Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Dermot Kennedy – Outnumbered

And this outnumbers his previous appearance by a whopping [0.04]…


Will Adams: After listening to Ed Sheeran’s dire collabs album (more on that later this week), I thought I’d hear the earlier-Sheeran-aping acoustic-pop sound of “Outnumbered” in a kinder light. But between Kennedy’s harsh rasp and the extraneous production baubles draped all over it, it’s like eating a bowl of bland oatmeal that’s been seasoned with a bunch of incongruent toppings.

Alex Clifton: Have you ever heard a song that was designed for an advert of women getting ready for the day, putting on high heels, napping on the train because they’re so tired and overworked, only to be perked up by a cup of subpar coffee from a coworker who is also Ed Sheeran? Because this is that song.

Joshua Lu: Another mawkish slog about a girl who just doesn’t understand how gosh darn beautiful she really is, sung by a guy who’s misinterpreted his inability to move on as romantic instead of pathetic. I don’t think there’s any way to deliver the line “I’ll be out there somewhere” to an ex without coming across as a creep, but kudos to this James Arthur redux for trying.

Iain Mew: The chord sequence plod is basically Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” again, because as we get fewer and fewer UK hits these things go around ever faster. The message is approximately “don’t feel blue like you always do, because somewhere in the crowd there’s me” which really doesn’t work that way around. Yet those are minor issues next to the horror of when the loose beat kicks in and Dermot decides that if Ed Sheeran can rap, so can he, before chickening out after half a line. He sounds like a man who forgot the tune at karaoke and has decided to go for the dramatic spoken reading as an alternative, but is fast losing heart as he watches everyone watching him, sweating and eyeing the exit. 

Scott Mildenhall: It’s great to hear The Script’s rapping guitarist finally reaching his potential.

Kayla Beardslee: The wistful chords and plucked guitar immediately tell us that this is a “singer-songwriter man goes acoustic to pine over woman” kind of track, something in the vein of “Be Alright” by Dean Lewis. There’s little space for nuance or surprise in the production — the meat of “Outnumbered,” however lean it may be, is in the lyrics. There are some interesting lyrical choices here, like the almost fantastical images conjured up by “But there’s beauty here that’s yet to depart / There’s still a song inside the halls in the dark.” The hook, “On the nights you feel outnumbered / Baby, I’ll be out there somewhere,” is smartly worded: loneliness is generic, but being outnumbered, lost in an uncaring crowd, is a specific yet understandable feeling. But as soon as Kennedy creates this interesting moment, it disappears, because “I’ll be out there somewhere” is so suddenly ambivalent. “Baby, I promise that whenever you feel alone, I’ll be right there to comfort you. Except maybe I won’t be. Actually, who knows where I’ll be, because I have no real sense of purpose or direction and can no longer guarantee anything. Are you feeling better yet?” Scattered throughout the song are vague lines like this that only make its meaning more confusing. Is “Outnumbered” a simple love song? There are lines about how Kennedy loves the woman’s soul, how he’ll come find her and always hold her hand in the car, so it must be a cute romantic ballad. But he also says that it will kill him to leave her when he goes, so is it a breakup song? That doesn’t make sense, considering their love “is not designed for the cynical,” but the woman is apparently still waiting to find the good guy she deserves, so there’s conflicting feelings of inadequacy to unpack on the narrator’s part, and a generic “fight on” gets tossed into the bridge, so is this song supposed to be inspirational instead of romantic? What is even happening?

Kylo Nocom: On one hand, you have the Dermot Kennedy that attempts his hardest to emulate the sensitive singer/songwriter soul of years past. He valiantly aims for Glen Hansard (who is hokey enough), but he lands squarely on post-Sheeran Top 40. The hook provides the slightest melodic appeal, but unfortunately fails to provide something rousing enough to forgive the blandness of the production. On the other hand, you have the Dermot Kennedy that wants to be Gnash. And that’s just unforgivable.

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