Saturday, January 29, 2011

Heidi Newfield, "Stay Up Late"

Five years ago, Heidi Newfield departed her band Trick Pony to embark on a solo career.  Her debut album produced one memorable single in the Cash-tribute ballad "Johnny and June," but overall failed to make a major impact at radio.  With "Stay Up Late," her first single since 2009, Heidi is back for another stab at the country charts.  Though the single is clearly tailor-made for endless radio airplay, it does not sound like a promising entry for a 40-year-old female artist who was never a member of the automatic-add club to begin with.

This is a prime example of an idea that could have worked, but just didn't take off.  Heidi's distinct vocals are right on the mark, but the song itself is nothing more than a snoozingly simple play-by-play description of a night of romance.  It never delves beneath the surface layer into the emotions and desires that stimulate the actions it describes.  The lyrics don't communicate them, and the thick pop-country production only turns this night of intimacy into an overly audacious house party.  The production certainly doesn't make up for the problem that we're essentially listening to a musical to-do list that's entirely one-dimensional.  It's all "what" with no "why."

The main issue with "Stay Up Late" is one that is common to many of the ditties that are in rotation on country radio.  All it aims to be is an inoffensive distraction.  In reality, one of the major reasons why people are complaining about country's current state is because country radio is increasingly saturated with cheap fluff just like this.

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