Single Review: Chris Young, "Neon"

Chris Young’s third single off of Neon continues to position him as an artist with a skill so few of his contemporaries possess: the ability to gracefully tread the line between vintage and current.

It's easy to compare this title track to Brooks & Dunn’s dance hall classic, for example, but Young’s ode to a bar has legs all its own. “Neon” puts a different spin on melancholy – less aching and more content in defeat. If there’s a broken heart in the mix, Young’s too deep into his sweet escape (on the rocks) to care.

That’s not to say “Neon” drifts into drowsiness. As effectively as “Neon Moon” had us wallowing in Dunn’s loneliness, “Neon” has us reveling in a blissful swirl of booze, Santa Fe sunsets and Texas sunflowers. Its imagery is both vibrant and slyly playful, packing little punches like: “The sun can do the job in the daytime / But the moon ain’t quite bright enough / To light up the way to playtime for people like us.”

But no amount of clever prose could make “Neon” soar the way Young’s instrument does when paired with the neo-traditional arrangement. His voice sinks into the groove of the song so effortlessly you’d think he was singing in his sleep, skating around the melody with an appropriate blend of conviction and restraint. By the time the last chorus hits, he's melted the entire song into a sublime pool of resignation – a near-perfect encapsulation of those hazy, memory-drowning nights.

Written by Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne & Trevor Rosen

Grade: A-

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16 Comments on Single Review: Chris Young, "Neon"

  1. I love this song. He’s the only current male country singer actually trying to release something worth a darn to country radio.

    Easily in my top 5 favorite singles of 2012 so far, most likely one of my top 2.

  2. Terrific review for a very good song.

  3. Flawless review, Tara, as usual. The first paragraph in particular really seems to hit the nail on the head with regard to what makes Young a distinctive artist. Somehow, Chris Young takes something so tricky, and makes it look so easy.

  4. Also an interesting comparison to “Neon Moon,” by the way.

  5. This is one of the few songs that seems worthy of his voice that he’s released so far, so I’m very glad that this is a single.

  6. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar // May 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm //

    Sometimes I feel silly complimenting the other writers on this site – like, of course we enjoy each other’s work – but seriously one of the best music reviews I’ve read recently, profesh or otherwise

  7. Ditto to that, Dan!

  8. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar // May 19, 2012 at 11:09 pm //

    So flattered, y’all – thanks so much!

    @Jonathan – This is definitely in my top five as well, though nothing so far has been able to knock “The Sound of a Million Dreams” from my #1 spot.

  9. FREAKIN AWESOME!!!!!! :)

  10. i love this song. his cd is so good

  11. RussellNo Gravatar // May 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm //

    The CD is excellent as well. The thing I find most interesting about him is that his best stuff is the stuff he releases for singles. A lot of artists have good album tracks that they are afraid of releasing, but he doesn’t stray away from what are obviously good songs. With the summer coming up, there are a lot of artists who would’ve released something like “Save Water, Drink Beer” rather than “Neon.”

  12. I have a suspicion that “Save Water, Drink Beer” will probably be released as a single at some point. I’m kind of dreading the moment.

  13. Martin in NYNo Gravatar // June 15, 2012 at 6:53 am //

    I know it’s late to post to this thread, but I just have to say that this is one of the best songs released to radio in recent memory. And yet, the song seems to have stalled on the Billboard chart. It was Number 29, and now dropped to Number 30. That surprises me, as it sounds very radio friendly. Then again, maybe it will turn around, as the country singles chart moves very, very slow with songs taking months to climb the chart.

  14. Never too late to post, IMO, Martin :)

    Suffice it to say… I don’t get country radio.

  15. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar // June 18, 2012 at 11:47 am //

    I’m not sure if I would describe this song as radio friendly. I don’t think it has the broad(er) appeal of his past few singles.

  16. Motown MikeNo Gravatar // April 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm //

    Should have been nominated for “Song of the Year” and “Single of the Year”. Truly a farce that this song was skipped over at the country award shows.

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