Let’s just say I’m not terribly thrilled that this song exists.
Days like this are when I curse my overly-wrong review format: We all know the Dan + Shay formula by now (sing over-the-top love song, back it with lightweight pop production, rinse and repeat), so why spend 800+ words lamenting it? Unfortunately, the duo’s approach continues to earn them plaudits and prime chart placement (their last single “I Should Probably Go To Bed,” while not exactly a love song, earned them yet another Top 40 peak on Billboard’s Hot 100, although they had to settle for a Mediabase-only #1 because Thanos), so Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney just keep cranking these things out, and their latest single “Glad You Exist” is more of the same. This formula, however, was already getting old after tracks like “From The Ground Up,” “Speechless,” and “10,000 Hours,” and with absolutely zero iteration on the formula, this track defies its title by failing to justify its existence.
Let’s start with the production, which unfortunately proves to be as stale as the subject matter. Every song this pair releases features the same three instruments (acoustic guitar, keyboard, and drum machine) and nothing else, and with the exception of a few wood-block notes, this track is no different. The guitar is the primary melody driver and its bright tone gives the song a needed dose of positivity, but it’s striking just how little the producer does with the arrangement: The guitar just strums, the piano just offers chords, and the percussion mostly just plays on the beat (it gets a little more complex after the choruses, but not by much). The mix is so monotonous that it sounds like a bunch of Garageband loops mashed together and set to repeat (there isn’t even a bridge solo!), and comes across as so clinical and sterile that it could have been arranged in a hospital. As a result, the song never builds any momentum or swells with emotion, and is just kind of there as the song goes along, leaving nary a trace in the listener’s mind.
Judging from his tone here, lead singer Shay Mooney appears to be as tired of these songs as we are. It’s a pretty decent performance technically (Mooney handles the rapid-fire sections of the lyrics flawlessly), but he can’t seem to muster the charm needed to sell the story. He sounds surprisingly tired in his lower range, and the way he lets the opening verse lines tail off weakly doesn’t help matters. There are a lot of not quites here: His delivery is not quite clinical like the sound, but it’s not quite passionate enough to let the listener feel the love either. His utter neutrality seems to spoil the mood of the song, leaving it in an awkward spot that is neither romantic nor interesting. (For Smyers’s part, the harmonies are sharp enough, but they don’t add real passion to the song either.) In the end, there’s nothing in the vocals to encourage the audience to pay attention, so they’ve mostly checked out by the time the second verse rolls around.
You can probably guess what the lyrics are just by looking at the title: The narrator is grateful that their partner has stuck with them through all the “bad decisions” and “every high and every low,” and they’re just “so glad you exist.” I’ve been grousing about super-saccharine love songs for a while, but this thing has the opposite problem: Could there be a more lame or limp statement of love than just saying “glad you exist”? (I get that it’s supposed to be an understated expression of deep devotion, but that requires a level of passion in the delivery that Mooney simply doesn’t bring here.) Beyond that, the song is bag of vague platitudes and clichés, with its only attempt at wit is copying Brad Paisley’s “The World” and mentioning the number of people and places in the world without tying it back into the rest of the song. Throw in the super-repetitive bridge that can’t even pad out the song to reach two-and-a-half minutes, and you’ve got a track that feels equal parts lazy and lifeless.
For all the love songs that Dan + Shay insist on flooding the market with, “Glad You Exist” might be the worst of the bunch (although it’s at least not as sleazy as “All To Myself”). The production is bland and boring, the writing is vague and weak, and the vocals are too bereft of emotion to make the song feel romantic. At this point, Dan + Shay are starting to feel like a one-trick pony, and all they’re doing is competing against themselves and devaluing their content. There’s enough filler like this on the airwaves as it is, so this duo needs to freshen up their act quickly, because they risk being left high and dry by the fickle winds of genre trends.
Rating: 4/10. There’s no reason for this to exist.