Single Review: Gary Allan, “Hangover Tonight”

Gary Allan Hangover Tonight

“Hangover Tonight”
Gary Allan

Written by Gary Allan, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure, and Chris Stapleton

With its play on the word “hangover” and its playful production, Allan’s latest single has a happy and silly vibe with an infectious swampy groove. “Hangover Tonight” is carefree and treads the old topic of partying, but it still stands above and apart from the loud raucous party anthems of his mainstream peers.

While the lyrics are nothing to write home about, it’s at least worth noting that the quintessential pick up truck of a modern country drinking song is replaced by a responsible cab.

Since Allan is known best for his emotionally charged songs, it’s nice to hear him having fun with an earworm tune with vibrant vocals and a funky production.

Grade: B

 

57 Comments

  1. I agree with Markus Meyer, I want to like it since Gary Allan has long been one of, if not by favorite mainstream Country artist. I was really encouraged by his last album, as I thought overall it was his strongest collection of material in a few albums.

    This song however just feels like Gary desperately grasping for another top 10 hit, which is disappointing that in hopes of accomplishing that goal he has to record material that has such bland production and thoughtless lyrics.

    This song is yet another example that Chris Stapleton, as excited as I am for his debut mainstream album, he is certainly not afraid to pander to radio execs to get his writing cuts on the radio.

    I’m still excited for the next Gary Allan album, I have faith that even though a couple of the songs may be pandering for radio attention, that the rest of the songs will be up to the usual Gary Allan standard of quality songwriting, solid production and one of the best vocals in the business.

    More than anything though, I just find it sad this is the stuff Gary probably needs to get a “hit” song again.

  2. Sorry, but this is another misguided review. “Funky production” — yeah, you can say that again. This song is obviously trend-chasing, following after the success of Thomas Rhett and other urban-style, funky so-called county artists. This is a sad episode in Gary Allan’s career. The lyrics are mindless, meaningless, vapid, and soulless. The music is barely worthy of being featured in an elevator. I have nothing against carefree country songs, but they used to be clever. This is not.

    Grade: F.

  3. Glad to see you and I agree on this one Leeann. I really don’t think this is nearly as bad as a lot of people are making it out to be.

  4. I absolutely love this song! It’s vibrant, carefree and once it’s in your head there’s no getting it out. I’ve seen this song 3 times in person and man can he rock it!!! People say “it’s not a Gary song” uh, yeah it is. He wrote it and he can belt it out full of meaning. Makes me wanna take him home lol!! We love it!

  5. Actually they arnt saying anything bad. N rate it better then most of his mainstream peers. Alto they did give it a B rating they did say they were glad to see him having fun. What this writer does say its a nice breakaway from his usual emotionally charged songs. Which i feel personally is an excellent step. I mean how long can we expect our man to write about his tragedy n still keep things fresh. Its time to move forward.

  6. Phew, Andrew!! I was starting to think I was going crazy.:) It does seem that this might have to be a guilty pleasure for us, since it seems like the rest of the online universe hates it. It’s not a masterpiece, but I still like it and certainly don’t think it’s nearly as bad as everyone is making it out to be.

  7. Kevin Davis,
    I’d be happy if Urban’s and Thomas Rhett’s singles had a production as fun as this. I hear their productions as much more bland and, especially in Urban’s case, electronic.

  8. i love this song. It’s upbeat and it makes me happy. Glad that he is finally healing. I think it’s better than some of the songs out now.

  9. Eh I’m in the middle it’s catchy but there’s just not a ton to love with this one I like Gary Allan he has produced some real masterpieces. To me this song is like air. It’s just……….there nothing bad nothing good. Gary doesn’t come off as an idiot like Thomas Rhett but doesn’t give any vibe ultimately this song Meh.

    Grade: C.

  10. I am always in awe when I hear a new song from Gary Allan. His sound, his style, and his vocals are amazing and there is such a variety in his music. Hangover Tonight is a fun, upbeat song that Gary belts out with enthusiasm and style. I like it more and more each time I hear it.

