Single Review: Scotty McCreery, “I Love You This Big”

A preface for the Scottyfolk: I didn’t watch this season of American Idol, so this single is my first exposure to its winner – no backstory, no jilted favorite of mine he beat. The only metric I’m using is whether “I Love You This Big” sounds like something I’d want to hear on the radio between “Teenage Daughters” and “Amen.”

Here’s my verdict: No.

But it’s an understanding “No,” mostly because this is an American Idol victory single, and only two out of ten of those have been at all decent (Fantasia’s and David Cook’s; if you disagree, I Don’t-Care This Big). McCreery’s bid has all the trappings of its forerunners: generic production, obvious overdubs and Auto-Tune to create a synthetically “perfect” performance, awful Eureka!-moment key change, lyrics so cheesy Michael Bolton gagged (though Rascal Flatts still bobbed their heads along contentedly).

But the song isn’t a great deal worse than the 90’s schmaltz it models itself after, and at least it doesn’t end with the Jesus reference I was expecting from the title (which would have been a shameless rip-off of Jimmy Wayne’s sappy-sweet “I Love You This Much”). For his part, McCreery just sounds like Josh Turner’s young, starry-eyed demo singer who also sometimes rubs his signed copy of John Michael Montgomery’s Greatest Hits like a rabbit’s foot the morning of a big trig test. He’s got a few nice moments of tone and phrasing, and the rest just says, “I haven’t found my own voice yet.”

And that’s fine. I imagine he wasn’t challenged on the Turnerisms on Idol because no one there knew enough to do so – but country fans and radio will call him out. I’m sure the label’s already figuring out how to broach the subject once he’s in the studio. That’s not to say he won’t keep sounding like his heroes, but it should get better. We may find he’s an interesting singer in his own right after a spotty album or two. Hard to say.

In the meantime, I’ll just anticipate the necessary change-of-station at the end of “Teenage Daughters,” breathe, and let the world turn as it will.

Grade: D+

Listen: I Love You This Big

Buy: I Love You This Big

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29 Comments

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29 Responses to Single Review: Scotty McCreery, “I Love You This Big”

  1. MikeNo Gravatar

    Dude, you read my mind! This has John Michael Montgomery circa 1995 written ALL over it! It’s a bit of a cheesy song, but I think it’s comparable to the sappy love songs J Double M put out on the radio. I enjoy the song overall and hope we get something better for his next release.

  2. Perfect review. Dull song.

    I will say that the couple times I’ve heard Scotty, I’ve thought he’s sounded like Paul Brandt much more than Josh Turner, especially when he did “Check Yes or No.”

  3. lisaNo Gravatar

    I love this song. i give it A.

  4. I watched some of this past season of Idol, and I did take a liking to Scotty, but there isn’t a singer alive who could sell me this song. I don’t always pick up on auto-tuning, but I thought Scotty’s performance on this track sounded a bit dull. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him do better.

    LOVED the review. Hilarious, and dead-on accurate.

  5. Any chance you’ll do one for Lauren? she was my fav and I think has a better chance with her song and at radio in general if her label promotes right and gives her good stuff

  6. PeteNo Gravatar

    I *did* watch American Idol this season (well, most of it) and Scotty left me cold throughout the entire season.

    I think AI scored country gold with Carrie Underwood six years ago, but lightning definitely didn’t strike twice with Scotty.

    Ten years, and this is the male country winner they come up with? Eh.

  7. PeteNo Gravatar

    Oh, I forgot to add that I think Lauren Alaina was a vastly superior vocalist compared to Scotty, but one that was obviously held back by her young age and the insecurities that come with it. I don’t remember any contestant who chickened out on certain notes and held back as often as she did.

    With the right material, I expect more from her than from Scotty, though. She wasn’t actually completely blown off the stage when she did a duet with Carrie Underwood despite having vocal problems, and that’s a good sign for me.

  8. When I first heard this Tuesday night, it sounded like a second rate rip-off of Jimmy Wayne’s “I Love You This Much,” just because they’re so similar in title and theme.

    I really like Scotty. As an avid Idol fan, I watched his journey from the beginning. I think he has a strong voice but he just needs to find the right material. And this isn’t it, but I didn’t expect it to be. This is his “Inside Your Heaven” not his “Jesus, Take The Wheel.” When he’s good and done with his debut album, he’ll come out with his proper first single.

    All he needs is time to grow and develop into himself. That could take years, but lets hope he at least gets the chance.

  9. TomNo Gravatar

    …the song is rubbish, but i like this young man’s vocals. if his record company is any smart, they’ll turn him into the “dark josh turner”, give him slightly raunchy, “explicit” honky-tonk and not “cookie-cutter-boring-to-death” material and let him loose – after he starts shaving, that is.

  10. Tom,
    Unless he has quite a personality shift, from the AI clips that I’ve seen, I don’t think your scenario is going to happen.:)

    Pete,
    I’d have to disagree that he’s a second rate vocalist. I’m pretty impressed by them; I’m just not impressed by his ability to interpret songs yet. I think Carrie totally had that problem too at the beginning, judging by her AI performances.

