Sugarland, “It Happens”

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February 13, 2009

sugarland27_v_eJennifer Nettles sums up the latest Sugarland single better than I ever could. “Ain’t no rhyme or reason, no complicated meaning. Ain’t no need to over-think it,” she says, echoing my impression of “It Happens,” a pop-country, cutesy anthem for suburbia. Nettles is full-blown twangified and all twisted up on this aw-shucks celebration.

In a fit of candor, Nettles calls upon all her mistakes to drive the point home: life is funny if you live and let live. Her alarm clock and her boss say she’s late for work, and she’s missed her morning coffee and, more uncomfortably, her daily shower. She arrives at the job with a pair of unmatching shoes, but life is full of such obstacles; “It happens,” she admits. (Though being tardy to the office is a no-go in these economic times.) The second verse is just an extension of her troubled day. On a trip to Walmart (homegirl is one with the people), she accidentally bumps into her ex’s truck, the second vehicle she’s sidelined that day (her “trusty-rusty” has a flat; she’s borrowed the neighbor’s Caddy).

In the press materials for Love on the Inside, the duo referenced blast-from-the-past “Walking on Sunshine,” the claim to fame for ’80s New Wave group, Katrina & the Waves, as the song’s sonic inspiration. Nettles, though, may have more in common with Bangles frontwoman, Susanna Hoffs. Both are strikingly beautiful women who’ve led highly-successful group efforts into the spotlight with their sass and sex appeal, not to mention their distinctive vocal spirit. The Bangles bowed to commercial expectations in the late ’80s; hopefully, Sugarland shrugs off that impulse and presses forward towards more challenging material.

Love on the Inside is a strong step in that direction, but contemporary albums now seem to be dotted with needless novelty. “It Happens” isn’t harboring hope for world peace or establishing country living as the only way of life; it’s just a necessary evil in a corporate radio world. The supposed release of “Love” relieved me (temporarily) of the fear that “It Happens” would blare out from my car stereo for the next five months. Now, I’m a little miffed about its release. I will let go, as Nettles nudges us to do, but I ain’t laughin’.

Grade: C

Written by Kristian Bush, Jennifer Nettles & Bobby Pinson

Listen: “It Happens”

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  1. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah, I’m not feeling this one as a single – at least, not right now. I’ll say I’m glad they dumped “Love,” because I never got much into that one aside from the vocals and the really sweet video. And I actually think this one is pretty cute – they know not to take their attempt at feel-good music too seriously, so it just comes across as silly, which is nice (and seriously, who can’t relate to that “walk of shame” bit?). But coming after “Already Gone,” this is just too frivolous and predictable, and too reminiscent of the spirit of “All I Want to Do.” It’s going to make casual listeners think the album is full of fluffy sentiments, which it mostly isn’t.

    I would have liked to see “We Run” take this slot instead – it’s a good middle ground between the catchiness of “It Happens” and the sonic personality of “Genevieve,” plus it continues on the philosophical path that “Already Gone” started on (but is more fun). And obviously “Very Last Country Song” is going to have to come out sooner or later, although I suspect that this album will have lots of singles released from it a la the Chicks’ Fly, so I’m not worried about that one. It can come out later, when interest has waned a bit (a la “Stay”). I love “Take Me As I Am,” too, but I don’t know how I feel about it being released to country radio and teaching the American youth that “country music” sounds like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. I dunno, man.

    So yeah. Not a bad song, but a bad choice of single given the context of their releases, at least for me. For the song itself I’d say ‘B,’ maybe ‘B+‘ on a day where I really need to hear it.

  2. ChadNo Gravatar says:

    I actually really like this song, and I typically despise novelty songs. I didn’t like “All I Wanna Do” at all…and if it would have been any other artist, I maybe wouldn’t have bought the CD because of that lead single.

    This song is undeniably catchy and sing-along worthy. I can’t help but smile and feel good when listening to it. In fact, for the first few months after the CD came out, this was one of the songs I played while I was in the shower to make myself feel better about the day…

    While it is by no means the best song on the CD, I actually think its a good choice for a single. And like the others, I’m holding out hope for Very Last Country Song to be their next “Stay”…

  3. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Forgot to say – interesting comparison to the Bangles.

