“Stuck Like Glue,” the first single from Sugarland’s upcoming fourth studio album (titled The Incredible Machine) is 2010’s most infectious acoustic pop song, and proof positive that Jennifer Nettles is one of music’s most incredible machines.
With a voice equally powerful and agile, and endowed with both incredible technical precision and soulful tonal textures, Nettles sings and, at times, it feels like an awakening—as if you’re remembering, for the first time in a long time, what real talent sounds like.
She isn’t just a capable singer, or a good singer. She’s an undeniably great singer.
It’s the devastating desire she breathes into the lyrics of “Stay.” It’s the way she convinces us she’s pouring out the deepest confessions of her soul on “Keep You.” It’s the sublime pensiveness she draws out of “Very Last Country Song.” And it’s the glee she infuses into “Stuck Like Glue.”
If Nettles isn’t loving every note of this performance, she’s music’s best liar. “Stuck Like Glue” bursts with joy, exuberance and contagious energy.
The lyrics are inane, and cover much of the same territory as “All I Wanna Do,” the debut single from the duo’s previous album. And musically, the two tracks aren’t dissimilar—both feature sprightly melodies and arrangements that bounce along to Kristian Bush’s bright rhythm guitar.
Conceptually, however, “Stuck Like Glue” is bigger and more adventurous, and Nettles stretches further than she did on “All I Wanna Do.” From the opening notes—which she delivers from the upper regions of her vocal register—to the color she whispers into song’s quieter moments, she explores an unusually large patch of melodic landscape for this type of light-hearted, feel-good song.
Pair this masterful performance with Byron Gallimore’s deliciously upbeat arrangement and you have a chunky piece of bubblegum confection that works on every level—providing, along the way, a prime example of how musicality can trump narrative. That the song’s chorus contains more soundplay than corporeal storytelling matters little here, thanks to a melody that fully wriggles its way into your head.
It even works when, in the song’s bridge, the arrangement breaks down to just percussion as Nettles adopts a reggae accent and busts out a lyrical jam. The change of pace is a little disorienting, though not because it doesn’t fit—it’s just wholly unexpected. There’s not a single mainstream country artist besides Sugarland who would attempt such a thing, much less have the skill to effectively pull it off.
By the time country radio gets done overplaying the hell out “Stuck Like Glue,” you’re probably going to hate it. It’s the kind of song the burns hot but quickly, fueled by unadulterated excitement. Over time, and after experiencing it time and time again, that excitement will fade. That’s just the life cycle of this type of song.
That’s why they’re so special. They’re immeasurably difficult to create, and they tap in to a primal, organic energy that heftier, wordier, more cerebral material can’t. “Stuck Like Glue” is about rhythm and movement.
So, for now, just get up and dance.