Gloriana, “Wild at Heart”

gloriana-1Do I need to point out the obvious? A two-guy, two-girl harmony group who play rustically instrumented music that sounds heavily influenced by late 70’s/early 80’s pop-rock? I mean, I’m sorry, but is it this easy to rip off another act’s entire spiel without anyone at your label noticing or caring? It’s not like Little Big Town have a patent on their sound or something, butcome on, kids. Play nice.

That rant aside, I have to admit that this is some pretty serious ear candy. The lyrics about teenage romance are predictably lame, but the production is fresh and the pre-chorus builds so perfectly that you can practically feel it give you a hormone surge, which I guess is probably the point (I mean, they are opening for Taylor Swift). The final product is a lush sonic party which might not have sounded out of place on the FernGully soundtrack – all that’s missing is a few well-timed “na na na”s.

Anyway, given the difficulty that Little Big Town seem to have faced in getting their new output played at radio – including their own feel-good single, “Good Lord Willing” – one wonders whether Gloriana could be well-poised to displace them on the charts. I’ve always liked Little Big Town, so I hope that doesn’t happen, but I can’t deny that this is pretty enjoyable stuff, too. Can we maybe just make room for both of them and boot out…some other vocal group?

Grade: B

Listen: Wild at Heart

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32 Comments

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32 Responses to Gloriana, “Wild at Heart”

  1. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Oh no, I really think the two groups are going to confuse me. The song’s okay, but I still feel like something’s missing that makes the song seem as though it’s trying to be catchy, but doesn’t quite get there…at least for me.

  2. CarsonNo Gravatar

    I think this song is irresistibly catchy, and the male and female harmonies make this like a
    “Lady Antebellum + Little Big Town + some catchy pop stuff” equation. I agree, some lyrics are a tad cheesy (“I’ll love you, or I’ll try to/We’ve got nothing to loose but time”), but there’s this drum beat fast-paced pre-chorus (“Stick your hand into my back pocket/Light me up like a bottle rocket/I just wanna freefall for a while”) and it bursts into this catchy teenage summer love country chorus. I think this song could possibly be a hit, if not, then at least a big favorite at Taylor’s concert crowds.

  3. AaronNo Gravatar

    So tickets for Taylor’s concert here in Arizona go on sale next Saturday, I was contemplating whether or not to buy some. After listening to this song, I’m intrigued to see this group live now! They do sound a lot like Little Big Town, just with a bit more pop. But the song did kind of grab my attention. I have to give these guys more of a listen!

  4. StephanieNo Gravatar

    I enjoyed this song alright. I think Gloriana is the more marketable, mainstream Little Big Town. They blend country instrumentation with underlying pop sensability which comes across in the lyrics and overall delivery of the song. Considering they’re opening for Swift on her tour, they’ll easily gain attention at radio and record sales have a chance of fairing well.

    However, I agree with Leeann in there’s something missing that prevents the song from recieving its desired response. Still, it’s good enough to be played on country radio (as are most underwhelming songs these days).

  5. Martin in NYNo Gravatar

    I find this song to be somewhat interesting. I think it could grow on me, even though I agree with Carson about the lyrics being cheesy. However, there is something really light about this song that lacks the complexity of some of Little Big Town’s work. Ultimately, this post really got me thinking about the reluctance of radio to embrace Little Big Town’s new stuff. I love Little Big Town (even more than Sugarland) and really want them to break through in a bigger way.

  6. I can’t see this group displacing Little Big Town, if only because they are on an independent label, while LBT has the resources of Capitol behind them. If anything, this group is an excellent example of how unoriginal mainstream country has become. This recording is not particularly country; it’s just bubble-gum pop with some steel guitar and banjo licks thrown in as an afterthought to appeal to the country market. Look at their MySpace page and see who their influences are:

    Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Keith Urban, Ryan Adams, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow

    No bonafide country credentials in that list of names. This is a big pet peeve of mine. Have we really reached the point where it’s too much to expect that country artists have actually listened to country music at some point in their lives and reflect that in the music they produce? Gloriana are hardly unique in this respect, but it’s just a shame how far this genre has been removed from its roots.

