Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Darius Rucker, "Come Back Song"/ Thompson Square, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not"

It's a crying shame when we hear the most unique and talented voices wasted on the most dull and uninspired material.  This seems to happen now more than ever, as country radio often favors the typical and predictable over the unique and interesting.

When Darius Rucker left Hootie and Blowfish behind to set out on a country music career, he had originally planned on recording hardcore country shuffles and ballads.  Oh, what might have been!  Unfortunately, he had to dumb it down considerably in order for his music to be acceptable to country radio.  Thus, he adopted a clean and polished contemporary sound coupled with all of the lyrical themes favored by current country radio.  The result has been music that sounds pleasant enough and is commercially viable, but that is not nearly as interesting as it could have been.

"Come Back Song," the first single from Darius's upcoming second album, follows in the same vein as the music of his debut album.  As the title suggests, it's about a man begging his former lover to return to him.  Only one line in the song that is at all clever:  "You're on the feel-good side of leaving/ And I'm the backside of a mule."  Beyond that, the song fails to make any lasting impression.  It may satisfy fans of Darius's debut, but it is unlikely to win him any new fans.  It's enough to make you say "Oh, that's nice" while it's playing on the radio, and then forget all about it as soon as it's over.

The same could be said of the current single from new Stoney Creek Records duo Thompson Square.  They've got good voices, charisma, personality, and undeniable chemistry (What would you expect?  They're husband and wife!) Their debut single, "Let's Fight," fizzled on the charts, but it was a much more engaging song than this.  "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" is a simple story of a developing romance.  They could have taken that concept and run a little further with it instead of giving us something so bland and un-surprising.  It's simple - boy meets girl; boy falls in love; boy proposes; they get married - The End.  Oh, and every time the chorus rolls around, the girl asks, "Are you gonna kiss me or not?"  I don't think this song has much of a chance at radio, considering that they're a new act from a minor label, and their first single didn't do well.  If I were a radio programmer, I don't think there's anything here that would stop me from passing over this song in favor of Carrie Underwood's current release.

If either of these songs come on the radio, I may sit through them without changing the station, but neither one is likely to have me singing along or losing myself in the music.  I can only hope that Darius Rucker will stop playing it safe, and start showing greater artistic ambition.  If Thompson Square can find material that's on the same level with their talent, they might be able to make a fan out of me yet.  Both artists have potential to do much, so it's disappointing that they seem to be aiming for so little.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)


To hear, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not," click the "Cool New Music" link.