Review – Darius Rucker’s “If I Told You”

Darius Rucker If I Told You

Darius Rucker has always been an interesting case in country music. The former lead singer of 90s staple Hootie & The Blowfish has certainly made an impact as a country artist and seems to be well-known amongst the casual listeners, yet it always feels like he’s under-the-radar. This is probably due to the fact he hasn’t been a trend chaser (outside of the unfortunately bad “Homegrown Honey”), but he hasn’t ever really wowed me with his music. It’s always seems to somewhere between average and decent, especially when it comes to his single selections. His big hit of course was his cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” the song most synonymous with his country career. Since then he hasn’t had a single come close to its success. I reviewed his latest album Southern Style last year and much like his singles was an average affair brought down by corny, vanilla lyrics. However the production wasn’t too bad. Rucker now returns with the lead single from his upcoming fifth album and it’s titled “If I Told You.”

So does Rucker step up in the lyrics department? Well yes. It’s not a huge improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. “If I Told You” begins with Rucker doing a spoken word style. Now normally when a country artist does spoken word, I get highly annoyed because it’s done in a terrible, pseudo-rap manner and the lyrics are garbage (looking at you, Jake Owen). But Rucker pulls off spoken word well, not to mention the lyrics aren’t bad. The song itself is about a man who admits he is flawed and he has his own issues that have not only hurt him, but those around him. He admits all of these mistakes to the love of his life and hopes will she still accept and love him despite his admitted flaws. He even tells her that his “dreams are a million miles away” and he wants her to come with him, something he knows her family wouldn’t want. Yet he still pleads for her to follow him because he loves her that much. This is all set to a light production that has a country sound, but also a bit of a polished, Adult Contemporary feel too.

While “If I Told You” isn’t going to set the world on fire, it’s a decent song that shows Rucker taking a step in the right direction and hopefully is improved upon even more on the album. I think this song could have a real chance at radio if Capitol Records Nashville stays behind it and remain patient. It’s the type of love ballad that radio has been open to playing recently and this song really suits Rucker well. One good sign is it was the most added song at country radio on Mediabase last week. I think Rucker is capable of producing great music and while this isn’t it, this is music with some substance and something that would help improve the quality of mainstream country.

Grade: 7/10

Writers: Ross Copperman, Jon Nite and Shane McAnally

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6 thoughts on “Review – Darius Rucker’s “If I Told You”

  1. In most respects, I view this as the direct opposite of “Homegrown Honey”.

    With “Homegrown Honey”, we got one of the worst lyrical atrocities of 2014 that nonetheless was spared from my Worst Songs of 2014 list because once you got past the opening ten seconds, the instrumentation was decent with some legitimate country flavor, and the production wasn’t half bad either.

    *

    With “If I Told You”, we essentially get a trade-off that mostly runs in this song’s favor, but also results in a glaring net minus.

    The lyricism would be second only to Rucker’s vocals as the strongest aspect of this track. Granted they are kind of structured in a laundry list form, but what makes up for that is the genuine vulnerability that permeates the whole of this effort. Certainly not like Jason Isbell, mind you, but nonetheless this is really among the more vulnerable set of lyrics I’ve seen on country radio lately, and the open-endedness further vouches in their favor. It’s refreshing to hear, even if there’s still plenty of room to grow from here.

    However, where the lyricism takes a stride forward from his previous lead single, I feel the production is a step backwards. It’s agreeable and palatable, mind you, but this lacks a sort of country flavor that “Homegrown Honey”, in spite of its sins, actually had. The opening verse sounds strikingly similar to Adele’s “Someone Like You”, and from there no country instrumentation is detected to my ears either. Much like “H.O.L.Y.” and “You Should Be Here”, this sounds like a straight-up Adult Contemporary/Adult Top 40 song but is only being marketed foremost as country because Capitol Nashville is well aware it’s a strenuous uphill battle to get played elsewhere.

    So no, “If I Told You” really isn’t a country song. But for an Adult Contemporary song, this is fairly solid and easily among his best written singles to date (though the bar was admittedly pretty low as is).

    *

    I’m thinking a Decent to Strong 6 out of 10 for this on its own merit, but slips to a zero on future Mainstream Pulse charts because it’s not country.

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  2. Ross Copperman…meh.
    I’m done with Darius Rucker since “Homegrown Honey”. “If I Told You” is decent. The production is ok. The track will not reach #1 in 10 or 12 weeks. 6/10 – 0/+1.

    Billboard Country Update – 7/11:
    Billboard Country Airplay: #51 – Hot Shot Debut – Toby Keith – “A Few More Cowboys”
    “If I Told You” was the Hot Shot Debut (#43) last week. The song is a not-so-hot-shot this week (#00)
    Billboard Top Country Albums: #1 – Blake Shelton – If I’m Honest

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    • This song had a solid opening week, but it is impossible to ignore the fact that this song has PLUNGED like a boulder down the digital chart since then.

      It’s presently at #39 on the iTunes county chart. For a song that at one point peaked at #2 (only behind “H.O.L.Y.”) and remained perched there for four days, that is a MASSIVE downfall. I don’t even think Kane Brown’s latest single collapsed that hard after debuting high.

      Thus, it’s really hard to say whether its opening week success will prove to be a fluke or not. As agreeable as this song is, it just doesn’t sound like a hit to my ears. Especially when quite a few country radio programmers have already admitted their burnout with ballads and slower songs.

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      • “Especially when quite a few country radio programmers have already admitted their burnout with ballads and slower songs.”

        Ding, ding, ding…we have a winner!
        I can feel the burnout too. It’s summer & the charts are full with ballads like “Roots”. I really like the track. But it was the wrong release date. Even Cole Swindell is struggling with his new single “Middle Of A Memory”.
        “Roots” will be back to #54 (Billboard Country Airplay) & “Middle…” will be up to #29 (after 10 weeks, Billboard Country Airplay).

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        • I don’t want a bro-country renaissance, but I’d like to see a handful of up-tempo barnstormers impact this chart soon. I don’t even necessarily mind if they’re summer songs, but I’d love to hear more anthems and romps that chug like diesel trains. Maybe with some swampy rhythms and mesquite instrumentation.

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