Album Review: Cosmic HallelujahWonkeyDude98 Mini-Description: In my twenty-sixth album review, Kenny Chesney lies to my face and makes one of the worst albums of 2016.
Best Song: "Setting The World On Fire" ft. Pink
Worst Songs: "Trip Around The Sun", "Noise", "Rich And Miserable", "Bucket", "Winnebago", "Jesus And Elvis", "Coach", "Bar At The End Of The World"
So....bro country's officially dead. Oh it's still getting released, but 2016 was its death knell. On the year end, there is a grand total of 3 country songs. Three. Trés. While I wish that didn't mean contemporary country will probably never have a chance again, I am glad that that most likely means we're done with the bro country disease. One of these viruses that has lasted for over twenty years is Kenny Chesney, whom of which I've...tolerated. I've just kinda let him exist. But then I heard Noise, which stands as one of the worst songs released this year, and I thought "this is gonna be bad". Then I heard that it his next album Cosmic Hallelujah was going to be a dangerous, high-concept release, and I thought "okay this is gonna be really bad". Then I heard from some people that the song with Pink was gonna be the best song from the album and I thought "this is gonna be the worst thing ever". How right was I?
Well, very right, that's for sure. This is the furthest thing from being experimental, it's lazy and obnoxious. In a fantastic year for country, this is easily in contending with Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett's failures as not only the worst of this year, but one of the worst country albums in recent memory.
Now I want to stress, I don't think Kenny Chesney has an awful voice. That is, if completely stiff, gutless, and completely devoid of personality, emotion, or charisma is a passing voice now. At his best, he does fit better against breezier songs like All The Pretty Girls and Some Town Somewhere especially when placed against uncredited backing vocals that completely show him off. But at his worst, he sounds really petulant, almost whiny on songs like Rich And Miserable, not even mentioning the spoken sour notes splattered throughout this album that either feel dead-eyed or awkward. His best performance is when he embarrassingly gets shown off by Pink at her most boring on Setting The World On Fire, which did grow on me as the best song on this album because at least on that song Kenny Chesney doesn't come off like a complete alpha-male, and because Pink actually sounds alright on there.
But you can just throw all that out the window when you bring in the instrumentation and production, and my lord, I feel like I've seen this a million times now. The same bro country instrumentation with no variety or moments that I can even pick at for being awful, it's just mush. Sure, while songs like Setting The World On Fire, All The Pretty Girls, and Noise do have decent swings to them, these come at the cost of any flavor, or texture, or grit, or color, or personality, or even flexibility. When the bland electric guitars aren't caught up in blurry filters and synths alongside the sluggish, sterile drum machines that call to mind the worst of Christian contemporary, everything is just going haywire into an overproduced mess, like on Noise or Some Town Somewhere, or the hip-hop elements snuck into Rich and Miserable, or the hideous acoustic fidelities on Trip Around The Sun and the soul-crushingly downtempo Coach.
But really, what gets to me is the lyrics. This album, compared to most bro country, tries to go for more dangerous concepts. The problem is that Kenny Chesney doesn't have any idea how to execute them, because he doesn't have the devotion or talent to pull it off. And it's right from the first song Trip Around The Sun, which might even be the worst song on the album. It's a song dealing with the complex topic of global warming and rising sea levels, but instead of tackling the issue outright, he just throws his hands up and says -- against an aggressively chipper acoustic foundation -- that he likes the sea anyway, that he knows he can't do anything about it, so he's just gonna get drunk and forget about it. I could go on talking about how Kenny's never thought about issues like this before so he doesn't exactly have a right to get involved, or how he's making a global crisis that's ruined the lives of millions seem like something we can ignore, but I think the bigger issue is just how cowardly it is. It isn't that hard to at least say global warming is a problem, but Kenny Chesney is so afraid of using effort that he's actively taking attention away from the issue. People like him are the reason Donald Trump's our president.
Then there's Noise, an information overload song where Kenny Chesney complains about how bustling the world is. Oh sorry Old Man Chesney, I'm sorry that the world is going on around you! But what's his solution to being heard in the noise? MAKING MORE NOISE! Definitely the way to solve your issue, make it worse! Worse still is Bucket, where Kenny Chesney comments on the concept of a bucket list from the perspective of a friend, changing the "B" to an "F", and then just blowing it off for "chillaxification". Isn't the point of a bucket list things you want to do before you die?
The fact that Rich and Miserable is an improvement is kinda sad. It's a song about how flawed the American Dream is, in the way of that abysmal first version of Mike Posner's I Took A Pill In Ibiza, except worse, because at least that song was a bit introspective and had some melancholy to it at all. This one is just Chesney making fun of people who want to be like him, because apparently a net worth of over $220 million, passionate yet mostly non-toxic fans, and a dungeon of attractive women isn't enough for you?
Even when this album's trying to be sincere, it just doesn't work. Jesus and Elvis is about a bar a woman opened up for her husband, but there's no detail or comparisons between the two things he loved most, Jesus and Elvis, other than the, both being kings. And then there's the last song Coach, which is dedicated to a certain coach, but it's nonspecific and sickeningly sweet, which means I can't feel anything but contempt for America's overpaid coaches.
This is yet another reason why Setting The World On Fire is almost tolerable; it doesn't set the world on fire more so just get drunk and high when nobody's watching, but at least they sound like it's a group effort and not just Kenny Chesney's self-unaware fantasy. Again, best song on this album, only remotely bearable because of how bad the rest of the album is.
But the bigger problem is that alongside the banal bro country tracks like that, the overly careful All The Pretty Girls, the bashy Some Town Somewhere, the nonsensical Bar At The End Of The World or the nonexistent Winnebago, the preachier songs feel like hackery at best.
No mincing words, this is awful in the worst way possible. Could this have been saved? Yeah, if you completely reconstructed it. Have Kenny Chesney emote, give the instrumentation a bit of character, mix it less, and completely revise every single lyric here, you could have had a decent album. But as it stands it's no question a 1/10 and no way I'm recommending, not to his fans or to newcomers. Can I just review QUALITY next?
This is WonkeyDude98, and The Weeknd's next. Lord help me...
Good review! Been waiting for this one. - ProPanda
It is bro country... - visitor
When are you going to try to review a metal album? - visitor
Actually Metallica's in two reviews. Stay tuned! - WonkeyDude98
Have you heard The Unforgiven by Metallica it's their best song? - Skullkid755
I agree this is a terrible album - christangrant
Good review - Skullkid755