Kenny Chesney – “Out Last Night”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | April 20th, 2009

Kenny Chesney - Out Last NightSongwriters: Kenny Chesney and Brett James.

I once had a journalism professor who said the hardest assignment for a writer was to take an ordinary person–the mechanics, the truck drivers and the waitresses of the world–and craft stories about them and their lives in an interesting, relevant way.

Country music is famous for songs about these everyday people, and with his latest offering, Kenny Chesney nails the mundane subject matter but misses the interesting interpretation.

“Out Last Night” is a universally relatable song that attempts to serve as a wink at last night’s crazy exploits. The story behind the song apparently stems from the morning after a raucous night out for Chesney and co-writer Brett James, after which Chesney said, “Well, I guess we went out last night.”

However, what that understatement conveys is lost when the words are set to music, and there’s nothing worse than being almost funny: “Out Last Night” doesn’t pull off the humor of George Jones and Merle Haggard’s similarly themed “C.C. Waterback,” or even Luke Bryan’s “All My Friends Say.”

As the first single off Chesney’s upcoming Greatest Hits Volume Two, it’s a breath of fresh air out of the Caribbean corner Chesney has painted himself into as of late, harkening back to the days when Chesney name-checked East Tennessee and sang over the sounds of a steel guitar. It serves as a bridge between the album’s beachy songs like “When the Sun Goes Down” and “Beer In Mexico” and his more (loosely) traditional offerings “Anything But Mine” and “The Good Stuff.”

But while it appeases Chesney’s two biggest loves—country music and tropical hideaways—by laying on a more country production but still mentioning girls from Argentina and Panama, the more traditional instrumentation doesn’t help the singer’s oddly mid-tempo delivery. Chesney’s vocals are strained in an attempt at relaxed reflection, which translates into blandly boring behind lyrics like “Yeah, we went out last night/One thing started leading to another/Out last night/Hittin’ on everybody and their mother.”

Although the song gets off to a plodding start, its fun phrasing and inflections have Chesney written all over them. “Out Last Night’s” chorus begs even a karaoke beginner to grab a mike (once the sorority girls are done with “I Got You Babe,” of course), stretching the word “out” long enough that even someone with more than a few beers could jump in on.

It’s a laid-back song for a laid-back guy who has found his niche in country music, and it’s already on its way up the charts. “Out Last Night” may be poised to be the 2009 version of the Kenny Chesney Super Summer Anthem fans have grown to expect and love, but unlike “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems,” this one is more like no harm, no foul.

Thumbs Down

  1. Mike
    April 20, 2009 at 8:32 am

    This review would be more credible if you didn’t get the lyrics wrong. It’s “Hitting on everybody and their mother,” not “Getting to know everybody and their mother.”

  2. Karlie Justus
    April 20, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Hey Mike–it sounds like you’re right. I used the lyrics site I always do and it had the “gettin’ to know…” variation, which I guess stuck in my head. Thanks for the correction.

  3. Guy
    April 20, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Kenny Chesney is “The Emperor’s New Clothes” personified.

    There’s almost nothing there, but no one wants to admit or say it.

    His success is mind boggling when compared to his very modest talent.

  4. Dr. No
    April 20, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Sucks.

    Next.

  5. Rick
    April 20, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Critical literary analysis of a Kenny Chesney song is like a Michelin restaurant reviewer writing about McDonalds… Jimmy Buffet has his Parrotheads and Kenny has his fanatically loyal Cheeseheads who will dutifully “request” this song to #1 regardless of any merit this song may possess. This guy has huge “AirHead Appeal Factor” that I’ve never quite grasped.

  6. Kim
    April 20, 2009 at 11:03 am

    “Sucks.

    Next.”

    been waiting for that to happen for how long now?

  7. CMW
    April 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Thumbs down for sure.

    Ever since a commenter at Country Universe pointed out the lyrical similarity to “Got a Little Crazy” from his 2007 album, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that this is basically that song set to a Strait-like tune.

  8. Guy
    April 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    How does a nice guy who can sing halfway decent – but nothing special – become a huge star?

    I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

    Let’s ask Kenny …

  9. Jon
    April 20, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    If he was still alive, you could ask Ernest Tubb…

  10. merlefan46
    April 20, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Guy,

    I’ve often wondered that myself. His appeal to the teens who call him sexy is a big mystery to me.

  11. Joe
    April 20, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I’d lump “Anything But Mine” in with his other beachy stuff rather than his traditional(relative term) material. Other than that I agree with the review. Another yawner.

  12. brian
    April 20, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Why even review this song? I mean really? I think anyone can tell you this is about as bad a song as he’s produced. I think he is trying to become the next Jimmy Buffet, which is fine but he needs to drink a lot more.
    Look, up until about “Shi(f)t Work, i was a fairly big Chesney fan. His work lately though is a sign of arrogance and laziness. I know most of you hate him and are enjoying the fact that he continues to produce these lousy songs…

  13. merlefan46
    April 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    As far as Buffet goes he along with Jerry Jeff Walker wrote one of my favorite songs “Railroad Lady” My favorite version is the one by Lefty Frizzell.

