It’s safe to say that no one was looking for this song.
I’ll be honest: I straight-up forgot Chris Young was a thing in country music. He’s had some scattered moments over the last decade or so, but he seems to be perpetually stuck on the Nashville B-list, consistently overshadowed by the bigger names in the genre. Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s released some of the blandest material in town over the last half-decade or so (the man has gotten 5/10 scores on five out of six songs that I’ve reviewed here, and the exception was the tire fire that was “Famous Friends”). Sadly, the trend continues on his latest release “Looking For You,” a lukewarm love song that doesn’t do anything to entice the listener to tune in.
The production here is a run-of-the-mill guitar-and-drum arrangement that brings to mind the phrase “Bro-Country-Lite.” Yes, the prominent guitars are acoustic (the electric axes are mostly shoved into the background, and even on the bridge solo they don’t have the volume or energy you might expect), but the punchy drums, deliberate tempo, and token banjo harken back to the early 2010s, and remind me of how Bro-Country tried (and mostly failed) to evolve with the times a few years ago by moving from synthetic to acoustic elements. (The video mentions other instruments, such as a pedal steel, but good luck finding them in this mix.) The instrument tones are bright, but they don’t seem have to much of an impact, and the mix is devoid of any energy and just plods along from start to finish. The only thing that even kinda-sorta catches your ear is the occasional high-pitched guitar riff, and that’s mostly because it feels out of place with the rest of the sound. It’s the sort of arrangement that oozes mild sameness, the sort of song you’ll swear you’ve already heard a hundred time before, and it does nothing to create the sort of romantic atmosphere that the writing requires. It feels like a placeholder mix that needed some serious fine-tuning to suit the mood, and it mostly lulls the listener to sleep as a result.
Young remains one of the better voices in country music, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with here, and he feathers the gas pedal instead of putting his foot down and letting the audience know how he really feels. While this is not a particularly easy song to pull off and Young does well to get through it without breaking a sweat, that’s actually part of the problem: He seems to be holding back a bit in his delivery, and while he seems pretty smitten with the other person, he struggles to let the listener share in those feelings. This easygoing, awkwardly even-keel approach hurts him on the flips side of the coin as well: He really doesn’t sound all that bothered while talking about his life before meeting his future partner, making you wonder why (or how hard) he was looking for them in the first place. He’s just kind of a guy who lucked into something good, and while I’m happy for him, I’m not all that interested in hearing his story.
Of course, it would help if there was an actual story to be told here. The narrator…well, they were looking for a romantic partner, and they found one. That’s pretty much it. The chorus is wasted on overused phrases and imagery that don’t really tell us that much about the relationship, the hook is a weaksauce attempt to tie into the search for romance, and the general lack of detail here is absolutely astounding. The line that really bugs me is when the narrator says “you were so original”…and then proceeds to tell us nothing about what makes the other person so original. (I already know what my retro review is going to be this week, because I’m really tired of this fill-in-the-blank style of writing that forces the listener to provide the details that the song omits.) The bars, the sunset, the “up all night long”…we’ve been here a thousand times before, and there’s nothing here that lets this song stand out and stand on its own. By the second verse (which is really only half of one), the listener is completely tuned out, and no amount of looking is going to bring them back.
“Looking For You” is one of those tracks that can’t justify its own existence, one that tries so hard to get you to tell your own story that it never tells one of its own. The production is some reheated Bro leftovers that don’t fit the song’s vibe, Chris Young doesn’t bring enough emotion or charisma to the table to hold the audience’s attention, and the writing manages to come up about ten drafts of a decent story despite the fact that they’re copying someone else’s story anyway. The whole thing feels like a halfhearted endeavor, a feeble attempt to remind the world that Young still exists. The sad part is that in this regard, it succeeds: We’re reminded just how bland and boring the man’s work has been over the last half-decade, and the harsh truth that emerges is that we haven’t missed him at all.
Rating: 5/10. Zzzzzz…