Summertime may be long gone, but Jake Owen still brought palm trees, tiki bar props and the sunbaked sound of his new Sugar Ray-influenced single, “Real Life,” to his debut on The Ellen DeGeneres Show yesterday afternoon.
Dressed in a highlighter-yellow shirt, Owen kept things bright and purposely over-the-top throughout the performance. He danced with the mostly-female studio audience and skipped his way across the stage, while a five-piece band — including an acoustic guitarist decked out in shades — held down the song’s sandy strut in the background. A song about embracing the real things in life, from Waffle House waitresses to aimless joyrides around one’s hometown, “Real Life” was co-written by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman, producers of Owen’s upcoming fifth album.
“I’m not shying away from my heritage and being from Florida, but I think I played that card a lot on the last couple records, and I didn’t want to come out this summer with another beach song,” Owen tells Rolling Stone Country, asserting that “Real Life” is a stylistic break from the women-and-water theme of his earlier hits. If anything, it’s got more in common with his recent chart-topper, “What We Ain’t Got.”
“In a world of materialistic things, everybody is constantly looking for what they don’t have, as opposed to looking for what’s real and what you have right in front of you,” the singer adds. “That’s what ‘What We Ain’t Got’ touched on. ‘Real Life’ is about what we’ve got and what’s real to us.”