Jessica Simpson – “Pray Out Loud”

Juli Thanki | February 3rd, 2009

Jessica Simpson - Pray Out LoudThough gossip mongers and tabloids of late have been focusing on Jessica Simpson’s alleged weight gain, there is another, more important issue which needs to be brought into the public eye, and that’s the sheer lameness of her latest single, “Pray Out Loud.”

First things first, it seems that Simpson—who began her musical career as a contemporary Christian artist—has never read Matthew 6:6, which states in part, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father.” We can only wish that Simpson would have followed these directions and stayed unseen (or at least unheard) when it comes to this three-minute snoozefest masquerading as a country song.

“Pray Out Loud” manages to be positive in the blandest way possible thanks to a trio who takes every opportunity to pen one hackneyed cliché after another. The song was written by Simpson and industry veterans Brett James (who co-wrote “Jesus, Take the Wheel”) and producer John Shanks, who’s written with Keith Urban (“Somebody Like You”), and the younger, less-talented singing Simpson sister. Here, Shanks and James are scraping the bottom of their barrels when it comes to writing trite pop-country. It’s a song written for the minivan set to hum along to, completely forgotten as soon as the vehicle is back in the garage.

But the lyrics themselves aren’t the song’s biggest problem–that would be Jessica Simpson’s absolute inability to sell said lyrics, which she delivers with about as much emotion as Mr. Moviefone. If a song urges listeners to “Just close your eyes and let it out/All your fears and doubts,” then the singer should at least sound as though she believes it herself, or that she has been through a similar experience in order to give the song a modicum of believability and most importantly, honesty.

Unfortunately, “Pray Out Loud” along with Simpson’s recent foray into country music rings utterly false.

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  1. Razor X
    February 3, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Oh, no … not Jessica Simpson again?!? I thought we were finally rid of her when we didn’t hear much about her after “Come On Over” dropped off the charts. Guess it’s still not safe to turn on mainstream country radio.

  2. K
    February 3, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Interesting choice of photo since it’s about 5 years old.

    I wish this site were not so selective and biased against Ms Simpson.
    I actually agree that this song is all little bland or at least not heavy enough lyrically. Indeed there is no story telling there (though that doesn’t always have to be the case with a good country song) But that is why you chose to review it. Where is the review of ‘Remember that’ -which was an intense song with strong vocals or indeed a review of her album which is a decent effort for a ‘country-pop’ debut? I’d imagine that you’d still find some way to give that a major thumbs down or maybe not (which is why you may have prefered not to review that No1 album at all).

    I don’t agree with the lack of emotion comment or your view that she does not have the ability/experience to sell the lyrics. She sings it fine. This is particularly as its not presented as a angry song or one sung in despair but instead of jovial positivity. I think your comments stem from your ‘presumption’ that she has not had such experience and maybe you get that through her partly media enhanced reputation.
    I think quite the opposite, since she has been through a bitter divorce, with a husband who chose to present himself to the world as the victim and since she continue to experience ridicule and bullying amongst the media and blogs (etc whether self made or not-justified or not), I’m sure she has experienced a degree of upset and despair. The Yoko Romo gate affair and pracitcally being cast out of Dallas would be enough to make any believer want to ‘pray out loud’, not to mention recent taunts about her weight.

    She’s the perfect candidate to sing this song.

  3. Juli
    February 3, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Indeed there is no story telling there (though that doesn’t always have to be the case with a good country song) But that is why you chose to review it.

    We chose to review it because it’s her newest single. And I never said that she hasn’t experienced despair or pain (I imagine being married to Nick Lachey would cause both), just that she’s not selling the song with the emotion required for a song about the importance of faith in the face of despair. A good example of a singer who can express such emotion would be Dolly Parton performing “When I Sing for Him”

  4. JD
    February 3, 2009 at 9:25 am


    The poor girl sure has had a rough life.

    Not to mention recent taunts about her weight.

  5. Jim Malec
    February 3, 2009 at 9:28 am

    The picture is one of only four or so on her mySpace, so if she doesn’t want to use those for promotional purposes, perhaps she should get some new clips up there.

  6. Joe
    February 3, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I don’t hate the song.

    I think the tempo is too slow; it’d be a bit more uplifting if it were a faster song. As is, it sounds like the sort of song you’d hear on an unending loop at Walgreens. I guess, as background music, it won’t hurt anyone … so long as you’re sick and got nothing to do but wait for that prescription to come up.

    I’m just glad she’s not all breathy and huffing and puffing through each word.

  7. K
    February 3, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I see what you are saying but the lyrics dont fit a particularly emotional performance. Come on – she says ‘My daddy told me Jess as you walk through this world’- Hardly deep.

    That for me is the issue, the lyrics are a little light. Therefore, I take it for what it is – and upbeat but ‘lighthearted’ faith song- which as you say you can hum along to. I don’t think it is trying to be anything more than that.

    Miss Simpson has a background in gospel and has sung such songs with the appropriate emotion when the song requires it.
    If she gave much more emotion in this song- I think any critic would then say that this was misplaced and prentencious.

  8. Rick
    February 3, 2009 at 11:08 am

    My favorite single reviews are these thrashfests of hokey artists with pathetic songs who deserve a good tongue lashing. Hopefully the welcome mat for Jessica at Top 40 country radio will be yanked out from under her soon. As hard as she’s trying you can’t succeed in mainstream country based upon big boobs alone, so sorry Jessica it’s over.