  11. CountryKnight,
    Since it seems that you mention Saving Country Music a lot here, I’ll just say that I did read that review, but thought it was extreme, just as I thought his Miranda Lambert album review was extreme. I don’t read SCM a lot, but I get the impression that we’d agree on some things, but it’s not the barometer by which I judge songs and albums that I like or dislike. I like this song, even though I understand that it’s nothing more than escapist fun. There might be another song that does much of the same thing that doesn’t end up working for me. I guess that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

  12. I absolutely love Gary Allan new song Hangover Tonight it is very upbeat and it keeps you keep rockin to the music and more and more I hear Gary Allan new song it make me fall deeper and deeper and deeper in love with it this song is soooooooooo stuck in my head and I can’t wait to hear it in person at one of his shows and can’t wait for the new album to come so I can play it 24/7.

  13. I think it’s fine in general, but the rhyming of “stronger” to “wrong girl” is somewhat cringeworthy to me. The song also lasts a little bit longer than necessary, in my opinion.

  14. First let me say I love the song and yes it is very mainstream, but with the right video it could be as sexy as Gary. Looking forward to the CD.

  15. After listening to it a few more times, I like the production more than I did the first couple times through. Still doesn’t move the needle to much for me, but it’s closer to a high C/low C+ than the C- I was originally giving it.

  16. This one just hurts. Smoke Rings in the Dark and Life Ain’t Always Beautiful were absolute gems. C’mon Gary! You’ve too good of a voice to waste it on this.

  17. So I think with this song, there are two different camps: the folks that really love it and the folks that don’t. I for one I’m with the camp that love it. Are there songs of Gary’s that I like better than this song? YI’m es. But I will admit that when I hear this song, it makes me feel good, and I start swaying my hips. I will applaud him for taking a risk and trying something different, though. It’s never an easy thing when you step out of your comfort zone, but I think he pulled it off well with this carefree and laid back song – my new go-to song after a stressful day of work and school. I really honestly don’t believe that his goal was to sound mainstream, because it doesn’t sound like anything else on the radio to me.

  18. I just read your message CountryKnight, and I would have to respectfully disagree. Gary Allan does not need to chase trends to stay relevant. The man is always relevant. He just put out a song and wanted to try something new. I think we all do it in our lives – mix things up, change things up, a new direction – just to keep things interesting.

  19. Wow, this review certainly blew up overnight. I think I agree with the review, this is a pretty fun song that could be a whole lot worse than it is. I also think the SCM review was overly harsh, this really isn’t comparable to Sam Hunt’s music; it has real drums, guitars with good texture, and some excellent backing vocals (thank you, Chris Stapleton).

    Honestly, the only abominable thing I can find about this song is that he put a hashtag in the video.

  20. By the way, I always find it very disturbing when someone compares a song that doesn’t affect them to “air”, since air is kind of essential to life in general. :)

  21. Ok SRM to me it just doesn’t do anything I guess I just find it too bland. It just this song feels more like Gary saying to radio please let me be relevant than an actual Gary Allan song. Gary just doesn’t sound comfortable upon subsequent listen I’m feeling inclined for a low C- High D+. This just screams let me stay relevant to my ears each time I hear it.

  22. …I really don’t like it, and I say this as someone who enjoys a fair amount of Sam Hunt, and has a deep, bizarre love for Get Me Some of That.

  23. Oh wow! Some really strong opinions here! Well, I believe that variety is the spice of life, and this was just Gary spicing things up a bit.

  24. It’s alright but not what I expected from Gary. I feel he an Reba are trying for radio hits with their new songs. I can’t fault them for that, so I hope it does well. I bet his album has a few songs like this for radio and the rest classic Gary. Hope the same for Reba.

  25. The notion that this is a desperate grasp for radio attention makes no sense to me. Off the last album “It Ain’t The Whiskey” unsurprisingly went nowhere, but “Pieces” went top 20 and “Every Storm” was a #1, so it’s not like he’s gone a long time without a hit and is struggling to get airplay.

  26. Andrew–I think the idea behind the radio attention is the fact that sonically it is a lot closer to the “soft rock” sound of guys like Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett.

    It also is quite empty lyrically, even in comparison to songs like “Pieces” and “Every Storm”.

  27. Leeann,

    I believe I have only mentioned Saving Country Music twice on this website. I could be wrong, though. I posted the link because Trigger brought up many good points on how Gary Allen betrayed his roots and stance on country music to chase Sam Hunt. Trigger and I just happened to be on the exact, same wavelength regarding this song.

    I take it, you are referring to her latest album?

    Janice,

    Gary Allen is not (sadly) always relevant. I would judge him as a B or C list artist. His previous output deserves the status of an A-list artist filling arenas and garnishing awards and I say this as a minor fan of the man.

