More Info on the Single “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood

Graphic by Mike Pitocco

According to a source, Blown Away starts with the sound of lightning and thunder cracking, to which Carrie starts singing the following line:

“Dry lightning cracks across the sky…Those storm clouds gather in her eyes….Daddy was a mean ole mister….”

That opening line alone is enough to put you at the edge of your seat, waiting to hear what will happen next in the song.

Billboard Magazine has also leaked another line: “Some people called it taking shelter. She called it sweet revenge.”

Combining the new lines I mentioned and the line we already know is more than enough to get anyone interested in hearing this song.

Blown Away is the second single off Carrie Underwood’s album of the same title. Those that have heard it have called it ominous, intense and epic. The arrangement has been complimented as well as the lyrics. Its surprise factor has also been mentioned as a very important point.

“Dry lightning cracks across the sky, those storm clouds gather in her eyes… daddy was a mean ole mister.”

Could Blown Away be Carrie Underwood’s best song yet?

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Ours (Single Review) – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s follow up to her #1 country hit, Sparks Fly (check my review) is a song off the deluxe version of her album, Speak Now, titled Ours.

“Elevator buttons and morning air,” she sings sweetly as the song opens up. “Strangers’ silence makes me wanna take the stairs. If you were here, we’d laugh about their vacant stares but right now, my time is theirs. Seems like there’s always someone who disapproves. They’ll judge it like they know about me and you. And the verdict comes from those with nothing else to do. The jury’s out but my choice is you.”

Then she breaks into the chorus, the background of which is a happy melody that goes well in hand with the lyrics she’s painting: “So don’t you worry your pretty little mind, people throw rocks at things that shine and life makes love look hard. The stakes are high, the water’s rough but this love is ours.”

 Ours‘ highlight comes in the form of the song’s bridge, which is sort of typical for Taylor’s songs – she leaves her best songwriting skills to that part of the song: “And it’s not theirs to speculate if it’s wrong and your hands are tough but they are where mine belong and I’ll fight their doubt and give you faith with this song for you. Cause I love the gap between your teeth and I love the riddles that you speak. And any snide remarks from my father about your tattoos will be ignored, cause my heart is yours.”

Ours has an infectious happy melody that, like many of Taylor’s uptempo songs and whether you like them or not, you’ll find stuck in your head. You may not like the song and you may switch the channel if it comes on the radio but after random repeated plays, you’ll find that you actually know the melody to it. It’s a simple tune, it’s a happy tune. It’s a tune very easy to memorize.

Many have spoken highly of Taylor’s songwriting skills on Ours. And well, Taylor Swift is a great songwriter in her own merit. She manages to turn a subject, which most other songwriters would turn into a cliche-ridden song, into something fun, breezy and happy. Even her vocal delivery, which many people say is subpar, works for this song because it’s the type of songs that actually sounds better not sung perfectly. The little mistakes here and there, the laughs spread throughout help Ours have soul. In fact, Ours mostly works because Taylor’s singing it. Had any other artist taken on this song, it would have sounded like a big mess of sappy lyrics and forcibly uptempo melody. Ours is as it is because of Swift’s delivery.

So for all matters and purposes, Ours is a fine song. It’s definitely not the best Taylor has written and it’s definitely not the best choice for a single off an album that has songs like “Enchanted” still left on its track list. Ours lacks the freshness that was in Mean and it lacks the immediate hit that was Sparks Fly. But it’s Taylor Swift so of course it won’t fizzle away and die on country radio like the songs of almost every other female country artist (with the exception of Carrie Underwood).

Perhaps after having a good radio streak, Taylor Swift should have went for broke and released the best song on “Speak Now,” this little song titled Enchanted which no one cannot like. I find it weird that they had to revert to a bonus track on the deluxe edition of the album, which until recently wasn’t even available everywhere in the US. And the sad thing is, Ours isn’t even the best bonus track.

6.5/10

Listen to Ours:

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.

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.

Yoü and I (Single Review) – Lady Gaga


Yoü and I was just announced as the upcoming fourth single off Lady Gaga’s newest album “Born This Way.”

The song continues in the sound departure Lady Gaga has set for herself this era: more Edge of Glory than Judas, if you want – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The soulful, piano-driven, 80’s rock-influenced ballad is about going back to see an old love and not wanting to let that love go. It starts: “It’s been a long time since I came around. It’s been a long time but I’m back in town and this time I’m not leaving without you.”

