Two Black Cadillacs (Single Review) – Carrie Underwood

 

Carrie Underwood’s new single, off her platinum selling album Blown Away and as a follow up to one of 2012’s biggest country hits Blown Away, is Two Black Cadillacs, a song which sets an ominous tone the moment the first note strikes.

Two black Cadillacs driving in a slow parade. Headlights shining bright in the middle of the day. One’s for his wife, the other for the woman who loved him at night, Underwood sings as a dramatic melody plays in the background. She immediately throws us into the setting of a funeral where a preacher man is saying the man being buried was a good man and his brother says he was a good friend.

But the two women in the black veils have a secret to hide. The story could very well serve to make a movie drama and Underwood delivers it effortlessly in a few minutes.

Two months ago his wife found the number on his phone, turns out he’d been lying to both of them for far too long. They decided then he’d never get away with doing this to them, Underwood lets the plot thicken. The women, taking turns in lying a rose down on the coffin and throwing dirt into the deep ground, also have a secret to hide. So they share a crimson smile and leave their secret with the man they killed, at the grave, to die with them.

Two Black Cadillacs is a hauntingly dark song by Underwood that serves as a one-two punch by the country star as she delivers her album’s most critically acclaimed tracks as back to back singles. The darkness with which her tone delivers this song would make you think she’s lived these events herself but it’s only telling of the caliber that Underwood has turned into as a performer. As she sings “bye bye” to signal the women biding farewell to the man who betrayed them both, you can feel her voice pierce through.

Two Black Cadillacs is a song where the musicians playing couldn’t stop after it was done so they kept playing and playing. Part of them jamming is found on the album track and will probably be cut with the radio edit. The song goes fifty shades deep and is Underwood’s darkest and most thought-provoking single release to date. From the haunting thumping melody that is reminiscent of a funeral march to the rich and multi-layered storytelling lyrics, Carrie Underwood delivers. Releasing a “softer” song may have been a safer bet. But Underwood is here to let her detractors know that Blown Away was just a storm warning. Bye bye, bye bye. 

A.

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Blown Away – The Second Single Off Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”?

Following Good Girl, people are wondering what could be the second single that Carrie has readied for country radio. And word is, it’s a song that will stun them even more than Good Girl did.

Blown Away is the song that will blow country radio away.

Starting with an ominous forecast of freak weather hitting Oklahoma, a recent article in Billboard Magazine mentioned a lyric from the song: “Some people called it taking shelter. She called it taking sweet revenge.”

The song, according to Sony Nashville’s chairman and CEO Gary Overton is very close to a mini-movie. The whole song is very dramatic. The production on it is very tight. The lyrics are shocking and Carrie’s delivery is exquisite. In fact, Carrie had the following to say about the song:

I’ve never been so excited to hear a demo as I was that one. I got chills…we needed to find things that would fit with this [song], because if I found 13 other tracks that didn’t match with that one, I’d start over and keep that one.”

 All of this is not enough to confirm Blown Away as the second single. What confirms it is the following.
– Carrie said they were torn between two songs for the first single: one that came later in the writing process and one that was great all the time. The former is Good Girl, the latter is Blown Away. If Good Girl was chosen as lead single, then Blown Away should be their second single choice.
– Carrie also said that they’d be shooting the music videos for the first two singles back to back so they wouldn’t need to wait long until they could release them. We have two images from Carrie that confirm Blown Away was already filmed:
– With her fourth album, Carrie said that her approach was drastically different – it was one geared towards more critical acclaim. With music insiders already gushing over the album and calling Blown Away a standout track among an album of standouts, the song could be the one Carrie needs. And what better way to take country radio by an even bigger storm than by the writers of Before He Cheats?
Either way, 16 more days until the album drops and until we can know for certain if Blown Away is worth all the talk. This could be, however, the first time Carrie Underwood releases the song of her album title as a single.

Carrie Underwood’s Good Girl Gets HAC Ads Date – Crossover Attempt?

Good Girl, the lead single off Carrie Underwood’s fourth studio album, Blown Away, will be given a chance to crossover to formats other than country where it currently sits at #8, 6 weeks after being released.

On April 23rd, Hot Adult Contemporary format radios (HAC) are invited to add Good Girl to their rotation. The song is currently #42 on the HAC charts, due to airplay from stations that added it upon requests.

This is Carrie’s first song since Before He Cheats (Last Name got an adds date but was later pulled) to get an adds date for a radio format other than country.

I guess crossover promotion is a go. If Good Girl turns out to be a hit on HAC, Top 40 won’t be that far off.

Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood’s “Remind Me” To Be Released Outside Country Radio

It seems that the radio run of Remind Me, the #1 country smash, is not over by it reaching the penthouse of the country charts on the September 10th issue.

Arista, the label behind country music’s biggest stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, who delivered this stunning duet to the masses on Paisley’s latest album, This Is Country Music, is releasing the song to US radio outside the country genre.

On November 14th (one day after my birthday so I’ll take this is a belated gift), radios that play Hot Adult Contemporary and Adult Contemporary music (ie: music by artists like P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Daughtry, Lady Antebellum, Maroon 5, etc…) are invited to add this song to their playlists, after being remixed to suit their sound.

Hot AC success for country songs is seen by many as a gateway for entry to pop radio, which is becoming more and more receptive to country songs without remixes, as shown by Taylor Swift’s “Back To December” and Lady Antebellum’s “Just A Kiss,” currently at #25.

In other news, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the CMA awards for their fourth consecutive time yesterday, opening hilariously with a sketch that played on Hank Williams Jr.’s slur of Obama being like Hitler and Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage.

Carrie and Brad also performed “Remind Me” to a standing ovation.

Rumour Has It (Single Review) – Adele

Adele - 21 - album cover

Contrary to popular belief (and hope), the next single off Adele’s album (and only album selling anything nowadays), 21, is not Set Fire To The Rain but Rumor Has It.

I can hear the disappointment resonating all the way to where I’m sitting as I write this. But do you really need to be? Simply, no.

Starting off with an infectious drum beat to the hum of “ohohohs,” Rumor Has It sets itself as a rhythmic smash from the get-go. “She, she ain’t real,” sings Adele in a raspy voice. “She ain’t gonna be able to love you like I will. She is a stranger. You and I have history or don’t you remember. Sure, she’s got it all. But baby is that really what you want?”

The first part of the first verse ends with Adele’s voice resonating with no music behind, leaving a subtle echo that will hook you. “Bless your soul, you got your heads in the clouds. You made a fool out of you and boy she’s bringing you down. She made your heart melt but you’re cold to the core. Now rumor has it she ain’t got your love anymore…”

And then she breaks into the repetitive yet highly infectious chorus: “rumor has it, rumor has it, rumor has it…” all to the echo of the word rumor.

The second verse starts with another phase in the “rumored” relationship. “She is half your age but I guess that’s the reason that you strayed. I heard you’ve been missing me. You’ve been telling people things you shouldn’t be, like when we creep out and she ain’t around. Haven’t you heard the rumors?”

The second verse then continues with its second part, which is structurally similar to that of the first chorus: “Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds. You’ve made a fool out of me and boy, you’re bringing me down. You made my heart melt, now I’m cold to the core. But rumor has it I’m the one you’re leaving her for.”

And then she goes into a second repetition of the chorus before going into the song’s bridge, accompanied with a change in pace and melody, proclaiming “people say crazy things. Just cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it… Just cause you heard it.”
Then she breaks into one final repetition of the chorus before ending the song on a chilly note: “but rumor has it he’s the one I’m leaving you for.”

The thing about Rumour Has It is that it is, yet again, very different from almost anything else o radio currently and that is always something positive in my books when a song is done well. And in this case, it is most definitely done well. The buildup, the story arc Adele subtly presents… All of it works to deliver a song that is both catchy and insane.
It’s very hard not to get hooked by the repetition of the drums at the beginning and the gospel-effect of the background “ohohoh.”

Rumour Has It is a song that serves two purposes. Adele said of the song that it’s about all the useless talk people say without knowing the truth and how it ends up hurting relationships, be it mere friendships or a love relationship. In itself, the song presents you with three arcs, represent three facades of Adele. You have the scorned Adele, the played Adele and the player Adele. You have Adele falling to the rumors of her man going with another girl. Then she decides to take him back, revealing at the end that she was playing him. And the awesome thing? It could all be a simple unfounded rumor. After all, rumour has it…

Listen to Rumour Has It:

Sparks Fly (Single Review) – Taylor Swift


Taylor Swift just announced Sparks Fly as the upcoming single off her 3x platinum album: Speak Now.

The song, which has existed for a few years now, was given a slight makeover and included, due to overwhelming fan demand, on Taylor’s newest album: Speak Now.

The song opens: “the way you move is a full on rainstorm and I’m a house of cards…”, a line that I think is lyrical gold. It also sets the bar very high for the song to have such a line open it, add to that the very catchy music to which this line goes.