  14. Steve Harvey
    April 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    MERLEFAN46, are you talking about Chesney or Ernest Tubb?

  15. merlefan46
    April 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Steve I was talking about Chesney.

  16. Deb
    April 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I’d like to know if their are any songs by Kenny Chesney you give a thumbs up to?
    Or even like?

  17. Noah Eaton
    April 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    His cover of “Down The Road” (his previous single) actually received a strong positive review, where his vocal performance was particularly applauded.

    I don’t think there’s any fundamental anti-Chesney bias permeating the reviewers here. I too happen to think this song just lacks substance like many of his other recent songs, and even if one were to argue that Chesney’s intent is to record anthems, and doesn’t intend to write songs for a deeper purpose of sorts, even there I find many of his recent singles shadows of older hits of his, which also stand very well on their own as anthems.

  18. Craig R.
    April 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I don’t like Kenny Chesney for many reasons. But the main reason is his lie. Not about being straight or gay. But the lie that the music he is making is country and has something to really offer the listener. When I hear his music or see him singing his music ,I am dumbfounded by his lack of respect for the sound of music and the art of music. His music is so shallow, and I suspect that his audience likes it shallow. But that only allows him to insult country music, and to insult the effort of making good music. He gives his audience the least talent he can get away with, and at 41 a lack of depth doesn’t mean you are enjoying life- it means you have never really known it.

  19. Noah Eaton
    April 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    By the way, I’ve never quite understood the Chesney-Buffett comparison………..in that Jimmy Buffett’s music has always had this sort of snarky, tongue-in-cheek social commentary (not political really, just a very inquisitive, amusing perception of culture and society) cleverly embedded under deceptively catchy, breezy melodies.

    Buffett’s lyrics are often intellectual, even somewhat esoteric in a sense, and are about more than just the good life on the shore. If Chesney is indeed the closest thing to the next Jimmy Buffett, he has nonetheless adopted the fun-loving facet of his musical personality, while overlooking or not adopting the more politically incorrect, cerebral facet of his songwriting skills.

  20. Ron
    April 20, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I’m not a fan of a lot of today’s country. Rascal Flatts makes me cringe but at some level I see why some people like them and some of the other popular stars. I do not understand the Kenny Chesney popularity.

  21. Noah Eaton
    April 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I haven’t cared for anything Rascal Flatts has released since “Skin (Sarabeth)”, but I can nonetheless kind of sense why they’re popular as they are, and I think they can be considerably credited for opening the country airwaves to an uncharacteristically younger listening demographic (even if much of what they’re exposed to is pale shadows of the genre’s utmost beauty)

    I think Kenny Chesney benefited from having a sort of “guy next door” musical personality that caught on to listeners. A song like “You Had Me From Hello” lit a spark, and then songs like “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” basically sealed the deal. Then, after offering a proven path of consecutive successful hits, he got clout in return and was able to morph into a pseudo-Buffett image that he has become all-accustomed to now.

    That said, I’m not a big fan of him either.

  22. Mayor Jobob
    April 21, 2009 at 12:39 am

    What, no steel drums?

  23. Steve Harvey
    April 21, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Noah, I think the comparisons have been more aspirational than actual – Chesney is trying his darndest to become Jimmy Buffet, even if he doesn’t have a hope in hell of getting to that level…

  24. OTWG
    April 21, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Could Cheesney pull off a song like Get Drunk and Screw, even though:
    A) Kenny is one of those wackjob health nut types, therefor he does not drink to excess and
    B) Kenneth is a unich.

  25. agent713
    April 21, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Karaoke. That was EXACTLY what I first thought when I heard it! It’s a great summer sing along song. Fluffy yes but I’m not asking for much.

  26. Deb
    April 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    OTWG, Speaking of get Drunk And Screw check Kenny out on YOUTUBE he is singing it and I think he’s doing a fine job. I don’t think Kenny is JB nor does he want to be but you have to admit Kenny has it going for him all the way to the bank and then some.

  27. merlefan46
    April 21, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    From the looks of the video Kenny was drunk. As far as being JB there is only one. I do think Kenny would like to be like him musically. Yea Kenny has it going for him, but not with my money.

  28. Bobby
    April 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    “How does a nice guy who can sing halfway decent – but nothing special – become a huge star?”

    I’m gonna get slaughtered for this, but is George Strait that great of a singer? I’ve never thought him to be more than a decent singer, especially now that he uses pitch correction on seemingly nearly every freakin’ note.

  29. merlefan46
    April 21, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I was once a rabid George Strait fan. Go back and listen the cut “Second Chances” from the Ocean Front Property cd,. very heavy Haggard influence and now he isn’t that much of a favorite any more.

  30. Leeann
    April 21, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Strait is an emotive singer, which is something that Kenny is not.

  31. Jon
    April 21, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    “Strait is an emotive singer, which is something that Kenny is not.”

