Song Review: Kenny Chesney – “Tip Of My Tongue”

The short version: Kenny Chesney’s last single, “Better Boat,” was written by Travis Meadows and Liz Rose and featured the incredible Mindy Smith. His new single, “Tip Of My Tongue,” was written with Ed Sheeran. The difference is noticeable.

  • Writers: Kenny Chesney, Ed Sheeran, Ross Copperman
  • Rating: 5/10

The long version: In mainstream country music, one flop single these days can either signal the end of your career, or, at the very least, big trouble ahead for future releases.

Granted, Kenny Chesney has aged quite well into the late 2010’s, even more so than his contemporary, Tim McGraw, so much so that his superstar status hasn’t been questioned 30 plus years into his career. But if there was one beauty about his 2018 Songs For The Saints album, it’s that it didn’t cater to radio airplay, showcasing Chesney’s artistic side in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma better than ever before.

But despite that album nabbing a huge hit with “Get Along,” its followup, “Better Boat,” sadly underperformed, a dangerous move for Chesney. Still, it’s not like one flop single would mean he’d disappear overnight, even despite the ageism at play, but it did likely signal that Chesney’s next release would more than make up for that in terms of sounding like a “hit.” Of course, what I didn’t expect was for him to release a song co-written with Ed Sheeran. Unfortunately, the red flags were up at that point.

Chesney’s newest release, “Tip Of My Tongue,” isn’t quite as bad as I expected it to be, but it’s still a huge disappointment coming off of that aforementioned album. The production is nowhere near as pristine as any song off that album, and the songwriting certainly has taken a nosedive as well. There are certain redeemable factors, but the biggest sin of “Tip Of My Tongue” is that it’s just forgettable.

To give the song some credit, Chesney does usually handle wistful, melancholic tunes with some minor sadness to them quite well, and while isn’t an example of that, “Tip Of My Tongue” does feature some great usage of atmospheric tones to effectively achieve what it’s trying to sell. The thing is, however, is that “Tip Of My Tongue” is also confusing in tone, as at its core, this is a love song without any sort of bite or texture to it.

Of course, that mostly extends toward the writing, where one can tell Sheeran had a hand in this (“Shape Of You” wasn’t exactly the biggest hit of 2017 for its lyrical content). There’s a charm to the intention here, but otherwise, “Tip Of My Tongue” is a very bland insight into finding love where the production and vocal performance would usually be what elevates this to at least a passable level.

With this song, however, there’s a sense of urgency to some of the sentiments (“I’m a loaded gun,” telling someone they’re “the one” … ) that isn’t echoed by Chesney’s monotone performance or the production. Sadly, this is another mainstream country release that can’t make up its mind whether it wants to feature real or fake drums, but the song relies more heavily on the latter which are way too high in the mix, particularly on that first pre-chorus and all throughout the second verse. Sure, the song may have a decent bassline somewhere in there, but the mix of atmospheric electric guitar and the aforementioned drums creates a very dull mix that’s more “meh” than exciting, even despite some decent tones thrown into the mix.

Overall, “Tip Of My Tongue” isn’t quite the disaster I expected given the warning signs, but it’s still a disappointment from someone who’s proven to be much better. The mainstream country hit of the summer this most certainly is not.

(Light 5/10)

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