The lyrics leave nothing to the imagination. It is a highly personal song. Lady Gaga’s fans can easily name the person to whom this song is dedicated: her nebraska guy, who has a bar in New York. “Something, something about this place. Something about lonely nights, and my lipstick on your face. Something, something about my cool Nebraska guy.”

The song is the story of a relationship that started with a long chase: “Something, something about the chase
(Six whole years).” And ended with Lady Gaga not wanting to let him go but had to. Now, two years later, she’s back to her hometown and she’s not leaving without him, despite the relationship being tumultuous. However, she can’t get over the small gestures she loved: “On my birthday you sang me a heart of gold with a guitar humming and no clothes.”

Lady Gaga’s vocal performance on this song is one of her best. She injects the lyrics and melody with energy that takes the whole song to another level. The song could have easily been monotonous, but her nuances and injections here and there elevate it into a breathy and easy-to-listen to track.

The interesting thing about the choice of Yoü and I as a single is that, even though the album has other electropop songs that would become faster and surer hits on radio, Lady Gaga chose this “unconventional” song for pop radio. It could be that seeing the runaway success Adele is currently having, Lady Gaga has realized the electropop age is fading and is slowly trying to get listeners to get accustomed to her new intended sound. If that’s the case, I have hope her upcoming music releases would be even better and show true artistry, not just flashy gimmicks to grab attention.

Deviating away from trends is Lady Gaga’s niche. Yoü and I continues this trend and this time, it just works. The song is great. Whether radio embraces it and turns it into a big hit is another matter entirely. But it’s Lady Gaga so you know the hype will be big. And at the end of the day, a true artist knows they have a clear path to self-expression. I’m glad Lady Gaga is not worried about the risks that her path involves. But the fact of the matter is, Yoü and I wasn’t the only song off Born This Way to go top 10 on iTunes without being a single for no reason. There’s a lot of appeal behind it. Hopefully it will translate into a successful single that will continue in steering Lady Gaga in this direction.

Listen to Yoü and I:

Someone Like You (Single Review) – Adele

Adele - Someone Like You - Single Cover

Adele recently announced Someone Like You as her US follow-up to her mega hit: Rolling In The Deep.

Already released in the UK as a single off her international multi-platform monster of an album, 21, Someone Like You got to #1 after a brilliantly heartbreaking show-stopping performance at the Brits. Why review the song now? Well, what better opportunity to write an extensive praise of such brilliance than when this unconventional choice for US radio is preparing to hopefully become a hit there as well?

Someone Like You is a song about the regret that you feel but cannot share. It’s a deeply personal song about all the words Adele couldn’t say to the person to whom this song is meant. Someone Like You starts with things Adele heard about him. He settled down, found a girl and married her. She tries to feign courage by asking him why he’s shy, since it’s very unlike him. And then she confesses that she she had hoped by turning out of the blue, uninvited, and by seeing her face, he’d be reminded that for her, it’s not over.

And then Adele sings the heartbreaking chorus: “Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you. I wish nothing but the best for you two…” You can feel the desperation in her voice as she sings those lines. Her voice breaks when she wishes nothing but the best for them two. And then she begs: “Don’t forget me, I beg. I remember you said, sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.”

The song proceeds to the path of memories. “You’d know how the time flies, only yesterday was the time of our lives… we were born and raised in a summer haze, bound by the surprise of our glory days,” alluding to a summer romance that took place between the two before she apologizes again about showing up out of the blue uninvited, hoping that when he had seen her face, he’d be reminded that it’s not over.

Someone Like You is not a song about Adele being bitter. It’s about her being in love – so in love, in fact, that she can let the person go and wish nothing but the best for him, regardless of how much that might hurt her.

Someone Like You is a hypothetical song that Adele is singing to herself, not her former lover’s face. She’s imagining herself standing in front of him and giving her heart away. The whole scenario of how he would act and how she would response is in her head, sort of like the countless times when we imagine scenarios and play them out in our imagination before trying to act on them. But she knows acting on the plot she set up with “Someone Like You” is not the correct thing to act on. She cannot show up out of the blue and have such a confession for him. It would be wrong from her part. So even though she wants him to remember her and even though she still loves him, she hopes, in the song, to hopefully find someone like him, someday, to make her feel that sensation of love. With whom she can share her memories, her moments and her life.

Rolling In The Deep was a song that basically said: “you’re leaving? fine. Go. I don’t care.” With Someone Like You, Adele is crawling back slowly to her former lover, acknowledging that she’s not as strong as she thought – “who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?”

