Jul 17, 2017

Single Review: Dierks Bentley "What The Hell Did I Say"

by Jonny Brick

What do these songs have in common: “Every Time I Hear That Song”; “Do I Make You Wanna”; “They Don’t Know”; “What the Hell Did I Say?”
They are all the fourth single released from a major star’s album which this year is getting vast radio play. The fifth single from Ripcord, “The Fighter,” will be number one soon for Keith Urban. Luke Bryan had six number ones from Kill the Lights. This seems too many, but these voices sell cars and whatever other commercials you guys have over there. (I remain English, and thus get my country digitally without adverts.)
Thanks to their relatively quick climbs up the charts, bigger acts like Blake, Billy, Jason and Dierks can cram in more singles per album cycle that they send to radio. After a song which could be called “Drunk on a Boat,” a duet with Elle King, and a ballad about his wife, not to mention a duet with Cole Swindell, Dierks has sent a ploddy song to radio.
Written by Ross Copperman, Josh Kear, and Chris Tompkins before they wrote a better one later in the session, this is typical Dierks. The plot of the song is that poor rich. He drunk-dialled his lady and attracted her greatly with an answerphone message. Did he ‘say we’d go shoppin’ or ‘go to Vegas and get married by Elvis’? The idea is funny, the execution is good but there are problems here.
Dierks wonders whether he (grammatically-incorrectly) sought to ‘Louis Vuitton her’ or ‘Rodeo Drive her, slide a Tiffany diamond on her’? Singing nouns in place of verbs is an irritating trope of contemporary country. It almost makes me Second Amendment someone. As for the product placement, I’ll bank account the writers. It’s almost as if words don’t matter on the radio…
The singalong bit comes when Dierks can’t remember what the hell did he, hell did he, hell did he say. Even Bobby Bones recoils at the blasphemy, asking his audio producer to bleep out the offensive word in a mock-serious segment.
The song continues the current Nashville trend of namechecking a non-country song or act when Dierks mentioned that the folk in the bar are singing along to Free Bird. He could even sing some of it onstage when he plays this one on tour; it must be getting a single release because out on the road it gets a big response. There are worse songs on the radio after all, and some aren’t even by Dylan Scott.
The production is very muddy and overloaded on the track, which can be a pro as well as a con, and in particular the solo in the middle of the track is good. Fun fact: credited on one of the three acoustic guitars in the song is one Charlie Worsham, whose recent album contained songs much better than this. Yet radio will go with this until it hits number one some time around Halloween. 


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