My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Chris Young – ‘Neon’

Chris Young has one of the very best voices in current country music, a burnished baritone which echoes the great vocalists of the past, which has made it frustrating that his choice of material has not always lived up to that voice and his potential.  Radio seems happy to play mediocre songs like the pedestrian ‘You’, which despite being the most boring moment on the artist’s otherwise otherwise promising third album, was his most recent #1 hit.

Happily, he has followed it up with the title track and one of the better songs from that album.  Written by Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Trevor Rosen, the lyric compares the beauties of nature in the American southwest unfavorably to the joys of the honky-tonk, with Chris declaring neon to be his favorite color.

Using Urban Cowboy era Johnny Lee as the jukebox artist is the most interesting choice by the writers, compared to the usual nods in a song like this to Haggard, Jones or Hank.  Perhaps the reason is that the song itself is not about dealing with (or failing to deal with) the agonised heartbreak of the best bar room laments, but a positive depiction of honky tonk life, with the bar room is made to sound exceptionally inviting as a home from home.  While it is a place to set aside one’s troubles for a while, it isn’t a way to escape life altogether.  After all, our protagonist is clearly familiar with the great outdoors and appreciates in its way, at least before dark when the lure of the neon lights is too much to resist.

The graceful melody,  traditional arrangement, and wistful-sounding vocal all elevate the song into something which is superior to the vast majority of contemporary radio fare.  It is already in the top 40, and will hopefully follow its predecessors to the top.

Grade: A-

6 responses to “Single Review: Chris Young – ‘Neon’

  1. Peggy Short May 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Like it that you love Neon, but disagree with you on the YOU…..I loved it, too, and it sure made all his fans smile when he told us that it was dedicated to us.

  2. pjt0212 May 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Love this revew about “Neon” and could not agree more. Should be Chris’ 6th #1. Love “You” too.

  3. Wendie Grogan May 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Half of your opening sentence is 100 percent correct…Chris Young does have one of the very best voices in current country music, echoing the great vocalists of the past…and I will admit to not absolutely loving ‘You’ upon first listen. But repeated plays and that on-stage dedication to his fans has put a whole new spin on it, as it were, and now it feels like it fits perfectly with the rest of the songs on the record. Your comments about ‘Neon’ are dead-on and beautifully expressed. My daddy always told me ‘cream rises to the top’, so I have no doubt that ‘Neon’ will soon take its rightful place at the top of the charts.

  4. Kari May 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Great review on Neon and Chris Young. I agree with everything you said except for your comment about the single You. It shows how diverse Chris can be musically speaking. I also love that he co-wrote the song. I am looking forward to seeing Neon go number one and be his sixth number one in a row.

  5. Dorothy H. May 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Great review of NEON, showcasing the exceptional vocals of CHRIS YOUNG. From the moment I got the cd, NEON was the song I’d replay most often. Overall, I would give an A+ to this song—vocals, imaginary of colors and settings, homage to JOHNNY LEE & the old school jukebox……the favorite color…. NEON, and last, not heartbreaking but funloving weekend. Hoping this will be his 6th #1. YOU was/is a catchty upbeat tune especially done live.

  6. Freda Russell August 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I like the review, but I have to say that l loved his single “YOU”! I love all of Chris’ music! He is an amazing artist and I will continue to be a huge fan of his for many years to come.

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