Single Review: Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole in the Bottle”

Kelsea Ballerini Single Cover

“Hole in the Bottle”

Kelsea Ballerini

Written by Kelsea Ballerini, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Hillary Lindsey, and Steph Jones

I realize I just said in my recent Runaway June review that country radio doesn’t need another mindless drinking song right now, but there’s still room for a fun one.

That’s the difference, really – artists aware of country music clichés and its inherent corniness and choosing to lean into that rather than just … vapid stupidity for the sake of. And I’ll gladly take Kelsea Ballerini’s “Hole in the Bottle” over her poor attempt at recreating “Does He Love You” on her last single “The Other Girl.”

Granted, Ballerini’s younger perspective has caused some to cast her writing off as immature, but I’ve found she’s grown with her music over time. With that said, even I didn’t expect a Ballerini single to include an infomercial (which, unlike its other elements, is a dumb, pointless choice) and a Brad Paisley-esque slide guitar accompaniment. The mix of real drums and drum machines means that, once again, we have a mainstream country single that can’t nail consistency with its percussive elements, and though it’s trying hard for a groove, it’s clunky, instead.

Still, the overall mix is certainly bright and carries the intended energy. It’s still an odd fit for Ballerini overall, but she’s got the charisma needed to make the joke of the hook work, where she’s aware she’s not actually over an old flame but isn’t going to let that get her down, either. I must admit it took time for this to grow on me, especially when it comes out nowhere on Ballerini’s kelsea album, but it’s the right kind of clever summer jam.

Grade: B-


  1. I’ve struggled with her catalog mostly because her lyrics come off as immature or trying too hard, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing her sing songs from other writers (where she had no writing credit). Give me “Half of my Hometown” and then we’ll have something to talk about, although I won’t be surprised if that never happens.

  2. Great review! Kelsea Ballerini interests and frustrates me in equal measure. At best, her songwriting rarely rises above competent (though I’ll defend “Secondhand Smoke” as one of the most on-point songs about being a child of divorce out there), but I also admire the fact that she has a hand in writing all of her material. She might not be the most talented performer out there, but she certainly has a ton of will, which I respect. And Kelsea is a spotty album for sure, but she took a lot of risks with it, some of which are reflected in “Hole in the Bottle.” The infomercial element doesn’t do much for the song itself, but it at least shows that Kelsea has a personality (something that wasn’t entirely evident on her last album, Unapologetically) and is willing to have a little more presence on her songs. Also, it doesn’t overstay its welcome! At under three minutes long, the song lasts just long enough to leave a slight-but-fun impression without causing too much of a headache.

  3. Kelsea Ballerini is an artist who I think is getting better with each album,kind of like a worse version of Leann Rimes in her career.

    Looking back her debut album is pretty terrible sans “Peter Pan”, “Secondhand Smoke”, and “The First Time” (I do have a soft spot for “Sirens”). But her sophomore alum was pretty good sans “Legends”, even if “Miss Me More” was a bit much as a single. Also I at least liked “Homecoming Queen”.

    As for this song, this is definitely the most country thing she has released, that being said it is so short to leave an impression on me. I would probably be generous and give it a B.

  4. This is probably Kelsea’s best effort yet – the song is good (and the video better). It is her most country song yet and the length is perfect. Modern country artists can, and usually do, drag songs out too long. It is a very rare song that can’t be best expressed in 3:30 or less

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