Single Review: Hunter Hayes, “Invisible”

Hunter Hayes InvisibleHunter Hayes scored a killer Grammy performance slot to debut this song, which has all of the necessary components to become a career record.

Showing solidarity with the outcasts in high school halls is as timely as ever, and his youth helps him be the ideal vessel for the heartwarming message.   There are moments which come perilously close to the maudlin, with shades of Billy Gilman’s “One Voice” or the Mark Wills hit, “Don’t Laugh at Me.”    Thankfully, he’s sounding a lot more like a young Keith Urban than a young Bryan White, and the song is just vague enough that it can become a personal anthem for pretty much anyone who feels unnoticed or noticed in all the wrong ways.

This is going to be a big hit, I’m sure, and probably score some songwriting nominations along the way.  Now is as good a time as any to listen to it with fresh ears and appreciate its understatement.   Where he could have laid on thick, he chose not to.  That’s always been a rare choice to make when dealing with material this heavy, so that alone is reason to be grateful.

Written by Bonnie Baker, Katrina Elam, and Hunter Hayes

Grade: B+

 

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23 Comments

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23 Responses to Single Review: Hunter Hayes, “Invisible”

  1. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    Lyrically, it’s passable and has some decent lines (though mediocre as a whole)………but the production is banausic (the lack of a discerning melody the main issue) and there’s something about Hayes’s delivery that sounds forced here.

    To be more specific, I can’t help but laugh and give Hayes a hard time when he sings of “outcasts and rebels or anyone who just dares to be different.” The way he articulates that just sounds forced, especially considering many are likening Hayes (I haven’t decided yet how much merit there is to this comparison) as the Justin Bieber of country radio.

    Which is a shame because I think Hayes was genuinely trying to speak to the experiences of those who have been bullied or youth who feel disenfranchised from our culture. I truly feel his efforts were well-intentioned and authentic. But it doesn’t change the reality that it all sounds calculated to my ears here, and it ultimately diminishes the listening experience for me.

    Yeah, this gets a solid C from me.

  2. the pistoleroNo Gravatar

    many are likening Hayes (I haven’t decided yet how much merit there is to this comparison) as the Justin Bieber of country radio

    I don’t know how much merit there would be to that comparison either, but to say that “he’s sounding a lot more like a young Keith Urban than a young Bryan White” is not encouraging at all, IMO.

  3. ThomasNo Gravatar

    So…this is pretty dire. I don’t think the song actually says anything. It’s just a bunch of vague, generic platitudes about how it’s alright to be an individual.

  4. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    What we have here is just another song that pretends and tries very hard to be substantive. It wants to consider itself an intellectual and thought provoking song when in reality it is as deep as the label execs will allow Hunter to go. If the depth of this song were measured in water, my toes might get wet. If anyone has his mailing address could you please mail him a copy of “Daylight & Dark” from Jason Eady to let him listen to what an emotionally and intellectually deep country music song sounds like? Please!

    Hunter Hayes singing about people being “outcasts and rebels” is rich as well. Why doesn’t he take a page out of his own book and sing a song that a Nashville Record Executive didn’t tell him he could sing? When Hayes isn’t towing the corporate line and starts singing songs akin to the stuff that Sturgill Simpson, Whitey Morgan, Jason Isbell or Jason Eady are putting out, then he can start singing about people being”outcasts and rebels.” Until that point he can pack his bags, hit the road and take his lite-rock/pop snooze-fest, over produced songs with him.

  5. KylieNo Gravatar

    I would say this gets a C, maybe a C+ This song is mediocre, and honestly this is just another song that tries to be deep and substantive, yet is based all on clichés. And this sounds like something Justin Beiber would put out (seems fitting enough, he is practically a “country” Beiber anyway). I appreciate his efforts into trying to make a song with deep meaning, but this is just not doing it. It’s sounding too forced. It’s a shame really. This song was just trying to speak from the experiences from bullied people or youth feeling disconnected from society.

    I fall right into Hunter’s key demographic (12-16 year old girls), and although I still think that although he has potential and is quite talented, Hunter has yet to put out anything that doesn’t sound like it was intended to make 14 year-old girls swoon and want to make out with him. Or anything that sounds like a “country” Beiber. It may work on some girls (i.e 95% of the girls I know), but it doesn’t work for me.

  6. ThomasNo Gravatar

    I don’t think it’s fair to call him a “Country Beiber.” He’s got pipes and he can play, and “Crazy” is a legitimately good song.

    The issue is that he keeps switching between sounding like Keith Urban-lite and sounding like Rascal Flatts-lite. He needs to stay on the Keith Urban side, because Keith Urban is good and Rascal Flatts are not good.

  7. Six String RichieNo Gravatar

    I actually think this song is decent for mainstream country. I agree with the comments saying that he aimed for a deep, moving song but fell short. I think he picked a potentially strong topic but didn’t write an in-depth enough song to support it. That being said, “So your confidence is quiet, to them quiet looks like weakness,” is possibly the best line in a country single released so far this year.

    I disagree with those saying it’s ridiculous to think Hayes was ever an outcast. I get the feeling he probably was an outcast in high school. He probably spent a ton of time working on music, which could have taken away from time to socialize and make friends. Also, he’s really short so he would’ve been very easy to pick on, especially since he was into music, not something “tough” and “manly.”

    I’m glad he released this because it represents a different viewpoint for country. Most recent country songs are told from the viewpoint of high school football players who get invited to the big party every Friday night. The female characters in these songs are the high school beauty queens that get hit on by every guy they meet. This song gives a voice to the kids that aren’t noticed. I appreciate the different viewpoint this song represents.

