Baggage Claim (Single Review) – Miranda Lambert

Baggage Claim - Single Cover - Miranda Lambert

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.

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The Carrie Underwood Authenticness

I was browsing the web when I came across this article, posted by the LA Times.

The article wonders (if you don’t feel like reading it) if Taylor Swift will finally beat Carrie Underwood at this year’s ACM awards.

The thing that bothered me the most about the article was its title:

Can Taylor Swift finally beat Carrie Underwood at the Academy of Country Music Awards?

Why would a reputable publication decide to name one of its few articles about this award show this way? Not only does it show some juvenile attitude towards the matter but it’s also uncalled for and shows some ignorance regarding this award show.

Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are competing against each other in one category, female vocalist of the year, but anyone would tell you that they’re both longshots to win, amidst what is expected to be a Miranda Lambert sweep.

The ACMs air in a few hours. Taylor Swift, with the help of her fans, has unleashed a massive twitter campaign to help her win the fan-voted portion of the coveted Entertainer Of The Year title. And if that wasn’t enough, she also has a camera up for grabs to those who vote for her. Also, people who have been to her concerts in international countries have found pamphlets on their seats inviting them to vote for her.

Brad Paisley, on the other hand, is offering a free iPod and a free download to those who vote for him and invite others to do so.

Carrie Underwood has never done that. She has won Entertainer of the Year twice in a row at the ACMs, the only country female singer ever to win it twice (let alone in a row), and she has never asked her fans to vote for her via a massive-online campaign or by giving out free downloads and goodies.

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Carrie Underwood’s Label Screws Her Over

Entertainment reporter, Jimmy Carter, tells U.S. Country Radio WKKT that the apparent snub the ACMs inflicted upon Carrie Underwood with only one nomination was nothing more than a political play by her label.

Apparently, the label decided to campaign for Miranda Lambert since they thought she “needed it more”.

Carrie Underwood only got a nomination for “Female Vocalist Of The Year”, and being country music’s most played female artist for the past five years, getting nominated for this is a lock. She doesn’t even need a label’s support to land this nomination.

Many country music analysts were shocked about the lack of an “Entertainer Of The Year” nod – the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a country artist – after the year Carrie has had:

– 3 #1 singles and 1 #2 single.

– 2 million albums sold.

– Over 2,000,000 digital downloads.

– Over 1,000,000 fans attended her sold-out “Play On” Tour.

– Critical acclaim for the “Play On” Tour.

On the other hand, Miranda Lambert got 7 ACM nominations, including one for “Entertainer Of The Year”. This is Miranda’s year:

– 2 #1 singles, including the smash “The House That Built Me”

– Less than 1,000,000 albums sold.

– She just started her first headlining tour.

 

See what’s wrong with this picture? I understand both of them had a great year. And I understand that Miranda needs a push to improve, especially commercially. Her latest single, Only Prettier, barely made the top 10, even after riding the massive 5 week #1 streak that “The House That Built Me” gave her. But for the label to do this to their greatest asset, Carrie Underwood? This, I cannot fathom.

Honestly, Carrie’s label has missed on a lot of opportunities when it comes to marketing her music. She may not want to crossover to other radio formats, but some of her songs were just wanting to smash on different formats: Cowboy Casanova and Undo It, anyone?

Maybe the label’s decision to support Miranda is true in certain categories – but definitely not in the “Entertainer of the Year” one. Carrie has won that award twice at the ACMs so far and many expected to win it this year as well.

It is a sad day for country music when the most deserving gets snubbed.