    He changed up his sound to copy EDM and R&B. He was the courageous singer who called out Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. As I stated on Saving Country Music, the Turks took Belgrade. I do admire your defense of him.

    I have no problem with variety, but this kind of variety doesn’t belong on the country radio.

    I can see he released this song. Male singers can be a dime a dozen on country radio and one flop can dismiss a singer from public conscience.

  28. I’m with Andrew again. While I know what he’s said about this song, it still sounds better than how Sam Hunt or Thomas Rhett have done it. I’ll take this over the clichéd, Chicken Soup for the Soul-ness of “Every Storm Runs out of Rain”, as sincere as that song may have been.

  29. Leeann here’s my problem and I think a lot of peoples problem with this song it IS cliched no matter what this song doesn’t offer a lot of freshness overall and that’s what makes it more frustrating is that Gary Allan used to offer a lot of unique sounds. Also from a musical standpoint yes it’s decent but as a country song it’s garbage I don’t feel like there’s a lot of country elements in this song that’s the problem if you label something country play country that’s why FGL Aldean Luke Bryan Sam Hunt make my blood boil cause there music doesn’t sound country at all. I want Gary Allan to succeed but he needs to stay country or otherwise I can’t support him.

  30. Hmmm…I don’t feel that it’s any less country than, say, James Otto’s “Just Got Started Loving You”, a song that I really like. If I heard this song, I think I’d put it in the country realm without knowing that it was “supposed” to be country. I don’t think I would do the same with a Sam Hunt or Florida Georgia Line song. There’s no blaring arena style electric guitars, no electric keyboards, no electric sounding drum loops. Would I rather hear a good steel guitar? Of course, I would. But if I’m not going to always get that, I’ll take something like this once in awhile. I can’t disagree with you on the lyrics, though I do appreciate that they’re at least drinking responsibily and going to their destination in a cab rather than driving around and drinking in a truck.:) If this was supposed to be a serious song, I’d care more about the lyrics, but as party/drinking/hook up songs go, I’m not so strict, as long as I like how it sounds. I do think that four songwriters is a little much, but not as bad as the six that Saving Country Music reported this song as having (I could only find four songwriters in my research).

  31. Ultimately, I’m not championing this song as a masterpiece or even something that will be of interest to anyone in two years, but I am surprised by how much people hate it, especially to what else is on the radio right now. I don’t hear it as being nearly as bad as that and I’m one who can’t stand anything on country radio anymore.

  32. Oh no LeeAnn James Ottos song captured a nice breezy laid-back groove this when I hear it Gary Allan doesn’t even sound that comfortable singing he’s out of his element this doesn’t seem like something he should use his talent for. For me right now on the charts if I wanna laid-back song that I like it’d be Billy Currington and Don’t It cause in that Billy sounds engaged fun you actually believe him. This Gary just doesn’t sound like he should sing this song no disrespect Leeann Gary Allan’s still one of my favorite artist I respect your opinion your reviews are always pretty insightful.

  33. Leeann,

    Honestly, I find my dislike rather hilarious, usually since I am defending escapism songs.

    My theory of the dislike boils down to the fact that I think most listeners expect more out of Gary Allan. We aren’t expecting gems and genre respect from Thomas Rhett, FGL, and the gang, but we have come to expect it from Gary Allan. He was a standard bearer who dropped the flag.

    4 or 6 songwriters? It is a minor quibble, if wrong. Either way, it is a product written from committee and we all know quality suffers in those songs.

    I don’t mind songs with clichéd topics, if the content is catchy and new imagery is introduced.

  34. The mixup with the number of songwriters may come from the Billboard article which had a quote or something about one of the writers getting one-sixth the royalties. That Billboard article made the process feel really calculating.

    Also his past quotes about the state of country music makes this his first single since those comments a little disappointing.

    It’s not the worst song ever but he is capable of much more and I’m tired of settling for ‘it’s not bad’ or ‘it’s better than some of the stuff on the radio’. How about we hear some really good stuff.

  35. Raymond,
    What would you say is more country about the James Otto song than this one, since this song not sounding country was one of your quibbles? Allan does sound pretty “breezy” to me here while Otto sounded more smoldering (which I was fine with in that instance, btw).

    I can’t argue that this song was designed for mainstream attention, since Allan has admitted as much himself, but without knowing that tidbit, I wouldn’t have categorized it in the same way as FGlL, Thomas Rhett or Sam Hunt on my own. It doesn’t sound the same to me.

