Sugarland - “All I Want to Do”

Matt C | May 29th, 2008 Email Share

Sugarland - All I Want to Do I’ll say this much about Sugarland: they’re not afraid to be pioneers. Unfortunately, as much as “Stay,” with its sparse, acoustic and percussion-less arrangement, was an anomalous example of a great country song, “All I Want to Do” marks a new frontier for bad country songs.

There have not been many truly great country radio releases in the last several years, and most of the mediocre to bad songs share a common flaw: they aren’t particularly well or imaginatively written while the artists aren’t good enough and the arrangements aren’t country enough to rescue the lyric. Yet in even the worst of these songs, there was a discernable effort on the part of the songwriters to actually write a song, however fruitless their efforts became in the end.

However, “All I Want to Do” is not about words. I wasn’t in the room when this one was “written,” but I’ll bet that the writers, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush among them, spent more time getting the “oh oh oh oh oh’s” just right than they did actually composing the lyrics. The truth is that “All I Want to Do” is not a song, it’s a melody.

This criticism ought to be sufficiently damning in a genre as highly narrative as country music that how the “song” is performed hardly matters, but Sugarland fails even on this front, not because “All I Want to Do” sounds bad (in fact, it sounds rather good), but because this recording is just not something that’s made to listen to. It’s catchy, but not in a good way, in the “change the station lest this annoying song be stuck in my head all day” way. It’s the kind of song that you hum under your breath without really realizing what you’re doing and don’t remember doing once you realize that you’ve been doing it. It’s the kind of song that you’ll always be able to whistle but will never be able to sing, at least not with words other than “la la la” (or “oh oh oh”). In other words, it’s a pop song.

I consider Sugarland the best of the current groups or duos and an asset to the genre, but releases like this worry me. No matter how “pop” country music becomes, the genre can always be rescued from southern rock wannabes and poor songwriters. However, “All I Want to Do” is a significant step down the road to sound-good vapidity, the true pop world where lyrics are irrelevant as long as you can nod your head to the beat, and once that road has been traveled, I don’t think that there’s any turning back.

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Listen: Sugarland - “All I Want to Do”

  1. Michael Gunter
    May 29, 2008 at 10:02 pm Permalink

    I was starting to think I was the only one that felt that way. I love Sugarland but was very disappointed when I finally heard this first cut from the new album. Hopefully the rest of the album will be more of what I have come to expect from the duo

  2. Rick
    May 30, 2008 at 12:50 am Permalink

    The current majority of listening audience members to Top 40 country radio seem to absolutely thrive on catchy, hook laden little ditties like this new Sugarland single. These listeners not only do NOT seek out well written, meaningful songs with depth and substance but they actually tend to reject such songs. Songs that make the listeners think may be too much for them.

    With that said, this song is perfectly suited to mainstream country radio and a gal as intelligent and talented as Jennifer Nettles knows that. Maybe she wanted something quite the opposite of “Stay” so her fans wouldn’t always expect exceptional singles like that song. Country radio listeners love Toby Keith’s “She’s a Hottie”, so this new single should be a Top 10 hit. Heck, I’d prefer to hear Jennifer’s old “Soul Miner’s Daughter” era material over this……

  3. Thomas
    May 30, 2008 at 1:52 am Permalink

    all i can to this is …uhuhuhuhuhuhuh….

  4. Chris "Barney" Barnhart
    May 30, 2008 at 2:27 am Permalink

    I didn’t know how to go about doing this, but I am trying to get in contact with Rick (the one who left his last posting at May 30, 2008 at 12:50 am). I’m a big fan of indie labels and wanted to ask him a couple of questions. My home phone is 1-541-938-4019 and my e-mail address is barney_barnhart@hotmail.com
    I hope me leaving this doesn’t violate any protocols of this posting system. If it does, I’m sorry to be a pain. Rick, if you get this, give me a ring or drop me an e-mail. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

    Barney

  5. Margie
    May 30, 2008 at 8:18 am Permalink

    Did not like the song on the ACMs and still don’t like it!! I too like Sugarland, but this song is just YUK!!

