Tim McGraw – “Felt Good On My Lips”

Stephen M. Deusner | October 26th, 2010

Tim McGraw - Felt Good On My LipsSongwriters: Brett Beavers, Jim Beavers, Brad Warren, and Brett Warren

Over the last few years, Tim McGraw has become the New York Yankees of country music: well paid and certainly talented, but poorly managed and underperforming. His latest single, “Felt Good on My Lips,” from the upcoming Number One Hits, continues his streak of strong performances but lost games. It’s actually not just one song but at least two, grafted together awkwardly and abruptly. One is specific and engaging—a lead-off base hit. But the other song is utilitarian and bafflingly ill-considered—a wild pitch on an intentional walk.

Let’s set the baseball metaphor aside and get on with the good news: The verses, which are relatively restrained and anchored to a prominent, almost postpunk bassline, set the scene and playfully change the meaning of that title phrase. It recounts getting-to-know-each-other flirtations with enough detail to make these characters seem real rather than stock barroom denizens. “Said her name was a hand-me-down name,” McGraw sings admiringly, although without the slightest twang in his voice. “I have to admit, it felt good on my lips.”

There’s an evocative physicality to these lyrics, as the woman with the hand-me-down name seduces him out of his comfort zone and makes him do things he might not normally do—nothing big, like robbing a bank, but small things like ordering a “purple kind of pink” drink instead of a beer. It’s a nice way to say he’s caught up in the moment, oblivious to anyone who isn’t her, and a good reminder of country music’s innate ability to find drama in small, everyday moments.

Too bad McGraw and his songwriters ruin that intimate swoon with a chorus that explodes the song from private to public, from the barroom to the stadium. “Oh oh oh I wanna go crazy,” McGraw sings with a silly staccato affectation, and it’s clear that he’s no longer speaking to the woman but to throngs of screaming fans. Then the blustery chorus blows through like a tornado and levels the entire song. It’s all the more egregious given that there is a kernel of seduction here: McGraw ably conveys the excitement of attraction, and “Felt Good on My Lips” actually feels good in your ear until he invites the whole world to pull up a chair and listen in on their conversation.

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Listen: Tim McGraw – “Felt Good On My Lips”

3 Pings

  1. [...] on the blog, Stephen review Tim McGraw’s new single “Felt Good on My Lips.” In the opening paragraph, Stephen compared McGraw’s recent bout of ill-advised single choices [...]
  2. [...] Tim McGraw’s new single “Felt Good On My Lips” was released to iTunes today. Also, be sure to check Stephen’s review here on The 9513. [...]
  3. [...] Langhoff: Just for aggravating the cranks at the 9513, this song is worth at least a 6. But on top of that we’ve got the skinny tie beat, the riff [...]
  1. epstein
    October 26, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Great review. McGraw has been wildly inconsistent for the past few years — Southern Voice was a grand slam, IMO, but this was one is truly turgid.

    And is it just me, or is he using wayyyy to much autotune on his vocals?

  2. Noeller
    October 26, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I just can’t stand this song, musically as opposed to lyrically. The music is just so far away from Country and so deep into AC territory, that I can’t even be bothered to get into the lyrics. It’s basically distracting in every way shape and form.

    The last REALLY good song I remember Tim releasing was “I Need You” with Faith, and that was some years ago.

  3. Thomas
    October 26, 2010 at 11:44 am

    …it’s a very catchy number but virtually everything feels and sounds like being covered under a big smear, leaving you wanting to know, how it would actually sound if everything had been done just a little more tidy.

  4. Zach
    October 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Another note: I read that Tim McGraw has released as many compilation / greatest hits albums (5) as he has studio albums in the past decade. I realize a lot of that falls on the record label, but ridiculous nonetheless.

  5. Rick
    October 26, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I really think Timbo should put music on the shelf and go into acting full time! That way I wouldn’t have to encounter sonic dreck like this any longer…

  6. Andrew
    October 26, 2010 at 11:59 am

    There’s a decent song in here somewhere, but as is the case all too often in modern country, it’s buried under over-the-top production.

  7. Ben Foster
    October 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    This was a very interesting review. Even though it was a thumbs-down, it did bring out a few of the song’s positive qualities that I hadn’t originally taken notice of. I didn’t find the verses very interesting, mostly because I was expecting it to go somewhere – to reach some climax, which it didn’t. But there were some interesting details, and the scenario is overall well-portrayed. It’s the chorus that really destroys the song. I also think there’s too much studio wizardry going on with this track, which makes it harder for the listener to connect with the song.

  8. Libby
    October 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    When I first heard the clip of the studio version I thought “Oh, no!”, but after hearing it in it’s entirety the sound doesn’t bother me with the exception of a guitar leading into the last verse that goes on way too long. I do like the live version much better, still not country, but less “whatever it is”. But I like it anyway… or I’m just wanting new McGraw music…I do know it won’t stick with me like a lot of his songs do.

    The disconnection with the chorus is something that is happening quite a bit lately with some of his songs. From Southern Voice” I would have liked both “Good Girls” and “Ghost Town Train” a lot better, but the choruses just didn’t gel with the verses, which I like quite a bit. He still has enough good music on his albums that I certainly haven’t given up on him. I do hope that this sound isn’t the direction he is taking though. One song here and there, okay, but I wouldn’t want an entire album of it.

    I do think this is a very good review. Good job!

  9. Craig R.
    October 26, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I just want to add that I think the Warren brothers are, by far, the worst country songwriters of their time.

  10. WAYNOE
    October 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    As Travis Tritt once sang, country ain’t country no more.

  11. Noeller
    October 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    @Waynoe — think about Tim’s “Everywhere” album and then think about where he is today, with this new single, specifically.

    It boggles the mind.

  12. gloria
    October 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Thank goodness, I thought I was the only person who didn’t go for this all over the place song! My radio station is playing it to death. They love it!

  13. Barry Mazor
    October 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I hear what the reviewer means by the “almost postpunk” baseline, in THAT part of the record. I’d go further: It’s pretty funny that the riff and melody on that opening (and eventually returning) verse sounds a lot like mid-90s alt.country/No Depression sort of stuff–with that indy rock/punk tinge. At the time, Tim would have been that audience’s idea of a nightmare..and probably, they his.

    But here’s that sound, which was there on something like The Wreckers’ CD, too. Let a little time pass in country, and most anything might show up.

  14. Andrew
    October 26, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Might be the worst song I have ever heard. What happened to 1990′s Tim McGraw? Kenny Chesneys new CD is absolutely terrible as well.

  15. Jon
    October 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Let a little time pass in country, and most anything might show up.

    And that, boys and girls, is what we call an historically grounded observation.

  16. Mike Wimmer
    October 26, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I dont care for the production, but I agree if you take away the chorus, this is a well written song, but the chorus ruins it for me. It’s just too damn goofy and poppy.

  17. Mike Wimmer
    October 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I disagree the Warren Brothers are terrible. Are they great? No, they are not, but they are far from the worst songwriters right now. I think the songwriters pumping out all these “good ole boy” redneck anthems are far worse.

  18. Morgan McKinney
    October 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Personally, I love the song and totally dislike the negativity. Anyone of y’all wanna re-write the chorus for him and re-release it?

  19. Kyle
    October 26, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    It’s like Tim McGraw accidentally went into the studio on the day Lifehouse was recording, but he didn’t want to come back so he just sang their song with their backing band and production.

    I hope he starts recording songs for grown-ups again at some point.

  20. Cutting the Treacle
    October 26, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Andrew: “Might be the worst song I have ever heard. What happened to 1990’s Tim McGraw? Kenny Chesneys new CD is absolutely terrible as well.”

    Me: The worst song ever heard may be “Please Don’t Take the Girl”. This is not that bad.

  21. Kyle
    October 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    lol

    “…Take Jimmy Johnson, take Tommy Thompson…”

  22. Noeller
    October 26, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Don’t Take The Girl is “He Stopped Loving Her Today” compared to “Felt Good On My Lips”.

  23. Cutting the Treacle
    October 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Noeller: “Don’t Take The Girl is “He Stopped Loving Her Today” compared to “Felt Good On My Lips”.”

    Me: To Bizarro, that would be true.

  24. WAYNOE
    October 26, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    It used to be trying to keep up with the Jones’ (George that is).

    Now it’s keeping up with the Swift’s.

  25. luckyoldsun
    October 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    The Yankees’ analogy is pretty dopey. (By the way, the Yankees won the World Series last year.)

    And why is Tim McGraw “underperforming”? That presupposes that he SHOULD be at the top of the industry and on top of the charts for what’s coming up on 20 years.

    I think it’s something that he’s still in the vicinity of the top.

  26. Addie
    October 26, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Tim is still producing great songs. Sadly, those aren’t the songs realeased to radio.

  27. Anna K
    October 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I really didn’t even believe this was Tim until I read the review.

    The whole premise of the song is awkward and borderline creepy.

  28. Cybrus
    October 27, 2010 at 3:48 am

    I like the song, but then again I’m a huge Tim McGraw fan. I do agree that the “oh, oh, oh. I wanna go crazy, wanna go crazy with you” part is unneeded and distracting from the song, but over all it is a very fun song to listen to.

    I hate that Tim went from instant chart topper to mediocre radio play. I’m not sure if that’s largely his label’s fault, but I do know that his last few radio released has left me wondering why they didn’t release some other song instead. I will be glad when Tim’s deal with Curb finally runs out, though.

  29. Ellie
    October 27, 2010 at 8:21 am

    A tedious song makes for a tedious overly-analytical review. And just because many of us in this community may not like it, doesn’t mean a hill of beans … the song currently sits at #21 on the Billboard Country Chart after 4 weeks .. we’ll see where it goes from there.