    I think four songwriters is too many for most songs, but certainly not unheard of and only one more than the typical 3 songwriters that seem to write songs in the last 20 years. However, six songwriters would seem roundly excessive. So, I do see a difference between four and six.

  36. Griffin,
    I actually agree with you on not wanting to settle and I typically feel that way too, but I genuinely enjoy this song as frivolous fun. I do think there is legitimacy in being disappointed by the process by which this song was created, but I guess I’m just not as upset about it as some, since I enjoy the results and wouldn’t have guessed the process just by listening to the song without having read about it.

    I love, love his Tough All Over album, but I honestly haven’t loved an album or even a single from Allan since that album. So, I guess I was disappointed by him a long time ago in that sense, which is perhaps why I’m not as disappointed that he did this song as others are.

  37. He doesn’t sound laid back he just doesn’t sound comfortable too me. James Otto just sounded real smooth to where you believed it regardless James Otto song still doesn’t have a lot of country but James Otto sells it here Gary Allan comes short of that it’s the vocal delivery it’s the laid back production James is more laid back than Gary. Gary’s uncomfortable where as James sounds smooth as can be. This feels in a way similar to Thomas’s Rhetts last monstrosity Make Me Wanna in which both sound like gimmicks. This is what this song feels like a gimmick for Gary Allan to return to country radio.

  38. I actually really like Every Storm Runs Out of Rain, just because he knocks the vocal out of the park.

    I think the backlash really does come from people expecting “more” out of Gary, or at least hating any sort of departure from his established norm. I’d actually agree that it really doesn’t make sense to claim that he’s chasing airplay, seeing as how he hit #1 last year. It’s like when everyone was freaking out when Toby released Red Solo Cup, before they realized that he just felt like changing things up for a song.

    Also, I really don’t get the outsized hate for Thomas Rhett. He’s not brilliant or anything, but he’s so much better than the average bro-country artist. I don’t love “Make Me Wanna,” (or “Beer with Jesus,” the naked pandering of which everyone bizarrely points to as an example of the “deep lyrics” he should aspire to), but he’s got an ear for a hook, and he sells the hell of stuff like “Get Me Some of That,” which could easily have come off as gross.

    The kid’s 24, he’s got some vocal chops and he didn’t overdo it with synths, even when he had every financial reason to. I’m actually genuinely interested to see what his next album looks like, which I can’t say for any of the other guys recording that type of music.

  39. Thomas, we Rhett haters have an outsized hate for Rhett because he is a hack who is cashing in off daddy’s coat tails. I have an outsized hate for Rhett because Make Me Wanna sounds like disco music. At least FGL, et al. put in a token banjo. Make Me Wanna makes no attempt to sound like a country song. So, in that respect, he is worse than your average bro.

  40. …there’s a guitar at the beginning of Make Me Wanna. And it’s sung with a distinguishable twang. And there are no loud arena rock guitars.

    Of course, you’d probably be railing against ZBB as evil people trying to destroy country had they released “Overnight” (which, not only lacks anything resembling a string instrument but, *gasp* features a black jazz musician playing trombone! The two least country things in the world!)

    Also, the “he’s coasting on his daddy’s coattails” argument would be a lot more valid (or even valid at all), if the quality of his releases wasn’t miles beyond that of his peers’.

    The only thing FGL, Gilbert, Swindell, Rice et al. have released that even approaches Get Me Some of That in terms of songcraft or performance is Cruise, which somehow manages to be far less country than anything Rhett’s released (if you think “Dirt” does, listen to “Beer With Jesus” and you’ll get a slightly better sung, produced and written version of the inane pandering you enjoy).

    He’s emphatically the best of that wave, and the only one I can possibly see having a career in country once the bro-country fad blows over. He’s much more in the Luke Bryan/Jake Owen/Joe Nichols vein of decently-sung, goofy fun than the Chase Rice “half-rapping lyrics that make my ears bleed” category.

    There are just so many more people worth hating than a guy whose biggest sin is that his music is so inoffensive that it gets a little boring.

  41. If I ever said I hated ZBB with a passion, I’d like to see it. They admit that they are more Southern rock than country, and I respect that. I also agree with you that there are some who can make enjoyable bro-country. There are also some who make, to put it charitably, less than enjoyable bro-country. I would put Thomas Rhett in the latter category. I think that arguing at length over who makes good or bad bro-country is as frivolous as filling out a bracket for the NIT.

