Monday, September 10th, 2018

Old Dominion – Hotel Key

Chillin’ at the Holiday Inn…


Jessica Doyle: Back when I was an active member of Georgia Romance Writers, I got into discussions a couple of times about the disadvantages of writing contemporary romance, as opposed to Regencies; it being a lot harder to give your hero and heroine the necessary number of obstacles to overcome if there’s no country estate or family reputation at stake. Such is the problem with “Hotel Key”: the details are decent enough (“the TV we never turned on”) but there’s never a sliver of a reason given why the characters couldn’t continue their amiable coupling. Any implied pathos would be defeated by the jangly guitar and the jaunty singing anyway, but it’s not even there to begin with; there’s no emotional point. But, hey, at least no one’s roommate’s mattress got stolen this time.

Iain Mew: It rips along with such verve that I nearly get carried past the gaps, but in a story where pretty much any drama is between the lines, you need to get the details right and they don’t. There’s the “I guess” in the wrong place — sing with pauses like it divides as “She kept the hotel key/Slipped it in her purse I guess/It makes her think of me” and every time I think how do you know for sure?. Then there’s “We both know we can’t open that door no more/She kept the hotel key” which must have been an irresistible thematic link of key and door, literal and metaphorical, but clashes on the literal side with the fact that if she has the key there’s one of them that maybe still can open it.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Sprightly instrumentation and cute lyrics allow this recounting of a one-night stand to feel, above all else, fun. Crucial is how Matthew Ramsey sounds like he’s got a smirk on his face the entire time, and certain lines–the “three little words” flip, “we danced by the TV we never turned on,” “we left our hearts on our sleeves and the clothes all over the floor” — confirm such suspicions. While “Hotel Key” wouldn’t feel out of place in a 2000s teen flick, it benefits greatly from storytelling that feels more like giddy reminiscing than braggadocious, testosterone-fueled celebration.

Taylor Alatorre: The paradox of one-night stand songs is that the experience must be distinctive and memorable enough to justify making music about it, while not being so laden with meaning and expectation as to shift into the general love song category and thereby cease being about the one-night stand itself. Old Dominion square that circle by filling in this consequence-free tune with banal, at times unsexy, details that together add up to a pretty convincing account. “It makes her think of me” is a tad presumptuous, though, and an unfortunate blot on a song which is otherwise all about remembering the past without trying to reinhabit it.

Stephen Eisermann: Songs about one night stands are usually either played for jokes or for tragedy, but Old Dominion goes a different route on “Hotel Key.” Rather than go for the bro-tastic but totally misogynistic describe only her body route, the guys here instead recount the tale of a night that they fooled around with some girl and they had a great time doing it. It’s a cute little tale of how two consenting adults had some good fun, messed around, then went about their lives unaffected by what was an otherwise good lay. And, just like casual sex done right, this song is pretty damn fun. 

Alfred Soto: The drums impress. The gnarly riffs twist in on themselves. It recalls eighties Hank Williams, Jr., and, well, of course — did you notice their name? 

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