Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have broken country chart and sales records with summer BBQ anthems like "Cruise” and “Meant to Be,” and when they appeared on Songland this Monday, they claimed to be looking for more of the same: “Something with energy… something that’s us,” as Kelley put it. But by the end of the episode, they’d fallen so in head-over-country-boot-heels for a certain sentimental ballad that they changed their tune, so to speak.
“We came in looking for one thing, and I think we could possibly be walking out with another,” Kelley second-guessed, after he got an earful of Griffen Palmer’s “Second Guessing.”
Monday’s three other submissions were undeniably catchy (Lukr’s underdog drinking song “High Hopes” was particularly a bop), but they were all the expected uptempo bro-country jams. Meanwhile, Palmer’s “Second Guessing” was a first-dance-worthy wedding waltz, a song about finding The one that was practically the country equivalent of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Judge Shane McAnally, a man who’s penned even more country smash hits than the FGL guys and is a sucker for a romantic storyline, was so impressed with Palmer’s “classic”-sounding track that he was literally angry that he hadn’t written it himself.
“Of all the songs we’ve heard on this show, from the beginning, both seasons, I’ve never been mad at a hook,” said McAnally. “That was out of this world. How has that not been written? Congratulations on that.”
It even sounded like a song that Kelley could have written: He noted that the line, “When I met you, I saw the rest of my life” was something he’d actually told his own wife. The other panelists’ reactions were just as immediate and visceral, so unless the envious McAnally was holding an actual grudge, it was pretty clear that Palmer’s fellow contestants stood zero chance. McAnally’s “congratulations” probably wasn’t premature.
Palmer — who called this a “full-circle moment,” having since FGL’s albums were the “first country records [he] knew front-to-back” and the first country concert he ever attended — obviously didn’t need any advantages going into the workshop round. But he got just that when he was paired with McAnally, the only country expert on the show, while the others teamed with popsmiths Ester Dean or Ryan Tedder.
McAnally, a two-time 2019 ACM Songwriter of the Year winner, worked his magic with “Second Guessing” — adding more elements of surprise, a second hook that accentuated the waltz tempo, some piano and bigger drums, and a tighter lyrical focus — and by the time he sent Palmer back to the judges’ room to perform the revised version for Florida Georgia Line’s consideration, that almost seemed like a formality.
“I expect that this song will be a huge smash; it’s going to be heard on the radio, like, 40 times a day,” McAnally assured Palmer.
It remains to be seen if that prediction comes true, But of course “Second Guessing” won this episode, and FGL seemed quite excited about its prospects. “We’re leaving with a love song, and it feels good for us now. It’ll be good for us 50 years from now. It feels timeless,” declared Kelley.
And Shane McAnally, who now has co-writing credit on the final Florida Georgia Line version heard below, can’t be mad about that.