Song Review: Dustin Lynch, “Stars Like Confetti”

“Stars Like Confetti”? More like “Song Like Garbage.”

I’m starting to get the feeling that Dustin Lynch isn’t even trying anymore. He spent much of 2022 clogging up the airwaves with “Party Mode,” a lifeless, repetitive song that flamed out at #17 on Billboard’s airplay chart (and when your album leadoff track gets smacked down, that’s not a good sign), and he’s back now with “Stars Like Confetti,” a song so derivative in every facet that it could have been written and produced by an AI tool (but not performed; an AI tool would have more personality than Lynch does). I don’t feel like wasting any more time than I have to with this drivel, so let’s get this over with.

Remember how I thought the one place on “Party Mode” where “progress seems to be happening is in the production”? Yeah, they went right back to square one here: This is a bland, plodding guitar-and-drum mix that actively works against its subject matter with its tenor and tempo, and it does so unnecessarily. All the pieces that could have potentially spice up the mix are still here (pedal steel, dobro), but they’re buried so deep in the mix that you barely notice them, and the result is an undercurrent of slurry noise on the chorus that adds nothing to the sound. (Heck, the pedal steel mirrors the guitar lead on the bridge solo, but it’s impact is blunted by the electric axe it has to share with.) If that wasn’t enough, the arrangement also “pulls an Aldean” by using minor chords and leaning on neutral-to-negative instrument tones that create a bizarrely-ominous atmosphere that’s neither fun nor reflective nor nostalgic, and its leaden pace and beat cause the song to bog down and collapse under its own weight. This is about as mailed-in a mix as I’ve heard in a long time, an attempt at inoffensiveness that winds up being the sound’s most offensive trait.

As far as Lynch goes, could somebody check this man for a pulse? The man has all the charm and charisma of a hat stand, and he struggles to inject any sort of feeling or emotion into his lines. He seems to have trouble getting through the uneven lyrics (more on that later), and he’s only able to muster up a slight volume increase when he tries to ramp up the intensity on the chorus. He’s supposed to be looking back fondly on a long-forgotten rendezvous, but his delivery is a little too nonchalant (and honestly a bit sleazy too), and he falls far short of passing his nonexistent feelings to the listener. (I think the sound works against him a lot as well, but a better vocalist could overcome this, and “better” has never been a word to describe Lynch.) There’s just not a lot to say here: Lynch fails to earn the narrator’s sympathies or make the song interesting, which means he did exactly what we expected.

It’s the writing here that really gives me ChatGPT vibes: Not only is the story a cookie-cutter nostalgia trip that trots out all the usual buzzwords (we got the beer, we got the truck, we got the dirt road, we got the nighttime cuddle session, and so on), but it’s about as badly-written a song as I’ve heard in a long time. A surprising number of lines try to cram in too many syllables unnecessarily (and then the “see-forever sky” line is inexplicably left short), and the “God was throwing stars like confetti” hook is more awkward than it should be (stars falling kind of makes sense, but stars being thrown does not). The whole mess feels like exactly what you’d get if you ran the last two years of mainstream country music through a machine-learning algorithm, and you’ve heard everything here at least a hundred times before. It just feels like a lazy effort on the part of the writers (did it really take three writers to cobble this junk together?), and when you combine something everyone has already heard with an artist no one wants to hear at all, the results are not pleasant.

“Stars Like Confetti” is an amalgamation of everything I can’t stand about modern country music. The sound is ill-conceived and ill-fitting, the writing is haphazard, paint-by-numbers, and borders on plagiarism, and if personality were dynamite, Dustin Lynch wouldn’t have enough to blow his hat off. At some point, even Nashville has to realize this guy has jumped the shark, and after a decade of letting him foist his mediocre material onto the public, it’s long past time to toss him out and give his roster spot to someone with some actual talent. I’m sick of wasting my time on this joker, and with any luck I’ll never have to do so again.

Rating: 3/10. NEXT!

Song Review: Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”

This song is a microcosm of the genre right now…but sadly, it’s also still a Dustin Lynch song.

