Sugarland – “All I Want to Do”

Matt Clark | May 29th, 2008

Sugarland - All I Want to Do I’ll say this much about Sugarland: they’re not afraid to be pioneers. Unfortunately, as much as “Stay,” with its sparse, acoustic and percussion-less arrangement, was an anomalous example of a great country song, “All I Want to Do” marks a new frontier for bad country songs.

There have not been many truly great country radio releases in the last several years, and most of the mediocre to bad songs share a common flaw: they aren’t particularly well or imaginatively written while the artists aren’t good enough and the arrangements aren’t country enough to rescue the lyric. Yet in even the worst of these songs, there was a discernable effort on the part of the songwriters to actually write a song, however fruitless their efforts became in the end.

However, “All I Want to Do” is not about words. I wasn’t in the room when this one was “written,” but I’ll bet that the writers, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush among them, spent more time getting the “oh oh oh oh oh’s” just right than they did actually composing the lyrics. The truth is that “All I Want to Do” is not a song, it’s a melody.

This criticism ought to be sufficiently damning in a genre as highly narrative as country music that how the “song” is performed hardly matters, but Sugarland fails even on this front, not because “All I Want to Do” sounds bad (in fact, it sounds rather good), but because this recording is just not something that’s made to listen to. It’s catchy, but not in a good way, in the “change the station lest this annoying song be stuck in my head all day” way. It’s the kind of song that you hum under your breath without really realizing what you’re doing and don’t remember doing once you realize that you’ve been doing it. It’s the kind of song that you’ll always be able to whistle but will never be able to sing, at least not with words other than “la la la” (or “oh oh oh”). In other words, it’s a pop song.

I consider Sugarland the best of the current groups or duos and an asset to the genre, but releases like this worry me. No matter how “pop” country music becomes, the genre can always be rescued from southern rock wannabes and poor songwriters. However, “All I Want to Do” is a significant step down the road to sound-good vapidity, the true pop world where lyrics are irrelevant as long as you can nod your head to the beat, and once that road has been traveled, I don’t think that there’s any turning back.

Thumbs Down

  1. Michael Gunter
    May 29, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I was starting to think I was the only one that felt that way. I love Sugarland but was very disappointed when I finally heard this first cut from the new album. Hopefully the rest of the album will be more of what I have come to expect from the duo

  2. Rick
    May 30, 2008 at 12:50 am

    The current majority of listening audience members to Top 40 country radio seem to absolutely thrive on catchy, hook laden little ditties like this new Sugarland single. These listeners not only do NOT seek out well written, meaningful songs with depth and substance but they actually tend to reject such songs. Songs that make the listeners think may be too much for them.

    With that said, this song is perfectly suited to mainstream country radio and a gal as intelligent and talented as Jennifer Nettles knows that. Maybe she wanted something quite the opposite of “Stay” so her fans wouldn’t always expect exceptional singles like that song. Country radio listeners love Toby Keith’s “She’s a Hottie”, so this new single should be a Top 10 hit. Heck, I’d prefer to hear Jennifer’s old “Soul Miner’s Daughter” era material over this……

  3. Thomas
    May 30, 2008 at 1:52 am

    all i can to this is …uhuhuhuhuhuhuh….

  4. Chris "Barney" Barnhart
    May 30, 2008 at 2:27 am

    I didn’t know how to go about doing this, but I am trying to get in contact with Rick (the one who left his last posting at May 30, 2008 at 12:50 am). I’m a big fan of indie labels and wanted to ask him a couple of questions. My home phone is 1-541-938-4019 and my e-mail address is barney_barnhart@hotmail.com
    I hope me leaving this doesn’t violate any protocols of this posting system. If it does, I’m sorry to be a pain. Rick, if you get this, give me a ring or drop me an e-mail. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

    Barney

  5. Margie
    May 30, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Did not like the song on the ACMs and still don’t like it!! I too like Sugarland, but this song is just YUK!!

