Apparently there is a hard and fast proviso in the mainstream country music bylaws stating that artists signed to major labels must release a torpid, moronic ode to coincide with the official observance of summer each calendar year. As certain as the changing of the seasons themselves, you can be rest assured that when planet Earth’s northern hemisphere is most inclined on its axis, you’re about to get your ears bleached by inane dribble about beach babes and backroad tailgate parties, full of nostalgic refuse, or shallow iterations of itineraries centered around being drunk near bodies of water.
Over the years Luke Bryan has been one of the most steadfast observers of this natural summer phenomenon, and one of the season’s greatest offenders. Whatever good will Luke accrued with his last okay single “Most People Are Good” is expended pretty quickly when you get a whiff of his bid for 2018 summer radio dominance, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset.” Though the use of electronic beats is relegated to the beginning and end of the song and otherwise gives way to innocuous country pop production—and the verses are inoffensive stock about remembering hanging out with some babe during a summer retreat—the vacuous chorus is where you get sideways with this thing, and feel like you’re getting docked IQ points for every second that ticks by within its audience.
We’ve all pulled the stupid move of getting a terrible sunburn because we forgot to sunscreen up, and some of us are destined to do this annually the first time bare skin meets blazing sun. But you learn dammit, at least you hope you do. You don’t pull the same dumb maneuver 90 straight days in a row until Labor Day saves you from invariable carcinoma, unless you’re the protagonist and love interest of Luke Bryan’s latest single. Then you’re stuck like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day doing the same dumb shit repeatedly every day, and in the case of “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” reveling in it and recollecting back upon it fondly.
Look I get it, there’s something about the summer—especially when you’re young and unattached to responsibility—that makes memory stick to the inside of the skull, and over time makes it warm to recollect upon, especially if you got laid. It’s most certainly more fondly remembered than the middle of fall when you’re fighting through midterms and acne breakouts during your sophomore year of high school.
The overall story of this song is fine, and the melody fits the style and season of a middle-of-the-road pop country song. But songwriter Ryan Hurd should have spent less time snapping haughty Instagram photos for Maren Morris (they’re married, you see), and worked harder with co-writers Zach Crowell and Chase McGill to make a chorus that doesn’t completely suck the life force out of anyone with the intelligence enough to not repeatedly get a sunburned every single day like a brain dead moron.
You are what you eat, or listen to. And Luke Bryan has made lethargy and lack of learning capacity a fashionable consumable in this forgettable and regrettable track, not to mention its promotion of poor skin care habits to the populous. It will probably be a super-hit because it’s Luke Bryan singing it, but for “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” September can’t get here quick enough.