One of the downsides of winning American Idol are the coronation songs you’re forced to sing and release as your first single. It’s a rough first step for most singers wanting to prove that they’re around to stay and not just part of a reality show hype. For someone constantly compared to Josh Turner, (he did perform Turner’s “Your Man” on Idol), it’s important to put out a single to show who you are as an artist and not just some karaoke singer covering Turner’s tunes. While “I Love You This Big” isn’t that big of a departure from past American Idol winning songs, (Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” is still the strongest of the bunch), it at least removes the “Turner-isms” from the young singer.
The good side of Idol, however, is the fans and attention you get before you even release your debut single. Even without the leader in talent shows behind him, McCreery would have found a way to get his deep, twangy, and veteran-sounding voice on radio. His voice is that good. It looks like the rest of the country music world has recognized that, as talent like Martina McBride, Josh Turner, and even former winner Carrie Underwood have taken McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina under their wings; the two latest Idols were invited onstage for CMA Fest and will be featured in the special airing on ABC later this year.
While the single isn’t earth-shattering or genre changing, it’s still a decent start for a singer new to the industry. Cheesy and relatively weak lyrics aside, it isn’t catchy or something that will make you get up and dance, but it still showcases his country voice. It probably won’t be a career-defining hit for the young McCreery, but coming from Idol that doesn’t matter much. McCreery will sell copies, and sell he has.
If you had no idea who McCreery was, or what he looked like, you might mistake him for an artist two times his age. His deep, but pleasing, vocals are a complete contrast to his adorable, baby-faced persona. The down-to-earth singer doesn’t go over-the-top with his first single or try to over sing the song. Some artists might try to get too show-offy in the power ballad, but McCreery knew his limits and stuck to his guns. It’s a well produced song that introduces him to country radio… just in case you somehow missed all the buzz.
“I Love You This Big” sounds like it comes from the George Strait or Tim McGraw school of singing. McCreery does what he can with the song he was forced to sing, but he lets his welcoming twang and his voice distract you from the school-yard sounding lyrics.
The twang almost takes over the song, but that’s part of his appeal. In a world where pop is slowly starting to creep in to country music, it’s a welcome addition to radio craving the traditionalist sound. While it is another generic winner’s ballad, McCreery’s boy-next-door charm shines through and through. Will country radio programmers be able to look past the reality tv label that fellow winner Underwood had to fight through early on in her career?
McCreery’s career will be based on if he will be able to define himself as an artist, or if he will he be stuck in Josh Turner and Travis Tritt’s footsteps. Only time will tell, but his first single is a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see what comes out of his debut album. As long as he sticks to his traditionalist sound that he displayed on Idol, he’ll be fine.
“I Love You This Big” is now on radio stations across North America.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5
POTENTIAL: Top 10