just can’t shake the feeling that you’ve heard this song a hundred times before, and there’s nothing in the mix that entices the listener to stay engaged.
McCreery remains a strong vocalist that can elevate even cheesy or mediocre material beyond their expected ceiling, but this song seems to do its level best to neutralize his talents and make him sound surprisingly mortal. He handles getting trapped in his lower range on the verses without much trouble, but the rapid-fire portions of the chorus force him to focus on just getting the words out rather than applying much feeling behind them. (The annoyingly-repetitive lyrics don’t help matters, but we’ll get there.) The result is that McCreery’s sales job as the narrator isn’t as good as on his past singles: The audience certainly gets the sense that there’s some genuine affection here, but they don’t really feel it themselves—the story is neither emotional nor terribly interesting. (I feel like the talking up of the other person should be an easy win for the narrator’s likeability, but here it doesn’t register in the listener’s mind the way it should.) A voice like McCreery’s should never sound this uninteresting or replaceable, but the truth is that any random character off of Nashville’s faceless young male assembly line could be stuck behind the mic and make the song sound just as boring as it does here.
The writing here tells the story of a harried, hurried narrator and their partner, and how sometimes they just have to get together for some quality “me and you time.” I’m really not impressed with the lyrics, and it starts with this godawful repetitive hook that we get pounded over the head with over and over (and the random vocal effects placed on the background “you time” chants don’t help matters). The characters aren’t terribly believable either: The narrator’s partner is made out to be a reincarnation of Mother Teresa (they laid it on real thick here), and while the narrator’s itinerant lifestyle would typically fit a musician like McCreery, 2020 isn’t typical, and no one’s “rollin’ six days a week…chasin’ dreams from shore to shore” right now (in fact, couples may be getting a little too much “you time”). Throw in the lack of detail that forces listeners to fill in the gaps with their own experiences, top it off with the rapid-fire sections that focus on the artist’s technical skill rather than the emotional angle it should be working, and you’ve got a song that’s really kind of a mess and fails to convince its audience to pay attention.
“You Time” is just another song about just another relationship by just another singer, and it’s really unfortunate that this is what Scotty McCreery has been reduced to nearly ten years after walking off that Idol stage. Cookie-cutter Blandemic production, middling Boyfriend country writing, and a surprisingly so-so performance from McCreery make this nothing but unsatisfying radio filler. In some sense, it’s emblematic of the cards McCreery has been dealt over the last decade: He has the skills to become a Nashville A-lister, but he’s never really found material good enough support the cause. This track won’t add to his legacy, and if he can’t find anything better to release soon, he may be left with no legacy at all.
Rating: 5/10. Don’t waste your “You Time” on this.