Songwriters: Jake Owen, Jimmy Ritchey, Dallas Davidson
It would be all too easy to call out the new Jake Owen single for the fact that it doesn’t sound remotely like country music in any form, but the song exemplifies a much greater loss in modern country music – the fact that country storytelling has gone almost entirely by the wayside.
“The One That Got Away” is an unorginal song that tells an unoriginal story with an unoriginal hook. Two teenage lovers share a summer fling for three months before parting ways, after which the guy wishes he had the girl back. That’s my summary of the song’s story, but you don’t learn anything more from the song itself than from the preceding summary. The song’s characterizations are so wafer-thin that it feels an account of two nameless and faceless individuals, while the song’s hook amounts to nothing more than a trite phrase that Owen doesn’t use in any novel way. The loose narrative consists of vague paint-by-number summertime images that have been many times before, and that don’t enhance the story beyond the black-and-white template, making for a song consistently uninteresting in content.
The song’s greatest and most substantial failure is that it makes no significant attempt to connect with the listener on an emotional basis. Nothing about the story feels urgent or revelatory, and nothing about the delivery feels impassioned or sincere. That just leaves one wondering why the song even needed to exist in the first place.
If you want a really great song about the love ‘that got away,’ one you could go for is George Strait’s “I’d Like to Have That One Back.” It’s way better.