Jo Dee Messina – “Shine”

Jim Malec | March 12th, 2009

Jo Dee Messina - ShineFew artists are capable of making pop country sound as good as Jo Dee Messina. Country music’s second fieriest red-head has a smooth, instantly recognizable voice well suited to the succinct, hook-driven songs that fueled her 1990s rise into the upper echelon of country music stardom, as well as a unique knack for sitting back in the vocal pocket of a song’s verses without letting the track wash her out. She is also one of the very best modern artists when it comes to finding exactly the right balance of energy to inject into a chorus in order to drive the material forward without overpowering the hook.

And that’s important, because hooks reign supreme in pop country. Messina’s two signature hits, “I’m Alright” and “Bye Bye,” penned by Phil Vassar during the peak of his artistic output, were undeniable hits upon their release and remain so years later—if released today those songs would achieve the same levels of phenomenal success that they did in 1998.

On “Shine,” the new single from her long-awaited fifth studio album Unmistakable, Messina shows off the same vocal chops that helped propel her early hits.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing at all unmistakable about the song. While “I’m Alright” and “Bye Bye” are jam-packed with memorable lines and knockout hooks, “Shine” sounds good but lacks any lyrical red meat.

This is not hit-single caliber material—it’s not even up to par with the majority of Messina’s album cuts.

“Shine” is a mish-mash of nondescript statements that culminate in a declaration of “I’m gonna shine,” a hook that seems generally disconnected from whatever else is happening in the rest of the song. Messina “didn’t like where [she] was going,” was “stuck going through the motions,” compares herself to a “sad song that never gets better,” and then suddenly proclaims that she “made a change,” only to burst into a chorus that rambles on about the fact that she’s conquered all of her issues.

“Shine” jumps from Point A (issues) to Point D (resolution), while completely skipping everything in between. What’s the change? And what does it mean to “shine” anyway?

Great songs live in the space between the setting and the final outcome. “Bye Bye” isn’t really about the telling-off, it’s about what drives the singer to the point where she’s finally had enough. The hook is important–essential, even–but it is only the payoff, the thing that ties everything else together. The hook has to work in tandem with the narrative.

“Shine,” like too much modern country music, is a song that thinks it can be successful by simply detailing a circumstance and an outcome. There’s no story and there’s no personality. And there’s not a single piece of lyrical furniture to cling to. The song is slick and the track is pretty but the package is wholly disposable. “Shine” isn’t objectionable, but there is absolutely no reason to love it, nor any reason to remember it. Not tomorrow, let alone years from now.

“Shine” does anything but.

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Listen: Jo Dee Messina – “Shine”

  1. Rick
    March 12, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Martina McBride’s new CD that’s coming out March 24th is also titled “Shine”. I’m confused already….

    I think this single is what happens when artists try to second guess what Top 40 radio programmers want to hear. If the artists shoot for mediocrity they can hit it darn near every time, but that doesn’t mean radio will spin it. Good luck Jo Dee….

  2. Robin
    March 12, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I stumbled across this page while searching for the lyrics to this song – heard it on XM just a few minutes ago. The hook caught my ear and I was curious to see what the rest was… I would agree with the review – a bit non-descript. And I agree even more with Rick – two songs called “Shine” on country radio at the same time? Too confusing. Especially when Martina’s is so strong and this one seems a bit weak.

  3. Felipe
    March 12, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Messina’s album and songs are ready for 2 years by now. Of course they could choose a different song, but relate it to Martina it’s more coincidence than anything else.

  4. Matt B.
    March 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Robin, Martina’s ALBUM is called “Shine” and her single is “Ride.” Not nearly as confusing as people are making it out to be.

  5. Drew
    March 12, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    The listening link isn’t working for me.

  6. Nicolas
    March 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    “the new single from her long-awaited fourth studio album Unmistakable, Messina” …

    Its actually her fifth studio album; Jo Dee Messina, I’m Alright, Burn, Delicious Surprise, and Unmistakable

  7. Jim Malec
    March 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for the correction!

  8. jason
    March 12, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    jo dee messina is awesome and so is this song!!!

  9. Nicolas
    March 12, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I heard the little 30 sec clip on her website and I wasn’t too pleased… its good, but its kinda bland — it reminded me of Martina’s new single “Ride”

    I was hoping Jo Dee would release “Unmistakable” like she’d planned, because that song is really good n I like it a lot

  10. Joe
    March 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    This is classic Jo Dee Messina. Before I go any further, let’s all agree it’s a hell of a lot better than “Biker Chick,” and thematically (again, in the context of what defines a Jo Dee Messina song) it’s much better than “I’m Done,” too.

    The hook (“you can bet that I’m gonna shine”) isn’t all that deep, nor does it make literal sense (hopefully), but I’ll have to disagree about the song moving from Point A to Point D.

    She goes out of verse one with this line: “I’ve finally pulled myself together and made a change ’cause …” then jumps into the chorus: “I don’t wanna spend the rest of my life and wonder why the world passed me by…”

    I think the transition — the choice to make the change — is the primary action in the song. Notice how the chorus, until the final line, is filled with “I’m gonna”s: the song, therefore, moves from Point A (issues) naturally to Point B (resolution, in the sense that she’s resolving to live better).

    It may not be the greatest Jo Dee Messina song ever, but it handily complements our understanding of who she is and what she represents: think of other uplifting/adversity-busting songs like “That’s The Way,” “Stand Beside Me,” “Not Going Down” and yes, even “Bye Bye” and “I’m Alright.”

  11. J.R. Journey
    March 12, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Link isn’t working for me either. And I can’t find the song anywhere online yet. I guess I’ll have to wait.

