By the wording of the press releases that preceded it, one would think the new single from Kenny Chesney is the best thing to come down the radio pipeline in decades. Anyone who has read or heard the hoopla, the gushing from reviewers and hardcore fans, would think the incessant burbling foreshadowed something great. Unfortunately, “Setting The World On Fire,” a duet with pop singer Pink, doesn’t come anywhere close to living up to the hype.
Anyone expecting a song on the same level as “You And Tequila,” the smash hit Chesney recorded with Grace Potter for 2010’s Hemingway’s Whiskey, or the equally brilliant “Wild Child,” also recorded with Potter (for 2014’s The Big Revival), will be sorely disappointed. Chesney sounds bored on “Fire,” and Pink, a golden-throated vocalist in her own right, comes across flat. Where Grace Potter’s voice tangles succulently with Chesney’s, Pink’s voice just hangs there.
Even though it will be a big hit (Chesney could probably record himself singing in the shower at this point and still have a top ten smash), it’s hard to figure out what all the fuss is about. From the hip-hop beat and slick production, to the well-worn lyrical tale of reliving a steamy moment in a relationship, “Setting The World On Fire” sounds like something you might hear on pop radio. If Chesney is looking for credibility in that world, why not roll the dice and release a single solely in that format?
Look, there’s no question Chesney is great at what he does (Pink, too) – most of the Tennessee native’s songs are right up this scribe’s alley – but when is too much, actually too much? How far outside of the lines can an artist colour before they’ve gone too far? There’s nothing wrong with pushing the limits, but if this is where Chesney (and country music in general) is heading, count this writer out.