  4. JoeBNo Gravatar says:

    I just heard this song for the first time today and am absolutely in LOVE with it! I’m literally running out (well, driving) to get the CD after work today.

    Some history: I hated “All I Wanna Do,” and “Already Gone” just sorta faded into the radio landscape for me. I guess I only like Sugarland for particular singles. “Stay” was too much a showpiece; “Everyday America” was filler; but when I’m in my car I will roll down the windows and crank my radio to 10 — even in the dead of winter — every single time I hear “Settlin’” and “Baby Girl.”

  5. Chris N.No Gravatar says:

    If it were called “**** Happens” I’d like it a lot better. Commit to the joke, people!

  6. I have a confession to make….I sort of love this song.

    the shame……

    can I at least argue that though it’s Bon Jovi, it’s like Bon Jovi meets Roger Miller?

    maybe I’m just trying to justify…

    but I can come out firmly against the bass line in the “break it down” part and the guitar solo type thing before it as terrible.

  7. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar says:

    I was a little quick with the trigger on this post—God bless this mess. **** happens.

    Sugarland saw how successful George & Kenny were with their shifty song, so they wanted to join in on the fun.

  8. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    I can sort of hear the Roger Miller comparison, at least in spirit. It’s a lot wordier and less scattered than he usually went, but you can draw certain similarities, sure.

  9. He went wordy

    See: “In the summertime”, and “I’ve been a long time leaving”

    both two of my favorite Roger Miller songs. It’s not like rap really, but I enjoy songwriting that squeezes all the syllables one possible can into a bar of music in ways that make sense rhythmically and lyrically. It’s a skill, and it’s delightful.

    Despite being overly cutesy, I think this song is delightful too.

  10. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t hear it much in “You Don’t Want My Love” (the “in the summertime” song) – I think that just sounds wordy because it doesn’t actually make much cohesive sense. But I definitely see your point in “I’ve Been a Long Time Leaving” – that “I say hi there, highline, hello, highway, here come a big ole semi my way” part is definitely in the same style as the “poor me, why me, oh me, boring” pre-chorus here. Good catch!

  11. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, something’s funny about Ben hollerin’ “delightful.”:) I do think Roger Miller is delightful though.

  12. JaneNo Gravatar says:

    Blah. Do not like this song. It should have been dumped from the album for Fall into me or Wishing which are far better songs overall. I would have liked to have seen “We Run” released.

  13. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    I knew this one would go to radio the first time I heard the album. But, I am kinda surprised that it’s being released now too. I was all primed and ready for ‘Love’. Personally, I was rooting for ‘Joey’ as the next single.

    I like the song a lot. Lyrically, I think it shows a lot of growth for Jennifer and Kristian. (Bobby Pinson is credited as a writer too.) I expect this one to soar at radio. It’s just the sort of song radio latches onto. But I won’t mind hearing it for the next 5 months.

    And I think you were a bit harsh in your grading, Blake. I agree with Dan that it’s at least a B or B+ … but not really A material.

  14. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Okay, I’ve owned this CD since the summer, but haven’t listened to it much. So, I wasn’t sure of what this song was by the title until I clicked on it now. I’ll have to agree with Ben, though, that it’s “delightful.” I don’t know if I should admit it, but it’s probably my favorite Sugarland song. Who knows if it’ll wear off after awhile, but I think it’s awesome ear candy.

  15. JakeNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t love the song as much as “Joey” or “Very Last Country Song”, but it’s still good. I was also ready for “Love” to become a hit, and I still expect it to in the coming months, so if these two songs are charting the charts for a while, then I think I can be patient for “Joey” or “Very Last Country Song”.

  16. KentNo Gravatar says:

    At first I was disappointed at this release, especially since it meant the plug was being “Love”. And then I heard it on the radio and was assaulted by its infectious happiness and fun, and I’m not so disappointed anymore.

  17. I have to say that I have never heard this song but just reading some of those words they really hit home with me a little as I have just recently become single and lost the love of my life and as the song goes “It Happens” its just the question of why this happens that gets to me.

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