Single Review – William Michael Morgan’s “Vinyl”
If anything, the success of “I Met A Girl” helped open the door for Midland’s “Drinkin’ Problem,” though both speak to the sort of inbred nature of today’s country, with both songs including Shane McAnally as a co-writer, and Morgan’s selection also carrying a songwriting credit by Sam Hunt, underscoring how even the most agreeable mainstream traditionalists are still likely to have some blemishes.
But the success of Morgan’s “I Met A Girl” gave way to the adversity his second single “Missing” faced, stalling in the charts at #29, despite a strong push from the label—including a full production video—and arguably comprising the best song Morgan has released to date. Some singles fail because a label just doesn’t see fit to promote them. “Missing” was given a fighting chance. Not to completely discount the progress seeing such a song crest the Top 30 symbolizes, but the performance of the song was clearly a disappointment, and perhaps a little too much of a leap forward to expect two traditional country songs from an emerging artist to find top chart success so quickly.
So now we get a third single for Morgan, which is not always the case after a second single struggled to find traction for an artist whose name is new to listeners, speaking again to the commitment and patience Warner Nashville is willing to show with Morgan. It’s the title track from his debut album released in September of 2016. With this one, Warner is being smart and pragmatic, not looking to score brownie points with traditionalists who’ve already found favor with Morgan, but looking to put something up for consideration that radio may actually find favor with.
“Vinyl” from a quality standpoint very well may be the weakest track from Morgan’s debut, but it is ripe to do well in a radio environment that appears to be more amicable to traditional sounds compared to years past, even if it’s still insistent on finding enough sensibilities to be acceptable to corporate country’s notoriously shallow and fickle listenership.
With it’s multiple “girl” drops, and that same formulaic drum beat that Nashville musician Jim L. exposed as the basis for most country radio singles, “Vinyl” has the stuff to seek and find appeal with the mainstream flock. Of course these are also strikes against it with critics and purists, sort of like the story of Jon Pardi’s “Dirt On My Boots.” Nonetheless, that’s Paul Franklin you hear on the steel guitar, and the song is solidly traditional, with some sensible modern textures to appeal to a wider crowd.
The point of a radio single is to promote an artist and an album to the masses, and you can’t do that unless it has the ability to gain acceptance by the folks in charge. “Vinyl” is not as bad as Pardi’s “Dirt On My Boots,” and not nearly as good as numerous other selections from Morgan’s debut record. But it just might do the trick in a format that’s now looking for ways to regain old listeners while keeping the new ones happy. An artist like William Michael Morgan and a song like “Vinyl” might just be acceptable enough to do that.
This single’s trajectory will be interesting to watch.
1 1/4 Guns Up (6/10)
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“Vinyl” was written by Carson Chamberlain, Ashley Gorley, and Wade Kirby.
September 27, 2017 @ 8:53 am
Obviously, this should have been the 2nd single. I hope that doesn’t stall WMM’s traction with radio. He has a great team behind him, so he has a much better chance than most that had a 2nd single fall short on the chart. His album and his sound are fantastic.
September 27, 2017 @ 9:04 am
A little better than the bottom of the barrel “country” that is on the radio these days, but I am not seeing how this is all that much different. The phrasing, the beat, the annoying “girl” references are all there. Just because they added in a little steel doesn’t get it over the hump of anything I could ever listen to and not get extremely annoyed by.
September 28, 2017 @ 9:22 pm
But he isn’t manufactured, like Midland. This guy sings Sam Hunt lists…
SCM loves this guy but hates Midland for the same exact reasons
September 27, 2017 @ 9:25 am
To echo others, this should have been the 2nd single. Hopefully it performs well.
Another thing to watch, broken halos is starting to pick up some traction on the charts.
September 27, 2017 @ 9:25 am
Anything from WMM is better than everything else.
September 28, 2017 @ 5:25 am
Why does this happen? Broken Halos peaked at 13 on the Billboard charts in the previous week to this one it was sitting at #40 and is now up to #31 I think? Tin Man is doing the same it’s up 4 or 5 spots from the previous week after being on the charts for a while.
Are the labels forcing more air time? Maybe other singles are just dropping off the charts after their large initial push making more room for these longer standing singles?
September 27, 2017 @ 9:26 am
He’s excellent. It depends on whether you consider Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves mainstream or not, but if not, in my opinion, WMM is definitely the best artist in the mainstream. His album is fantastic. If you haven’t already, go check out Lonesomeville and I Know Who He Is. I’ll plug his music every chance I get.
September 27, 2017 @ 1:46 pm
“Lonesomeville” is the best song I have heard from any even semi-mainstream artist not named George Strait in a long, long time.
September 27, 2017 @ 4:59 pm
Hell yes!! I’m kinda hoping it becomes a single at some point, but I have my doubts because it’s not radio friendly at all.
