Artist Insight Report: Blake Shelton “If I’m Honest”

If you want your songs to get recorded by major artists, you need to understand those artists.

Understanding what an artist has recorded before can help you predict what he or she might record in the future. So, today, I decided to dive into Blake Shelton’s album, “If I’m Honest.” Here’s what I found, track-by-track.  (Note: “PUL’D” is a reference from my workbook “Cut/able: Lessons in Market-Smart Songwriting.” It means “Positive-Uptempo-Love/Depth.”  “Neighborhood” and POV (“Point Of View”) are also explained in “Cut/able.”  Check out the workbook HERE.)

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Artist: Blake Shelton

Album: If I’m Honest

Producer: Scott Hendricks

Label: Warner Bros. Nashville

“Straight Outta Cold Beer”

Writers: Marv Green, Ben Hayslip, Justin Wilson

POV: Me-to-the-world

Timeframe: In-the-moment

PUL’D: Positive, Midtempo

Neighborhood: Bro, redneck, blue-collar

Subject: Country life pep rally

Notes: Rap-like lyrics, lots of imagery, “We’re country and that’s awesome” theme.  Play off “Straight Outta Compton,” fun, clever.  Drinking, Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Chorus

“She’s Got A Way With Words”

Writers: Andy Albert, Marc Beeson, Wyatt Earp

POV: Me/Her

Timeframe: In-The-Moment (with some looking back)

PUL’D: Negative (but humorous), Midtempo, Love (lost love)

Neighborhood: Country boy.  Lyrically pushes the envelope. Sarcastic.

Subject: Lost Love

Notes: SINGLE, Breakup, fun/funny, clever lyric, quirky, not much imagery, not a very “big” melody.  Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Chorus

“Bet You Still Think About Me”

Writers: Park Chisolm, Mark Irwin

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Want-you-back, hopeful, mid-ballad, big chorus, love/lost love

Neighborhood: Country

Subject: Love love

Notes: Melodic, hook in the pre-chorus, not a lot of imagery.  Tells the listener (the girl) that she’s still wanted. Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Chorus.

“Every Time I Hear That Song”

Writers: Chris Lindsey, Aimee Mayo, Brad Warren, Brett Warren

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: In-The-Moment, looking back

PUL’D: Sad, Mid-power ballad, Love/lost love

Neighborhood: Country

Subject: Lost love, music

Notes: Big melody, falsetto.  Tells the girl (listener) that she’s still wanted.  Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Solo-Bridge

“Came Here To Forget”

Writers: Deric Ruttan, Craig Wiseman

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Sad but hopeful, Mid-tempo, Love / lost love

Neighborhood: Country, Pop-country

Subject: Lost love and hooking up with someone new.  Drinking.

Notes: SINGLE.  Mid-groove.  Kinda dark.  Lots of imagery.  Weed reference. Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus

“Every Goodbye”

Writers: Busbee, Ryan Hurd, Liz Rose

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Positive, Midtempo, Love/Lost Love

Neighborhood: Blue collar country boy

Subject: I lost her.  You lost him.  Let’s hook up.

Notes: Bouncy feel-good groove, drinking, not a ton of imagery.  Getting over a heartache, but not a sad feel.  Feels very positive.  Verse-Lift-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Lift-Chorus

“It Ain’t Easy”

Writers: Rhett Akins, Mat Dragstrem, Ben Hayslip

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Positive, mid-groove, love

Neighborhood: Soulful country.

Subject: It ain’t easy for him to leave her place ‘cuz he’s so in love.

Notes: Telling the girl what she wants to hear.  Horns.  Hook-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus

“A Guy With A Girl”

Writers: Ashley Gorley, Bryan Simpson

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Positive, Uptempo, Love

Neighborhood: Country boy.  Blue collar, kinda redneck.

Subject: When I’m with you, nobody’s paying any attention to me- cuz you’re so beautiful.

Notes: SINGLE. Telling the girl what she wants to hear.  Praising her.  Feels good.  Good imagery.  Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus.

“Go Ahead And Break My Heart”

Writers: Blake Shelton, Gwen Stephani

POV: Me/You (duet)

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Negative (but feels good), uptempo, love/lost love

Neighborhood: Pop country

Subject: We hooked up getting over other people, but it’s a temporary thing?  But we’re into each other?  Honestly, I’m not really sure what’s going on here.

Notes: Negative, but feels good.  Messed up relationship. On-again, off-again.  Good imagery.  Verse-Verse-Lift-Chorus-Verse-Verse-Lift-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus.

“Friends”

Writers: Blake Shelton, Jessi Alexander

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: Looking back / In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Positive, Uptempo, Friendship

Neighborhood: Movie song.  “Angry Birds.”  Country.

