As an occasional lyricist, it really hurts me to see a great hook used in a song that just isn’t up to par. Such is the case with Tim McGraw’s “Felt Good on My Lips,” except that “isn’t up to par” would be an overstatement.
Continuing his trend of questionable single releases (save “Still,” which I thought was underrated), Tim heralds the forthcoming Number Ones compilation with this alternative rocker parading as a country song. Surely inspired by the success of Kings of Leon, “Felt Good on My Lips” lays down a bass guitar and drum-driven backing track as McGraw’s oddly effect-filtered voice tells the story of a PG-rated one-evening love affair.
The recurring hook “felt good on my lips” refers to the name of the object of his affections, her choice of song to dance to, a fruity drink and her goodbye kiss…in that order. While that’s pretty strong employment of the title line, the verses themselves—and the, ahem, “chorus”—just aren’t pulling their weight.
Strung together like some haphazard nursery rhymes, the lines of the verses hit us weakly with gems like: “She said her name was a hand-me-down name/from a side of the family that long ago came/over here on a boat from somewhere in Spain/sounded to me just a little bit strange” and the pièce de résistance: “She ordered us a drink/it was a purple kind of pink/she said it’s got a shot of a little bit of everything/Mellow-yellow umbrella for a fellow like me/It was just a little bit mellow for me to be seen with.”
Really? Is this the same guy who put out high water marks of the genre like “Red Rag Top” and “Just to See You Smile?” How the mighty have fallen.
If an up-and-coming songwriter dared present this song to a song pitcher or label executive, he’d be unapologetically laughed out of the marble-lined office, and the writers of this song—The Warren Brothers, Brett Beavers and Jim Beavers—should be just as red-faced.
Although, I will give them this: this is the definition of radio filler, dumb and inoffensive but just catchy and repetitive enough for less discerning listeners to latch onto and not turn the station.
Whoever approved the release of this single, be it Tim, his management or Curb Records (I’m leaning towards the latter) should hang their head in chagrin. The combination of the failed attempt at alt-rock production, the brain-dead refrain (full of “Oh oh ohs”) and the trainwreck of a lyric work in combination to make this among the worst singles, not only of McGraw’s career (congratulations, “Last Dollar”—you’re out of the cellar), but of all mainstream releases in 2010.