    Don’t you think that quality resides as much in the listener’s perception as in the singer’s delivery? Or is there some emoto-meter that can be used to measure the amount of feeling in the latter?

  32. J.R. Journey
    April 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    “Don’t you think that quality resides as much in the listener’s perception as in the singer’s delivery?”

    While I can’t speak for Leeann, I think that’s exactly what she meant. Her perception is that Kenny is not an emotive singer. And I have to agree.

  33. Chris N.
    April 21, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Isn’t all reality subjective?

  34. Jon
    April 21, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Uh, let me think… Nope.

  35. Chris N.
    April 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    I think it is, which proves my point.

  36. Jon
    April 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Well, then, I guess your point is proven.

  37. Chris N.
    April 21, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    These are not the droids you’re looking for.

  38. Jon
    April 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Too elliptical for me.

  39. Guy
    April 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Bringing up George Strait in the context of Kenny Chesney is like a sacrilege. Chesney is not worthy to hold Strait’s guitar strap for him, in my book. Strait is actually a gifted Country singer; subtle and understated, but almost always somehow “right on” with interpreting the song. He is instinctive and intuitive with this “less is more” approach and makes many of his songs memorable by his performance. Chesney has a cautious, safe, almost monotone approach which leaves the listener (and the song) rather flat. He is decent, but not gifted or memorable like Strait.

  40. MACK
    May 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I think this is a great song. It’s a really good example of what happens when you “go out” for a night with some friends. This is a great song to make you think. Well, at least I can think of some things when i hear this song.

  41. Doesn't matter
    May 19, 2009 at 10:15 am

    All you folks complaining about Kenny, I’m assuming you haven’t been to any of his shows..you know the tours that sell out consistently to over a million fans each year!

    Like myself and all Kenny followers, you have to be a fan to understand. You loss ha!

  42. Dr. No
    May 19, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Doesn’t Matter,

    I have to be a fan to understand? I think what you meant to say is “You have to be an insanely drunken fan to understand.” I’ve been to his concert before—sober. Sober, it sucks. However, if you’re drunk, which I would say 99% of the people are at his shows, then it’s probably a good show. So good you won’t remember it.

    Hmmmm, maybe I SHOULD have drunk alcohol so I wouldn’t have been able to remember it. Oh well. My loss.

  43. jinlinlee
    June 4, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I can’t beleive all the Kenny bashers on here! I can understand that some of you don’t like his music, but it isn’t fair to say that he isn’t talented. Sure he isn’t George Strait, but he doesn’t have to be. Everyone has different styles and voices that they can bring to the music world. I personally think he has a good voice and it soothes me. I like him and his music. I completely agree with Doesn’t matter. He puts on great shows. I have been going for years and I never drink. I am always sober. True Dr. No there are alot of drunks there and they can be annoying, but I don’t think you are accurate to say that 99% of them are drunk. That is just not true. I know lot of people that have gone and don’t drink while they are there. If you don’t like them they just don’t go that is your choice. Leave the ticket for someone who truely appreciates it for what it is. I have so much fun that I have been for about six years in a row and it has become a summer tradition for me. I feel relaxed, have fun, and ignore the drunks. They give me something to laugh at each year.

  44. Stormy
    June 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    The problem is that Kenny’s voice is so bad.

  45. Jena-Lei
    June 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    i agree there are alot of people on here who i think are just hatin kenny, not just this song. i am a huge kenny fan, always have been. So i feel i have the right to say that while still likeable, his music lately has strayed away from country. i like his earlier stuff alot better but my god this song is not god-awful. obviously he is doing SOMETHING right; do any of you have multiple albums, millions of dollars, and go on tour every year?

  46. Adam
    July 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    exactly Kenny is the biggest star in COUNTRY music right now. he sells out more shows that anybody else, so your point is what he sucks, yet people by the thousands spend money to see him????? i doubt they would do that if he sucked. This song went number 1, as it should have, its your classic summer anthem.

  47. Philip Natale
    July 22, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    This seems more appropriate.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtClrSQ7So0

  48. Philip Natale
    July 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Drunk idiots. This world is in disrepair.

  49. Matt
    August 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Today is the first day I was introduced to the “9513”. This site is hilarious!!! You people remind me of what Toby Keith talks about in his song “The Critic”. Thanks for the laughs!!! By the way is “Song Critic” a college major or do you just have to be a douche bag?

  50. Candi
    August 2, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I love this song OUT LAST NIGHT!

  51. Ben Milam
    August 3, 2009 at 8:48 am

    he sells out more shows that anybody else, so your point is what he sucks, yet people by the thousands spend money to see him????

    there is no arguing that he sells out. the arguement about how many thousands of tickets that kenny cheeseney has sold doesn’t hold water. mcdonalds sells millions of burgers but are they the best burgers? hell no. and matt, no it doesn’t take a “college major”. what it does take is a desire to learn more about music and the history of the music than what your local clear channel branch of cuntry radio station feeds you ad nauseum. not referencing toby kweef, having a little artistic curiosity, an intelect deeper than a kiddie pool helps too.

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