Blake Shelton — “Sure Be Cool If You Did”
Last year, Blake Shelton managed to nab the coveted CMA Entertainer of the Year award by leveraging his larger than life personality, social media savvy, and a spot on one of primetime television’s most popular talent shows. It was an interesting shift in the notion of where and how fans want to be entertained, proving that today’s round-the-clock digital culture doesn’t require headphones or concert tickets anymore to connect with their favorite musical artists.
Perhaps, then, Shelton is a new breed of country music star, one that doesn’t require music at all to be successful. It’s new territory, to be sure — after all, even Taylor Swift’s success is ground firmly in her songs and the conversations they spur.
That would certainly explain Shelton’s seeming detachment from his recent musical output, which seems to draw inspiration from all of the genres he’s exposed to each week during The Voice. He tried contemporary Christian on for size with 2011’s “God Gave Me You,” mixed it up with the machismo honky-tonk “Drink On It” to kick off 2012, and then tested out a smoother adult sound on “Over.” And now, on his first sampling of a new album due out later this year, he samples a bit of R&B in both production and phrasing.
“Sure Be Cool If You Did” is impressive in its adventurous spirit — after launching with opening line “I was gonna keep it real like chill like only have a drink or two,” its clap-like back beat goes on to share the stage with a mix of echoes, electric guitar and enough pick-up line innuendo to make the The Bellamy Brothers blush. It feels lazy, a flimsy foundation to Shelton’s strong vocals.
In the single’s favor, it does receive a boost from a strongly memorable chorus, punctated with the title lyrics and an undulating hit of guitar. It provides the sticking power the rest of the song is missing, jumbled together in a mish-mash of cliches (“You can’t shoot me down cause you’ve already knocked me dead”) and the worst girly-drink description since Tim McGraw’s “Felt Good on My Lips.”
If Shelton continues to find success without forging an identifiable sound that matches the early creative output that put him on the map, then maybe songs like “Sure Be Cool If You Did” will work just fine for him and his fans amidst his Twitter, TV and award show output. The rest of us will have to just listen to “Austin” and “Ol’ Red” through our old-fashioned stereo speakers.
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