    Overall, the song isn’t as good as I would want it to be, but I commend Hayes for taking a bit of a risk and writing from a different point of view than most current country artists.

  8. bulbulNo Gravatar

    I may have made a mistake listening to this right after the new song by Nickel Creek.
    Even though, I agree with almost everyone here: this is a C- effort at best. Generic lyrics, generic arrangement, generic everything. Another hit and miss for Heiber.

  9. KelvinNo Gravatar

    “To be more specific, I can’t help but laugh and give Hayes a hard time when he sings of “outcasts and rebels or anyone who just dares to be different.” The way he articulates that just sounds forced, especially considering many are likening Hayes (I haven’t decided yet how much merit there is to this comparison) as the Justin Bieber of country radio”

    One has nothing to do with the other

  10. GloriaNo Gravatar

    Keith Urban’s singing turns me on!
    Hunter Hayes’s singing turns me off!
    No comparison to me.

  11. VickiNo Gravatar

    Hunter Hayes is one of those rare commodities where he is so gifted in music with his ability to pick up anything and play it, but, he has a tone quality to his voice that is..just..off. This song is suppose to be so meaningful to him personally but when he sang it at the Grammys, all I could think about was how awful he sounded.

  12. This is such an honorable effort, but just doesn’t work for me. For one, the melody is so boring that it’s hard for me to even pay attention to the words. I will say that it’s probably unfair to speculate as to whether he understands this song on a personal level. He says that he’s experienced feeling like an outcast and I have no reason to doubt him.

  13. Yeah, pretty much agree with Leeann. Might grow on me.

  14. CountryKnightNo Gravatar

    Just another song by a popular singer who thinks he understands what it means to be forgotten and bullied by the high school establishment.

    Call me cynical but I really don’t believe that the stars remember what it is like to be the shadow up in Row Z after the bright lights corrupt them. I am sure that Hunter Hayes meant well. Heck, I saw supposed best friends turn on each other in high school just to sit with the popular crowd. If they can turn for a seat, a musician can turn for a million dollars and a record deal.

    The lyrics are decent but they seem to suggest that one should just put their head down and take it because someday down the line you will be accepted and all that pain will disappear. Maybe it will if you avoid high school reunions.

    The sad irony is the people who champion the song the most will probably be the popular crowd.

  15. CraigR.No Gravatar

    Why does everyone walk around Hunter Hayes’ real problem? He is not country. He is the Keith Partridge of country music. I never believe a word he sings because he can’t sing about real life since he is not living a real life. He shows effort I’ll admit, but is he authentic? There is no true life in this song. He wants all the girls to say ” Oh Hunter is so great. He even understands and likes the outcasts”. He is really singing for the in crowd. Real people on the social outcast aren’t buying Hunter Hayes. He is just using them for a prop. Loretta Lynn had four children by his age and a real married life- which fueled her songs. Bob Dylan had written ” Blowin In The Wind”by age twenty-two. Why accept so little out of Hayes if he is so talented?

  16. the pistoleroNo Gravatar

    Quite the cynical take, Craig, but that’s not to say I disagree with it. Honestly I’m not sure what I think about that, to be honest. My problem with Hayes pretty much begins and ends with his not really being country. Beyond that I really don’t care what he sings about. After all, it’s not as if I’ll listen to it willingly one way or another. It’s bad enough that country music has one Rascal Flatts, let alone two — to say nothing of the other artists Hayes’ music evokes.

  17. ThomasNo Gravatar

    The kid’s 22. He’s not good right now, but he has talent, and he might be someday.

    Also, “Crazy” could have been a Keith Urban song. There’s nothing wrong with having more Keith Urban types (that is, people who can actually sing and play their own instruments) in country music. Frankly, we need them. Hayes has the capacity to make good music, even if he hasn’t yet had sustained success in doing so. That’s pretty rare in Nashville these days.

    Anyway, this song isn’t much worse than Indian Outlaw was, and that clunker didn’t stop Tim McGraw from going on his 1995-2004 run.

  18. the pistoleroNo Gravatar

    Perhaps Hunter Hayes might be good one day. We’ll see. There’s no denying the dude has talent; he demonstrated that plenty over the years before he even came to Nashville. But frankly, at this point I’d rather have more George Strait types than Keith Urban types, as I am heartily sick of Urban recycling the same talking points about countrypolitan and the Nashville Sound over and over to justify whatever type of music he does, to say nothing of the actual music itself.

  19. ThomasNo Gravatar

    It’s not about Keith Urban vs. George Strait. We all want more George Strait types. Unfortunately, they’re in very short supply.

    It’s about Keith Urban-types vs. the Brantley Gilberts and Jason Aldeans of the world.

  20. Sadly, I don’t enjoy Keith Urban’s music any more than I enjoy Jason Aldean’s these days. Yes, he’s certainly more talented all around, but the end result isn’t more listenable for me.

  21. the pistoleroNo Gravatar

    That’s exactly how I feel as well, Leeann

  22. ThomasNo Gravatar

    Oh, he hasn’t been good in a couple years, but every album from Golden Road to Get Closer has at least one great song, and usually two or more.

  23. Six String RichieNo Gravatar

    My two cents for the conversation:

    To me, Hunter Hayes has only shown potential, not lived up to it. The only single I really liked was “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” but I think promotion for that song was cut early to make room for this song’s launch at the Grammys.

    I don’t think it’s fair to compare him to Bieber since that discredits his great instrumental ability. I think comparing him to former teen idols like Hanson or Ryan Cabrera would be more appropriate because they were good at their instruments.

    Keith Urban lately just isn’t interesting. But he’s still better than Aldean who’s outright annoying.