If Jimmie Allen’s last single was “Best Shot,” he should’ve called this one “Worst Shot.”
“Best Shot” was one of the biggest surprise hits of 2018, featuring a warm, restrained vibe, solid writing, and a heaping helping of charisma and vulnerability from Allen himself. By distinguishing himself so well from the rest of the pack, the song resonated so much with country listeners that it had to be dragged kicking and screaming off the Mediabase charts before it even fell out of the Top Ten! Naturally, no one wants to mess with a winning formula, so Allen and his team are following up their success with “Make Me Want To,” and…wait, what on earth is this? The song is a generic Metro-Bro retread (you know, the sort of meatheaded masterpiece we all got sick of four years ago) that is basically the polar opposite of “Best Shot.” It’s a major step backwards for Allen, and one that puts his newfound success in jeopardy.
Things feel different right from the start, as the song opens with a slick electric guitar poured on the top of some acoustic strumming and Grady Smith’s favorite clap track. (Heck, it even stole some background shouts from Sam Hunt!) Despite the eventual addition of some real drums and a keyboard (and a guitar solo with some decent energy), the mix just feels generic and indistinguishable, blending in with the crowd more than standing out. The instruments and faster tempo give the song a bright, upbeat feel, but it seems to be stuck in this weird space where it’s not playful enough to be fun and not serious enough to be romantic, and thus doesn’t feel like it matches the lyrics all that well. I wouldn’t call it an inherently bad mix, but the producer just doesn’t do enough with the pieces they have to catch the listener’s attention. Instead, the reaction is “Oh, another one of these songs,” and the audience tunes it out before the first chorus is over.
Allen is still Allen, thankfully, because I shudder to think where this would have ended up in the hands of a less-capable artist. His range and flow and both pretty good here, and despite the lyrical deficiencies here that send the song straight into the ditch (more on that later), Allen’s earnest delivery and charismatic personality at least keeps the song from careening off the road entirely. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot here for Allen to work with: The narrator is the same simple-minded dudebro from every Bro-Country song ever that we’ve all grown to hate, and while Allen keeps him from coming across like an absolute sleazeball, he can’t do anything to make him a sympathetic or likable character. This sort of obnoxious character is beneath Allen, and while I’d rather hear him try to cover this song than, say, Morgan Evans, I’d much prefer that his team find him some stronger material that’s actually worth his time.
The writing is what really irritates me about this song. Our “heroic” protagonist casts their eyes on a woman, declares that they just have to have her, and spends the rest of the song forcing themselves into her evening plans. Instead of the vulnerable, self-aware narrator of “Best Shot,” we’re stuck with this cocky meathead who just assumes people will follow his lead because he’s just that awesome. This sort of pushy, presumptuous attitude has always been a non-starter for me (When he says “Yeah, it might be too soon to say I love you,” my response is “Gee, you think?”), and leaves me rooting for the guy to fall flat on his face instead of succeed. Seriously, how hard is it to, I don’t know, actually consider the other person’s thoughts on the matter? What if “sneaking on out to your car/stealing kisses out there in the dark” isn’t what they’re keen on doing? On top of all this, nearly every classic Bro trope from objectifying comments to nighttime makeout sessions is present (although explicit drinking references are never made, they’re heavily implied given the setting), making the song both unseemly and unoriginal. It feels like a song that was written during the height of the Bro-Country era that someone blew the dust off of for Mercury Lane and thought “This’ll be fine.” It’s not.
“Make Me Want To” doesn’t offend me as much as the worst representatives of the Bro-Country era, but it still offends me a lot. It’s a song that’s a) been done before, b) wasn’t worth doing the first time, and c) is an absolutely disastrous choice to follow-up “Best Shot.” The production is uninteresting, the writing is horrendous, and while Jimmie Allen can move the needle slightly back towards respectability, it’s not enough to salvage this junk. Allen is better than this, and he and his team need to find more material like “Best Shot” that lets him show it.
Rating: 4/10. The first song this year to “Make Me Want To” vomit.