Miranda Lambert is the current it-female country singer. So naturally, her newest single and upcoming album are both some of the most awaited country music releases this year. Set for a late August release, Baggage Claim, the debut single off Lambert’s upcoming album Four The Record, was rush-released to country radio after leaking.
My approach to Lambert’s music is one where enthusiasm and apprehension are mixed. I haven’t been a fan of all her releases but I’ve come to appreciate them. Her single The House That Built Me remains, to me at least, one of those timeless songs that make you happy about your life when you listen to them. The House That Built Me is also the single that made Lambert who she is today – two time ACM Female Vocalist winner and Entertainer of the Year nominee at the CMAs, regardless of how deserving she is of that.
So it is from that base – and it is such a high base – that you’d expect her to approach the lead single off Four The Record. What did she do? She went the opposite – and totally expected – lead single route.
What is the song about? Yes, you guessed it: guy bashing.
If people had worried her marrying Blake Shelton would soften her up, Baggage Claim is here to prove them all wrong – somewhat. “I have been dragging around your sensitive ego, making sure that your bags arrive on time for the dog and pony show,” she opens up the song after a guitar riff that remains throughout the song.
Baggage Claim is a song, which as the title implies, is about Miranda Lambert’s significant other being moved out of her life and home. And she doesn’t leave anything to the imagination as she angrily sings the chorus: “At the baggage claim, you got a lot of luggage in your name. When you hit the ground, check the lost and found cause it ain’t my problem now. I can’t carry it on, I’ve got a lot of troubles all my own. It’s all over the yard, in the trunk of the car, I’m packin’ it in so come and get it.”
But it is in the second chorus that the song delivers its highlight – and its only one at that. Lambert is known for her lyrics craftsmanship. And while the baggage metaphor is not degrading to the song, it’s not exactly instant-hit material either. However, there’s one sentence in the whole song that’s lyrically highly intelligent: “If it ain’t obvious what has set me off today, behind every woman scorend is a man who made her that way…” and then Lambert continues explaining about what the man did on his business trip.
Repeat chorus, insert useless bridge, repeat chorus… and that’s your whole song.
The problem with Baggage Claim is that, even for Lambert, it feels quite overdone – both thematically and musically. She’s had many other singles dealing with the same topic and they’ve all been better songs than this. While her vocal delivery is quite on point, as is expected from someone of her caliber, the material she’s dealing with is quite weak – especially for a lead single.
The whole song feels like a paint-by-number guy-done-me-wrong Desperate Housewives-inspired song. It feels like the writers came up with the baggage metaphor and thought long and hard about how to make a radio-friendly song that might break Miranda Lambert’s poor streak with lead singles, instead of delivering a great song that would have definitely gotten airplay on radio, with all the hype Lambert has been getting lately.
You see, the reason why the great Dead Flowers, Miranda’s lead single off her critically acclaimed album Revolution, did not manage to become a radio hit is mostly because of its dark theme as well as Lambert’s weak radio performance at the time. She changed course with White Liar, Revolution‘s second single, which gave Lambert her first chart-topping single (or top 2 on Billboard). But at the end of the day, the song that made Lambert is The House That Built Me. And with that song, Lambert took a risky decision to release a not very radio friendly song, but a deep song with meaning. And it worked for her – as evident by The House That Built Me almost winning every award it got nominated for and spending four weeks atop the country charts.
That’s the route she should have taken. Baggage Claim is not a bad song in itself. After several listens, it catches on. But it’s representing a follow up to a highly critically acclaimed album. Hopefully the rest of Four The Record is better than this.
Listen to Baggage Claim here.
Nothing personal, but many of us secretly hope the Miranda hype machine dies down going forward. Yes, she has a good (not great) voice. Yes, she’s had a few good songs, but extremely inconsistent compared to superstars Carrie, Keith, or Jason. I really feel that ML would not have near the success and acclaim if she had not hooked up with Blake Shelton to form country’s current “golden couple”. LIke you, I await her upcoming releases with a bit of apprehension as I know her releases will be overall average yet earn boatloads of awards (so unfair in my mind when someone as talented as Jessica Harp (of the Wreckers) delivers maybe the best album of last year yet gets dropped by Warner Bros and he cd is ditched). Finally, Miranda earned a best vocal is my mind with “Heat of Mine” – her best song to date IMHO. Yet, us Carrie fans felt snubbed again wtih Miranda winning 2 consecutive ACM vocal awards.. that’s was just not right and undeserved. I know you are classy with your comments but let’s cross our fingers Carrie gets some awards this year (at least a ETOY nom again) — but good luck to Miranda, she may need it in a few years…
I actually agree with this. Her releases are good but they’re not “give them every award imaginable” good.
I’m happy she found success but I’m not sure if it’s how country music is run or just her but she’s being showered with adoration and from an objective point of view, she doesn’t deserve it all.
I actually like “Heart Like Mine” but her best song, to me, remains: The House That Built Me. I also really like Dead Flowers. Great imagery.
But yeah, I said this to a twitter follower of mine yesterday but I’m kinda hoping her album isn’t as good as revolution, not because I dislike her – on the contrary, I think she’s quite authentic – but because I want to see how the response in award shows will be. Like if her album is good and carrie’s album is a bit better, I fully expect Carrie not to win, just because it’s Miranda. And ultimately, it’s not just Carrie but Taylor and Martina and Reba and Kellie Pickler that are getting lost in the shuffle.