  6. Heidi
    May 30, 2008 at 10:22 am Permalink

    Immediately after hearing this song on the ACM’s I pegged it as “an annoying song that will get stuck in your head wether you like it or not” and it’s true. I have heard it once since then and it has been CONTINUOUSLY stuck in my head just from the title alone. I’m about ready to dig my brain out!

  7. Jenna Vercher
    May 30, 2008 at 1:17 pm Permalink

    I completely agree with you, Matt. After hearing it on the ACM’s, I was hoping I’d never have to hear it again.

  8. Matt C
    May 30, 2008 at 2:22 pm Permalink

    Rick: I’m not quite as cynical about country radio listeners as you are. However, my point in the review is that, even when country artists release some horribly shallow, calculated commercial fluff, they’re still basing the commercial appeal of the song primarily on those fluffy lyrics. Few country singles just forget about the words altogether in favor of a catchy melody.

  9. Mike Parker
    May 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm Permalink

    Okay… first time I’ve heard/listened to this was just now. Halfway through the first verse, I was wondering what the problem was- it sounded like everything else they’d done. And then the chorus hit. And I’m disturbed. Very disturbed. That is truly awful. I had to listen to Jessica Simpson’s song a couple times so I wouldn’t get the bends from surfacing to quickly.

    Yikes. Horrible. If we all jump up and grab the pendulum, maybe we can get it too swing back before it unhinges and lobotomizes us all. Or maybe that would be best.

  10. Mike Parker
    May 30, 2008 at 2:44 pm Permalink

    sorry for the typos… I’m still recovering.

  11. Zach
    May 30, 2008 at 3:30 pm Permalink

    This has been the most requested song of the day all throughout this past week at our station here in KC.

  12. Chris N.
    May 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm Permalink

    Let’s all drunk-dial Barnhart later!

  13. Funk
    May 30, 2008 at 6:54 pm Permalink

    Yeah, this isn’t a great song, or even a good one. It does match the summertime mood and most simply want a catchy melody during that time. It will probably do fine. I hope the rest of the CD is stronger.

    I still think it’s cool that Nettles wore a swimming suit all the way through the vid. She’s a very attractive woman but she doesn’t have a model’s body. I think it’s sexy she still showed some skin. Nothing’s better than a woman comfortable with herself.

  14. Chris D.
    May 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm Permalink

    Honestly, I do like this song, but it is below par from what they usually do.

    Also, many live performances of some of their new songs have been on youtube for a while now, they are most likely on the cd since All I Want To Do is one of the ones that has been floating around.

    Ones I remember right now are :
    “Operation Working Vacation”
    “It Happens”
    “Take Me As I Am”
    “Fall Into Me”

    Just search for those and you should find some videos.

  15. Chris D.
    May 30, 2008 at 7:13 pm Permalink

    Oops I forgot the song:

    “We Run”

    My bad.

  16. J.R. Journey
    May 31, 2008 at 8:49 am Permalink

    I share the same thoughts with many of you. This song is way below par and not even worthy of Jennifer’s vocal chops.

    First time I heard Sugarland’s ‘Baby Girl’, I had the same thoughts: This song kinda sucks, but whoever is singing this is effin great!

    I too, have heard ‘Take Me As I Am’ from their new album on youtube; and while it sounds very Sugarland (think ‘Something More’ crossed with ‘Want To’), it is still not a strong song lyrically. But this is their third album and I am betting the album itself will have plenty of meat and muscle.

    ‘Enjoy The Ride’ was a lot stronger than their debut and shows they are only getting better. So yeah, hopefully - and I am betting on it - the rest of this new album will have some songs worthy of heavy rotation.

  17. Stephen H.
    June 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm Permalink

    In honor of The 9513, WUSN in Chicago had this formidable competition on their New Country Challenge last week:

    “All I Want to Do”
    vs.
    “Come on Over”

    I didn’t care to listen long enough to see who won, but I assume it was Sugarland.

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