Single Review: Hunter Hayes, "Wanted"

With song titles like “Storm Warning” and “Rainy Season,” one might very well wonder if Hunter Hayes had at one time been an aspiring meteorologist.  At any rate, the frosty-haired twenty-year-old has been gradually making inroads on country radio with the support of his hordes of cheering female fans.

So far, it's a familiar story:  A strong voice crying out for strong material.  While the addicting sonic groove supplied some redemption as “Storm Warning” continued stretching its metaphor to ridiculous extremes, “Wanted” offers little more than four minutes of meh, with scarcely a memorable melody or hook to grab onto.

Similarly, the lyric is almost groaningly simplistic.  The chorus says nothing except that the narrator wants to “Wrap you up,” “kiss your lips,” “call you mine,” etc.  The hook of “I want to make you feel wanted rings hollow, while the line “I don't know how you do what you do” has reached a point where it should be banned due to constant overuse.  “Your beauty is deeper than the makeup” is a decent line, but too thoroughly surround by mediocrity to be of any substantial merit.

That said, “Wanted” displays a little more sonic restraint than the typical mainstream country single, which is appreciable.  Swelling strings threaten to push it over the top in the bridge, but such are ultimately kept in their proper place.  Though Hayes' performance takes on added forcefulness toward the end of the song, he refrains from flat-out wailing.  At the very least, the doesn't hurt one's ears, but that alone doesn't extend its appeal beyond its four-minute running time.

Perhaps Hayes could be an interesting artist one day, as he clearly possesses a measure of talent, but it won't be with songs like this.  “Wanted” is a song that is consistently uninsteresting, clichéd, and flavorless, and not even playing every instrument on the album is going to fix that.

Written by Hunter Hayes and Troy Verges

Grade:  C



  1. Hmmmm. It’s not very country (with all the “runs” and all) but I kind of like it, nonetheless. He’s got a beautiful and believable voice. I just wish he’d tone down the pop elements and enunciate a little more.

  2. I like it, but you’re right, it certainly doesn’t break any lyrical ground.

    And you’re right, the beauty and makeup line is decent, but it too is cliche. One Direction has been there and done that, as have countless others.

  3. I can’t judge Hunter Haye’ music because I can’t get passed the fact that he looks exactly like Joffrey Baratheon.

  4. Definitely a C, or maybe a C-. Due to the pop-ness and enunciation issues others posters mentioned, I give it a low C. It’s a little below the average (run of the mill) stuff a lot of other young/popular artists are doing these days, but it’s not completely awful. Could be better, though.

    Ben, is there a song review rubric? A sheet we could hand back to artists with our red marks on it, indicating where they could improve? Inquiring English teacher minds want to know. :-)

  5. If only… =)

    Unfortunately, it seems country radio and awards shows are actively taking away any incentive the artists might have for making improvements.

  6. I don’t think the problem is that radio and awards shows are “actively taking away any incentive the artists might have for making improvements.” Quite the contrary. Rather, I think the problem is that music critics, bloggers, and die hard country fans have different ideas of what count as an “improvement” than does the more casual listener, who makes up a large percentage of the audience. I’m not saying one group is right or wrong, just saying they are different standards entirely.

    Many country fans listen to songs on a completely different level than music bloggers and internet commenters. To the extent that country singers are more interested in selling music to these fans than selling to the small community of bloggers and similarly minded fans, I don’t foresee that these singers will pay much attention to blog recommendations.

    In part, thats why I sometimes get frustrated by other websites that consistently review songs exclusively from the perspective of a die-hard country fan who prefers traditional styles and subjects the lyrics to close scrutiny. The problem with these reviews is that virtually every mainstream country song will fail by these standards, and so reading these reviews gets tedious. You’ve read one, you’ve read them all. These reviews mock all the Peach Picker type cliches, but the reviews are as cliched and predictable as a Peach Picker song.These sorts of reviews
    refuse to engage the songs on their own terms and thus tend to say little that is helpful.

    Thankfully, countrycalifornia doesn’t have this problem. I like this site a lot in part for that reason.

  7. I don’t know…this is nothing spectacular, but at the same time, it’s refreshing. He dosen’t really remind me of anyone else and it’s a breath of fresh air on the radio.

  8. Hunter’s one of my favorite new artists! Personally, I think he’s struck a good blend of country and pop. Recently found out he’s also judging the music competition. It’s so cool that in addition to all this, he would take time to hear up and coming musicians. The $10,000 prize doesn’t sound so bad either :)

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