What’s great about a sham celebrity marriage is that after you’ve worn all the tread off the tires by selling your wedding photos to grocery store rags, cutting sappy co-writes, and boring the masses with awards show duets, you can hit up everyone again as they head for the exits with post-Splitsville divorce records pitting the respective fan bases against each other as rumors of who did who wrong help stir the pot. It’s a great way to keep everyone focused on the cult of celebrity as opposed to the music, because in the end the songs are never that great.
Blake Shelton is first out of the gate in the post Blake/Miranda country music world with a song called “Came Here To Forget.” If nothing else, the title is promising, and the song is built upon a solid lyrical hook. Not entirely original, but not terribly bad, in the corporate country world where it’s eternally summer and most songs are about suds, pickups, and hot babes, a tune about a tear-soaked heartbreak is a welcomed change of scenery.
However, despite “Came Here To Forget” starting off with a solid foundation and premise, it’s all the garbage they use to fill in the gaps in a slipshod songwriting effort, and the terrible adult contemporary production that makes the song flimsy enough for the big bad wolf to blow down with one puff.
No different than the endless references to beer and backroads in modern country songs, so is this prevailing trend towards breakups where revenge is the best attitude to deal with the emotional letdown. We’ve also heard this in other recent big singles like Luke Bryan’s “Home Alone Tonight.” The heartbroken protagonist is so full of spite and self-aggrandization, the song becomes all about how it’s necessary to get back at an ex-lover instead of delving into the real emptiness of lost love where the deepest emotional impacts lie. The self-reflection that usually accompanies a breakup is replaced with revenge selfies with rebound lovers looking to scar an ex you previously deeply cared about.
The other constant in these spiteful breakup songs is how the perspective of the world is run through a 4 x 6-inch screen of a cell phone. Though it’s probably a pretty accurate portrayal of a modern corporate radio-listening robot, it still lacks the self-awareness and reflection that takes a breakup song from good to great.
“Go ahead and check your phone, like I’ve been checking mine. Nobody’s ex texting for a rewind,” says “Came Here To Forget.” What mundane details these are. It doesn’t make you commiserate with the subject of the song, it just reminds you they’re probably one of those assholes who holds their phone up to the stage during an 1 1/2-hour concert, blocking your view the entire time. Maybe your lover wouldn’t have left you if you spent less time with your mug buried in your phone screen.
Still, “Came Here To Forget” has some good lines. “Doing our best to make the best of the worst of it,” and others are not terrible, but others like “keep salting the rim” are squeezed in there to give mainstream listeners enough culture reference points so they don’t get lost in any lyrical depth. The timing of the delivery where Blake rushes to fit in words in that Max Martin-style hip-hop cadence make the listening experience that much more jarring for a country listener.
And that’s to say nothing of the production, which is so stylized and billowy, and relies on some sort of digitized whistle that sounds like it was lifted from Mike & The Mechanics’ “Silent Running” that it ruins the song if nothing else does. Blake Shelton said recently, “Country’s not always about exactly what you sound like, but it’s about what you want to represent with your music.” Blake tried to represent a classic country theme in “Came Here To Forget,” but it got lost in the production, and the filler between the song’s quality lines.
And what in the everloving hell did they do to Blake Shelton’s eyes in the artwork for this thing? It looks like he’s trying to burn a hole through the back of your skull. This decision in itself probably deserves a failing grade.
“Came Here To Forget” is not a terrible song. It’s a decent song that they made into a poor effort by taking a decent premise, loading it up with radio-friendly buzzwords, and stylizing it to the “Hot AC” crowd in the production. In other words, it’s destined to be a super hit on country radio.
1 1/2 of 2 Guns Down (3/10)
Songwriters: Craig Wiseman and Deric Ruttan.