On Someone Like You, Adele delivers a brilliantly chilling vocal performance that is so full of nuances that it delivers the lyrics without much effort. There is a sense of vulnerability with her delivery that channels the pain she’s feeling when she was recording this masterpiece. And she makes it look so easy. How so? Every single performance she has delivered of this song was even better than the album version. Her Brits performance got this song to go to #1 in the UK almost overnight due to the massive sales she generated after bringing people to tears.

What’s more of a testament to the strength of this song is that it’s deeply personal. The lyrics were written in a way not to let it seem open-ended. It was written for a specific person, with no intention of making it something that everyone can relate to. At least that’s what Adele said. But everyone related to Someone Like You because everyone found something that struck a cord within the specific vulnerability conveyed among the lines of that song.

With Rolling In The Deep, US pop radio took a bold step in the correct musical direction. It gave a deserving and great song the chance to be a huge hit and it ended up staying at #1 for 7 weeks at the Hot 100. With Someone Like You, one only hopes pop radio would also give a gut-wrenching ballad the chance to be something big. Simply because Someone Like You is one of the greatest songs released this year.

Listen to the album version of Someone Like You here:

And the Brits live performance:

If I Die Young (Single Review) – The Band Perry

 

Newly released to American pop radio after dominating the country charts last year, If I Die Young is the second single by country newcomers: The Band Perry.

Already certified 2x platinum, you feel such a success is the most natural thing for a song of If I Die Young’s caliber.

“If I die young,” Kimberly Perry starts the song that she wrote by herself, “bury me in satin, lay me down in a bed of roses, sink me in a river at dawn, send me away with the words of a love song.”

The opening lyric sets the hypothetical tone of the acoustic-leaning song. And it is through that tone that the narrator, Kimberly, continues her story. “Lord, make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother. She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors.”

The whole song is a testament to Kimberly Perry’s command of language and crafting interesting images that do not feel forced. On the contrary, the whole song, though the theme might be morbid to some, is a jubilation to life. And everything in it fits like the pieces of a puzzle. If I Die Young boasts very sharp lyrics with highly imaginative detail, building a story of a girl who’s contemplating how it would be if she were to die young.

On the second verse, the narrator laments on the fact that she never knew love. “There’s a boy here in town, says he’ll love me forever. Who would have thought forever could be severed by the sharp knife of a short life? Well, I’ve had just enough time.”

And as is natural with everyone thinking about death, the prospect of value comes up. It’s a recurrent topic how the things you own get more valuable when you pass away. And that issue is tackled in If I Die Young as well.

A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar
They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singing
Funny, when you’re dead how people start listening

And then the song comes full circle with the narrator singing the chorus one last time before elaborating on what the love song should be: “The ballad of a dove, go with peace and love. Gather up your tears, keep ’em in your pocket… save them for a time when you’re really gonna need them, oh”

If I Die Young might be a song with death in its title but it’s mostly about living. It’s not about the narrator inviting the listener to live to the fullest, but it’s more saying that: “even though my life was cut short, I am satisfied with the time I’ve had – I’ve had just enough time.”

Nothing is more testament to how people perceive If I Die Young than the response the three members of The Band Perry received because of that song. The most famous story regarding the song comes in the form of a letter than Kimberly received, containing a necklace with a letter from an eighteen year old girl who lost her best friend to cancer. The girl was contemplating suicide, mourning her friend, and If I Die Young came on the radio. The girl heard so much life in that song that she sent The Band Perry her most prized possession, the necklace her friend gave her before passing away.

If I Die Young is also a song that touched people from older generations. While performing the song at a concert, The Band Perry saw an older woman standing in the scorching heat with a sign on which the words: “She died young” were written, signed with her daughter’s name.

Kimberly Perry delivers the song brilliantly. She doesn’t under or over-sing. She handles the melody with restraint and impeccable nuances. Her slightly weathered voice adds magnificence to the song, as well as the subtle harmonies that her brothers deliver in the background.

You cannot listen to If I Die Young without feeling something. It is a song that crosses age boundaries and touches everyone regardless of personal background or even musical preference. We’ve all had someone who died young. It is a song that calls after you to live and enjoy life. It calls on you to love your life and to always have no regrets. It’s no wonder it stands out on pop radio among all the electronic music being played. It rises way beyond clubbing songs that you would hear before and after it, simply because this is a raw, authentic and real.

Listen to If I Die Young here: