Hmm, maybe it’s a bit cynical, but isn’t it funny that country musician Blake Shelton just happens to have a new single as the latest season of The Voice airs on NBC? Blake Shelton wouldn’t possibly be trying to promote himself, right? WRONG! Of course Blake Shelton is taking the opportunity to promote his own career, even if he’s looking to foster a new crop of careers in the mix. Hey, how can you be mad a Blake – he’s got savvy sense of promotion. Now, does he have a savvy single to match with “Came Here To Forget”?
The answer is…nah, probably not. Give “Came Here To Forget” credit for having a heavier, darker quality to it than most country singles – it’s in a minor key! Furthermore give Shelton credit for eschewing the commonplace country topic of choice – alcohol. While he avoids some clichés that are eye-roll worthy, he does embrace the break up coupled with a burgeoning new relationship. Even if break ups/new relationships are ‘commonplace’ in all genres, they never grow old and that’s the case here for Shelton.
So, the issue isn’t whether or not “Came Here To Forget” is irrelevant in regards to its intentions, but how memorable is it in the context of country music and the industry as a whole? In the context of country music, this will undoubtedly be another worthwhile record for Shelton fans and country music fans that love a breakup song (“Go ahead and check your phone, like I’ve been checking mine / nobody’s ex is texting for a rewind…”). In the context of the industry itself, this is just another country song – albeit respectable – that tells the story and emotions following a breakup. It won’t overtake the airwaves in other words folks.
So is this music critic writing off Shelton or his forthcoming album? No. That said “Came Here To Forget” isn’t the next, truly great country song that transcends its niche and embarks on something greater. It deserves credit where credit is due (minor key, emotional depth, storytelling), but its unlikely to change country music or pop music.