  6. Heidi
    May 30, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Immediately after hearing this song on the ACM’s I pegged it as “an annoying song that will get stuck in your head wether you like it or not” and it’s true. I have heard it once since then and it has been CONTINUOUSLY stuck in my head just from the title alone. I’m about ready to dig my brain out!

  7. Jenna Vercher
    May 30, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    I completely agree with you, Matt. After hearing it on the ACM’s, I was hoping I’d never have to hear it again.

  8. Matt C
    May 30, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Rick: I’m not quite as cynical about country radio listeners as you are. However, my point in the review is that, even when country artists release some horribly shallow, calculated commercial fluff, they’re still basing the commercial appeal of the song primarily on those fluffy lyrics. Few country singles just forget about the words altogether in favor of a catchy melody.

  9. Mike Parker
    May 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Okay… first time I’ve heard/listened to this was just now. Halfway through the first verse, I was wondering what the problem was- it sounded like everything else they’d done. And then the chorus hit. And I’m disturbed. Very disturbed. That is truly awful. I had to listen to Jessica Simpson’s song a couple times so I wouldn’t get the bends from surfacing to quickly.

    Yikes. Horrible. If we all jump up and grab the pendulum, maybe we can get it too swing back before it unhinges and lobotomizes us all. Or maybe that would be best.

  10. Mike Parker
    May 30, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    sorry for the typos… I’m still recovering.

  11. Zach
    May 30, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    This has been the most requested song of the day all throughout this past week at our station here in KC.

  12. Chris N.
    May 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Let’s all drunk-dial Barnhart later!

  13. Funk
    May 30, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Yeah, this isn’t a great song, or even a good one. It does match the summertime mood and most simply want a catchy melody during that time. It will probably do fine. I hope the rest of the CD is stronger.

    I still think it’s cool that Nettles wore a swimming suit all the way through the vid. She’s a very attractive woman but she doesn’t have a model’s body. I think it’s sexy she still showed some skin. Nothing’s better than a woman comfortable with herself.

  14. Chris D.
    May 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Honestly, I do like this song, but it is below par from what they usually do.

    Also, many live performances of some of their new songs have been on youtube for a while now, they are most likely on the cd since All I Want To Do is one of the ones that has been floating around.

    Ones I remember right now are :
    “Operation Working Vacation”
    “It Happens”
    “Take Me As I Am”
    “Fall Into Me”

    Just search for those and you should find some videos.

  15. Chris D.
    May 30, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Oops I forgot the song:

    “We Run”

    My bad.

  16. J.R. Journey
    May 31, 2008 at 8:49 am

    I share the same thoughts with many of you. This song is way below par and not even worthy of Jennifer’s vocal chops.

    First time I heard Sugarland’s ‘Baby Girl’, I had the same thoughts: This song kinda sucks, but whoever is singing this is effin great!

    I too, have heard ‘Take Me As I Am’ from their new album on youtube; and while it sounds very Sugarland (think ‘Something More’ crossed with ‘Want To’), it is still not a strong song lyrically. But this is their third album and I am betting the album itself will have plenty of meat and muscle.

    ‘Enjoy The Ride’ was a lot stronger than their debut and shows they are only getting better. So yeah, hopefully – and I am betting on it – the rest of this new album will have some songs worthy of heavy rotation.

  17. Stephen H.
    June 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    In honor of The 9513, WUSN in Chicago had this formidable competition on their New Country Challenge last week:

    “All I Want to Do”
    vs.
    “Come on Over”

    I didn’t care to listen long enough to see who won, but I assume it was Sugarland.

  18. Todd
    June 2, 2008 at 10:04 am

    This song is very catchy but I honestly think it is the worst song in country music this year. And with songs like “She’s A Hottie” and Jessica Simpson’s new one that’s saying something!

