There’s been a bit of hubbub surrounding Chase Rice’s new single, not least because he released a letter essentially apologizing for how bad it was but promising there were more mature songs going on the upcoming record (his second). At a time when a hit song can make or break an album’s chances of being released, artists are now forced to release the most commercially viable (and often, most mind-numbing) offering they should dare to record/place on their album in order to make that happen. Often those artists just bat away criticism, vaguely admit that it’s not substantial but that they enjoy ‘fun songs’, and get on with their lives. But Chase, whether by his own admission or as part of a marketing ploy by the label, decided that wasn’t enough.
It’s interesting that he would choose to share the open letter, since his debut album ‘Ignite The Night’ was so awful that I wouldn’t have expected anything less from him, despite those usual ridiculous interview claims that “the next album would be more mature” (how many artists have told us that only to go back on their promise?). But perhaps he was truly so embarrassed by ‘Whisper’ that he felt the need to retain his ‘dignity’. Or maybe this was the label’s way of balancing critics and Chase’s core fan base with what radio decides it wants to make a hit. Give radio the mindless sludge, but promise better stuff is coming so no-one starts slating him.
And honestly, ‘Whisper’ sounds like gray, stinking garbage. It’s not just that it’s not substantial or has stupid lyrics, but it’s really not pleasant to listen to, at all. They seem to have been going for a country/EDM hybrid, but what transpires is a colorless mess of synths and clashing elements, electric guitars fighting with heavy drums while harmonies battle with extra backing vocals and reverb clouds the whole thing. It’s ugly, and an out of tune noise. God knows why they think this’ll be a hit because even the “catchy” hook is not memorable, but stranger things have certainly happened. It can be impossible to predict how casual radio listeners will respond to such drivel.
The lyrics, meanwhile, paint a sex-driven narrative that sounds try-hard even coming from Chase Rice. Far from the at least somewhat joyful party tunes of Florida Georgia Line, ‘Whisper’ pushes for lust and turns up menacing. Each line sounds more desperate and cookie cutter, like they ran out of inspiration, wrote three other awful songs, and then finally chucked their dregs of their cell-less brains at this train wreck. I mean they rhyme “body” with “naughty”, for God’s sake. And the line “what if that $75.94 you spent at the store” is all kinds of sleep-deprived awful.
I really don’t understand songwriters, artists or record labels sometimes, least of all the fans who lap this up. I hope ‘Whisper’ doesn’t make it anywhere and they have to reassess the situation, but unfortunately I think I’ll be disappointed.