Retro Single Review: George Strait, “Lovebug”

“Lovebug”

Written by Wayne Kemp and Curtis Wayne

Peak: #8

To understand why George Strait would send his cover of George Jones novelty song to radio, let’s go back to 1994.

These were the days of the three month single cycle. In any given calendar year, a big star like Strait could have as many as four songs run up and down the charts. The general rule: release four singles from an album, then put out another one. Some artists would pull as many as five. Strait was so prolific he’d have a new album ready after three.

There was another general rule: alternate ballads with uptempo songs, making it easier for radio to play both the newest single and the one that preceded it. When it was time to release the third single from Easy Come Easy Go, MCA had already played fast and loose with this rule. His previous three singles had been two ballads with a mid-tempo in between. He hadn’t released an uptempo single since “Heartland.”

The dilemma was this: Easy Come Easy Go had many great ballads to choose from, but the uptempo material wasn’t strong. So they settled on what must have been recorded as album filler, because “Lovebug” was as slight when Strait recorded it in 1993 as it was in 1965 when Jones had a hit with it.

Strait is charming on this record, splitting the difference between a George Jones and a Buck Owens performance, with a little signature Strait on top. But it’s a ridiculous song. That it made it to the top ten anyway shows how much of a core artist Strait was at country radio at the time. Thankfully, he’d be back to a ballad next time around.

Grade: B-

Next: The Man in Love With You

Previous: 1992-1993

 

5 Comments

  1. This is far from being one of Strait’s best, but I don’t mind it either. It’s definitely one of those songs I like more for its overall sound than lyrics. At least it sounds like he had a lot of fun singing this.

    By the way, I would kill for it to go back to having songs go up and down the chart as quickly as they did back then. It’s ridiculous how long it takes many songs to climb the charts these days.

  2. The George Jones version of the song was far better. Strait is a very good sing but the ‘Possum had a more keenly developed sense of the ridiculous that enabled him to pull off nonsense like “Love Bug”, “I’m A People” and “4-0-33” when no one else could so

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