Friday, August 27, 2010

Ashley Gearing, "What You Think About Us"

Before I tear this song apart, let me reiterate the fact that I have no standing prejudice against pop-country - an increasingly popular sub-genre that seems to alienate as many listeners as it attracts.  True, I do generally prefer country music that actually sounds like country music.  But it is possible to make a good pop-country record if you know how to do it.

Remember Shania Twain?  She set the gold standard for any female artist wishing to attempt pop-country.  She injected massive amounts of charming personality into her vocals, while never sacrificing lyrical content, and never allowing the production to overwhelm her.  In addition, she always sounded self-assured and confident in what she did.  Sadly, the new single from Ashley Gearing lacks these traits, and misses the mark for good pop-country.

Just in case you don't remember Ashley Gearing, let me refresh your memory.  She scraped the bottom of the Top 40 back in 2003 with "Can You Hear Me When I Talk to You," at the age of 11.  Subsequent radio offerings have consistently failed to make a dent on the charts.  The now-19-year-old starlet is back with a new single that successfully avoids the sin of being "too country."  The problem is that she tries to sound pop, but doesn't quite know how to do it.  "What You Think About Us" immediately gets off to a rough start with auto-tuned "hey-yeah-aaah-eh" background vocals, and it's all downhill from there.  I'd be wasting my breath if I criticized the fact that there is no hint of country flavoring.  The problem is that the percussion-heavy arrangement, littered with thrashing rock and roll guitars, sounds watered-down and generic.  Besides that, Ashley is forced to shout in order to be heard, making this a greatly overwhelming listen.

The lyrical concept was at least one that was worth a try - that of a young woman's desire to learn if her feelings for her significant other are reciprocated.  But when the first verse began with "I know how you feel about driving fast blasting the radio/ Red sox, re-runs on TiVo," Ashley had lost me by the time she got to "Tell me what you think about us."

Ashley has a good voice, and potential to be a decent artist.  But she's been doused in so much pop sugar that it's nearly impossible to take her seriously.

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

To hear this song, click "Cool New Music."