Darius Rucker – “This”
For much of the 1990’s, Darius Rucker was the lead singer for rock group Hootie & The Blowfish. But Darius wasn’t just a rocker. Darius has cited many musical tastes, including rock, soul, pop, R&B, and last but not least, country. Darius listened to a lot of Buck Owens and New Grass Revival while growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, and as a longtime fan of country music, Darius had often entertained the notion of a country music career. In early 2008 Darius finally embarked on that career, landing a recording deal with Capitol Records Nashville, and releasing his first single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” that same year. The song, which is the lead single to his platinum debut album Learn To Live, would take the country charts by surprise. It debuted at #51 on the Billboard chart for May 3, 2008, and the very next week Darius was quoted in Billboard magazine as saying “You see a lot of people doing a one-off, saying, “This is my country record.” But this is a career I’m trying to build. The people that say that they don’t get it, I’ll let the music speak for itself. I plan to do a lot of country records.”
Darius’ first single certainly did wonders in building his country career. “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” climbed all the way to #1 on October 4, 2008, becoming the first #1 hit by an African-American country singer since Charley Pride’s 1983 hit “Night Games”. But Darius wasn’t done there. He followed his first single with two more #1 hits, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Alright”, before his fourth single “History In The Making” just missed out on the top spot, peaking at #3 in February of this year. Darius followed up with his sophomore album Charleston, SC 1966, which produced the #1 hit “Come Back Song” this past November. Now, we turn our attention to Darius’ latest single, simply titled “This.”
The little introduction taking us through Darius’ country career is appropriate, considering the story in the song “This.” The song starts off with the singer sitting in his house, his wife laughing in his arms, and a baby girl asleep in the bedroom. It’s raining out, and they (whoever is in the room with the singer and his wife) are about to start a game. The detailed lyrics almost paint a picture of the singer leaning back with a smile and wondering how he got to where he is, as Darius sings “I don’t really know how I got here, but I’m so glad that I did. And it’s crazy to think that one little thing could’ve changed all of it. Maybe it didn’t turn out like I planned, maybe that’s why I’m such a lucky man” before he jumps into the chorus. While the opening lyrics paint a nice, happy picture, they seem a bit too reminiscent of some of Darius’ recent singles, most notably “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Alright”.
The chorus mentions how many things could’ve changed how the singer got to where he is now, or “this”. Missed stoplights, passed-up chances, girls that broke his heart, etc. are all mentioned before he sings “Thank God for all I missed, ‘cause it led me here to this”. The second verse is a follow-up to much of what’s sung in the chorus—the girl he loved in high school said she could do better, and the college he wanted to go to rejected him. Before Darius returns to the chorus, he sings “And the moment I almost gave up, all led me here to you.” This essentially ties the whole song together—everything he’s gone through, all the ups, downs, and missed opportunities, have led him to where he is now, and he couldn’t be more thankful. While many of these lyrics are laden with clichés, Darius’ charming approach to this song brings some life to the story.
“This” has a nice feel-good vibe to it, and Darius’ unique voice shines once again. The production to the song is also a bright spot, with an excellent mandolin introduction, and mandolin, steel guitar, and electric guitar featured throughout. The combination of great vocals and production lead to one of Darius’ better-sounding songs. The biggest weakness this song has is that thematically, it sounds too similar to some of Darius’ previous work, as well as a few big country hits, such as “Blessed” by Martina McBride, “Then” by Brad Paisley, and most certainly “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Still, while not completely original or a total knockout of a song, “This” works quite well for Darius. He’s covered quite a few familiar country music themes in his previous singles, and “This” is no different. But the song’s shortcomings seem to be overcome by Darius’ charming and superb voice, making it hard to dislike this uplifting tune. In the future it would certainly be nice to see Darius branch out more, both thematically and lyrically, given his excellent unique voice. But for now, “This” will do. “This” will probably not go down as the most remembered song of Darius’ catalog, but it sure sounds like another hit.