Song Review – Kenny Chesney’s “Noise”


Listen, I don’t need Kenny freaking Chesney preaching to me about the ills of modern society and the trappings of technology. He needs to be on a damn beach somewhere with his stupid puka shell necklace and sand in his ass crack, contracting melanoma with a Corona in his hand. That’s the Kenny Chesney we’ve known and bemoaned for 20 years now.

This fanciful notion of Kenny Chesney as social activist all started back in 2014 with his record The Big Revival, or actually back in 2013 when Kenny Chesney had a trend-chasing Bro-Country record all rip raring ready to go, and shitcanned it because he saw the writing on the wall and where everything was headed. It might have saved Kenny’s career, but it also sent him down this path where now he thinks his inane music can save the world. The problem is, it was Kenny Chesney and folks like him that bred an entire generation of mind-numbed consumer-driven robots to begin with. Now he wants credit for stimulating a great awakening from the nightmare he helped create.

“Noise” is not a bad song. It’s not a good one either, and it’s certainly not country. But it’s not bad. And is it better than Bro-Country or some island ballad? I guess it is, but only as the lesser of evils. The problem here is that the song takes itself too seriously, and it’s built from the same stupid formula Kenny Chesney has used before. Kenny tells this really inspired story of how the song came about…

Sometimes you know you’ve got something so timely, so right then, you have to grab it. It seemed like everywhere I turn, everywhere I go, there is so much stuff coming at you. Your phone, your car, on the streets, on TV. Everywhere it’s just so loud, so much, so many different things all pushing buttons, being sensational, shouting for attention.  You can’t escape it, and you can’t turn it down.

…so then he turns around, contracts three other professional songwriters, including “Count Formula” himself Shane McAnally, the ubiquitous Ross Cooperman, and cuts a song that doesn’t cut through the “noise” that interrupts our thoughts, it arguably lends to it, and isn’t as much timely as it is opportunist to take advantage of the political climate. It just takes too much pride in itself for being original when in truth the message is rehashed, tired, and ineffective. It doesn’t help that the music itself really doesn’t go anywhere and just feels like whitewashed blandrock.

Go back and listen to the lead single “American Kids” from Kenny Chesney’s last album, and then listen to this song. It’s pretty much the same thing. Both start off with a sequenced, electronic rhythm, both have initial verses that do nothing more than just list off items, and both do so in a monotone “melody” that hangs on the same note through the phrase before falling off at the end. They’re both even set in the same two dominant chords of ‘G’ and ‘C’.

Beginning phrase from “American Kids”: “Double wide, quick stop, midnight, T-top, Jack in her Cherry Coke town.”

Beginning phrase from “Noise”: “Wrecking balls, downtown construction, bottles breaking, jukebox, buzzing, cardboard sign says ‘The Lord is coming.”

Phrase from Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”: “Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock.”

In fact when Kenny Chesney sings the line in “Noise,” “We didn’t turn it on but we can’t turn it off,” I got visions of Billy Joel and his, “We didn’t light it but we’re trying to fight it.” 

I truly do appreciate the effort to actually say something in “Noise” instead of just demanding hot bodied girls into the cab of your truck or crooning a cacophonous homage to corporate beer delivered in a tractor rap. But it’s like ever since Chesney got old enough for regular prostate exams, he thinks he’s Bernie Sanders and wants to save mankind. And meanwhile the marketing doesn’t match up with the effort. It’s similar to how Chesney portrayed his single “Wild Child” as empowering to women when it was about some loose groupie. If anyone, anyone spends a second less on their smartphone after hearing “Noise,” I’ll eat my hat.

Even “Noise” seems to admit to the ineffectiveness of the effort.

“We can’t sleep, we can’t think, cant escape the noise
We can’t take the noise, so we just make noise.”

And that’s what “Noise” is. It’s just noise.

One Gun Up (5/10)

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