Song Review: Billy Currington, “Details”

If only Billy Currington had paid more attention to the details of his career…

Despite over fifteen years in the business, Currington has never ascended to to the A-list in Nashville, which has made him vulnerable to trend-hopping as he ages out of Guitar’s Town target demographic. He was able to ride the Bro-Country and Metropolitan with some success, but he’s struggled to find his footing lately, with his previous lightweight (and awful) “Bring It On Over” barely cracked the Top 30 on Billboard’s airplay chart (and it still qualified as his best showing since 2016). Now, Currington is back with a fresh new single “Details,” and…wait, is this yet another attempt at a sultry sex jam? Whatever it is, it isn’t catchy, it isn’t interesting, and it isn’t something I’d recommend wasting my time listening to.

The production gets things off on the wrong foot by trying to take a page from Jake Owen’s playbook (note to self: This is generally a bad, bad, bad idea) by trying to oversell the romantic aspects of the writing. It opens with with the slickest, seediest electric guitar I’ve heard in a while, than drops to nothing but some stiff guitar/bass riffs and a clap track (and the drum machine winds up being the most prominent instrument in the whole arrangement), and mindlessly cycles through those pieces for the rest of the song. (There’s a keyboard in the background as well, but it doesn’t help matters any.) The instruments combine with the slower tempo to give the song a beach-like vibe and try to create a sensual mood for the song…except that if you dig through the lyrics (which we’ll get to later), there’s nothing even remotely sensual about them. The mix comes across feeling like a cheap knockoff of a Marvin Gaye song, and just like all the other attempted sex jams coming out of Nashville, the listener doesn’t feel a thing aside from hoping the track ends sooner rather than later.

Currington’s performance feels pretty “meh” here, as he isn’t able to meet the demands of the song. For one thing, he isn’t the greatest enunciator in the world, and he struggles to get all the lyrics out on the faster sections of the chorus (which really aren’t that fast to begin with). His range isn’t used effectively either, as he tries to inject too much energy into his delivery and thus doesn’t feel terribly sexy or believable in this role. (Compare this to “Must Be Doin’ Something Right,” where his delivery is more relaxed and he uses his lower range to set the mood.) Despite the “details” included in the song, the focus on physical attributes on the chorus makes him feel like just another meatheaded dudebro lusting after a woman, and and even though the lyrics imply otherwise, this doesn’t feel like a particularly deep or longstanding relationship. Put it all together, and the audience doesn’t do a whole lot of swooning as they listen to this track.

The premise of the lyrics (a generally unobservant narrator reviews the little things they love about the object of their affection) isn’t terriblein fact, I get a slight flashback to Brad Paisley’s “Little Moments” as I hear them. The problem is that rather than talking about experiences, the narrator focuses almost exclusively on their partner’s physical qualities, indicating that their thought process on this matter isn’t as deep or thoughtful as they would have you believe. Additionally, the details they actually focus on range in quality from the predictable/boring (height, drinking habits, inebriated behavior) to the just plain weird (freckle placement? The angle they lean at when they kiss?), none of which I have any interest in hearing about. The narrator may be smitten with this person, but they fail to make them interesting in the eyes and ears of the listener, and when combined with the mismatch between the writing and production/vocals, it leaves the audience scratching its collective head more than anything else.

Could “Details” have been a decent song? Sure—just swap in some more organic production, have deeper thoughts before the next draft of lyrics, and insert a more earnest-sounding singer. (In other words, change everything about it.) Unfortunately, we have to work with the song we’re given rather than the song we want, and what we have is shallow writing, a producer intent on making them the next booty-call smash, and a trying-too-hard Billy Currington. I call that a recipe for disaster, not a formula for a hit song, and if Currington isn’t careful, he could find himself getting the Easton Corbin treatment before long.

Rating: 4/10. Stay away from this one.

Song Review: Billy Currington, “Bring It On Over”

If this is what Billy Currington’s bringing on over, I’d prefer that he stay over there, thank you very much.

I’ve got to give Currington some credit: Much like Earl the Nidoking from my Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke adventure, Currington is a country music survivor, adapting just enough to keep his 15-year (!) career afloat through the transitional 2000s and the Bro-Country and Metropolitan sounds of the 2010s. Even Earl wound up giving up the ghost eventually, however, and after hearing Currington’s latest single “Bring It On Over” (in theory the leadoff single from his upcoming seventh album), I have to wonder if his spotlight is about to fade as well. It’s yet another meatheaded sex jam that lacks any sort of sexiness at all, and it’s backed by a glaring Metropolitan sound that feels a little out of step with today’s radio climate. With a flood of newcomers hitting the genre, this song is supposed to be Currington’s argument for sticking around, and frankly, it’s not very strong.