  7. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    “Have we really reached the point where it’s too much to expect that country artists have actually listened to country music at some point in their lives and reflect that in the music they produce? Gloriana are hardly unique in this respect, but it’s just a shame how far this genre has been removed from its roots.”

    I agree with you on this point, Razor X. I didn’t mention it in the review because it’s such a given nowadays that modern mainstream country largely ignores its own genre’s traditions, but it is quite a shame. I think Gloriana made some OK acoustic pop here, though, so that’s what I decided focus on.

  8. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar

    This would be the perfect song to play over the credits of a cheesy teen movie or a Disney movie. Cute, peppy and fun. I can’t say much more about it.

    As far as mixed groups go, Gloriana’s music isn’t nearly as sophisticated or have as much depth as Little Big Town, but it is infinitely more accessible. I can just see the Rascal Flatts crowd salivating. It also isn’t nearly as catchy or interesting as the music being put out by Lady Antebellum. It will be interesting to see where this group goes…if anywhere.

  9. Very good point Razor. LBT seems to be waiting until their next album to really use their new label’s resources, which should prove for a great and successful album.

    I liked this song, but the more success it gets, and the more success LBT’s “Good Lord Willing” doesn’t, the more I will hate Gloriana.

  10. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    I think the thing that holds me back from liking these kinds of groups is that they sound like sing alongs to me rather than groups with tight, distinctive harmonies. I can’t think of another way to describe it yet.

  11. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    “they sound like sing alongs to me rather than groups with tight, distinctive harmonies.”

    I know exactly what you mean. I’d have to sit down and listen to it some more to really say, but I don’t think the harmonies are nearly as tight or plentiful as Little Big Town’s. I’m not sure I’m going to like this group much on other material that isn’t this infectious (to me), but I’ll hold off judgment until I hear more. Maybe they’ll change up their sound a bit. I do like that the mandolin is prominent here in some parts.

    In any case, I still think Gloriana seems to do country-flavored pop way better than certain other acts who have had a lot of success at radio. I much prefer LBT based on this, but I’d take this over a lot of other stuff.

  12. “I agree with you on this point, Razor X. I didn’t mention it in the review because it’s such a given nowadays that modern mainstream country largely ignores its own genre’s traditions, but it is quite a shame. I think Gloriana made some OK acoustic pop here, though, so that’s what I decided focus on.”

    I understand, Dan, I just felt the need to rant. ;) I don’ t think I’m capable of fairly reviewing music like this. “OK acoustic pop” it may be, but I feel so very strongly that music like this doesn’t belong on country radio, I just can’t evaluate it for what it is. Perhaps if it were marketed more honestly — i.e., to the correct radio format — it wouldn’t be as difficult to give it a fair shake.

  13. Razor,

    Since radio doesn’t have any other format for “OK acoustic pop,” where else should it go?

  14. Matt, I don’t care whether or not there’s another format to play “OK acoustic pop”. Why should the country fans get stuck with it?

  15. Because if modern country radio didn’t play these songs, there’d likely not be much of any country stations to listen to even ‘regular’ country music. Also, the majority of ‘country fans’ like the current country format. Then again, you’d probably say they’re not ‘true’ country fans?

  16. KNo Gravatar

    That “other” vocal group is the most successful country group since Alabama. Which leads the way for my next question- who are these people and what do they do for country music??

    Certainly not what that “other” group does (:

  17. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    who are these people and what do they do for country music??

    Certainly not what that “other” group does (:”

    Yes, and for that “these people” deserve all the praise in the land. Maybe it’s easy for me to say, since I don’t have a monetary stake in the country music industry, but I’d rather see it be a small-time format with a niche fanbase than a big-time format with crappy music. I know not everyone shares that opinion on “that other group,” but that’s my opinion.

  18. Kevin J. CoyneNo Gravatar

    The Dixie Chicks are the most successful country band since Alabama. The Rascal Flatts numbers only look sort of impressive because of the lack of real competition. Other than Carrie Underwood, no artist this decade has even flirted with the numbers put up on the board by the Chicks, Garth, Shania, and Faith. (Heck, Billy Ray even had a 9-million seller!)