September 27, 2017 @ 6:34 pm
Yeah, I think even at this point that’s probably a bridge too far, but maybe one day a song like that will get played on the radio again in the future. We can certainly hope, at any rate.
September 27, 2017 @ 9:32 am
Telling that 99% of the praise in the review is for WMM in general instead of the song itself.
Pretty much the reverse of the Midland review.
September 27, 2017 @ 9:47 am
This song got one more point than the Midland LP, and two less points than the Midland EP. I had critical things to say about this song, and feel I’ve been fair to all parties.
September 27, 2017 @ 9:36 am
I love this kid. ‘Missing’ is one of the most requested songs at the traditional country station that I work at.
September 27, 2017 @ 10:22 am
That’s WMM on the “Vinyl” cover?
Here are the nominations for the Dolly Parton photoshop award: WMM for “Vinyl”…
“Vinyl” sounds like a George Strait Latest-Not-So-Straitest-Greatest-B-Sides-&-Never-Released-Hits.
It should be a hit. But as long as “country” radio prefers Dustin Lynch or Dylan Scott…
September 27, 2017 @ 7:42 pm
I’ve been searching for the right way to describe WMM for me, and George Strait B-Side is about the closest I can come. He has the traditional instruments but they don’t feel like they really drive his songs as compared to the way they drive songs by Midland. I’m not saying one style is better or worse (personally I do prefer the Midland music, but certainly prefer the laid back WMM style if that makes sense).
September 28, 2017 @ 10:08 am
It would seem to me that he simply lost some weight, something that’s easy to accomplish when you’re 23.
September 27, 2017 @ 10:30 am
This is what Country sounds like to me, and more artists like Morgan are what will save country music. Americana music may have more purists or artistic sounds, but it will be the artists who can bridge the gap between country traditions and radio friendly music that will keep country music strong. The majority of the music buying public are not directing the music they listen to for artistry or authenticity, they simply want good music they can sing too, drink a beer too, drive with, or dance to.
Country artists like Morgan, Mo Pitney, Frank Foster, Curtis Grimes, and Cody Johnson among others, provide solid country music that should be celebrated and promoted. These are the artists who can truly take radio back from from the rap country trash infesting Nashville now.
October 14, 2017 @ 12:06 pm
Glad to see someone else include William Michael Morgan and Mo Pitney up there for traditional country singers. People start to easily judge them as “not country” because they are working in Nashville not independent. They are actually two of the best traditionalist out there right now and I think they are better than some of the independent artists out there that are more alternative rock that country.
Here’s my top 10 for 2014-2017: (Modern Traditionalists)
1. “A Drink After Midnight” by The Country Side Of Harmonica Sam”
2. “I Met Merle Haggard Today” by Mo Pitney
3. “One More Time” by Justin Trevino
4. “Long White Line” by Sturgill Simpson
5. “Missing” by William Michael Morgan
6. “Feelin’ Haggard by Ray Benson/Dale Watson
7. “She Ain’t In It” by Jon Pardi
8. “All I Can Do” by Susan Anderson Bell
9. “Coat Of Many Colors” by Joey And Rory
10. “I Swear To God” by Tyler Childers
Top 10 for 2014-2017 (Classic Country)
1. He Won’t Ever Be Gone” by Willie Nelson
2. “New Patches” by Charley Pride
3. “Out Among The Stars” by Johnny Cash
4. “Lay Me Down” by Loretta Lynn/Willie Nelson
5. “Blue Smoke” by Dolly Parton
6. “Rhinestone Grindstone” by Bill Anderson/John Anderson
7. “The Way It Was In ’51”- Charley Pride
8. “Things Change” by Bobby Bare
9. “It Takes All Kinds” by George Strait
10. River In The Rain” by Alison Krauss
Notable Mentions Of Two Songs That Weren’t Album Releases:
1. “Kern River Blues” by Merle Haggard
2. “Lost In A World Without Haggard” by Vince Gill And Paul Franklin
September 27, 2017 @ 11:02 am
ahahghghghgaghghgh! it’s that SAME BEAT again
I thought James Lill had explained it clearly here:
September 27, 2017 @ 11:45 am
Dude said girl like 5? times in a row… as the rhyming word at the end of the line…
Made it 25 seconds in before I got too annoyed to go on.
The heart of this song is still fratboy nonsense. It may not be a fratboy singing, and there does happen to be a steel guitar in there somewhere, but the soul of the music is still empty.
Don’t people want to FEEL anything anymore?
September 27, 2017 @ 5:26 pm
“Don’t people want to FEEL anything anymore?”
No. They’ve been desensitized to every stimulus. Too much sex. Too many drugs. Too much food. Too many flashing lights. Too much noise. Too much “entertainment.”