The revelations in Country Aircheck two weeks ago sent shock waves through the industry: 2021 was the worst year for country radio since they started keeping PPM records. Everyone and their mother had a reason for why things appeared to be circling the drain, and many of them were things we’d discussed at length on the blog: Soundalike songs, zombie tracks, chart shenanigans, and so on. If country music was to find its way out of the fog, it needed to find a way to connect with audience again, and be more than the background noise that it had become.

Lynch has been a significant part of the problem over the last few years, as he’s dropped some real clunkers on our heads (“Small Town Boy,” “I’d Be Jealous Too,” “Ridin’ Roads”) and has only ever managed to rise to the level of forgettable mediocrity (“Good Girl,” his latest single with MacKenzie Porter “Thinking ‘Bout You”). There’s a reason the artist with the worst showing on my year-end lists gets an award that was named after this guy, and if country music is ever going to change for the better, figuring out what to do with this joker is about as good a place to start as any. “Party Mode,” the second single from Lynch’s recently-released album Blue In The Sky, is a sign of what Lynch and his team thinks will sell, and frankly, it’s not good. You can tell that some of the criticism of today’s music has reached the ear of someone important, but it’s can’t overcome the facts that a) modern songwriting has become incredibly watered down, and b) Lynch has all the personality of a coat rack.

The place were progress seems to be happening is in the production, as this is as close as Lynch has ever come to a conventional/classical arrangement (at least in his radio singles). Yes, the guitars and drums are still dominant players here, but the guitars have a bit more texture and a tone that invokes the sound of the 2000s, and the drums are both real and a bit rougher-sounding. Most notably, however, is the fact that the producer stole Carly Pearce’s dobro and gave it a surprisingly-prominent position in the fact, to the point where you could argue that it’s the defining instrument in the mix. There’s also a pedal steel and fiddle (!) present here, and while they’re given given any room to breathe and are mostly buried in the background, the fact that they’re here at all (especially the fiddle) is a step in the right direction. (The Topic video on YouTube doesn’t credit a keyboard, but there’s an organ-sounding one hidden here as well.) Unfortunately, despite the interesting pieces and the dobro’s near-leading role, there’s still something off with this mix: It’s caught in the awkward space being a party song and a heartbreak song, and it vibe it creates doesn’t make the song feel like either one. The regular minor chords keep the song from being any fun or energetic, but the generally-brighter tones don’t really reflect the supposed melancholy in the narrator’s breakup, and as a result the atmosphere feels mostly neutral and muted. Had the producer picked a mood and leaned into it, this might have been a workable song no matter the direction they picked, but as it is the sound provides little support (or even much of a connection) to the subject matter, and all of the intriguing pieces it brings together mostly go to waste.

Of course, when you’re dealing with a soulless singer like Lynch, most any song is probably doomed before it even gets to the starting gate. There aren’t any technical issues with Lynch’s performance, but there isn’t any emotion behind it either, and as a result he sounds completely disingenuous in the role of a heartbroken narrator using “party mode” as a coping mechanism. (Seriously, every time I hear that line “I sure do miss her and what we had,” I roll my eyes and think “Yeah, right,” like it’s a reflex.) In truth: he suffers from the same problem as the sound: He doesn’t sound the least bit regretful that the relationship is over, but he also doesn’t sound like he’s having any fun on the party circuit either, leaving the listener confused as to how to feel about the situation. Truthfully, it’s a moot point, as Lynch simply fails to convince the audience to even care enough to be confused, and comes across as the same “meatheaded dudebro” that he does in every single he releases. The fact that this untalented stiff has lasted for over ten years in mainstream country music tells you everything you need to know about the current state of the genre.

And then we get to the lyrics:

Party mode, party mode, party mode
That’s how it goes, how it goes, how it goes
Neon lights, honky-tonks ’til they close
Party mode, party mode, party mode

…Yeah. Sheer poetry.