Taylor then proceeds: “you’re the kinda reckless that should send me running but I kinda know that I won’t get far… and you stood there in front of me, close enough to touch, close enough to hope you couldn’t see what I was thinking of.”

Sparks Fly is a song about falling for someone you shouldn’t fall for: be it someone older, someone younger… but at the same time, you can’t but be mesmerized by that person.

“Drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain, kiss me on the sidewalk, take away the pain. Cause I see sparks fly whenever you smile. Get me with those green eyes, baby as the lights go down. Give me something that’ll haunt me when you’re not around” Taylor sings on the chorus. And the chorus is very heartfelt and raw. You feel on it the helplessness of Taylor as she tries to get away but she’s too tangled by him.

“My mind forgets to remind me you’re a bad idea”, she sings on the second verse, on which lies most of the change from the original version of Sparks Fly, which was sung live at a concert a few years back. She declares: “I’m on my guard with the rest of the world but with you, I know it’s no good. And I could wait patiently but I really wish you would drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain…”

And then comes the song’s bridge. Up to this point, Sparks Fly could have easily been on Taylor’s previous albums. It has the rhythm, the catchy tune and the lyrics that would have definitely worked with the theme adopted by Taylor for her previous album Fearless. But then she reworked the bridge to make it sound like this:

I run my fingers through your hair
And watch the lights go wild
Just keep on keepin’ your eyes on me
It’s just wrong enough to make it feel right
And lead me up the staircase
Won’t you whisper soft and slow
I’m captivated by you baby
Like a firework show

And this is where the song rises. Some might think these lyrics are corny but think about it this way. If Sparks Fly plays out in real life with these lyrics in the bridge, you know what will happen after being led up the staircase. It’s that simple. This is a theme that Taylor wouldn’t have tackled on her previous album.

Ultimately, Sparks Fly will be the song off Speak Now that will be Taylor’s smash hit on the charts, possibly recreating the monster success of “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story“. Why so? because it manages to merge together two key elements: the authentic Taylor sound that she had with Fearless, along with the maturity that is present throughout Speak Now. It is definitely not the best song on the album on which it is found but for its purpose of giving Taylor a sure radio hit, Sparks Fly will excel. After all, this is a song that sustained years of being put on a shelve and that is a testament on its power. Don’t be surprised if sparks fly when this comes on the radio.

Listen to Sparks Fly here:

Country Strong – Movie Review

Country Strong

In Country Strong, Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Kelly Canter, a country music star struggling with substance abuse. Taken out of rehab a month prematurely by her manager/husband James, portrayed by country star Tim McGraw, for an encore tour, the movie is supposedly about her struggling with her addiction, life, resurrecting her career, etc.

Throw into the mix Beau Hutton, played by Garrett Hedlund, a rehab worker who also happens to be a aspiring to become a country music star, as well as Leighton Meester starring as Chiles Stanton, a girl who also wants to become a country star and you’re set for Country Strong.

So basically, you have four storylines in the movie being developed simultaneously, and while the prospect of these four storylines is compelling and promising, they fall flat in a movie that I hoped would be far better.

While the acting is quite good, this overload in the movie’s plot undermines it. Within each storyline, you have a bunch of other things going on as well. Kelly’s storyline serves as a vehicle for tackling issues with the entertainment industry as a whole, Beau’s storyline is used to introduce romance into the movie, etc…

At one point in the movie, Leighton Meester’s character is described as “the next Carrie Underwood”. I like Leighton but to equate her vocal talents with half of Carrie’s would be an abomination. She has limited range and while enjoyable as a singer, she is nowhere near a vocal powerhouse. So being the Carrie Underwood fan that I am, this served as another point I have against the movie.

A positive thing I can say about the movie is that even though the handling of the plots is full with cliches, the ending is not. I was hoping fifteen minutes into the movie that they would risk ending it the way they did. And I got my wish.

What also helps the movie is the soundtrack. Featuring many songs that I have become familiar with, I couldn’t help but smile whenever they started to sing something that I know. Notable tracks include: Country Strong (lead single from the movie’s soundtrack, made it to the top 30 on country radio), Coming Home (nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for best original song), Me and Tennessee (current single by Tim McGraw) and A Little Bit Stronger (current single by Sara Evans).

Overall, the cast give it their all. But Country Strong falls flat for tackling too many issues in, what ultimately becomes, a shallow and rushed manner. If they had stuck with the storyline of Kelly reclaiming her career, this movie and Paltrow’s acting would have gotten award recognition, akin to the similarly themed-movie Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges his first Academy Award for best actor.