  11. Pingback: Scotty McCreery Gets Reviewed; “Honey Bee” Goes Digital Gold; Jacob Lyda Music Video | Country California

  12. Very-very-very generic song. I do like his voice although I do feel he will be better given a few more years’ seasoning. (And I fear he may have the Josh Turner Moral Approach to song selection, too.) But I’m still interested in seeing what he comes up with in future.

  13. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    Great review. I tend to treat the winners’ singles as though they aren’t actual songs, but I guess they should be held to the same standards. The only one I loved was Fantasia’s.

    I’m holding out hope for Scotty (and Lauren). I’m still so pleasantly surprised that an artist like him won the whole thing.

  14. Walter WestoverNo Gravatar

    I’ve been listening to and loving rock,county,pop and most every variation of the fore mentioned genre’s since I was ten year old kid back in the mid fifty’s. In that 50 plus years of listening to and appreciating a lot of great music I have learned one thing. It is impossible to make an accurate judgement as to the quality or the potential success of any particular song based the first few listens. The first couple times I listened to “I Love You This Big” I did not think their was too much to get excited about. However the song did start to grow on me. Now I hear it playing in my head.

    My music appreciation teacher back in high school told his students, “You have to become familiar with a musical piece to appreciate or like it. He was attempting to get his students to give classical music a chance. Now I’m going to have to say the same thing about McCreery’s first single. Singers,songwriters,and producers will often say “we put this tune out there. We think it might be good, but there is no way to know until it’s in the public’s hands. They are never quite sure how much time and money they should be spending promoting a song or album.

    As I write this “This Big” Is number 1 on itune’s downloads and Billboard projects 180,000 downloads and debut on the hot 100 somewhere between 10 and 15th position in it’s first week. I think what most of us haven’t realized is what kind of fan base Scotty McCreery really has. There are more then a bunch of teeny boppers buying this song. This kid has touched the hearts of adults and teens all across the country. Autotune can’t produce the warmth and sincerity this young fellow projects. We shall see how real this turns out to be, but for right now Scotty McCreery is telling his fans “I Love You This Big” and they are believing it.

    Ps Turns out Tim Nichols is the song writer…He is also the author of Tim McGraws “Live Like You Were Dying”.

  15. PeteNo Gravatar

    @Leeann, I’m sorry, maybe second-rate wasn’t the right word for it. There’s just nothing exciting about his vocals. It’s really just too Josh Turner for me, whatever he sings. Lauren Alaina has more of her own sound as far as I’m concerned.

    Neither of them have the unique sound/feel of third-place finisher Haley, though, and both just seem bland compared to her. That girl can sing anything, and even sounded great on a country song when she did “Blue”.

  16. livewireNo Gravatar

    Totally agree with this review. I like Scotty’s voice but this song is very generic indeed. It was picked by Jimmy Iovine, same for Lauren’s song. Read in article that urban/pop producer Rodney Jerkings aka “Darkchild” is writing for Scotty’s record( along with Lauren Alaina & Pia Toscano’s record) wich doesnt exactly make my expectations go up to hear a quality country record..( since Darkchild is famous for working with Britney, the pussycat dolls, lady gaga, jennifer lopez, whitney houston ..) Here’s a quote from Jerkins on his new country endavour: “This was training for us producers,” Jerkins tells THR. “I wrote five country songs last week. It’s transformed not just the contestants but even the producer. Tricky [Stewart] produced that ‘Mama’ song for Lauren, and he said, ‘With this show, we’re not just urban pop guys anymore.’ George Strait can call me tomorrow and I’m ready to go!”

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/idol-worship/american-idol-cast-pia-toscano-192453

    Feel bad for Scotty and Lauren, atleast they could let them work with nashville writers & producers. But I wish them both the best, I guess time will tell.

  17. DiamondNo Gravatar

    I am not sure these two kids can win with some folks. Country purists complain about more of the “programmed Nashville sound” when young singers work with Music City insiders. Then they complain when they go outside the “usual suspects” and risk not creating the “right sound.” Scotty and Lauren are 17 and 16, respectively. I am not sure about the rest of you, but finding my car keys was a challenge when I was that age. Finding my authentic, artistic voice and vision would have seemed a bit overwhelming. Let the kids grow up. I have high hopes for both of them.

  18. Yeah, that’s why I think it’s ridiculous that AI lowered the age limit for the contestants. Good for ratings, but not so good for the individuals. They may mature, but we can’t base our criticisms on what might be. I can’t like a song now because I might like their songs better in the future. Ditto to an artist. I can’t say that I like Scotty’s music now because I might potentially like it later. It needs to be evaluated on what it currently is.