When I hear this, I can’t help but think of Charli XCX’s comments about writing songs for the streaming era, or Hasan Minhaj’s comments about just how repetitive Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” is. This is a song that feel overly-optimized for Spotify (although he takes 44 seconds to reach the chorus; that’s an eternity these days), and while it’s catchy, it’s also vapid and pointless. The song is supposedly about how the narrator self-medicates with booze and wild times to get over a breakup, but the narrator doesn’t actually seem to care about the lost love, even going as far as to say “I hope she comes back, but if she don’t, I’ll be [partying my ears off].” I mean, I give artists a hard time for dwelling on the past and not moving on, but this guy gets back into “party mode, party mode, party mode” so fast that it’s hard to believe he loved the other person at all. This is as unapologetically shallow and nihilistic as any song from the height of the Cobronavirus movement, and as far as the listener is concerned, if the speaker doesn’t care about their own story, why should anyone else?

“Party Mode” is a depressingly-accurate barometer of where country music stands in 2022. It knows it has to do something, and it’s taking some baby steps in its production (heck, the sound is all that ERNEST’s “Flower Shops” has going for it, and it’s been enough to post some decent weeks on Mediabase), but it continues to be weighed down by fundamental issues like mindless, meaningless writing and artists like Dustin Lynch who couldn’t sell Gatorade to someone that’s dying of thirst. This song is part of the problem rather than the solution, and if Lynch, Broken Bow, and Nashville at large want to get themselves out of the rut they’ve fallen into, they’re going to have to try a little harder than this.

Rating: 4/10. No.

Song Review: Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You”

I was just thinking that Dustin Lynch hadn’t popped up to annoy me in a while…

I called Brett Young’s chart credentials into question recently, but Lynch’s bona fides are even more suspect: He’s got a few duds mixed in with his seven No. 1 songs (“I’d Be Jealous Too,” anyone?), and his latest single “Momma’s House” spent fourteen months on the airwaves and couldn’t even reach #1 on Mediabase (it stalled at #5 on Billboard’s airplay chart). I’d call Lynch a hat stand that’s just taking up space in Nashville, but even hat stands have more charisma than Lynch does, and perhaps sensing that he alone won’t be enough to get a song over the top (and perhaps to increase Lynch’s profile north of the border; “Momma’s House” only made it to #35 in Canada), Broken Bow has chosen “Thinking ‘Bout You,” a collaboration with Canadian country artist MacKenzie Porter (who last appeared on the blog in 2020 with “These Days,” a meh track that didn’t even break the top fifty in the States), as the fourth single off of Lynch’s Tullahoma album. Unfortunately, the song is yet another soundalike nostalgia track that is half-baked, uninspiring, and ultimately forgettable, which at this point is a fitting description of Lynch himself.

I’ve been begging Nashville for some arrangement diversity in their releases, but bringing different instruments into the studio is worthless if you don’t actually feature them in the final mix. Sure, there’s a steel guitar and what sounds like a dobro in the production here, but the former is buried in the background and the latter throws in a few notes but is ultimately overwhelmed by (you guessed it) a cacophony of overpolished acoustic and electric guitars and a punchless drum set. The instrument tones are surprisingly flavorless and neutral (whatever positivity and energy the mix generates comes only) from the vocals), and the vi-IV-I-V chord structure emphasizes the minor chord sections and makes the track sound far more serious than it should. The result is a mix that just kind of exists, and rather than supporting the subject matter, its sheer blandness encourages the listener to ignore it instead, and the listener is more than happy to oblige.

“Cowboys And Angels” came out all the way back in 2012, which begs the question: How have we let someone as charmless as Lynch hang around country music for this long? His performance here is passable from a technical level, but he’s terrible in the narrator’s role—there’s no excitement or emotion in his voice (especially on the verses), and his vocal tone makes him sound less like a guy happy to rekindle a relationship and more like a meatheaded dudebro hoping they can get some more sex out of an old hookup. It doesn’t help that Porter absolutely sings him under the table here (despite the fact that the key is a bit too low for her): She brings some unexpected power and feeling to her parts, and the producer has to keep her volume low so she doesn’t overwhelm Lynch’s part (it reminds me a lot of how Jordin Sparks had her volume turned way down to not drown out Thomas Rhett on “Playing With Fire”). I wouldn’t exactly her performance memorable, however, and it’s not nearly enough to elevate this song beyond mediocre, especially with a dead weight like Lynch along for the ride.