    There have always been pop-flavored country hits, and the bandwagon jumpers are nothing new. Bon Jovi and Darius Rucker aren’t breaking new ground. Tom Jones and Debby Boone each scored #1 country hits. Conway Twitty and Kenny Rogers started off as pop stars, then crossed over to country and became superstars. Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, The Eagles and Olivia Newton-John were nominated for CMA awards in the 70’s. Denver and Newton-John actually won a few. Even the Pointer Sisters have a Country Grammy, and if you listen to the record they won for, it makes sense.

    What’s changed, I think, is that there are so few new acts who can even use country music of the past as a reference point in their music. There is a real danger in the history being lost that I don’t think has ever existed before.

    Perhaps what’s really happening is that country radio, which had long been a reasonable reflection of contemporary country music, is now something distinctly different. Emily Robison touched on this when she clarified the comment she made when accepting the Grammy for Best Country Album. She said on the show that the Chicks didn’t have a genre, but backstage she made the distinction that she meant a radio format to call home, not a genre of music, as they still considered the music they made country.

    Maybe that’s where we are right now. Country the radio format includes actual country music along with southern rock and acoustic pop/rock, while country the musical genre encompasses all music that is descended from the genre’s history, but not everything that’s played on country radio.

  19. “Because if modern country radio didn’t play these songs, there’d likely not be much of any country stations to listen to even ‘regular’ country music.”

    Come again?!?

    “Also, the majority of ‘country fans’ like the current country format. Then again, you’d probably say they’re not ‘true’ country fans?”

    Got it in one!

  20. “Yes, and for that “these people” deserve all the praise in the land. Maybe it’s easy for me to say, since I don’t have a monetary stake in the country music industry, but I’d rather see it be a small-time format with a niche fanbase than a big-time format with crappy music.”

    Hear, hear!! I could not agree more!

  21. Kevin J. CoyneNo Gravatar

    Dan wrote: “I’d rather see it be a small-time format with a niche fanbase than a big-time format with crappy music.”

    If forced to choose, I’d agree with you, but I think it’s false choice. Country music already is a big-time format with mediocre music dominating it, but there’s also a niche fanbase that is fiercely loyal to a slew of artists who aren’t played on the radio, but always have a crowd to play for.

    Case in point: I’ll be seeing Kathy Mattea at a decent-sized theater next month. She hasn’t had a real radio hit in 15 years, but she’s continued to produce excellent music and she has a fanbase that will eagerly listen to the new material interspersed with the old hits.

    I like some of the stuff on radio: Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Josh Turner, Gary Allan, Miranda Lambert, George Strait. But most of my favorite artists don’t get the spins anymore.

    I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing. It was awesome seeing my favorite acts dominate the charts and the award shows back in the nineties. They were the reasons I became a fan of the music in the first place. But I also love the artistic choices those same acts have made now that they’re liberated from the need to make albums with one eye on radio.

    I’m sure most Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash fans discovered them when they were still played on the radio, but I became a fan of Harris through Cowgirl’s Prayer and of Johnny Cash through American Recordings. It took me a while to fully discover the music that they’d made while on top, aside from Cash’s most obvious hits.

    The new artists are needed to hook the new listeners. My worry is that very few of them have enough links to country music’s past for the discovery to go beyond what’s new and hip. Would I have gone back and listened to Linda Ronstadt’s seminal works if it wasn’t for Trisha Yearwood singing her praises? I’m not sure. Then again, would I have discovered Todd Snider if Pam Tillis hadn’t written a piece raving about his debut album? I doubt it.

    It would be great to hear Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea, Dwight Yoakam, and Rodney Crowell on the radio again. But they had their run at the top, and because the talent and fan base still remains, music that would never be played on the radio can still be heard by a smaller but more loyal audience.

    We’re also in an interesting time when music is just more accessible anyway, and artists can find a path to success without big radio support. As fate would have it, country radio has become less relevant to the genre at the same time it’s become less essential for success.

