Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Tim McGraw – Felt Good on My Lips

So yeah, it’s been a little while…


Jer Fairall: In which Tim gets a lesson in multiculturalism and doesn’t even have to leave the bar for it.

Jonathan Bogart: Even more on-the-nose than power-pop usually is. No shit, the song was really all about a kiss?

Katie Lewis: Admittedly, the most recent single I’ve heard by Tim McGraw before this was “Indian Outlaw”. I could have sworn this man was a country artist (and too old, married, and child-bearing to be releasing songs of this sort), but the guitars, the overly bombastic contrast between verse and bridge/chorus, and the thinly veiled ignorance of Spanish names, music, and girly drinks makes this a third-class alt-rock single at best.

Martin Skidmore: This is pretty horrid – not so much country as ’70s soft rock, with one of the most predictable build-ups imaginable and hackneyed yet obtrusive playing. He delivers the slightly awkward lyrics cheerfully enough, but I found it nigh on intolerable.

Josh Langhoff: Just for aggravating the cranks at the 9513, this song is worth at least a 6. But on top of that we’ve got the skinny tie beat, the riff that sounds like either Sonic Youth or “Since U Been Gone”, the humongous Phil Vassar-ish “WHOA-OH-OH-OH-OH-OH”s, and the driving drum and bass fill on the last chorus. The title is destined to inspire dirty jokes among Tim’s audience, and that was probably the intent. All in all it’s about as country as I am, but if that makes it bad, “Hey Ya!” needed more rapping. This thing is a big dumb monster that’s learning to manipulate tools and will kill us all.

Zach Lyon: A pretty enjoyable Tim McGraw tune about falling for a Spanish girl. It feels a bit noble-savagey, but this probably represents the best possible hope for making the South less racist with their immigration laws. Whatever happens with the election, I’m going to either credit or blame this song.

Frank Kogan: Woman as other, with her Latin blood and her candy lips and her feminine motley drink, all of which make Timmy here want to go a little bit loco, though this song is more silly than nutty, McGraw and crew at play with words and tunelets.

Katherine St Asaph: My ingrained love for guitar stabs almost overcame the icky exoticism here — new Spanish woman, new foreign song, new girly cocktail, same difference, right? But then Tim turned all the guitars to mush anyway.

Alfred Soto: I’ve waited all my life for the hum of those electro-glazed guitars to warm McGraw’s lips; I’ve waited months for power chords as impeccably timed as those cushioning the lyric “I wanna go crazy with you.” Tim discovers Brandon Flowers! Then I remembered McGraw’s talent for of-the-moment studio rock, and more striking, his ear for picking good songs. As much as the arrangement threatens to swamp his vocal, McGraw demonstrates he’s in charge — a slurred syllable here, a belted phrase there. A deserved crossover beside “The House That Built Me” and “Need You Now.”

Renato Pagnani: There’s a little fetishizing of the Other going on here, but it doesn’t feel like exploitation so much as a natural response. Tim likes this girl’s name (and her in general) because she’s different and exotic, and it comes off as innocent here, but as someone who understands the, “Hey, your name is weird,” and “Hey, your name is really sexy!” dichotomy, it’s also both flattering and weird. And it’s smart writing that it’s not -— immediately, at least -— the girl’s lips that feel good on his, but her name (and what’s even better is that we never find out her name!), and then a strange cocktail that she orders for him. When at the end of the song it actually is her lips (and of course it was always going to be), it feels earned and like a mini-victory for three-minute storytelling. This also -— and somewhat surprisingly to my country-novice ears -— kind of rocks. And those “Woooaaaaahhhs!” and yelps in the background are great.

Additional Scores

Anthony Easton: [6]

9 Responses to “Tim McGraw – Felt Good on My Lips”

  1. Josh: love the “skinny tie beat” description!

  2. Thanks, man! Woooaaaaahhh!

  3. Powerpop guitar jangle (“skinny tie” is totally right), synth-buzzy start, ’60s bubblegum wanna-go-crazy singalong parts, mellow yellow umbrellas in a purple pink drink (I oddly actually like how Tim repeats “mellow”), Spanish-surnamed girl, song he likes despite not understanding words (how many hit songs are about other liking pop music in another language??) — I would’ve given this an “8”, had I got to it on time. Fun record.

  4. “…liking other pop music….,” I think I meant. (Was typing fast.) Also agree with Renato that this is smart songrwriting, in general –doesn’t sound “hackneyed” to me at all. (And it’s not like Tim McGraw hasn’t had plenty of hackneyed hits.)

  5. I’d say that a lot of country kind of rocks, or much more than kind of rocks, or rocks harder than most rock, and has for nigh on 35 years or so (55 if you want to count “That’s Alright Mama” as country). Chuck can probably point you better to old stuff than I could, but Hank Jr. and Charlie Daniels and Waylon Jennings (“Are You Sure Hank Sounded Like The Velvet Underground?“) are good reference points, and as for recent country, there’s Eric Church and Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift (whips her hair) and Shooter Jennings and Big & Rich and Brooks & Dunn and a whole bunch of others (Toby Keith, Gretchen Wilson, Montgomery Gentry, etc.) all rocking up a storm when they want to.

  6. Thanks, Frank. Perhaps this only sounds like it rocks more than most country I’ve heard is only because I’m not much of a country listener, but as I’ve discussed with Edward, the longer I spend with you guys the more country I’m listening to — and liking! I do like Taylor Swift, but I’m sure you can tell from my blurbs on her songs. I’ll check out some of these songs and artists.

  7. rocks harder than most rock, and has for nigh on 35 years

    I’d say 35 years is stretching it — That would take you back to 1975, well before Appetite For Destruction and Motörhead and Van Halen, and back when Aerosmith, AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Sweet, the Dictators, Nazareth, Rose Tattoo, and rock bands everywhere on earth were still rocking harder than country ever has. But I would definitely say that, for the past decade or two, country has held the edge over rock when it comes to rockingness. In fact, I can think of almost no music that rocked as hard as Nashville country did through the ’00s. (Scooter, I guess. Or I dunno, probably some crunk tracks I’m not thinking of now.) And “Felt Good” isn’t even close to the hardest rocking country song to chart. (Might be the hardest rocking Tim McGraw song to chart, but rock has never been his forté; he’s a smoothie!)

  8. …Well okay, certain ’00s stoner-metal bands could probably give Montgomery Gentry a run for their money, and maybe occasional garage-rock revivalists like the Gore Gore Girls. But certainly no “rock” that actually got onto commercial radio.

  9. And actually, the hardest rocking new track by far (country otherwise) I’ve heard in 2010, the Indiana band Flynnville Train’s version of “Sandman” (yeah, the old America hit, speaking of ’70s “soft rock”), would’ve fit right in among those mid ’70s hard rock bands I’ve named. (Their debut album from three years ago got to #49 on the country chart and made my Pazz & Jop Top 10; new one, Redemption, hasn’t charted, but has a good shot at making my Top 10 anyway.)