The writing puts our two narrators on either end of a random phone call some time after a relationship has cooled off and ended, and they spend the song rehashing the good times and promising to meet up again sometime in the future (a promise we’ve all made and later forgotten at some point). My main issue with the story is that there’s a giant hole in the middle of it—more specifically, if the pair had so many good times together (which are exactly what you would expect them to be: a night in the country, a weekend on the lake and “that one time in Baton Rouge when we made out in the rain”), why are they separated at the time of the call? The reason could be benign (someone left for “the big city” to chase a dream, for example) or not-so-benign (the guy was a sleazeball who didn’t treat their partner right, which tends to be the first thing you think when Lynch is involved), but you’ve got to give us more context before we can invest in the story—otherwise it’s just a phone call to reminisce about the past. The writers deserve some credit for trying to frame this song differently then, say, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” on “Everywhere But On” by trying to focus on the positive, but the truth is that this song is no different from the other generic lost-love snoozers we’ve heard over the last year, and you can’t just ignore the past without getting some questions from the audience. In other words, the story just isn’t worth paying attention too; not only is it incomplete, but it’s so boring that you won’t remember it after the song ends anyway.

“Thinking About You” is a story song minus the story, and an emotional love song minus any love or emotion. The production is ill-fitting and cookie-cutter, the writing is unengaging and unfinished, and Dustin Lynch is his usual unlikable self. As ambivalent as I was (and remain) about MacKenzie Porter, she qualifies as the high point of this song by virtue of being the only person in the room to bring some actual feeling and presence to the table. It seems that being forgettable and uninteresting is Lynch’s ceiling at this point, and at some point we can’t keep a hat stand around just because we have a place for it when we could make better use of the space it’s taking up. It’s time Nashville gave Lynch the Marie Kondo treatment, because he’s certainly not bringing anyone joy.

Rating: 5/10. It’s not worth thinking about.

Song Review: Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House”

If Dustin Lynch feels the need to burn something, I suggest he start with the master tape of this track.

I anointed Blake Shelton as the head of the group of artists that receive zero love from me, but Dustin Lynch has a pretty senior position in this party as well. Outside of “Good Girl” (5/10), Lynch hasn’t received anything higher than a three from my song reviews, and I consider him one of the worst offenders of the Bro-Country and Metropolitan eras. Country radio, however, can’t get enough of this guy (seven of his last eight singles have earned airplay #1s), so Lynch hasn’t had much of a need to change up his terrible formula. Considering the circumstances, I suppose we’re lucky to get what we did when Lynch released “Momma’s House” as the third single from his just-barely-released Tullahoma album. It’s slightly less obnoxious than Lynch’s previous release “Ridin’ Roads,” but it’s still nothing more than a generic, forgettable rant along the lines of Sam Hunt’s “Break Up In A Small Town,” and it doesn’t convince the listener that the tale is worth commiserating over.

The production feels like a really odd choice for a song as depressing as this one claims to be. It opens with some bright, happy acoustic guitar and mandolin riffs backed with some light snare, and even as the mix slowly morphs into something more conventional (first the unnecessary snap track appears, then the electric guitars rise up, and finally the token banjo and full drum set jump in), those acoustic riffs remain a central piece of the arrangement, and the overall vibe of the mix feels surprisingly cheeful and optimistic, even with the slower tempo and usual dose of minor chords tossed into the pile. Considering that the narrator’s “momma’s house” is the only thing standing between them and federal arson charges, saying that the mix clashes badly with the writing is an understatement. By undermining the frustrated, melancholy feel of the lyrics this badly, whoever produced this mess leaves the listener completely confused as to how they should fell about the song, and blunts the impact the track leaves behind.