  12. Brady Vercher
    March 12, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Try it again, J.R. It should be working now.

  13. J.R. Journey
    March 12, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Nope, still not coming up. I even went and tried it with Internet Explorer. My firewall may be blocking it or something …

  14. CMW
    March 12, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Try this link instead. The one above has htpp instead of http.

  15. Brady Vercher
    March 12, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    My bad. The protocol was wrong the first go around and I added the wrong letter and didn’t check it. Thanks for catching that, CMW. All links should be good.

  16. Flower Power Muzik
    March 13, 2009 at 12:38 am

    When I initially heard the 34 second clip on Jo Dee Messina’s website I will admit I wasn’t in love with it. However, after hearing the complete song I am in love with it. I can’t get it out of my head! And with the state of the world today I think we can all use a positive message! I like it. And I think that it’s a good sign for Jo Dee that stations have already begun to add and spin it prior to the official add date. I hope it does well for her.

  17. Noah Eaton
    March 13, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Agreed.

    I truly wish Jo Dee Messina continued success, which she deserves and has already demonstrated in spades why she is among the most talented current female vocalists in country music. But there’s no doubt she can easily offer better than this.

  18. daren
    March 14, 2009 at 11:24 am

    this song is great

  19. Adam
    March 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I agree with Joe above, the lyrics make a natural progression from issue to change to resolution, so I was not sure what the author of this article was talking about.

    The melody is catchy. The song is about making a positive choice to not let life get you down. To take control of the things you can and change yourself for the better while you still have life to live.

    We’ve been told too many times that a “great song” or a “hit” has a formula (as the author tries to explain above)…what makes a song great is its ability to connect with the audience and move them in some way. I think this song is going to connect with a lot of people facing a wide variety of issues from job loss and financial strain to relationship issues and depression. No matter your age, we’ve all hit a place in life where we feel in a rut and run down, but we pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and walk on…that’s what this song is about. I’ve been playing it at least once a day and it instantly puts me in a better mood.

    I appreciate the critique but disagree entirely.

  20. Richard
    March 22, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Adam has “nailed” it. People will connect with this song and the melody will play over and over again in their minds. “Shine” is a very positive, up-lifting, “feel good” song. The audience will respond favorably to the song’s intent and to the artistry of Jo Dee’s powerful delivery. Few will worry about having “lyrical furniture” to cling to. It’ more about moving forward and feeling good about your course in life. The message is simple. The melody is memorable. People will love and relate to this song, and at the end of the day, “Shine” will have brightened their day and given them hope and inspiration.

  21. Stormy
    March 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    The thing is, people don’t respond to brightly happy songs in times of hardship. They look for songs more reflective of their lives.

  22. Jon
    March 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    “The thing is, people don’t respond to brightly happy songs in times of hardship. They look for songs more reflective of their lives.”

    The variety of themes embodied in the country music popular during the Great Depression and during more recent, ah, downturns, suggests otherwise.

  23. Flower Power Muzik
    March 23, 2009 at 1:16 am

    I disagree with “The thing is, people don’t respond to brightly happy songs in times of hardship. They look for songs more reflective of their lives.”

    I think songs like Shine remind us that we have to make an effort to not be beat down. It also reminds us that we have choices in life. If you don’t like where you’re going….change course. It’s a simple message that in hard times we can simply lose sight of. Thank goodness we have these great songs to help us remember that life is all about choice.

  24. Mandy
    March 23, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I like the song. i mean, yeah it doesn’t really have a story t go with it, but its one of those songs that just makes you wanna get up and live life to the fullest….thats what i think ne way

  25. nm
    March 23, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Just about the most popular genre of movies during the Great Depression was the musical. Busby Berkeley and all. People seem to want bright shiny entertainment (along with other things, of course) during hard times. Interestingly enough, religious observance takes a beating during the same periods.

  26. Kris
    March 31, 2009 at 9:38 am

    WOW another poor review by Jim Malic and the 9513 blogging crew..JIM do you write any positve reviews or do you have positive comments for any current artist?!? Your a fool! This BLOG site is horrible!

  27. Paul
    April 5, 2009 at 1:00 am

    This is a very fun, inspirational, catchy, and memorable song. I love all the songs I’ve heard from her new album. I hope “Unmistakable” is the next single. If you ever see her live, it will give you chills!!!

  28. Abby
    April 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Her voice sounds less robotically auto-tuned than usual.

  29. lisa
    April 17, 2009 at 8:15 am

    do you guys seriously analyze every line of a song like this when deciding if you like it? Wow. You have a lot of time on your hands. For me, it’s either it sticks with me or it doesn’t. To me, I LOVE Jo Dee Messina. Her songs are just so pertinent to life struggles and battles. And they stick in my head. Boom, I’m hooked. Plain and simple. I think there’s waaaaaaay too much over analyzing going on here.

  30. Joe
    April 23, 2009 at 8:02 am

    I am STILL diggin’ this song! Too bad I’ve not heard it on radio even once.

  31. Joe
    December 3, 2009 at 10:17 am

    STILL in love with this song. Don’t ever lose this link, please. Until there’s an album I’ll need to get my fix here.

  32. Melinda
    March 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I Love this song…In fact love all her songs..She has to be one of the most hard working down to earth, do anything for anyone kind of person.. I think people just need to give her a break and lay off.. She is a wonderful writer and person..
    And Jim Malic and the 9513 blogging crew I was wondering the Same thing As KRIS..Do you EVER have anything positive to say about anyone?? From what I have Seen..The answer is NO..

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