The production sounds like it was slapped together in thirty minutes using a Fender and a MacBook, and feels painfully artificial and shallow as a result. The track opens with a drum machine beat recycled from Easton Corbin’s “A Girl Like You” (because that song worked out so well for everyone) and a slick guitar borrowed from Old Dominion’s “Snapback,” and outside of some background synths on the chorus and a bright guitar solo, that’s basically all you get. (And then there are those bizarre, robotic vocal effects that are dumped all over the track, which…well, the less said about them the better.) The mix creates a fair bit of energy, bit it feels misguided when contrasted with the lyrics: Its uptempo, club-ready groove and bubbly, celebratory atmosphere feel like something you would hear at a midnight party, not during the passionate night of lovemaking discussed by the writing. (No wonder the narrator says they will “make a little love to a Motown beat”—they certainly wouldn’t be getting busy to this song.) The sound here is just too clean and clinical to capture the emotion and passion of a true sex jam, leaving the listener confused as to the song’s true purpose actually is.

Currington has pulled off sensual performances before (“Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right,” anyone?), but this song is not one of them. The biggest problem is that the song doesn’t really give him a chance to bring any charisma to bear: The tempo is so fast that he barely has enough time to get the words out (let alone deliver them with any sort of passion), the energy level is too high for him to make the song feel personal or genuine, and lines like “‘Bout to hear my footsteps down your hall” and “I’m getting closer!” make him sound more like a stalker than a lover. While his range and flow sound fine, the song pushes him so far out of his comfort zone that he doesn’t sound believable at all, and his audience feels absolutely none of the passion that the song desperately wants them to feel. Giving Currington’s track record, however, I’m placing the blame less on him and more on whoever thought song was a good fit for him in the first place.

Lyrically, the song takes Jon Pardi’s “Night Shift,” cuts out all the stuff about work, and focuses on the narrator’s drive home and how awesome the sex is going to be when they get home to their partner. I’ll say it again: There is absolutely nothing sexy about this song. There’s no setting the mood, no romantic language, and barely any scenic details besides the bed—it’s just “You’re horny, I’m horny, let’s get it on!” That simplistic setup is the biggest reason this song fails: Unlike the characters in the song, you can’t just tell the listener to be horny along with them—you’ve got to light the fires of passion within the audience using your words and instruments. The reason why songs like Marvin Gaye’s oft-cited “Let’s Get It On” and even Aaron Watson’s “Run Wild Horses” work so well is because they take the time to set the mood and give the listener something to latch on to and picture in their minds, and thus really make them feel the passion and romance with the songs. This song, in comparison, tries to take the express lane to love town, and eschews the verbal foreplay required to move its audience.

In short, “Bring It On Over” really doesn’t bring anything at all. It features ill-fitting production and incomplete lyrics, which make Billy Currington deliver one of his least-inspiring vocal performances ever. Two years ago, this might have had a place on the radio, but these days, I’d listen to Pardi’s boring “Night Shift” ten times before I’d give this track the time of day. If Currington hopes to keep his career alive, he’d better bring over a whole lot more than this next time.

Rating: 4/10. Leave this one off your Valentine’s Day playlist.

Song Review: Billy Currington, “Wake Me Up”

Yawn. Do me a solid and “Wake Me Up” when this song is over, would you?

Billy Currington is one of those mid-tier artists that has been forced to ride the trendy waves washing over the country genre in order to survive, and while he’s proven to be a pretty good surfer (his last single “Do I Make You Wanna” became his seventh No. 1 hit of the decade and eleventh of his career), it’s left him without much of a musical legacy. (I can only name two or three songs of his off the top of my head, none of which were released after 2009.) His latest single “Wake Me Up,” the fifth release off of his Summer Forever album, does nothing to help his cause, as it’s a generic, forgettable track that’s basically Luke Bryan’s “Light It Up” without (almost) all of the phone references.

The production here is a bit more restrained than Bryan’s song: The melody here is passed between acoustic and electric guitars instead of being exclusively electric-driven, and the percussion (both real and synthetic) are not as hard-hitting or in-your-face as much here. (Heck, there are even some random steel guitar stabs tossed into the background.) However, the riffs here don’t stand out as much as they do on Bryan’s track, and despite the reliance on minor chords, this song’s tone never rises above general seriousness, and is nowhere near as unsettling or haunting as Bryan’s was. (Even the guitar solo on Currington’s song seems bland by comparison.) In short, the mix here feels like a diluted, less-impactful version of “Light Me Up” that gives the listener nothing to grab hold of and remember.