    I live in NJ and saw Tim live this summer, and he had over 10,000+ ‘Yankee’ fans excited, engaged, singing along to every word and the place was packed to the gills. In fact, I’ve never seen the parking lot so crowded at this venue; it took us over 1 hour just to exit and get parked. I was also lucky enough to be in the front row, which was a pretty cool perspective. His voice was strong and clear .. and I must say he was in perfect shape .. thin, lean and defined but not bulky.

    This week he solicited fans to submit their amateur video concert footage of “Felt Good On My Lips” and this video seemed to be the front-runner; we’ll have to see if it makes the final cut.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd41jCBGltA

    Like LuckyOldSun I too think it’s pretty remarkable that Tim is still ‘in the vicinity of the top’ after 20 years. “Underperforming?” Judging by the way he packed ‘em in her in NJ last summer, people ate him up, wanted more and considering this is NJ, his fan base must be growing.

    In my opinion, besides a few ‘misses’ on songs, there is nothing to not like about Tim.

    P.S. Regarding the Warren Brothers .. didn’t they write “If You’re Reading This”? I thought that was an amazing song .. and Tim said (last summer) it’s the song he is most proud of recording.

  30. Annleah
    October 30, 2010 at 1:33 am

    As the writer said, I adored this song, related to it, it was awesome, until that awful chorus! How could he ruin such a beautiful song? Everything sounded real smooth, then it changes to what I thought was a slightly out of tune chorus, then the tune changes again and gets louder and I can’t figure out if the song is coming back or not. Disappointing, they should redo it.

  31. Cybrus
    October 30, 2010 at 8:22 am

    The chorus of this song seems to be getting the most down talk, which is understandable. But the chorus is very radio friendly, easy to pick up on, easy to repeat, and is going to be the most sung part as people sing along in their cars. I also expect this song to be a big success on the dance floors. All of this is probably not favorable amongst traditionalist or whatever label, but it is important and is why the song is climbing the charts and is likely to become a #1 song. If you were to take away the chorus, you may have a smoother sounding song, but it wouldn’t be nearly as radio friendly. Everyone is waiting to sing “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa…and it felt good on my lips”, not “she handed me a drink it was a purple kind of pink”. ;)

  32. Jo
    October 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Listening to this song makes me pine for the Jamey Johnson song I listened to just before. Now there’s raw country, and not overproduced crap like this.

  33. Tjay
    November 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I like the song… The “Oh I wanna go crazy” lines do seem out of place but I like the “Whoa, how sweet it is…” part and the verses enough to look over it.

    I do think that Tim’s last two albums had better songs than the ones that were selected as singles. So it you didnt buy “Let it Go” or “Southern Voice” you missed a lot of engaging material…

    Perhaps the Curb-free era will take Tim back to the level of Hitmaker that he has certainly earned over his career.

  34. Jackie
    November 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Well- I see Tim’s song- It Felt Good On My Lips- is at # 14on Billboard !!!!! I can’t wait for the VIDEO- his label a little slow putting it out. I can’t wait for him to be on his own with his new Red Light Team!!! THIS SONG IS AWESOME!!!!!

  35. Jackie
    November 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I don’t know WHY this site ALWAYS like to tear Tim APART- Totally Sad!!!

  36. Aaron H
    November 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I’ll give Tim credit for wanting to do something different. I think he may have peaked with the “Everywhere” and “Set This Circus Down” CDs. Those are both still strong. But since he and his voice have matured, he at least sings open-throated, as opposed to that 3-note “Don’t take the Girl”-era. (That voice now belongs to Rodney Atkins). I first heard this song in concert, and it worked for the Arena crowd, but what a patchwork: I agree that the verses are nice, the chorus is waaay too over-the-top, and the OH OH OH bridge sounds like it belongs in a Disney movie. If/when it goes to number one, will he get credit for 3 more #1 hits?

  37. Jackie
    December 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    SO THRILLED TO SEE TIM’S NEW SONG- IT FELT GOOD ON MY LIPS- AT #5, THIS IS SUCH A AWESOME UPBEAT SONG AND THE FANS LOVE IT- GO TIM MCGRAW GO !!!!!

  38. Jackie
    December 31, 2010 at 8:37 am

    WELL Tim’s new song- It Felt Good On My Lips- IS # 1- as we fans knew it would be, Tim you are just Totally Awesome!!!!

  39. Dr. No
    December 31, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Jackie,

    You ARE familiar with payola aren’t you?

  40. Jackie
    January 1, 2011 at 12:39 am

    This has NOTHING to do with payola- but A LOT to do with his FANS!!!!

  41. Erica
    January 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    #1 Smash Hit! The 9513 was wrong on this one.

  42. Dr. No
    January 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Erica,

    You ARE familiar with payola aren’t you?

  43. Larry
    January 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Dr. No, do you think that every song that hits #1 simply hits #1 due to payola? That’s a big reach, even for conspiracy theory believers.

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