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Lady Antebellum – “Wanted You More”

06 Aug

The following article is a guest contribution by Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine and Country Universe

Songwriters:  Matt Billingslea, Dennis Edwards, Jason “Slim” Gambill, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Jonathan Long, Hillary Scott

“Wanted You More” epitomizes what happens when popular music stops being about art and starts being about a focus-grouped product. It’s a song that credits an astonishing seven writers – including the three members of Lady Antebellum – yet manages to have no trace whatsoever of individual experience, emotion, or insight.

If any one of Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, or Hillary Scott had looked to his or her phone and said, “Siri, can you write a song?” the result would have a more definitive and more definitively human point-of-view than what they and their cadre of hired-gun co-writers came up with here.

Utterly soulless stuff, “Wanted You More” doesn’t contain a single line or phrase to establish why its particular story is unique or, barring that, why it’s a story worth telling at all. Which, fine, not every song has to have an original premise or narrative. But Lady Antebellum, as has become their wont, show absolutely no initiative when it comes to expressing their banal ideas or to telling their tired stories in ways that make those ideas and stories theirs.

All a verse like, “All the words unspoken/Promises broken/I cried for so long/Wasted too much time/Should have seen the signs,” accomplishes is rearranging a bunch of clichés that could have been pulled randomly from a hat, for all their disregard for having a sense of purpose or intent. Anyone with a rhyming dictionary could have put “Wanted You More” together, and Lady Antebellum have rather quickly devolved into an act defined by that kind of anonymity.

They just seem terrified by the idea of imposing themselves. Even the song’s hook (“I guess I just wanted you more”) is phrased conditionally. Scott and Kelley are singing about a failed relationship – and, in Scott’s case, singing about it a quarter-pitch sharp the entire time – with all the urgency of someone who can’t decide what to watch on TV. “I guess I’ll watch this re-run of Chopped/Since nothing else is on,” would have as much impact as a hook for a song because it would, at the bare minimum, express some sort of intention.

With nothing of any consequence to get worked up about, it’s no wonder that Lady A’s production and performances are so tepid. The songs on their self-titled debut may have wanted for originality, but at least the arrangements on those songs had some spark and the trio sang their material with real conviction and presence.  But “Wanted You More” sounds interchangeable with the “easy listening” Adult Contemporary of the early 90s. It wouldn’t sound out-of-place between deadly dull minor hits like Richard Marx’s “Hazard” or Karla Bonoff’s “Standing Right Next to Me” on a playlist for a dentist’s office or, perhaps more fittingly, a sleep clinic.

Whatever potential they may have once displayed, Lady Antebellum have turned into the most insubstantial, flat-out boring act in popular music. “Wanted You More” doesn’t even have the gumption of a “Hashtag Truck Yeah” or a “Corn Star” to be actively offensive or awful: It just finds Lady A at their most nothing yet.

LADY A’S SCORE:  2
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

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3 Comments

Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Guest Contributions, Single Reviews

 

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3 responses to “Lady Antebellum – “Wanted You More”

  1. Walker

    August 6, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    In this case the other co-writers are actually the band members of Lady A. Not that it makes a difference but just wanted to point it out that they really didn’t go out and “hire” any co-writers. This was just a deal where they all sat around as a band and wrote this.

     
  2. rowdyred

    August 7, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Maybe they are trying to patent their music as the latest cure for insomnia; they’ve become really, REALLY tiresome. I just can’t figure out why they have chosen to deliver one lifeless, monotonous, forgettable track after another for what seems like years — or why radio rewards them for doing so. Their gain is my loss. It seems like “Need You Now” completely destroyed their ability to come up with another “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” It had attitude, and a pulse. Who would have guessed that band would devolve into this?

     
  3. Greg

    August 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    I don’t hate the song as much as everyone else does. I do find it borderline offensive that this is passing for music these days however the song sound does seem to get stuck in my head.

    With that said, I do find lady antebellum be a major disappointment. Their first album and the lead single from need you now really showed me that this could be a dominant musical force. However I find that they are a dominant music force with the lack of music behind them.

    Finally, this has to be one of the worst music videos I have ever seen. I don’t understand the imagery and find that it is trying to be artsy for the sake of being artsy. the video, specifically the nature versus city references, don’t correlate with the song.

     

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