The Boom-or-Bust Jukebox – Week 4 (2021): (Morgan Wade)

The Boom-or-Bust Jukebox is a weekly series where I cover new entries to the top 40 of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, standalone oddities, and a throwback tune.

I think the snark machine can take a break after last week. Well, hopefully. At any rate, it’s a lighter week, but I think I’m favoring quality over quantity anyhow.

Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (written by Morgan Wade and Sadler Vaden)

This is one of those releases where the hype seemed to come out of nowhere and in droves. Well, sort of. In reality, Morgan Wade attracted a buzz last Christmas with the release of “Don’t Cry” as well as other scattered standalone singles, with the real attention coming now off the announcement of her solo debut album, Reckless, set for release in March, with some Ashley McBryde comparisons thrown in for good measure. And with the raspier tone and thicker production blurring the line between country and rock on this particular single, I get why. Now, I enjoy the subtle nods in the framing here, namely in wanting to know more about a significant other’s wilder days from the perspective of someone living her own, yet knowing she won’t get any answers along the way. For one, there’s a silent understanding that some things are better left unsaid for the sake of preserving one’s own mental health, even if the other person’s curiosity can’t help but shine through. But I also think there’s another silent understanding between them that suggests she’ll learn on her own in due time, and you don’t hear that sort of age discrepancy within a relationship addressed in country songs too often. It also helps that Wade’s more-haggard-than-it-should-be tone (and I mean that as a compliment) adds to that sentiment, and that the deeper, atmospheric production balance in the electric axes supports the spacious tones and huge melodic swell of the hook. With that said, the vocal multitracking is also far more muddy than it should be, trying to force that rougher edge when Wade’s rasp is enough on its own. Still, I dig it. It’s this week’s Boom, especially on a light week like this one.

Radio Stars

No. 37 – Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (written by Priscilla Block, Emily Kroll, and Sarah Jones)

Another awkward case where I’ve already reviewed a single featured here. It’ll even out eventually, I swear. For now, I don’t mind this, but if certain other TikTok smashes actually become long-term successes, I might have to consider “OK, boomer”-ing out of this gig.

For our throwback feature of the day, we’re taking a look at the No. 4 single from this date in 2001, Jo Dee Messina’s “Burn.”

Jo Dee Messina, “Burn” (written by Tina Arena, Pam Reswick, and Steve Werfel)

Random as it seems, I do have a system for how I decide each week’s throwback selection, though I must admit, this is probably the most random selection we’ve had so far. The album era itself comes with an interesting story, in that its biggest single, “Bring on the Rain,” a duet with Tim McGraw, became a post 9/11 anthem of strength, but also faced resistance from the record label to even get released and started an odd downward trend for Jo Dee Messina, making this her last big album era. And given that the title track is a cover, I’m at a loss for words here. It’s a checklist-driven empowerment anthem that country music already performed much better with “I Hope You Dance” that same year. To be fair, it’s one of Messina’s most killer vocals, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of the sentiment, but I also knew there was a reason I didn’t immediately recall this one. It’s fine, just not all that memorable. “Bring on the Rain” is great, though.

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