Of course, when it comes to selling the story, Lynch doesn’t do himself any favors with his vocal performance either. His flat tone and wooden flow during the verses fail to endear him to the audience, and even though he tries to inject a bit more passion on the choruses, he just doesn’t have the charm or charisma to make the narrator feel sympathetic or relatable. If you close your eyes and ignore the lyrics as you listen, you wouldn’t get the sense from Lynch’s delivery that the narrator was in all that much distress (heck, he uses the exact same tone on “Small Town Boy” and “Ridin’ Roads”). As a result, the listener doesn’t find this sob story to be all that exceptional, and thus doesn’t see a need to care about it (especially when the production is standing behind Lynch screaming “Don’t listen to him! Everything’s fine!”) I feel like even a veteran artist would struggle to reconcile a nasty sound/subject matter mismatch like this one, which means a weaksauce act like Lynch doesn’t have a chance.

Speaking of weaksauce, can we talk about this bolted-on hook that barely fits with the rest of the writing? In truth, it’s a bit of a deke: When you see a title like “Momma’s House,” you think “oh great, another unimaginative, paint-by-numbers, ‘I’m so country!’ ode to mom, God, and pickup trucks.” Instead, the narrator spends the entire song whining about how a breakup has destroyed their relationship with their hometown by constantly reminding them of the love that was. “Momma’s house,” however, is only mentioned as the thing keeping the narrator from burning the whole place down, and it feels detached from the rest of the impersonal references (parks, bars, parties, etc.). There’s nothing here that truly brings the town to life and allows us to walk with Lynch as he travels on his tour of pain, and the cookie-cutter relationship moments don’t shine any light on the situation either. (And don’t get me started on the nonsensical “I feel your love, I hear your laugh, got them take me way on back” line, which makes my inner grammarian retch.) It just feels like the writers didn’t put a whole lot of effort into the song, which you can’t really blame them for given that the producer pretty much ignored the lyrics anyway.

“Momma’s House” is what happens when the parties involved can’t come to an agreement about the song identity. The producer went one way, the writers went another, and Dustin Lynch just shrugged and threw down the same flavorless performance that he always does. The result is a song that cannot justify its own existence, as it tries to be too many things and winds up being none of them. This track has been done before and done better (see: Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell’s “What Happens In A Small Town”), so there’s no point in wasting your time and energy on this nonsense.

Rating: 4/10. Next!

Song Review: Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads”

Is it better to be bad or boring? Because Dustin Lynch is about to find out.

Lynch won my unofficial “Worst Artist of 2017” award by placing two songs (“Small Town Boy,” “I’d Be Jealous Too”) in the bottom five of my song rankings for that year. In comparison, however, 2018 was relatively quiet, with Lynch only releasing the forgettable “Good Girl” and generally losing most of the buzz he had created the year before (despite earning an airplay #1, “Good Girl” didn’t convince Broken Bow to let it headline a new album). Now, with 2019 nearing the quarter pole and the genre knee-deep in the Luke Combs meta, Lynch’s team has decided to release an EP instead of an LP, promoting “Ridin’ Roads” as Lynch’s latest single. The decision is a puzzling one, as “Ridin’ Roads” is Lynch’s most sleep-inducing work to date, lifelessly slogging through yet another recycled Bro-Country trope.

The first thing that hits you when listening to the production is just how lethargic it is. It starts off as the same-old guitar-and-drum mix that seems to be required by country music law nowadays (and yes, the drum machine is here too, mostly on the verses), but to their credit the producer tries to mix in a few other instruments (a dobro gets some room to show off, a steel guitar floats around in the background). However, it’s not the “what” that leads to trouble here, it’s the “how”: The slow tempo, simple riffs, darker instrument tones, and overall serious vibe of the mix drain the track of all its energy and momentum (to say nothing of the supposed joy of “ridin’ roads”), leaving the song to just plod along from start to finish. (Seriously, the dobro player is the only person involved who offers evidence of having a pulse.) I just don’t get why artists laud activities like nighttime drives as the most awesome thing evar, and then their producers make the track sound like said activity is about as fun as watching paint dry. In the end, the listener is left wondering if this song is supposed to be fun or serious…or at least they would wonder about that if they weren’t snoring by the time the song finished.