  42. Aside from “Beer with Jesus”, Thomas Rhett doesn’t do anything for me, but I don’t buy the accusation that he’s riding on his daddy’s coattails, because I think his success has already gone far beyond what his father’s coattails could sustain. He was a B-list star in the nineties that most of the fans of modern country music have never heard of. While he’s a successful songwriter, I don’t think most of the fans of his kind of music are particularly aware of songwriters, certainly not enough to give an artist a chance because his dad wrote some hit songs. Rhett Akins never was and currently is not a household name. So, I’m not sure how Thomas Rhett’s success is due to his dad beyond maybe some heightened ability to meet with a couple more record executives than he otherwise might have had without Rhett Akins’ influence.

  43. LeeAnn while he’s not riding on his fathers coat tails unless he seriously goes for a new sound or lyrics he will be tossed out bro-country on its way out and Thomas Rhett and everyone of his songs are exactly that that’s what in my opinion he Cole Swindell need to do is either
    A) Go for a new sound and new production
    Or in Coles case especially work on your vocals my gosh.
    That’s the thing they ride the bro-country train they’ll be tossed out within a few years. This is why I think Thomas Rhett might then have to rely on his dad to a point.

  44. I think if this song was released 5 years ago, I would like it better since it would feel relatively “fresh” still. Now it just feels bland and played out, there have been so many mainstream Country songs that have been about getting drunk and hooking up on Country radio over the last few years, it’s just played out at this point.

    At this point songs like “Say You Do”, “What We Ain’t Got” and “She Don’t Love You” are so different in subject matter compared to what else is on Country radio.

    I don’t need artists to be recording life changing songs every second, but Gary Allan was one of the artists who generally “said” something with his songs. I expect artists like FGL, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean to record mindless pop/bro-country songs, but Gary Allan doing it is sad.

  45. Truth, Rhett’s admitted that he’s never recorded a pure country song, because he grew up listening to rock, etc, which is what a lot of his musical DNA came from.

    He got his record deal after writing a song for Aldean (I Ain’t Ready to Quit, which is surprisingly good), not because his daddy pulled strings.

    He’s not a poseur claiming to be trad-country. He’s gotten this far pretty much on his own. His music is far better, and his performances far more involved, than either needs to be.

    He’s just so, so low on my list of people worth hating, that it’s jarring when I see all these rants about him killing country music.

    Also, this is far, far more discussion than anything Rhett’s made has ever merited. He’s really not worth mentioning except in the context of someone that I like more than I probably should.

  46. Thomas–

    While I would agree Thomas Rhett is not high up on the list of artists “killing” Country music (I would place Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan, Aldean and FGL towards the top), I’m not sure Rhett made it all the way on his own. I have little doubt that Thomas Rhett was greatly aided by the fact his father has been one of the must lucrative song writers of this decade so far.

    I would agree that he should not be the top guy on the list though, his impact on the industry is, quite frankly, pretty much nill.

    This kind of song being recorded by Billy Currington would not phase me, Billy has stated and has proven as much that lyrical depth is not overly important in most of his songs. I think the fact this is coming from Gary Allan is what saddens me the most though, Gary is someone that like Dierks Bentley we have seen capable of so, so much more than the “average” mainstream Country artist seems capable of.

    I wouldnt mind artists like Sam Hunt and Luke Bryan if we also saw equal air time of artists like Bentley or Allan or Lee Ann Womack, etc. I think it’s the fact that the only way radio wants to play songs by those artists is if they copy Hunt, etc. that is the most pathetic thing about the industry right now.

  47. Dierks Bentley is someone like Gary Allan, not the other way around, haha.

    But, the thing is, I really don’t think this is Allan “selling out.” He had a radio #1 last album. He’s just trying something new. I don’t like this new thing very much, but I also don’t feel “betrayed” or whatever.

  48. Mike W,
    Are you saying that Dierks Bentley is capable of so much more than he’s doing or are you saying that he is capable of more and does better as a result?

  49. Leeann what he is saying is that Gary Allan has in our opinion released such great stuff seeing this radio-friendly material is discouraging. We expect more out of him. If Thomas Rhett released this song we would just shrug our shoulders and move on. We expect more out of him now. Dierks is the same way if he was to release a radio-friendly boring as can be song people would also be disappointed. Dierks luckily released a top-notch album. With this song people are gonna be a little more cautious into where Gary Allan’s sound is gonna go with this new album.

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