    I can’t shake the feeling that radio’s reluctance to play much music that is even tangentially country could end up a positive in the long run, as the ways of marketing the music will be adjusted accordingly. Without having to budget in radio promotion, which is frighteningly expensive, country acts me able to be profitable with a lower number of sales, and more good music might become available as a result. I don’t think we’ll know for sure until we come out on the other end of this transitional period, but I see plenty of reasons to be cautiously optimistic.

  22. “The new artists are needed to hook the new listeners. My worry is that very few of them have enough links to country music’s past for the discovery to go beyond what’s new and hip.”

    That sums it up in a nutshell. I’ve got nothing against new acts, and though I miss hearing some of my favorite artists on the radio, I wouldn’t mind their being pushed aside — after all, everyone has their day in the sun — if the acts that were taking their place were worth listening to. Most of the new acts are boring at best and downright awful at worst. And many of them are not even remotely country. Everything is being marketed to soccer moms and teenagers, and there’s not much left for the rest of us who don’t fall within those two narrow demographics, to listen to.

  23. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    If forced to choose, I’d agree with you, but I think it’s false choice.

    To clarify, I agree. I was just saying that if it were only because of acts like Rascal Flatts that country music were a big industry, I would sooner have country music exist solely in the niche form that acts like Mattea currently inhabit. Obviously that’s not the whole picture of the industry’s size, especially since many of the genre’s biggest sellers with arguably the most mass appeal – Garth, Johnny Cash, the Chicks – succeeded with music that was very frequently rooted in some discernible form of country music tradition (and was also actually good, regardless of genre orientation), unlike Rascal Flatts’ (in my opinion).

  24. KNo Gravatar

    Ya, the Dixie Chicks WERE the most popular group, until country radio stopped playing them. Alabama is not active now, either. Rascal Flatts are the most popular group in country right now, and there is no denying it. They’ve continued to show impressive numbers after being around ten years, and their touring numbers keep growing as well. A lot of people think they don’t deserve to be where they are, and that’s fine. BUT there is no denying what they have done for the country format and the sales and fans they have generated.

    There are acts out there who put out just as much fluffy “pop” as they do, by the way. Hardly anything on country radio (or on country albums) has substance nowadays.

    You can’t be telling me they are the only act guilty of this??!!

  25. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    “You can’t be telling me they are the only act guilty of this??!!”

    I don’t think anyone is claiming such a thing.

  26. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    I don’t think Rascal Flatts are the only ones by any means, but I do consider them probably the worst offenders who regularly get away with it.

    Man, you made me trash them directly, and now I feel kind of mean. :/ Um…have I mentioned how much I love “I’m Movin’ On”?

  27. Kevin J. CoyneNo Gravatar

    K-

    I don’t challenge the fact that Rascal Flatts are quite popular right now.

    But “Rascal Flatts are the most popular country band since Alabama” is demonstrably false. Even at their peak, which was about two years ago, Rascal Flatts never even came close to the popularity and success that the Chicks enjoyed from 1998-2003.

    Though as an odd little side note, the most recent Rascal Flatts studio album (Still Feels Good) has scanned less than the most recent Dixie Chicks studio album (Taking the Long Way), even though the RF album had several big radio hits and the Chicks set had none.

    Of course, the album that Rascal Flatts released the same year as that Chicks album has sold quadruple platinum. Just goes to show how much record sales have slid in the past three years.

  28. neongirlNo Gravatar

    I just saw this cheeseball video from this Little Big Town ripoff group called Gloriana (stupid name)…give me a break. It was blatantly obvious from the first 10 seconds I heard…..The girls and guys in this band are pure fluff…which doesn’t surprise me with all the crap like Taylor Swift that is ruling Country these days. Hopefully they will fade away into the background soon. They have NO HEART like LBT does. CHEESY.

  29. KentNo Gravatar

    I have to say that I’m digging this song more and more. I have to agree with Dan that this is some serious ear candy.

  30. Soul Miners DaughterNo Gravatar

    Just incase anyone wondered if Music Row was STILL out of new ideas….

  31. LeeNo Gravatar

    Is that Cheyenne from the MTV show a few years ago in the band?

  32. PatrickNo Gravatar

    Catchy, but too poppy :\