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.