Subject: Friendship

Notes: Buddy song, smile-factor.  Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus.

“One Night Girl”

Writers: Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Positive, Uptempo, Love

Neighborhood: Country boy.  Bro.

Subject: It’s daybreak after the 1st date, and he’s telling her he wants to spend more time with her.

Notes: Love, not sex.  New love.  Big chorus.  Good imagery.  Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus.

“Doing It To Country Songs”

Writers: Marty Dodson, Jacob Lyda, Paul Overstreet

POV: Me/Her

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Positive, Mid-tempo, Music

Neighborhood: Country, honky tonk.

Subject: Country music and sex.

Notes: Features the Oak Ridge Boys.  Storytelling.  Lots of imagery.  Double-meaning.  Clever, fun, funny. Verse-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Chorus-Chorus-Chorus

“Savior’s Shadow”

Writers: Blake Shelton, Jessi Alexander, Jon Randall

POV: Me-to-the-World

Timeframe: In-The-Moment

PUL’D: Positive, Ballad, Depth

Neighborhood: Country gospel.  No angel.  Bluegrass.

Subject: The devil tried to break me, but God pulled me through.

Notes:  Worshipful, acoustic/strings, contemplative.  Verse-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Chorus.

TAKEAWAYS:

This record feels good.  The happy songs feel good.  Even the heartbreak songs feel good.  Not a tearjerker in the bunch.  A theme that keeps popping up is curing a fresh heartache by finding someone new (“Came Here To Forget” “Every Goodbye”).

Women are lifted up on tis album.  The possible exception is “She’s Got A Way With Words,” but even that comes off more funny than angry.  Other songs, he wants the girl back (“Every Time I Hear That Song” “Bet You Still Think About Me”).

New relationships: “Came Here To Forget” “Every Goodbye” “It Ain’t Easy” “One Night Girl”

Established relationships: “A Guy With A Girl” “Doing It To Country Songs”

It’s all pretty light, except for “Go Ahead And Break My Heart” and “Savior’s Shadow.”  The only hopeless or lost love is “She’s Got A Way With Words.”  Not much sex or sexy.  Lot of new love, but not much making out except for the double-meaning of “Doing It To Country Songs.”

“If I’m Honest” hits on a lot of commercial principles I advocate in Cut/able. The songwriters really hit the nail on the head with this one.

If you’re ready to take YOUR commercial songwriting to the next level, I have a great opportunity for you.

In August 2017, I’m hosting “The C4 Experience (C4X)” event.  This is YOUR opportunity to really focus in on writing more commercial songs.  You’ll get expert coaching and a small, supportive community.  And with it being online, you can join us from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.  If you want details, just CLICK HERE.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited to only 10 songwriters!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

6 thoughts on “Artist Insight Report: Blake Shelton “If I’m Honest””

  1. Thanks for the breakdown Brent! I agree completely. I also think this is perfect timing for where Blake seems to be in his career and personal life, which tend to make the songs “more believable” coming from him. I also noticed where these songs for the most part seem to be in the verse-chorus, verse-chorus, then to a bridge/lift and chorus to end. I’d be curious to find out whether this scheme is what he prefers, or if it’s even a pattern seen now more and more in today’s country music. I’m going to have to dissect more!! Excellent work Brent!

  2. hi brent that is the first thing iv heard about finnally getting some one in the country music arena it would be god sent if he would sing any of my 9 iv got on itunes my alb(just like the weather) all cws& thanks for the oppoer tunita to finnally get 1 of my life songs out i lived&did sing befor accident that did end my plans but noy my dreams please email me thanks TERRY BALL@terrysongwriter@gmail.com

  3. brent please tell him to sing 1 of mine&will be happy with the song (LEAVE THE BUDLIGHT ON) or any of my nine iv got cws please let me know if it can hapen terry ball in tennessee

    1. This was a really interesting read Thanks Brent.
      Interesting to see song structure too and what works.
      Bridge not always needed, repeat chorus twice etc.
      May I please ask – what is a lift? Also do you just write SOLO and when music is being developed they add it?
      Many thanks for all your efforts.
      Cheers
      Sonya

  4. I agree with you Brent and can appreciate and relate to your breakdown.

    Some of the acronyms you use, are also used in other songwriting methods with a different name. I’m not sure if the actual methods are the same as each “professor of songwriting” teaches differently. What you’ve written here and what I have learned in my collegiate songwriting courses, are seemingly and seamlessly connected to one another. I feel I can relate to this article and your view behind it respectively.

    I am curious about the same as Sonya. It’ll be interesting to hear back on that one!

    Thanks for the knowledge Brent!

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