Lady Antebellum – “Hello World”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | September 29th, 2010

Lady Antebellum

Songwriters: Tom Douglas, Tony Lane and David Lee

Where are Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler when you need them?

With its stylistically studied and self-serious approach, super-group Lady Antebellum’s latest single “Hello World” would work better as fodder for the punny pair–or any other comedic duo–as a left-of-the-mark Saturday Night Live skit than a pseudo-inspirational anthem for country radio.

Where the wildly successful “Need You Now” relied on its singers’ honest and hungry vulnerability, this tune finds Charles Kelley stilted and melodramatic. Compounded with Dave Haywood’s tinkling piano backing, a driving rhythm ripped straight from the Coldplay playbook and monotonous, interchangeable verses, the only resulting motivation is the urge to take a snooze.

It’s unfortunate, because the song’s underlying messages of faith and inspiration are painted in colorful vignettes highlighted by a “rust red minivan” and “little white crosses like angels in the yard.” Lyrics such as “Maybe I should stop on in, say a prayer/Maybe talk to God like he is there/Oh I know he’s there, yeah I know he’s there” would roll off Alan Jackson’s tongue without a second thought, but only get lost here in the drama of the song’s production.

As usual, Hillary Scott’s vocals are a shimmering bright spot amidst the heavy-handedness. As “Hello World” nears its end, however, even Lady A’s leading lady can’t save things. It’s almost as if the group picks up on its own demise and throws together a bombastic blast of noise to shake (or perhaps wake) things up, to no avail.

“Hello World” is a dramatic shift from the group’s usual radio themes of love and lust. Perhaps a mildly self-indulgent song masquerading as a call for inner world peace is a natural next step for a trio receiving equal parts commercial and industry support across multiple genres. However, that’s no consolation for country fans who have grown used to looking to the group for fresh, honest country-pop music.

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  1. [...] Lady Antebellum – “Hello World” [...]
  1. Thomas
    September 29, 2010 at 7:32 am

    …whenever christian radio dj’s get excited – i do not. no exception this time round.

  2. Ben Foster
    September 29, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I was also disappointed with this release. I don’t think the storyline was constructed very well, and the production makes it pretty boring. I usually enjoy Lady A’s singing, but Charles’ performance on this particular track doesn’t do much for me.

  3. mickers
    September 29, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Hello World? More like Hello Bed. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzz……..

  4. WAYNOE
    September 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Thomas,

    Thanks you for your prejudiced remark. Wow. What intellect.

    Karlie,

    Seems like Lady A wants to make sure that if “pop” radio wants to play them then they will let them. The melody is entirely forgettable and rather non-country, which but he way is the predominant approach now.

  5. WAYNOE
    September 29, 2010 at 8:52 am

    “Thanks” revised to “Thank”. The rest of the sentence still stands.

  6. sam (sam)
    September 29, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I don’t know what “gets christian radio djs excited” but I know I do not get excited when I hear christian type music. I have heard it a few times on my radio and while I had no problems with the vocals or the music itself, I do not find the lyrical themes to be to my liking.

  7. Mike
    September 29, 2010 at 9:42 am

    This song is zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Terrible choice for a radio single.

  8. Cutting the Treacle
    September 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Thomas: “…whenever christian radio dj’s get excited – i do not. no exception this time round.”

    Me: Are Christian radio DJ’s getting excited? I just ran the following search on google and came up with only 243 results: +”hello world” +”lady antebellum” +c”hristian radio”

    If Christian radio DJ’s are getting excited, they’re hiding it very well from you and me, Thomas!

  9. Billy
    September 29, 2010 at 9:50 am

    With this single, it’s almost as if the execs decided that Hillary was getting too much face time as the lead vocal on Lady Antebellum so they decided to throw Charles a bone. Doesn’t Charles have anything better on the album than this? Diversity just for the sake of diversity is stupid. If Hillary has the best songs on the album, then release another Hillary song. This song might work at Adult Contemporary, but advertisers are going to be screaming at radio when their listeners rush in droves to change the dial when they play this one.

  10. Rick
    September 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Billy said: “This song might work at Adult Contemporary, but advertisers are going to be screaming at radio when their listeners rush in droves to change the dial when they play this one.”

    I have to say Billy, your estimation of the level of taste of Top 40 AirHead Country Radio listeners is a hell of a lot higher than mine. In the popularity contest that is mainstream country these days, its much more about the artist than the music itself. As long as Lady A’s latest album keeps selling like hotcakes their singles will be played on country radio whether they deserve it or not.

    On the other hand singles like this could take the sizzle out of their current momentum and cause apathy to set in.

  11. luckyoldsun
    September 29, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Rick–
    Actually, I recall reading in Billboard a couple of years ago just the opposite of what you’re saying–that it’s MORE about the music than about the artist now, compared to how it was a few generations ago.

    The Billboard article claimed that years ago country radio would play anything that the hitmakers of the time–i.e. Owens, Conway, Haggard, Tammy, etc.–would put out, but that now even the top acts are not guaranteed of getting airplay for a new song if it doesn’t test well.

  12. Cutting the Treacle
    September 29, 2010 at 11:23 am

    luckyoldsun: “The Billboard article claimed that years ago country radio would play anything that the hitmakers of the time–i.e. Owens, Conway, Haggard, Tammy, etc.–would put out, but that now even the top acts are not guaranteed of getting airplay for a new song if it doesn’t test well.”