  19. Carol
    June 11, 2008 at 8:59 am

    I love this song. For those who dont like this song i’m sorry. But as for myself when i hear it i think of my husband of 5 years and it makes me smile. Its just a cute upbeat song that the band could have fun with.

  20. just stop
    June 11, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    if you dont feel this was sugarland’s “best” song, thats fine. but don’t bash it if you consider yourself a fan of theirs. i understand what you all are saying about how a lot of the song is a beat, but the theme really gets you and you should all listen to the other words in the song and understand what it’s all about; thats what makes sugarland’s songs so great

  21. David Nisbet
    June 11, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    All I wanna do oo oo oo oo, oo oo oo oo is hear a decent Country song from Jennifer & her guitar player.

  22. Dylan Gramm
    June 13, 2008 at 12:43 am

    If not for the “chorus”, this would be a really good song. It’s a shame.

  23. Stephen H.
    June 13, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Just Stop,

    You’re saying that if someone is a fan of an artist, they should love everything that they do, no matter what? My favorite pop-country act is Big & Rich, and I absolutely hate “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)”. In your eyes, that must make me not a fan of them at all.

    (By the way, on the WUSN/US 99 new county challenge, Jessica Simpson somehow beat this song. Yeah, I know.)

  24. Jessica
    June 16, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    This is song is great. I don’t think this is the worst song this year… Sugarland is amazing and they needed an upbeat summer time song. It is catchy in a good way. It’s fun and flirty. Every girl can relate to this on some level.

  25. Krista
    June 19, 2008 at 9:22 am

    awful song. I am so sick of having horrible songs played on the radio. Between this song, KC’s shiftwork, and Bob that head, i have decided to turn off the radio for a while!

  26. Matt B.
    June 19, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Krista,

    That’s what you need to do if you want radio to pay attention. However you need to get about 30,000 more people in your area to do it for a month or two to impact ratings. THEN, the station still won’t listen but rather they’ll just change formats. So, in the end, there’ll be no outlet to hear ANY country, homogeneous or not.

  27. Mike Parker
    June 19, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Krista… that’s a good first step… now just find a way to listen to the artists you like, and the artists they like and then you’ll be free. There’s lots of good music out there, and the radio is the best place not to find it.

  28. angi
    June 19, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    I love Sugarland. I kinda like the song, its catchy. I think what makes me like it though is that my five year old sings along to it. LOL.

  29. Mike Parker
    June 19, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Angi… I think there’s something to that. My daughter is 4 and her friend was over the other day and started singing “Picture to Burn.” Maybe the country radio format is trying to replace the Wiggles.

    Needless to say, my daughter walks around singing Todd Snider songs. I’m so proud.

  30. Guy
    June 20, 2008 at 8:18 am

    When they debuted this “song” on the awards show, I was instantly shocked at how empty, superficial, and “pop” it was. They looked silly performing it — and the song seemed to be some effort to “cross over” to non-Country fans.

    It was a low point for Sugarland and an already-terrible awards show. Not a proud moment.

  31. just stop
    June 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    stephen h,
    i appologize if you feel that i was implying such a thing. i think you misunderstood me. im not saying that if you dont like an artists’ song your not a fan; rather, if you don’t care for the song but you still like the artist, that you should not insult the artist or the song; as many people below me have done. don’t like the song? fine. but as a fan you should still support the artist and not make negative conotations about them as a whole.

    ** J.R JOURNEY,
    i’m sorry to hear you think ‘baby girl’ “kinda sucks.” this song im sure is very significant to Jennifer Nettles as it is about her own experiences. when an artist incorporates his/her life into a song, it only makes the song more powerful and meaningful. if you dont like the song itself, fine. but the meaning is so great and emotionally inept to the artist that it makes her singing it so much greater; this alone makes ‘baby girl’ no where near suckish

  32. Brian
    June 22, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Lol I specifically googled Sugarland and annoying, looking to see who else thinks this song should be eliminated from the radio. First off, I don’t hear talent in the Jennifer’s vocals at all, and I never have. People who like her vocals in my opinion tend to be folks who like “different” sounding vocalists, but if Shakira or Macy Gray have taught us anything, it should be that different is not always good. Jennifer has an incredibly annoying fake twang that comes off as merely tone-deaf volume, and when added to a song my 9 year old daughter could have written, it makes for an insufferable track. If there is a hell, this song will be played on the loudspeaker of punishment.

