We seem to have a shortage of truly sad, poignant songs in mainstream country today. The last few singles that were supposed to be real tear-jerkers that tore at the ole heartstrings, were in fact not that touching. Luke Bryan’s “Drink A Beer” had no emotional feeling in it at all, nor was the lyrical content that moving either. They tried their best to beef it up with promotion including using pictures of Bryan’s deceased siblings and the story of their tragic deaths to put the song into perspective and make it more personal, but alas, it didn’t really hit the mark, at least for me. The same goes for Miranda Lambert’s “Over You”. The single is a nice single, and I certainly think it ranks above a lot of what’s on radio today, but as far as being an emotional ballad that truly touches people, it falters a bit.
Unlike Bryan’s “Drink A Beer”, Miranda’s vocal delivery is very convincing, especially live. The problem with “Over You” lies in the weak lyrical content, the words/verses just don’t pack a punch. Again, promotion used a personal tragedy in the artist’s (or in this case, the songwriter’s) life to help fans connect to the song, but sadly it still falters.
So here we are with Cole Swindell’s new single, “You Should Be Here”, another supposedly poignant, emotion-driven song. This time, Swindell and his team have connected the song to the loss of Swindell’s father. Now, just for the record, I’m not a heartless person. I’m not trying to downplay the tragedy and the loss that the artists/songwriters have suffered in the slightest. I can’t imagine losing my siblings or father, and certainly feel for those that have. What I’m merely doing is pointing out that these artists/their teams take that tragedy and use it to promote/sell the song. Let’s face facts, both Bryan’s “Drink A Beer” and Swindell’s latest, “You Should Be Here”, would definitely not sell standing on their own, they both need that extra boost that comes when you personalize it and slap a tragic back-story on it, because fans eat that right up.
Now, let’s get back to the single at hand, “You Should Be Here”. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of Cole Swindell, I’m sure he’s a great guy, I’m just not a fan of his music. If you know me or have read any of my reviews, you’ll know I’m not at all a fan of the Bro and Metro Bro sounds that are plaguing country radio right now. I also find Cole’s voice kind of flat and a bit boring, and that is a problem that you run into on this single. Swindell’s vocal performance is flat and dull, not a whole lot of emotion happening in this song. You can tell he’s trying to emote; unfortunately it’s just not happening. The production features that same Bro mixed with new Metro Bro (R&B flavored) sound, although it is toned way down, but you can still hear the R&B rhythm. The lyrical content is pretty weak, finding the narrator talking about how perfect the weather is out right now, how happy he is to be with family, but that someone’s missing and that they “should be here”.
I think we can all relate to the sentiment in this song, after all, most of us have lost someone close to us whom we wish were still here, telling stories, laughing, and loving with us. I’m not knocking the sentiment of the song. My issue is with the delivery and the weak lyrics. They don’t grab at your soul, tear at your heart, or move you in any kind of way. It’s a nice, sweet little song, it’s just not a moving one. I actually have to admit, if you told me I had to pick one of Swindell’s songs that I would then have to listen to every day for the rest of my life, it would be “You Should be Here”. Even though the song is severely lacking, it’s still Cole’s best song yet. So kudos to that.
I would like to also take the time and make it clear that I’m not saying that country music is devoid of moving ballads, because that’s simply not true. Though mainstream radio does seem to be just about devoid of sad, poignant ballads, it still has a few. Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Druck” and Carrie Underwood’s “See You Again” were both big hits on the charts all the while resonating with the fans. Cam’s beautiful ballad, “Burning House”, was the latest emotion-driven ballad to hit #1. Some non-mainstream emotional ballads are Holly Williams’ “Waiting On June”, Ashley Monroe’s “The Blade”, Gretchen Peters’ “Blackbirds”, and the majority of Lindi Ortega’s album, Tin Star. If you’re looking for meaningful songs that will make you feel and think, check those out… Because you won’t find it in “You Should Be Here”.
Get Cole Swindell tickets here.