Single Review: Darius Rucker, “Radio”

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January 16, 2014

220px-RadioDariusRuckerDarius Rucker celebrates the radio with his current hit, simply titled “Radio.”

It’s tolerable enough, more tastefully produced than your average country radio hit, but it never quite overcomes the fact that its territory is one that other artists have covered much better in the past. (Exhibits A, B, C) The lyrics fail to rise above rote scenes of a nameless, faceless narrator driving down the highway with his nameless, faceless friends, and parking his truck beneath the stars to get cozy with his nameless, faceless girlfriend. The whole of the song is weighed down by a general sense of non-distinction, reflected in its generic one-word title.

Unfortunately, the dynamics aren’t strong enough to compensate. The melody is dull and lifeless, and Rucker’s performance is forgettable. The end result is a song that might not be bad enough to be an immediate station-changer, but nor is there anything here that would inspire me to ‘turn it up, turn it up to 10…’

Written by Darius Rucker, Luke Laird and Ashley Gorley

Grade: C+

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  1. CraigR.No Gravatar says:

    I have said this before on other blogs: Darius Rucker has nothing to say. He neither adds or subtracts from country music. He isn’t a frat boy or a strong songwriter or a strong singer. He isn’t ugly and he’s not model handsome. He is just there. And the reason he is just there is because there are no other African- Americans singing country music.

    As an African – American I would love for a strong country someone, who was a person of color, to to be a hit in country music for their talent or just to shake things up. But Rucker is a token- plain and simple, and sad. Just watch his videos- he sings while white people play out the characters in his songs. That bothers me on many levels.

    I have never thought that country music was a racist genre. In fact I defend it all the time based on that belief. But truth be told, where color is concerned, country music is still in 1973. And Rucker isn’t enough of a powerhouse, on any level, to change that.

  2. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Great review, Ben. It, frankly, sums up the entirety of Darius Rucker’s country music story so far.

  3. Markus MeyerNo Gravatar says:

    This doesn’t really do anything for me. It’s just kinda there.

  4. CMWNo Gravatar says:

    Additional points deducted for radio edit with station call letters spliced into the lyrics.

  5. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Ha! I’ll second that, CMW.

  6. Louie MNo Gravatar says:

    I am an avid country charts follower and I always pattern my personal playlist to whatever’s hot on Billboard or Mediabase. But this one just sneaked up high into the charts (top 5), but in such an uneventful manner. I like some of Darius Rucker’s songs and I feel his sincerity about being in the country genre. But I am very much indifferent towards this song.

  7. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    This gets a flat C.

    There’s really nothing more left for me to say about this. It’s about as faceless and anonymous as pop-country can conceivably get. Just another dime-a-dozen ditty about how the radio can brighten any otherwise mundane day: delivered by an above-average vocalist who nonetheless is offered little room to flex his broader range with a pedestrian production and lyrics that are both bereft of cringe-inducing moments nor impressive one-liners.

    There’s nothing worth hating about this, nor anything worth boasting about. It’s just there, and the textbook definition of a mediocre pop-country hit.

  8. bobNo Gravatar says:

    Can’t argue with the rating here.
    I wonder what CraigR thinks of Cleve Francis. I have a few of his albums. His success in the early 90′s was limited, but I like his voice a lot better than Darius Rucker’s.

  9. CraigR.No Gravatar says:

    Bob I like Cleve Francis. I own some of his music as well. He had a good country voice. But his age,the blandness of his music, and his color all kind of kept him off the radar. He was lost among Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Clint Black. I wonder if he had been younger if he would have had a better career.

  10. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    I actually love his voice but it seems like the melodies of most of his singles don’t allow him to do much vocally. His music with Hootie better allowed him to show off his unique vocals. Rucker also wrote much better material for Hootie. I wonder why he can’t seem to write good country songs. He’s said that he wrote “Let Her Cry” as a country song before Hootie recorded it. I would love a country version of that song, or something of similar lyrical quality.

    On the topic of black country artists, I really liked Trini Triggs. He perfectly fit the mold of the ’90s hat act and had some cool tunes. I think if he had debuted a few years earlier he could’ve had some big hits but his first singles came out in ’98 and ’99 and hat acts were going out of style then.

  11. the pistoleroNo Gravatar says:

    Sigh. Every time I read reviews like this and/or hear anything that Darius Rucker’s done so far, I think about him talking about how his record company wouldn’t let him do the kind of real country music he wanted to do. Has the bland, middle-of-the-road approach really worked that well for him from their perspective?

    Kudos for the inclusion of “Thank God For the Radio,” Ben, even if I wish it had been Alan Jackson’s version. ;) (His was actually the first version of that song I ever heard, and it remains my favorite to this day.)

  12. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Pistolero,
    Yes, it has been working just fine for his record company, it seems. His first country album was certified platinum and the second gold and he’s had at least 5 number one songs so far.

  13. the pistoleroNo Gravatar says:

    Huh…

    Well, I’m glad he’s having success, but I really wish he’d branch out.

  14. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …looking down from “wagon wheel” to this – you know what steep means for the rest of your life.

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