  33. Stephen H.
    June 22, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    “Emotionally inept”? Care to rephrase that?

  34. just stop
    June 23, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    okay seriously you don’t need to point out my writing mistakes you get the point

  35. just stop
    June 23, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    i really don’t think it’s necessary to comment about that. the point was to explain what i meant in regard to what i had first posted

  36. Jaime Jenkins
    July 1, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Well i dont know about the rest of you but i am a huge sugarland fan and i absolutely love the new song!!!!

  37. Paula
    July 1, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I wish it had a few less “ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh’s”.

  38. Teri
    July 2, 2008 at 6:48 am

    You know I can’t see why anyone will say this song sucks I love this and so does my children. Everytime I hear I smile. And I think it has made number one on some of the country music stations as well.

  39. Jim Malec
    July 2, 2008 at 7:27 am

    I like this song, actually…but I hate the fact that people keep holding up their children as an example of why it works. Since when is country music supposed to appeal to children? This isn’t supposed to be KidzBop, for cryin’ out loud.

  40. Brady Vercher
    July 2, 2008 at 7:32 am

    This article might help explain why kids like it so much.

  41. Chris N.
    July 2, 2008 at 8:47 am

    So does his wife get royalties?

  42. THATS ENOUGH
    July 7, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    OK SO JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE ONE SONG DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO BASH EVERYTHING SUGARLAND DOES. PERSONALLY I LOVE SUGARLAND AND EVERYTHING I HAVE HEARD FROM THEM. JENNIFER AND KRISTIAN WROTE THIS SONG TO BE A FUN SUMMERTIME SONG GEEZE THEY TRY SOMETHING FUN AND LOOSE AND YOU BASH THE SONG WITH EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT…HAVE YOU NOTHING BETTER TO DO?? AND THE NEW ALBUM IS FILLED WITH GREAT SONGS..’ALREADY GONE’ ‘JOEY’[WRITTEN WITH WHISPERIN BILL ANDERSON] ‘TAKE ME AS I AM’ ‘FALL INTO ME’ ‘VERY LAST COUNTRY SONG’ EACH OF THESE ARE GREAT SONGS AND IF YOU’RE A TRUE SUGARLAND FAN YOU WOULDNT BASH THEIR SONG LIKE THERES NO TOMORROW..YOU’D SIMPLY SAY WELL ITS NOT THEIR BEST SONG BUT…AND TO DAVID NISBET “HER GUITAR PLAYER” HAS A NAME…AND ITS KRISTIAN BUSH..

  43. Bobby
    July 8, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    That’s Enough: Please keep in mind that TYPING IN ALL CAPS is rarely a good idea on the ‘Net.

    Also, the last time my sister heard this, she was begging me to play something else so she could get this out of her head.

  44. B. Jonathan
    July 12, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I’ve heard clips of most of the tracks on the new record. While I admit this song, the first track, is insanely catchy, let me tell you that things only improve from here.

  45. Brittani
    July 14, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I love this song. Though I was a little surprised with the oohs. I do think that the rest of the album will be tens times better than this song because every CD Sugarland releases is better than the first song they release from that album. Also, not every song has to be perfectly written. This song is perfect for summer. It’s catchy, care-free, and sang by a marvelous singer. I look forward to buying their album.

  46. Raquel
    July 17, 2008 at 12:33 am

    I love the song…even though it gets stuck in your head…but I LOVE IT!!!
    Does anyone know the name of the album it is on?

