Monday, April 18, 2011

Sugarland, "Tonight"

It starts out bad, and then it only get worse.

To Sugarland's credit, their overall-disappointing album The Incredible Machine at least managed to produce two killer singles with "Stuck Like Glue" and "Little Miss."  Unfortunately, those were the only two good songs on the album, and the inevitable third single exemplifies much of what was wrong with the album as a whole.

Once again, empty lyrics meet overcrowded production.  The lyrics of "Tonight" attempt to convey longing for one who does not reciprocate the narrator's affections, but that ship never really leaves the harbor.  Instead, it sinks under the weight of self-indulgent mediocrity thanks to the endless repetition of the title hook.  The lyric sheet offers two four-line verses, and then robotically repeats itself for the remainder of the song's four-minute length.  Thus, "Tonight" comes across as a lyrically unfocused, scatter-shot effort.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all is a grating, stuffy-throated performance on the part of lead singer Jennifer Nettles.  Ever since the days when Sugarland was a trio, its defining feature was Jennifer's distinct, powerful voice.  Since then, she has often been regarded as one of the most talented female singers country music has to offer.  Sadly, her performance of "Tonight" begins in an annoying nasal delivery, and ends with her shouting to be heard over bombastic production, and the magic in her emotive Georgia twang is lost.

Jennifer's performance has often been the saving grace that elevated even less-than-stellar material to an enjoyable level.  In this case, however, it's the final death stroke for a single that was already an insubstantial miss.

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