For someone who’s found a decent amount of success in the genre, Lynch is one of the least charismatic performers on the radio today. Technically, his performance is fine: His range is tolerable and his flow is fairly smooth (albeit mostly untested). Behind the mic, however, he demonstrates all the personality of a cardboard box, and he delivers his lines here without an once of life or happiness, making him feel like the least-believable narrator in the world. I mean, come on, dude! You’re supposedly out for a ride with the woman of your dreams, and you’re singing with all the passion of a guy filling out his tax return! (For as pointless as Kip Moore’s anger was on “The Bull,” at least he felt like he really meant what he was saying.) “Ridin’ roads” doesn’t sound like fun, it sounds like torture, and that’s the feeling Lynch ends up passing to the listener. Given the ubiquity of this topic and all the options country music fans have to hear people sing about it, why you would ever choose to listen to this song is beyond me.

Speaking of this topic…the narrator here is singing about taking a nighttime drive with his significant other (and all of the sexual implications of said drive). How novel! It’s not like we’ve heard a million songs like this in the last five years or anything. The imagery here is beyond generic (flashing lights, large tires, lack of nightclubs, etc.), and the actual countryside is never described outside of being “out there where the moon hits the water.” The lyrics run the gamut from weak (“thirty early out their in your drive” at least gets you some credit for trying) to nonsensical (“I hit the curb just to make you slide”? Huh?), and while they avoid any explicit objectification of the woman in the shotgun seat, the usual sleazy vibe is still there, as the narrator has “one hand on the wheel/And I got the other tryna cross the line, line, line.” This is just another bland Bro looking for just another sexual score, and I’d probably be more up in arms about it if the song didn’t keep putting me to sleep.

In short, there’s no good reason for “Ridin’ Roads” to exist: The production is lifeless, Dustin Lynch comes across as uninteresting and unmotivated, and the topic has been done to death already (and it’s usually done better than this). The track is a non-habit-forming sleep aid at best and a Bro-Lite retread at worst, and Lynch has to be better than this is he wants to stick around the genre for much longer. While I don’t know if it’s better to be bad or boring, I’m afraid this song is both.

Rating: 3/10. No thank you.

Song Review: Dustin Lynch, “Good Girl”

This song is boring and forgettable. For Dustin Lynch, this constitutes progress.

Jordin Davis may have had the worst song of 2017, but with two songs in my bottom five, I’d argue that Dustin Lynch was the big loser of 2017. His production was unimaginative Bro-based garbage, his lyrics were lazy and tone-deaf, and his vocals embodied all the creepiness and of the Metro-Bro era. He easily replaced Michael Ray as the artist I had the least respect for in country music, and after radio surprised everyone by delivering a righteous smack-down on “I’d Be Jealous Too” (even Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation” scored better than the #34 peak “Jealous” got!), I hoped that we’d finally seen the last of Lynch, of at least this awful version of him.

It seems that my wish was half-granted: Lynch and his team responded to this humbling by abandoning his Current Mood album, going back to the studio, and returning to the radio with “Good Girl,” a lightweight track that celebrates the woman that has entered his life. The song may still feature some questionable production choices and blatantly steal some ideas from “Take Back Home Girl,” but I can listen to this song without grinding my teeth or switching the station in disgust, and that’s more than I expected.

The production opens with the awkward pairing of a dobro and a drum machine (harkening back to Florida Georgia Line’s “Smooth”), with a slick, barely-there electric guitar trying (and failing) to carry the melody. A few other acoustic instruments are sprinkled in later—token banjo, background steel guitar stabs, a brief acoustic guitar portion—but the percussion is the most prominent piece of the mix (even the guitar solo is choppy and inconsequential). Like every Dustin Lynch single, it leans on an unnecessarily-large number of minor chords that don’t match the song’s happy vibe, and Lynch’s addition of “waddup!” to the end of a few (more-serious) lines is completely nonsensical and out of place. There’s enough here to establish a breezy, celebratory atmosphere while avoiding the swampiness of “Smooth,” but it’s nothing to write home about.