September 28, 2017 @ 7:34 am
Try this thought exercise, Benny Lee. Every time you hear a feminine personal pronoun, make it masculine. When the word ‘girl’ appears in the song, switch it to the word ‘man.’ See if you don’t feel something then…with those blue eyes… 🙂 Men should be able to wear dresses too. They are cooler in the summer, the breeze can get up under the skirt to cool you down. Not to mention they are simple to pull out of your closet, and they always look great. 🙂
September 27, 2017 @ 12:58 pm
Right now, this kid is as good as it gets. And he’s not great. His voice doesn’t stand out, but it’s good enough.
September 27, 2017 @ 6:27 pm
Do you call your old lady “girl” repeatedly? I thought not.
September 27, 2017 @ 7:34 pm
And to throw in a little analogy, saying that this guy is the best out there is the equivalent of the bro at the party who prefers wine coolers to bourboun. There are dudes out there who feel that way I supppse, and that is their right. But, you sure as hell should steer the other way when they open their mouth to give an opinion.
September 27, 2017 @ 2:54 pm
Yea…I got 30 seconds into it..sucks
September 27, 2017 @ 3:19 pm
If this is the best that mainstream country has to offer, the I clearly haven’t been missing out. I’d say that Stapleton is the best that country radio has, but he’s not strictly country, even if he’s head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd.
September 27, 2017 @ 4:10 pm
Stapleton is the most talented, but he’s not a Country singer. If he ever becomes a Country singer, I’ll become a huge fan.
September 27, 2017 @ 7:50 pm
That’s fair. I’ve always said that Stapleton is a Southern Rock vocalist that makes country/bluegrass. As phenomenal of a voice as I think he has, it’s not really what I’d consider a “country” voice.
September 27, 2017 @ 3:20 pm
It such a shame that “Missing” didn’t catch on, but I’m not too surprised either, unfortunately. This song is also one of my least favorites on the album thanks to the repeating of “girl.” WMM’s voice and the steel guitar still make it better than 95% of what’s been on the radio in the last few years, and I can even overlook the same old rehashed beat. But the repeating of the word “girl” in the verses just annoys me and reminds me too much of bro-country, even though this really isn’t. That said, I still hope this does well for him. I’d love for him to gain more recognition and for him to have the chance to release even better material to radio.
September 27, 2017 @ 5:05 pm
I’m already beginning to feel like “I Met a Girl” is gonna go down in history as a novelty song; “Missing” is great but I really doubt he’s going to get any more substantial airplay unless he completely sells out. “I Met a Girl” only got the attention it did because Sam Hunt co-wrote it, we’d all be dumb to assume it was because the radio execs all of a sudden remembered what real country is supposed to sound like.
September 27, 2017 @ 5:14 pm
Not a great song ..barely a good song , in my opinion. Points for it being country-sounding for sure . But the vocalist just has no character in his voice ….certainly not enough to carry a so-so very generic -sounding song .
And again it begs the question …with all of the amazing songs being written …WHY do they opt for one that unequivocally isn’t when a career is possibly at stake ?
I remain ….
September 27, 2017 @ 7:19 pm
Next to Scotty McCreery, William Michael Morgan is probably my favorite. Not too crazy about this one but it will probably grown on me. I love Missing. Scotty’s Five More Minutes is the best song out and is finally beginning to find traction on the lists.
September 27, 2017 @ 8:58 pm
“I Met A Girl” was generic drivel. It’s no surprise that Sam Hunt wrote that grocery list keyword dullard
Strait Country 81
September 28, 2017 @ 1:53 am
Not like it matters any mainstreamers with promise sellout Corbin,Young,Bentley etc
I miss Stevie Gaines
September 28, 2017 @ 9:21 am
September 28, 2017 @ 8:10 pm
It disturbs me that so many are simply throwing in the towel…”well at least it’s better than most of what’s on radio.” I Met a Girl is bad and this is worse. It’s unbelievably shallow and devoid of content.
The next song he sings will be about a girl who doesn’t perspire and whose feces don’t smell and are carried away by doves sent from heaven.
Is there ever a semblance of reality in any of these songs?
September 30, 2017 @ 5:23 pm
Mainstream country music has an authenticity problem it won’t ever be able to fix….this review is well-intentioned gobbledygook, the difference between this guy and Sam Hunt is a matter of degrees and a cowboy hat….
October 2, 2017 @ 1:06 pm
I don’t get the love SCM has for this guy. He’s pretty generic and so are his songs. “I Met a Girl” is as bad as anything brocountry.
October 12, 2018 @ 6:58 am
So WMM has a new single called “Tonight Girl” and quite frankly it’s a strange listen. The music is very breezy and sounds like a song you would hear on Easy-Listening radio, while he’s singing about a very country music theme (Meeting a girl at a bar).