Song Review: Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”

So you were tired of the alcohol being “Wasted On You” literally ten seconds ago, and now you’re looking for something “You Proof” to waste? Make up your darn mind!

The Curious Case of Morgan Wallen continues to confuse me: The man is a subpar singer who keeps foisting subpar songs onto the public, and yet the public keeps devouring these dog turds like they’re filet mignon, with the aforementioned “Wasted On You” flying up the charts in just under four months to become his sixth airplay #1. At this point, all Wallen and Big Loud want to do is keep the golden goose laying and the gravy train rolling, and thus they’ve given us “You Proof” as the fifth single from his double album Dangerous. The song is basically a sequel to “Whiskey Glasses,” and it features exactly what you’d expect from a Wallen effort: Predictable, poorly-executed production, a whiny nothingburger of a story, and a typically uninteresting and unsympathetic performance from the man himself. In other words, it’s yet another dog turd, and the public better have some bibs and oregano handy, because they’ll need it for this flavorless filler.

Wallen’s production has never been considered avant-garde (or even sufficient), but the mix we get here feels particularly ill-suited to the task at hand. There isn’t much to this thing in a literal sense: We get an acoustic guitar repeating itself like it’s a GarageBand loop, Grady Smith’s favorite snap track (a leaden trap beat also jumps in for the chorus), an instrument buried so deeply under washed-out effects that it’s hard to tell if it’s an electric guitar or keyboard (the video lists both as present), and that’s basically it. Flip to a figurative analysis, and there’s even less to see: In a word, this mix is monotonous, running through the same basic riffs and chord progressions over and over without ever mixing things up. Most songs at least add some volume or punch on the chorus to distinguish it from the verses, but here the trap beat is the only delineator, making the whole thing run together in the listener’s mind and eventually making them tune it out completely. In addition, the slightly-faster tempo and slightly-bright instrument tones conflict with the supposedly-sad nature of the writing, making the song feel more like a lukewarm banger than a heartbreak track. It’s a complete failure all the way around, and Wallen really needs to make a change in the booth for his next album.

Of course, changing the singer might be the quicker path to respectability. Wallen manages to sharpen up his technical performance this time around (he handles the rapid-fire sections without much trouble, and while his enunciation is still awful, you can at least tell what he’s saying here), but he’s got all the charm and charisma of a cardboard box. He certainly feels something as he traverses the world in his search for liquid amnesia, but it registers more as frustration rather than sadness, making the narrator come across as whiny and not really allowing the audience to share in his feelings or feel any sort of sympathy for them. Although the lyrics may be bland as newsprint (more on that later), it’s the sort of song that could be elevated by a competent singer with a strong performance, and unfortunately Wallen is neither competent nor strong as a vocalist. He’s an utterly replaceable presence behind the mic, and he’s simply not good enough to pull off a song like this.

The lyrics here find the narrator on a desperate quest to find liquor that’s powerful enough to take the edge off of an old memory (think “Whiskey Glasses,” but the guy can’t find glasses strong enough to cover his prescription). It’s the oldest tale in the genre, and this retelling is nowhere near compelling enough to convince the listener to stay engaged. Part of the problem is that we’re never given a sense of what the narrator’s pain actually is: The song focuses squarely on the search for a drink that’s “you proof” (a weak hook that’s not nearly as clever as the writers believe) and tells us nothing about what the narrator’s going through. We get nothing about how the relationship progressed, no description of the good times, no details about how it all ended…heck, we don’t even get any details about the other person involved! You get the feeling that the writers really didn’t have anything to say about the relationship (and nothing says “we needed to fill space and didn’t know what to do” like a triple negative like “you never ain’t not around”). This is just a guy running around looking for a drink, and while such a chase could go is so many different directions (it could be fun, it could be sad, it could be cautionary), this one feels very neutral and boring: The guy just keeps drinking while the rest of us stand idly by trying to stay awake. When a story has been told this many times, you need to do something special to make it stand out and feel fresh, and this one barely does anything to make you realize it’s there.

“You Proof” is a bland, boring song that fails to justify its existence, and only stands as further proof of Morgan Wallen’s inadequacy as a country artist. The production fails to set the mood, the writing fails to capture our attention, and instead of showing us any depth or emotion, Wallen once again only demonstrates “the incredible ability to make me care less about any topic he chooses to cover.” Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of drivel Wallen has been dumping on us for years now, which means it will probably ride a rocket to #1 and push his team to keep dumping this drivel on us for the foreseeable future. At some point, however, the radio will get tired of your act and demand something more (and they may not give you much advance warning either; just ask Dan + Shay), and Wallen simply hasn’t demonstrated the chops or the ability to adapt when that day comes. The world may be eating these turds now, but they’ll be looking for a palate cleanser sooner than you might think.

Rating: 4/10. Find something better for your musical diet.


4 thoughts on “Song Review: Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”

  1. Clueless review….this reviewer is the kind of guy that goes to a theme part, goes on a rollercoaster, and afterwards says “Yeah, but what does it MEAN?” LOL


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