I’ve talked in the past about artists elevating questionable material, but I think the opposite is true here: Lynch sounds like the same unrepentant Bro we all know and despise, but the lyrics are high-minded enough to make him seem a bit more sympathetic this time around. That said, he’s made some microscopic improvements in his delivery this time around; While he still sound far too serious for the subject matter, he emotes a tiny bit more here than on past singles, and at least gives the slight impression that there’s a decent probability that he might possibly be having a little fun (maybe). The song also feels a chord or two low for his voice, but he handles it just well enough to keep it from being a distraction. It may not be a good or memorable, but it does feel like a step in the right direction.

The lyrics, despite their shallow depth, get most of the credit for elevating the song as much as they do. Rather than lording his partner over outside observers or wasting time talking about himself, the narrator simply celebrates how great his partner is and how much better his life is now that they’re together. It’s not novel, and I’d hesitate to call it enlightened (the “girl” counter clocks in at a disappointing fourteen), but it at least keeps the focus on the woman without objectifying or demeaning them. The bit about “take you home to Mama, take you to the church” feels like an obvious ripoff of Chris Lane and Tori Kelly’s “Take Back Home Girl,” but when combined with thoughts like being together for 55 years, it adds a layer of maturity and sympathy to the narrator, things that have been in short supply in Lynch’s earlier material. It lacks that extra something that could make the song more memorable or impactful (and it doesn’t get any help at all from the singer or the sound), but it’s easily the best part of the track.

Is “Good Girl” a good song? No, but it’s not an unqualified train wreck either, and that counts for something (albeit very little). The writing adds a bit more respectability than you’d expect from a Dustin Lynch song, and the production and vocal performance don’t do as much damage as you might expect. I won’t remember this song existed in a week, but it also won’t make my year-end worst list, and if Lynch wants to regain his chart momentum, he’s got to start somewhere.

Rating: 5/10. Being forgotten is better than being remembered for the wrong reasons.

Song Review: Dustin Lynch, “I’d Be Jealous Too”

WANTED: Mediocre country singer seeks likable personality for new single. Must be OK with drum machines, minor chords, and vocal effects. Interested parties should contact Dustin Lynch as soon as possible.

I absolutely hated Lynch’s last single “Small Town Boy” (it was my least liked song of the first half of 2016), so naturally the track rocketed up the charts, spent a month at No. 1, and became the biggest hit of Lynch’s career. For his encore, Lynch decided to switch to an unabashed Metropolitan sound for “I’d Be Jealous Too,” a braggadocios “look how great my girl is” track that accomplishes the amazing feat of making Lynch even less likable than before.

The production here is so blatantly synthetic that it makes you wonder if the producer included any real instruments at all. Yes, some real drums crop up on the chorus, and a muted electric guitar does it darnedest to carry the melody, but the drum machine is the featured instrument here, littering the verses with fake snaps and claps in an (mostly failed) attempt to inject some sort of energy into the song. As with most of Lynch’s work, the song is plagued by minor chords that set an overly-serious tone and drain the song of whatever fun it was supposed to have, and the switch from the slow-jam-esque verses to the faster, more-conventionally-structured chorus keeps the song from establishing any sort of groove (or any consistency at all, really). In short, it’s just a mess.

I have little regard for Lynch as a vocalist, and “I’d Be Jealous Too” does nothing to change my opinion. While the writing admittedly doesn’t give Lynch a whole lot to work with (more on that later), Lynch’s complete lack of charisma keeps him from elevating the song to a respectable level, and he comes off as a unsympathetic sleazeball who takes pleasure in watching other people leer at his girlfriend. His range is fine and his flow is decent, but his voice doesn’t have a lot of tone to it, and his super-serious delivery just makes him seem even creepier than usual. To be honest, I don’t really understand this guy’s appeal at all.