  47. Bobby
    July 30, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    19 syllables for the word “Do”. That might be the biggest melisma in country music since back in 1992, when we found Aaron Tippin warbling about his “blue-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh angel”.

  48. THATS ENOUGH
    August 1, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Raquel, the album is called ‘Love on The Inside’

    (and as Kristian Bush [of Sugarland] says….”its not the blue one or the red one its the pink one!”) :]

  49. Stephen H.
    August 1, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Bobby, you missed two “ooh”s in Tippin’s song. The nerve of you.

  50. D PALMER
    August 6, 2008 at 2:52 am

    The song “All I Want To Do” reminds me of The Wiggles song, “Do the Owl”. Maybe that’s why kids like it! And I don’t. All I can think of is, “All I want to do,oooooooooo is do the owl”

  51. Scott
    August 12, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    The chorus’ melody of this song was taken directly from Tony, Toni, Tone song “If I had no Loot” which was already a big hit 20 years ago. That’s why it seem so familiar to everybody. It’s just role reversal. Now the country folks are just taking from the other side of the tracks. It’s not an original melody at all, it was just cleverly sang as ooh’s instead of the lyrics from the original song.

  52. Chuck
    August 13, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I just got the “Love On The Inside ” CD. “All I want to do”, is not my favorite song out of them all. I would say “Very Last Country Song”, “Keep You”,”Fall Into Me”, are timeless classics, and works of art, they are among the best country songs I have every heard, and when they hit me just right, remind me of my own life, and evoke a lot of feeling.
    Jennifer Nettles is my new favorite female vocalist of any genre, and from what I hear single? Well,,,,, a man can dream.

  53. MIKE
    August 21, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    All I want to do is hang my self every time this song comes on the radio. I can handle a lot of different songs, but everytime this song comes ont the radio I chang the station. I hate this song!

  54. Elise
    August 25, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I am really glad that I found this blog because I was worried that I was the only one that wanted to shoot myself in the head when I heard this song.

    Lol. I mean I have a sense of humor about it, but it literally makes me cringe whenever it comes on my radio!! It really makes me that angry. All i want to do who-who-who-who, who-, who-who-who-who-who, who-, who-who-who-who-who, who-whoooooooo is KILL MYSELF WHENEVER I HEAR THIS SONG. I’m almost POSITIVE that there was absolutely no thought in the creation of this song. They were sitting on their asses thinking “I wonder what we should do..who who who who…for this song… Hey, that’ll work… Hey guys listen to this big fart of an idea, we’re going to make millions!”

    Ugh. And it doesn’t help that Sugarland’s voice is terrible, especially at the end when she tries to do one of those vocal solos Wooooooo-hooooooooo-ooohhhhhhhhh-ah-ah-ah-ah-

    *shudder*

    i’m so mad about this song! it’s rediculous how bad this song is, how did it get aired!? gaaaaaaaah!

    Thank you very muchh.

  55. sasha
    October 20, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I’ve always thought they were extremely overrated. Jennifer Nettles is painful to watch sing, much less hear her sing.

  56. charles
    December 12, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I think this is one of Sugarlands best songs ever.I think anyone who dissagrees with me is stupid.

  57. charles
    December 12, 2008 at 11:52 am

    And for Sasha. I think she is stupid as well. Jennifer is the best singer in country music period.

  58. Guy
    December 12, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    By the way, what’s your nomination for Worst Song of 2008?

    There’s so many which are worthy ….

    “Shift Work” and this one … “All I Want to Do” are right up there in the Top Ten for the Hall of Shame.

  59. Chris N.
    December 12, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    I think anyone who disagrees with me about anything is stupid.

  60. Amanda
    October 2, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I want to see you in real life LOVE amanda

  61. stormy
    October 2, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    No one gets to see Chris in real life–he’s like the Wizard of Oz.

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