    Me: That feels true. This morning, I heard “The Movies” by the Statler Brothers and “On the Cover of Music City News” by Buck Owens. Awful, awful, horrible songs that could only be hits on the back of “they’re stars, so play it” logic.

  13. Matt Bjorke
    September 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Am I the only one who really likes this song?

  14. Karlie Justus
    September 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I read in an interview Hillary Scott found this song as an acoustic performance, and it really spoke to her. It’d be interesting to hear the contrast between that type of production and what they ended up with.

  15. Kim
    September 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    No Matt, I really like the song a lot. I know I am in a the minority on that but I don’t understand all the hate for the song. I really enjoy Charles’ vocals on it and I like the instrumentation. While I didn’t immediately like it when listening to the album the first few times, now that it’s been released, it has really connected with me for whatever reason. I just think it’s a pretty melody and am looking forward to seeing how it fares on radio.

  16. Matt Bjorke
    September 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Oh, this song instantly connected with me when I heard it. I also figured it would be a smash hit record.

  17. Peter
    September 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Charles sounds even more like a Vedder wannabe here than he did on Love Don’t Live Here

  18. Joseph
    September 29, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with the Coldplay reference… especially at the end. I think Charles did fine with the vocals but the song is just too dull and boring. The song isn’t horrible by any means but just doesn’t excite me at all.

  19. klark
    September 30, 2010 at 12:06 am

    I can’t find any trace of country in this song.
    a guilty pleasure piano rock schmaltz :)

  20. Steve
    September 30, 2010 at 8:41 am

    for some reason, Charles’s voice here reminds me a bit of Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown, not sure why – never heard that similarity in other songs. Maybe its just me.

  21. luckyoldsun
    September 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Steve–
    This sounds a lot like SB.
    I always thought SB and Mark Miller made the most of a very limited voice. Makes Chesney sound like Pavoratti.

  22. Janet Goodman
    September 30, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Last month I reviewed their single, “Our Kind of Love” and found that the happy lyric didn’t match the almost brooding music. I had suggested that Kelley had a better outing with “Hello World”:

    Part of the problem is the choice of giving the lead vocal to Charles Kelley. Hillary Scott’s vibrant voice adds a shimmery brightness to the song, but we only hear her lead in the lift, and she harmonizes in the chorus. Kelley knocks it out of the park on tracks like, “Hello World,” where his haunting lead vocal is so moving on the heavy and mature Tom Douglas/Tony Lane/David Lee composition. “

  23. Karlie Justus
    September 30, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Janet – your spot-on “shimmering brightness” descriptor must have subconsciously stuck with me! Sorry for the repeat.

  24. Janet Goodman
    September 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Karlie – They’re are just so many descriptive words to choose from! My point was that I thought that Kelley’s vocals were a good fit with the heavy Hello World message. I enjoyed reading your point of view, Karlie.

  25. Fizz
    October 1, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Those wacky kids were just playing too loud and being altogether too open about their horniness! Had to tone it down with a nice, slow song about Jesus, so as not to scare people away.

  26. NashvilleRealityCheck
    October 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Fizz, the name suits you.Thomas, DJs be they Christian or Atheist don’t care for ignorance.

    This song has a hopeful message a lot of people need to hear…especially in the difficult economic times millions in this Country are dealing with. Karlie, I know its your job but when did cynicism become more valid then hope for you?

    The song is uplifting …only the reviews are depressing.

  27. Trizzle
    October 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I like this song even though it may not be traditional country… For some reason I think Charles sounds a bit like Bruce Springsteen… I like it…

  28. Dan E
    October 28, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    The music video for this is so touching. It enhances the song big time and Lady Antebellum continues to go down the right track.
    http://music-mix.ew.com/2010/10/28/lady-antebellum-hello-world-video/

  29. Aby
    November 2, 2010 at 5:31 am

    I love the song! Uplifting message, flawless vocals!!!

  30. BD
    November 11, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I love this song. Their voices sound so pure. Its a nice change of pace for them.

    Lines like- sometimes I feel/cold as steel/broken like I’m never gonna heal – amazing. It just resonates with so many people. I think this is a winner.

  31. Miller
    December 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I really enjoy this song.
    I agree, it’s probably not the best choice for a radio single, but it’s still a great song. The story is far better than their former release of American Honey (I love that song too).

    I’m going to go on a melancholic tangent here… so prepare…

    It makes me rather annoyed when people put down “cross-over” artists, and refer to them as cop-outs, or lesser artists. Music knows no border and it shouldn’t be placed into categories. Obviously I understand that there are categories of music, but what’s the big deal when a country artist finds success on the pop charts? or vice versa?

    In fact, ‘cross-over’ artists such as: Lady A, Taylor Swift, etc. are proving to be VERY positive for country music and country radio. When a ‘pop’ fan stumbles upon a Taylor Swift song while cruising through the radio, they might stop and listen to it. The station they stop on could very well be a country formatted station. they often realize that they like the net song, and the next, and the next.

    This has been a very positive result for country radio, and one of the reasons that the country music industry is thriving.

    I guess the point of this tangent is: What does it matter if Lady A, or other like artisits, don’t have the streotypical country music attributes?

    I’m really interested in knowing what everyone thinks?

  32. JIm
    February 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Hello World is number 11 on the Billboard Top 100 Country Chart. I expect it to go number 1. I LOVE THIS SONG!!!

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