Single Reviews Round-Up: Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw ft. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, & Kip Moore

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Rascal Flatts, “Changed”

Like “I Won’t Let Go” a few years back, “Changed” is built on a sweeping sentiment, rousing melody and very little else. That’s not an inherently bad thing; despite an ounce of detail about the confessor, “Changed” feels like a confession –it pleads and swells and submits. Add in an earnest and relatively restrained performance, and the song has legs.

Written by Gary LeVox, Wendell Mobley & Neil Thrasher

Grade: B

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Toby Keith, “Hope on the Rocks”

There’s something slightly jarring about the patrons’ terribly depressing hardships when the only payoff in the song is alcohol-infused hope. Maybe that’s the point, or maybe the bartender’s storyline is just a pinch undercooked. Regardless, it’s hard to knock the lovely, retro-Keith vocals and arrangement.

Written by Toby Keith

Grade: B

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Tim McGraw ft. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”

In theory, this is a cool track: Swift’s removed, floating performance makes sense in a song about loneliness, and Urban’s vigorous guitar work could mirror the discord in any relationship. But the melody just isn’t as driving as the three artists think it is, and the pairing of McGraw and Swift doesn’t have much grit, sonically or romantically. There’s little to grab onto past the second or third listen.

Written by Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, & Brad and Brett Warren

Grade: C+

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Kip Moore, “Hey Pretty Girl”

No, love isn’t always as simple as the six-step journey that’s traced here, but the bittersweet melody and Moore’s naturally urgent delivery give the

story subtle dimension. Best of all is the jolt that comes from one ever-relevant line in the chorus, smartly directed at the listener: “Happiness don’t drag its feet” is as sage a piece of advice as any given by our favorite ’90s storytellers.

Written by Dan Couch & Kip Moore

Grade: A-

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16 Comments

Filed under 5 Five-Second Single Reviews

16 Responses to Single Reviews Round-Up: Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw ft. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, & Kip Moore

  1. IgnatiusNo Gravatar

    This is a good set of songs. Hope on the Rocks is especially fantastic. I know I’m nit-picking, but I’d have given it an A for sure. It also seems I like Highway Don’t Care a little more than you, Tara. There’s just something about the McGraw/Swift vocal pairing that works for me, but didn’t for you. Nice reviews though.

  2. I kind of like “Highway Don’t Care” as well, even though it’s weird to hear a romantic-ish duet between a 45-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman. I’m not even sure I can put my finger on what all I like about it. Urban’s guitar work sounds pretty cool, and I think Swift gives one of her better performances.

    Excellent work as always, Tara. Especially loved your take on “Hey Pretty Girl.”

  3. Ashley brownNo Gravatar

    I have to say I actually like Highway Don’t Care. At first I was skeptical about it because I thought a love song duet between Tim and Taylor would be weird. However after listening to it a couple of times I really like it. I didn’t see it as a love song between the two. I interpreted Taylor as the song on the radio which is probably too straightforward. I totally agree with Ben. I don’t know why I like it but there is something about it. Maybe it’s Keith awesome guitar or Tim and Taylor’s performance. Also I thought that Taylor sounded great on it as well. I know that some people felt that Faith should have sang on the song instead of Taylor but I think that this song wouldn’t have fit her. Also Tim and Faith don’t have to sing every duet together. I loved your review for Hey Pretty Girl. It was my favorite song when I listened to his cd. I was hoping he would release it as a single. Thanks for your reviews!!!

  4. TomNo Gravatar

    I love Hope on the Rocks, but then, I do just love non-asshole Toby Keith in general.

  5. PaceyNo Gravatar

    I love the new Rascal Flatts song, it think it’s different sonically from all their previous songs but still somewhere in their realm and style.

    I thought Toby Keith Hope on the Rocks is a gem but it has already fallen out of the charts peaking at only 17. :( hope he release another single from this album!

  6. Toby Keith almost always releases three singles per album, and “Hope On the Rocks” was only the second from his set of the same name, so I’m sure he’ll have a follow-up sent to radio before too long.

  7. I love “Hope On The Rocks”, “Highway Don’t Care” and “Hey Pretty Girl”. I also quite like “Changed”.

    Solid group of singles.

  8. MotownMikeNo Gravatar

    “Hey Pretty Girl” is about the only song here that I really like here. Everything else is just middle of the road to me. Kip Moore has been somewhat refreshing as an artist, having released a small handful of compelling material since his debut.

  9. Confession: I just can’t get into Kip Moore.

  10. CountryKnightNo Gravatar

    His is certainly an acquired taste. I acquired it. Some don’t

  11. I like him, but not as much some of my CU cohorts seem to. I love “Beer Money,” but wasn’t blown away by the album as a whole.

  12. IgnatiusNo Gravatar

    “I love Hope on the Rocks, but then, I do just love non-asshole Toby Keith in general.”

    Haha, my sentiments exactly.

  13. GloriaNo Gravatar

    Kip Moore does nothing for me. I don’t care for Taylor, but I put up with her because I love Keith and Tim. Keith’s guitar solo was just awesome. Taylor’s awkward movements at the ACMs was like she was on the sideline signing. She is drama, drama, drama and loves to be center of attention. I didn’t think I liked RFs song, but I really listened to it one day and liked it. Sorta brought me to tears. I can take or leave Toby. Some songs of his I like & some I don’t.

  14. TomNo Gravatar

    …”changed” only loses all its charm in the last third, where they run out of ideas and the watery end certainly makes no secret out of the fact that flushing is a great invention. b for the beginning, though, would be fine with me.

    “hope on the rocks” is slightly “ott” when it comes to drama, but it’s a nicely and cool served catalog of slices of life from a very particular point of view. solid country music, well executed by toby keith.

    love taylor swift, but would never invite her in a “feat.”-project. her voice just ain’t that complementary with others – good or bad ones. the song – can’t recall a thing even after repeated listening.

    “hey pretty girl” is rock solid fluff. there’s something in that overdose of “kitsch” that bugged me, then i had it: kip moore is turned on yet tries not to get to state of being really on fire. springsteen politically correct and for nine year olds. hence, a little on the boring side of sound – yet pleasant.

  15. KarlyNo Gravatar

    I love “Changed;” I think it’s a great example of what RF is capable of when Gary isn’t singing over bombastic production, or they aren’t trying to be hard-hitting and emotional.

    “Hope On The Rocks” is good, but I haven’t loved a Toby single in years. He does have a fantastic voice though, and can certainly deliver quality material now and again.

    “Hey Pretty Girl” does nothing for me, although I didn’t mind his debut single.

    Tim McGraw used to be one of my favorite artists, but I find his new material to be dull as dishwater. Give me “My Next Thirty Years, My Best Friend, Somethin’ Like That, Unbroken, etc. over his new stuff any day.

    Solid guitar work from Keith, but Taylor adds nothing to this song.

  16. Toby Keith makes the best videos, I am lways excited to see what he came up with everytime he launches a new album.

    My favorite is probably “A Little too Late”