The pop/country music crossover is a steady and reliable facet of modern music in 2021, yet with works like Hailey Benedict’s “Wanted You To,” it manages to feel fresh and unexpected with each listen.
The secret weapon in any work of popular music is a sweet hook that draws in the ears. “Wanted You To,” backs up its hook with sweetness all around – the intro’s instrumentation, which sounds like a honey-dipped mix between a synth and a fiddle guides the listener into the world of the song as a bass line that wouldn’t be out of place under Dua Lipa track dips along. Somewhere in the distance someone is giving a cowbell a tap, and an arpeggiated synthesizer hums along to the strumming chord progression. This isn’t your parents’ country music, and all the best for it. Too often songs of the genre attempt to reach back into the steadfast sonics of the past, only to come up sounding like pale imitations.
The bed of sound on which Benedict sings of her new, loving partner is altogether more comfortable in its newness, the lovely tones of her voice and melodies providing the assurance of genre (as bent as it is) for anyone who may be wary of this modernized territory. There is a more matured richness in her tones that catch turns of phrase- indicating that her audience for “Wanted You To” is, in fact, the ex she has now moved on from- in a satisfying light without making them seem tried. Only true.
Producer Dan Davidson and songwriters Madeline Merlo, Emma-Lee, and Eric Arjes must be noted here, as so much of what works musically in the song is a direct credit to their efforts. “Wanted You To” is out now and streaming everywhere, be sure to give it a listen!
Review by Bobby Guard