The writing here features a narrator gloating to an unnamed barroom creeper about his girl, and saying that if their positions were reversed, “I’d be jealous too.” It’s not exactly a novel topic in country music, but the topic is usually approached in a much more endearing way, with the narrator marveling at the woman’s appeal (think Blake Shelton’s “A Guy With A Girl,” or Thomas Rhett’s “Star Of The Show”). Here, on the the other hand, the narrator just feels like he’s lording his girlfriend’s awesomeness over his audience, and getting a kick out of their jealous reactions. Instead of feeling jealous or amazed, the listener just feels sorry for the woman for getting stuck with this jerk. The lyrics themselves aren’t terribly witty or clever, and feature some truly bizarre comparisons (“She comes on stronger than a bourbon street hand grenade?” Really?), and while they don’t venture into explicitly misogynistic territory, they’re still fairly shallow in their descriptions (for example, she has an “hourglass body like a guitar”). Combine poor writing like this with an annoying delivery like Lynch’s, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Overall, “I’d Be Jealous Too” is yet another terrible track from Dustin Lynch, featuring the 1-2 punch of poor writing and a poor delivery. If forced to choose between “Small Town Boy” and this tire fire, I’d ask if I could have my ears cut off instead. After Michael Ray’s last single ended up being kind of tolerable, Lynch may have just stolen his title as my new least favorite artist in the genre.

Rating: 3/10. Don’t touch this one with a ten-foot pole.

Song Review: Dustin Lynch, “Small Town Boy”

Oh joy, the “Yep Yep” guy is back to do his Jason Aldean impression again. Aren’t we lucky…

Lynch rose to prominence during the height of the Bro-Country era, and despite being a one-trick pony (seriously, do all of his singles involve a night of partying with a woman?), he has managed to carve out a nice niche for himself in the genre, and is currently riding a streak of four No. 1 singles in a row. He’s looking to extend that streak with “Small Town Boy,” the second single from his yet-to-be-released third album, and while I’ll admit that this song is no worse than the junk he’s been releasing up to this point, that’s not a terribly high bar to clear.

The song itself talks about how a woman has fallen for the singer despite him being an unabashed countrified “small town boy.” It’s an overdone trope, but can be done well if the singer, songwriter, and producer all pull their weight. Unfortunately, this song fails on all three counts:

  • Production-wise, this song is ripped straight from the “Metro-Bro” playbook, with a foundation by hard-hitting guitars and drums (both real and synthetic). Much like Aldean’s songs, the darker guitar tones and prevalence of minor keys give this track a heavy and serious feel…and just like Aldean’s songs, the dark production does not fit the song’s premise at all. This song is screaming for bright, spacious production that captures the singer’s wonder and amazement at the idea that this woman chose him over all others…so why does it set a dark and foreboding tone instead?
  • The songwriting here is beyond lazy, and never rises above simple “checklist country.” Consider the start of the first verse:

I’m a dirt road in the headlights

I’m a mama’s boy, I’m a fistfight

Kinda county line, kinda cold beer

Little hat down, little John Deere…

Tractors, beer, nighttime rides on dirt roads…all that’s missing is a pickup and a dog. My advice for the writers of this drivel (Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, and Kyle Fishman): Put some actual effort into your work next time.

  • Finally, we have Lynch’s vocal performance, and it falls into the same trap as the production: It’s way too dark and serious for the subject matter. Despite the fact that this woman loves him for his “country-ness,” Lynch doesn’t come across as terribly happy about this fact, and instead just fights his way through the lyrics with Aldean-esque staidness. Rather than making us empathize with him, Lynch leaves the listener questioning whether he’s as happy with this arrangement as the woman seems to be. As far as the vocals themselves, his voice sounds flat to the point of being nearly monotone, and the auto-tuning doesn’t help matters.

Overall, “Small Town Boy” is about as poorly-executed a song as I’ve heard in a long time. There’s nothing inherently infuriating here, and if all parties involved had hit their marks, Lynch might have had a halfway-decent track on its hands. Instead, a series of lazy, ill-advised, and just plain bad decisions have left us with an absolute train wreck of a tune.

Good luck extending that No. 1 streak to five, Dustin. You’re going to need it.

Rating: 3/10. Give this one a wide berth.