Thursday, May 5, 2016

Kenny Chesney's "Noise" debuts in Rolling Stone

Kenny Chesney - Live                                 © Jill Turnell (courtesy EBMedia)
For once it's not pina coladas, sandy beaches and cladly dressed dancer babes in bikinis. It's neither a jocose
singer reminiscing about the quietude at a lovely hidden oasis where he shares a longneck with his honey on the back of a pickup truck while strummin' on his guitar.

In his new video "Noise," the lead-off single of his new album "Some Town Somewhere" which ships July 8th, Kenny Chesney actually inculpates all the white noise, the cacophony, the constant sound bytes, the tech overload around us.

Wrecking balls, downtown construction
Bottles breaking, jukebox buzzing
Cardboard sign says ‘The Lord Is Coming’
Tick tick tock
Rumors turn the mills back home
Parking lot kids with the speakers blown
We didn’t turn it on
but we can’t turn it off, off, off …”

While this topic is quite popular in pop and rock music, it's rather rare in country music to sing songs being critical of society or at least critical of part of society. "Atomic Power" by the Louvin Brothers, "Okie From Muskogee" by Merle Haggard come to mind. In order to convey this new message to an audience who would listen, Chesney's team didn't select the regular outlets like CMT, Vevo or a country music magazine, but choose to premiere his chaotic video.

“They have been the cultural and societal touchstone since I was a kid,” Chesney explains in his press release, why he choose the music magazine as an outlet “and that gives them the gravitas to reflect what [director] Shaun [Silva] and I were trying to capture in the song. This is not political, so much as social... if you want to get people to take it all in, to step back and really reflect, let’s put the video at the heart of where people who sort those things are.”

The visual manifestation of the song is clear: distorted images changing in a fast cut, timely mentioning in passing, not only the current US election cycle, but also the daily overload of sound or video bytes that is thrown at us, basically a wall of noise imprisoning us. And even though everybody seems to communicate, there are no messages reaching the listener:

Twenty-four hour television,
get so loud that no one listens
Sex and money and politicians talk, talk, talk
But there really ain't no conversation
Ain't nothing left to the imagination
Trapped in our phones and we can't make it stop, stop, stop

Watch Kenny Chesney's Chaotic 'Noise' Video

As Rolling Stone knows: "Kenny Chesney already had the first single from his upcoming "Some Town Somewhere" album picked out when a bunch of talking - make that, yelling - heads on television threw a curveball..."

He was on the phone with Nashville tunesmith Shane McAnally on a way to a marketing meeting with his manager, when the idea of "Noise" came up. Two days later he went into the studio and recorded the song, which besides McAnally was written by Ross Copperman and Jon Nite.

But Chesney doesn't see himself as a messenger, as he told "We're not preaching to anyone, we’re just making a statement about the way we live. The message is to try to be mindful of it. If you love someone, tell them you love them. Don’t text it to them! There is so much life to be lived outside our phones.”

Summary: A great move for the fluffy 8-time entertainer of the year, away from "Bro" country to an actual meaningful song. The other songs on "Some Town Somewhere" will have to prove the new thoughtfulness of Kenny Chesney. An ethereal follow up will render "Noise" as meaning less.

Sources:, Essential Broadcast Media,

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