    K, you aren’t Jessica or Ashlee in disguise are you? I can at least understand the devotion of Carrie Underwood’s fanbot drones, but you are defending the indefensible. Good luck….

  9. Steve M.
    February 3, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Wow a defense of Jessica Simpson’s singing. To me its like defending the black plague.

  10. Noah Eaton
    February 3, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    As much as I never enjoyed Simpson’s foray in pop music, I was willing to put aside my displeasure in her previous material aside and give this a listen, and I think her main misstep here is basically the same one she made in pop music: she lacks that emotional commitment to her voice, she lacks a connective quality, and in country music being able to bridge that gap between the listener and the artist is the defining line between offering something at the very least convincing, or otherwise offering something with an expiration date the second after the last chord is strummed.

    Nowhere is Simpson’s struggle more clearer than on her duet with Dolly Parton (the title track) where there she is actually trying too hard I think, and yet STILL feels aloof.

    I’m not going to hate on her just because she’s someone who used to flood the tabloids and get prior overexposure, who simply wanted to give country music a shot, nor am I going to hate on those with crossover aspirations in general and rather judge them by their material……….but Simpson’s debut album, and this single release, simply feel forgettable to me, because Simpson is often emotionally detached from what she’s singing about.

  11. Troy
    February 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I’ve listen to her Cd and the song that i thought was good and stood out was Still Don’t Stop Me.

  12. K
    February 3, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    No I am not Jessica or Ashlee. I suspect that both of them have better things to do with their time. :) – but I love a good discussion and you can get that on the topic of Jessica Simpson – where people are willing to be contsructive.

    Noah- Your comments are interesting but I think Jessica will get that a lot- She’s either not enough of something or too much of it for some people. I happen to love the adlibing on ‘Do you know’ though it should probably be editted out of a radio edit. Its no surprise then that she could put all her effort into a vocal performance and still be told she seems ‘aloof’.

    I am not convinced on the ‘emotionally detached’ comment. I think since most of the songs on the album were written from personal experience (such as the break up songs- Like ‘When I loved you’- she connects well on those once in particular.

    For me the vocals are not the problem, the depth of the lyrics are. On her next attempt, I’d like to see a touch more story telling.

    BTW- I think this was a poor choice of third single from the album.

  13. Nicolas
    February 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    This is a pretty good song, I’m looking forward to it as a single

  14. Jaime
    February 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I always, always listen to the songs here that are reviewed, but I don’t have the heart to listen to this one. Jessica’s voice repels me.

  15. Stormy
    February 3, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I think God would hear her better if she prayed silently. Then He wouldn’t have cotton in his ears.

  16. Joe
    February 4, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I’m sick and tired of these artists with no country credentials remaking themselves as country stars. Kid Rock, Darius Rucker, Jessica Simpson, and yes, even Carrie Underwood are all pop rock stars trying to remake themselves into the next Kenny Rogers or BJ Thomas. They bring absolutely bring nothing new to the table, and country radio has suffered because of it.

    Jessica Simpson is a pretty poor excuse for an artist, let alone a country one. She is a pop tart which is just as memorable as one; Pop Tarts generally go quick and are ultimately unfilling.

  17. good country
    February 5, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    This isn’t good country

  18. good country
    February 5, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    “But why country, and why now? “I am a country girl,” she says. “I grew up in Texas, and country music was what I listened to. I always wanted to make a country album, but I wanted to wait until the time was right.””

    “Truth to tell, Simpson didn’t exactly see Nashville as part of her star journey, either. But believe the transformation.

    “I didn’t set out or say to myself, ’I’m going to make a country record,’ or anything like that,” Simpson said in a recent phone interview. “There were just songwriters in Nashville I wanted to write music with. And what we did ended up being country. It’s just more of who I am.””

  19. good country
    February 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Let us pray Jessica goes back to pop music

  20. good country
    February 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    NASHVILLE SKYLINE: The Schizoid Nature of Country Music on Parade
    E-mail Message Claims, “We’re Now a Marketing System for Failed Pop Acts.”
    September 18, 2008; Written by Chet Flippo

    Country has lost its soul. It’s never been clearer that we’re now a marketing system for failed pop acts

    — A widely circulated e-mail message sent shortly after the SoundScan figures became available.

  21. Noah Eaton
    February 6, 2009 at 12:57 am

    ………..not to mention successful pop acts as well, like Kid Rock! :P

    In fact, I’m predicting Nickelback’s “This Afternoon” is going to cross over onto the Country format within the next fifteen-eighteen months, and to the horror of countless listeners will receive substantial airplay. It sounds tailor-made for contemporary country radio today, and if Kid Rock was able to dent this chart, I think it’s inevitable Nickelback will as well (“Rockstar”, for whatever reason, has even gotten CMT video play! :P )

  22. Flower Power Muzik
    March 31, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Come on Over grew on me. It had a catchy tune. Her second song, Remember That was alright. But now her third single, Pray Out Loud is GARBAGE! She needs to pack her bags and go back to Hollywood. And really, anyone who has to start songs over needs to find a new career anyway. She’s completely unprofessional.

  23. Jeff
    May 31, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Jessica Simpson is a hypocrite to be singing anything like this as it is. She used to be an advocate for abstinence and doing God’s will, then turned into a complete slut when she got popular.

  24. Stormy
    May 31, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Not to mention country music already has a really good song about praying Out Loud.

    Like the woman says: Whatever they’re selling we gotta stop buying.

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