Currington is a decent enough singer, and he’s certainly got enough charisma to come across as believable in the role of a pining narrator, but something feels a bit off in the vocals tracks. Most of this seems to stem from the harmony vocals: They don’t blend very well with Currington’s delivery, and make him sound a bit washed-out on the choruses. His range is fine and his flow on the faster sections is surprisingly good, but beyond that…meh. It’s okay, but it lacks that something extra that it needs to catch the listener’s attention.

The lyrics here describe a narrator pleading with a lost love, begging them to reach out to him anytime without worrying if they will interfere with his life (he’s already waiting, so a call won’t “wake [him] up”). Again, while it’s not as explicitly phone-centered as “Light It Up,” the two are essentially the same song, and neither one is terribly interesting. The imagery here is pretty boilerplate stuff (night driving, drinking at a bar…heck, even blowing up phones is blasé now), and there aren’t any clever turns of phrase to hook the listener. To be fair, there’s nothing offensive or misogynistic about the writing, but that’s because there’s nothing here period. To be honest, I would call “Light It Up” a better song than “Wake Me Up” on all counts, as the former at least had decent production and used the sheer brute force of repetition to stick in peoples’ heads (even if what stuck was “why won’t this guy stop talking about his stupid phone already?”) Currington’s song, on the other hand, just flows in one ear and out the other without leaving a trace.

Overall, “Wake Me Up” is a lightweight song that can’t even measure up to its mediocre competition. It’s a step back from “Do I Make You Wanna,” and at best it’s generic radio filler that will take up space until something more interesting comes along. If it’s all the same to Mr. Currington, I’d rather stay sleep until then.

Rating: 5/10. It’s not worth your time.

Song Review: Billy Currington, “Do I Make You Wanna”

Before we dig into this review, I have to ask: What’s it going to take for Billy Currington to get a little respect in country music?

Going by the numbers, Currington has carved out a pretty solid career in the genre, with ten No. 1 hits since 2003 (including four out of his last five singles). His debut single (“Walk A Little Straighter”) was a surprise hit, he’s had several songs (“Good Directions,” “People Are Crazy”) that could be considered ‘career’ singles,  and he even has a Grammy nomination on his resume! Yet for some reason, Currington remains a B/C-list artist with a single award win to his credit (and does winning “Hottest Video of the Year” really count?), and is regularly overshadowed by the Bryans, Sheltons, Aldeans, and even Sam Hunts of the world. Could Currington’s new single “Do I Make You Wanna” change this? Well…I doubt it.

Production-wise, the song is driven primarily by drums and electric guitars, but does a nice job of incorporating some acoustic guitar and other quieter elements into the mix. The melody itself is a strange blend of lighter and darker tones, with minor keys setting a dark foundation for the song and brighter guitar riffs overlaid on top to give it a more positive spin. It’s unexpected, but it actually comes together nicely.

The lyrics themselves borrow heavily from the Bro-Country playbook: The object of the narrator’s affection is either “girl” or “baby,” and some of the usual tropes are present: Staying up all night, riding around in trucks, skinny-dipping, etc. There are also some lines that are completely nonsensical here, such as when Currington asks about “blow[ing] all our money on some sugar at the truckstop.” Is he planning on buying out the place’s homemade donuts? Also, the line about playing truth or dare seems a little out of place (unless the narrator is actually a twelve-year-old, in which case he’s going to have a hard time paying for the Vegas flight he mentions later on.)

What sets this song apart, however, is that the entire song is framed around what the woman wants: The narrator may be making some strong suggestions about what they should do, but the implication is that nothing happens without the woman’s consent. There’s also no mention of the woman’s appearance—in fact, the only part of the woman the singer calls “beautiful” is (gasp) her mind! I didn’t think this was allowed in country music anymore, but it’s certainly a refreshing take coming off of the Bro-Country era.

Overall, “Do I Make You Wanna” is a decent song with some nice sentiment and some bizarre lyrics. I wouldn’t call it a great song, and it likely won’t change Currington’s status as the Rodney Dangerfield of country music, but it’s a nice addition to the radio regardless.

Rating: 6/10. It’s definitely worth a listen, and if you like it, check out the rest of Currington’s discography too!