  19. JamesNo Gravatar

    Iovine has a lineup of bonafide country writers working on songs for Scotty as well as the ‘non-usual suspects’ (R&B, etc). This song was definitely schmaltzy crap but it looks like they are going all out to try and produce some hits for him. Jimmy seems very committed to giving both Scotty and Lauren the best possible chance – of course, he isn’t doing it for charity…

  20. Yes, I have no doubt this song will do well on radio.

  21. That link livewire found is very disturbing.

  22. yes its my music..a love song of this guy

  23. Jon G.No Gravatar

    This song is pretty darn terrible. And, although I think Walter makes some good points, I really doubt that, in this case, my perception of it as such will change with multiple listens.

    I also don’t really get the comparisons between McCreery and Turner. They have superficially similar ranges, but that’s about it. I’m not an avid Idol fan by any stretch of the imagination [until this season, I hadn't watched it since Melinda Doolittle lost], but I did see where Scotty and Josh sang together. They sounded almost nothing alike. [If you would, humor me and find a clip online and listen to it with your eyes closed. You may disagree, but I found them easily distinguishable.] It seems that, whenever someone had a bass-baritone type voice, they used to be automatically compared to Johnny Cash, regardless of whether there were any similarities beyond range. Nowadays, the default is Josh Turner. I remember when Thom Jurek said Chris Young was like “George Strait meets Josh Turner” and thinking “I just don’t hear it.”

    Now, Paul Brandt – HIM I can hear. [I didn't even realize until Leeann pointed that out.] I bet Scotty could replicate his performance of “My Heart Has a History” with ease.

    I also didn’t understand why the judges continuously praised Scotty’s “storytelling.” Before I say any more, I should probably make it clear that I think Scotty has an outstanding voice. I just don’t think he knows how to use it. At times, he was almost inflectionless. I’ve brought this up to people before and some have replied “But all George Strait does is just stand and sing.” I urge anyone who thinks along these lines to listen to any George Strait recording and any Scotty McCreery one consecutively. Strait is the King of Country Music because he has an ear for quality material and because he is a master of inflection [among other things, of course, luck and good looks probably being two of them.] Scotty, on the other hand, is like Ben Stein’s drone translated to music. At times. Sometimes, he was quite good, or at least much better. I, like several others before me, think he just needs some time to develop his own “voice,” or style of singing.

    Sometimes, I caught myself thinking about how the judges would’ve peed their pants had they had a singer like Chris Young on Idol. Then I remembered that Young won Nashville Star in ’06, when there was a different lineup and when Young’s kind of music wasn’t nearly as popular. I might even venture that it’s partly due to Young that Scotty is so popular. He and singers like them have helped push that “throwback sound,” as Randy Jackson put it, to the forefront of country radio. [I, in my snobbery, wondered if Jackson knew Scotty was essentially a 90s-00s throwback singer. "Your Man" hit #1 only five years ago.]

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on and on. I guess I had to post it somewhere.

    PS OT: Anyone else think the judges should listen to the recordings their contestants will be covering? Doing so would help them evaluate performances on relative quality and originality. The thing the judges didn’t know enough to challenge was McCreery’s horrendous performance of “Gone.” This has less to do with skill than with song choice. I mean, why on earth did McCreery think he could sing T-roy? That’s at least one moment when his reach exceeded his grasp.

  24. MikeNo Gravatar

    “Hello is this Vince (Gill)? Yeah, I’m a faceless music executive, and um, we got this new kid, Scotty, he just won the American Idol TV Show. Any chance you’d switch labels and give us a masterpiece that sounds great and sells about a million copies?

  25. JoshNo Gravatar

    Perfect review. I lolled at “lyrics so cheesy Michael Bolton barfed (though Rascal Flatts still bobbed their heads along contentedly).” Also completely agree with “Josh Turner’s young, starry-eyed demo singer”.

    However, the kid’s still an amazing singer for his age. I think his challenge with be, as you said, finding his own voice, but also not worry about “appropriate” songs for his age and cutting songs with some meat to them. He sounds old enough that’ll we’ll buy it, regardless. Otherwise, I’m not sure how accepting country radio will be to him in the long run.

  26. You gotta give Scotty props! The guy is great and has an incredible voice. He deserved the win on AI and myself look forward to his music and debut album.

  27. KatieRNo Gravatar

    lmao. Awesome review. Never watched American Idol either, so other than the passing headlines I saw on the “news” sites, I have no clue what happened there. But I agree w/your review. I also absolutely loved the line, “lyrics so cheesy Michael Bolton barfed”. And just when I though you couldn’t top it you ended with, “(though Rascal Flatts still bobbed their heads along contentedly).”

    Seriously just awesome, lol.

  28. I love this song and scotty too!

  29. Adam JamesNo Gravatar

    Between the 2nd paragraph of the review and some of the comments, I’ve been chuckling quite a bit! Eh, the song’s okay. I’ve heard much better, but I’ve also heard worse. Scotty’s still just a karaoke singer at this point as he hasn’t quite grown into his own yet, but if he’s able to land some quality material, he might just have a solid career ahead of him.

    Dude looks like Alfred E. Neuman though and that makes me laugh every time I see him. X-D