Friday, September 12th, 2014

Blake Shelton – Neon Light

He should’ve called it “Chug All Night.”


Thomas Inskeep: Mr. Miranda Lambert is at his peak: since 2008, with an exception, every single released has hit #1 on the country radio charts. There’s that TV talent show that’s thrust him and the missus onto the cover of every supermarket tabloid. But this decade his catalog has been a case of severely diminishing returns; the last Shelton single I really like is 2009’s Trace Adkins-featuring “Hillbilly Bone” — until this one. It’s full of clever phrasing, starting but not ending with its title refrain (“there’s a neon light/at the end of the tunnel”). It’s also full of well-picked banjo; this is no slick-Nashville bro-country, but the real thing. I love the way “Neon Light” sounds, and the way it feels

Katherine St Asaph: Thanks to Cee-Lo Green and his recent indiscretions, Blake is now only the third biggest asshole on The Voice, but this still doesn’t make me stop wishing him an endless hangover when he starts babbling about “that blonde-blonde-blonde at the bar-bar-bar.” It’s little wonder Shelton isn’t much for subtle lighting; subtlety is not exactly his thing.

Patrick St. Michel: Even he gets sick of the nothing-happening beat by the first chorus…wish he’d also gotten tired of doofy metaphor and repeating words.  

Alfred Soto: When cursed by incurable blandness, get emphatic. Shelton’s method is to closely mic blues riffs like his boy Eric Church except he rarely writes his own tunes and hardly knows how to pick’em anyway. Swagger becomes him like a tux does Brad Paisley, but I’ll give him points for not coasting.

Anthony Easton: I had a discussion with a fellow critic a few days about about Shelton and sentimentality. I like when Shelton is less snarky, and more explicit about his desire. I think he is capable of anger, but it reads as smarm and I find myself turned off. This makes me want to return to his more sentimental excursions. He doesn’t seem to be able to keep up when it speeds up, there are moments where he is ripping off “Boys Round Here”, he rhymes tunnel with subtle, and the drinking/women metaphors have the sensitivity of a caveman. This is another track from a superstar that I was excited to hear and am now bored by. (See new Paisley, Brooks, and Lambert.) Nashville’s in a slump after a few years of fascinating risk taking. 

Edward Okulicz: Nice riff, nice banjo, shame about the watery beat. Nice middle-eight, nice transition into the chorus, shame about the chorus itself. Nice career, nice voice, shame his material’s gone down the tubes since he got a job on the tube.

Brad Shoup: This is more desperate to sound pleased than the one by the guy who was on the airplane. Funny that the catchiest part is just Shelton saying syllables three times, and the saddest part is his windup on the chorus. This thing sounds like it was recorded in a broom closet, and yet I’m charmed!

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