This is not the song I wanted to deal with on a Monday after last week’s Mario +Rabbids assessment…
If there’s one thing that frustrates me about country music, it’s that as Luke Combs loses his “Thanos” title, the artist in the best position to claim it is Morgan Wallen, a middle-of-the-pack vocalist with some serious baggage who has seemingly only gotten more popular since TMZ caught him dropping the N-word in early 2021. His last two singles “Wasted On You” and “You Proof,” neither of which were worth listening too, not only topped the Billboard country charts, but also cracked the Top 10 on the Hot 100, a rare feat for an artist in this genre. For the life of me, I still do not see the appeal of this joker, and yet he’s somehow become a serious challenger for the title of the current king of country music.
“Thought You Should Know” is the presumed second single from Wallen’s yet-to-be-disclosed post-Dangerous project, and…look, after everything that Wallen’s done, what I’m looking for from him right now is growth, something that makes me believe that he’s improving as an artist and as a person. This song comes closer to that goal than his last two singles, but only slightly, and despite the song’s title, it doesn’t quite qualify as something that’s worth knowing yet.
The production here seems to be walking a tightrope between a retro and modern sound, sometimes feeling like a throwback to an older era and sometimes feeling like every other song that’s being released right now. The arrangement here is as basic a guitar-and-drum mix as you’ll find, but there are a few surprising tweaks to the formula this time. For one thing, the sound is defined less by the electric guitars and more by the steel guitars, as the former as pushed into the background and kept at a lower volume level while the latter get a ton of screen time and are used to fill every empty space in the mix. Another unexpected twist in the percussion, which is mostly snare-based and stuck so far in the background that’s they’re barely noticeable. Throw in the acoustic guitar that does the heavy lifting on the verses and a substantial dose of minor chords, and you’ve got a mix with a restrained-yet-reflective vibe that does its best to stay out of the way of the writing, although it feels a bit too foreboding for the subject (you don’t get the sense that things are going all that well in the narrator’s life). Still, it’s a decent sound that provides at least some support to the song, and honestly it’s the best part of the track given the shortcomings of the other pieces.
In terms of Wallen…look, his past indiscretions are going to color my opinion of this guy for a while, and while this song could be framed as a baby step in the right direction, he’s still got a long way to go. It doesn’t help that he’s still a below-average vocalist on a technical level (his enunciation is so bad I have to look up to figure out what he’s saying at certain points), or that he consistently struggles to make his narrators sympathetic (lately they’ve just coming across as angry and/or drunk), or that he’s never shown much maturity or good judgement in his roles (or in his personal life). Despite all the issues the narrator brings up in the initial verse, I’m not convinced that he’s interested in doing anything about them—he’s just basking in his success and thanking his mother for her prayers. I was really hoping that this song could be an inflection point and that Wallen would go beyond acknowledging his deficiencies and commit to doing something about them…but instead he’s just calling with an update, and doesn’t give the listener any reason to feel good about his success or share in his gratefulness. It’s a missed opportunity, with Wallen declaring himself the same old guy and me feeling the same old unimpressed.
I remember criticizing “7 Summers” a while ago for the way its language painted its speaker as immature, and I’m seeing some of the same problems in the writing here. The narrator is trying to squeeze a call to his mother into his schedule, and provides…well, honestly he doesn’t provide much information at all, beyond being on the radio and having “a new girl down there in Jefferson City.” While he does mention allude to some rough patches in his journey (“been chasin’ songs and women, makin’ some bad decisions, God knows I’m drinkin’ too much”), he never elaborates on them or gives us any indication that’s doing something about them. There’s none of the old Bro-Country mysogyny present here, but the fact that the one thing the narrator highlights about their new partner is…”she lets me fish whenever I want to” doesn’t sound like something that someone who’s interested in settling down or compromising their lifestyle would say, and makes the speaker sound self-centered and even a little childish. (The “is dad still doing dumb shit?” line gives me similar vibes as well; I might have phrased the question like that as a teenager, but not now.) You get the sense that this is nothing more than a cursory phone call from a narrator who’s doing their duty but isn’t all that interested in what’s going on at home. The main message appears to be that the narrator is the same old country boy they’ve always been, and given who’s behind the mic, that’s not the message I was hoping for.
In the end, “Thought You Should Know” is a no-op for me, a placeholder that feels as rushed as the narrator on the phone. The production is okay, but the writing reeks of immaturity and Morgan Wallen remains the same old unlikable character behind the mic. The sad part of all this is that for all its flaws, this song still qualifies as Wallen’s best effort since “7 Summers,” despite not being anywhere close to a good song. I just get the sense that Wallen is happy with who and where he is, and for someone who really needed to see some improvement from the dude after everything he’s done, I’m just disappointed.
Rating: 5/10. No thanks.
One thought on “Song Review: Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know””
Hi. I actually like this song. My children asking me “how is my garden going: and “Is dad still doing dumb shit” are actually questions my university education, mid 20’s children would ask. I can’t comment on the production and the quality of Morgan’s voice, but I enjoy the song. It is on my MP3 player. I am not the only 60 year old boomer, non spotify listening person out there. Regards Liz from rural New Zealand.