100 Greatest Women, #90: Miranda Lambert

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March 27, 2008

100 Greatest Women

#90

Miranda Lambert

Emerging in era of country music noticeably short on compelling new female artists, Miranda Lambert quickly established herself as one of those rare acts that appeals to both mainstream country music fans and the alternative and American crowds that usually shun mass-market Nashville music.

Not bad for a woman who got her first big break on the much-maligned Nashville Star talent show. Lambert came in third during the inaugural 2003 season of that reality show, but even though she was only nineteen years old then, she’d already been actively pursuing a country music career for the past few years, fronting her own country band in high school and releasing a self-titled (and self-financed) independent CD in 2001.

But it was her stint on Star that secured her a major-label contract, and after taking the time to write her own debut album, she released Kerosene in 2005. The lead single, “Me and Charlie Talking”, had gotten only moderate airplay, so it was a shock to industry observers when the album opened at #1 on Top Country Albums chart.

As would become the norm for Lambert, the critical acclaim was widespread, but country radio was hesitant to embrace the singles. The biggest hit from the album, the title track, cracked the top fifteen and earned Lambert her first Grammy nomination. Her fiery performance of the song at the 2005 CMA awards, along with its visually stunning video, helped push the album to a platinum certification.

After two Horizon Award nominations and a Grammy nod, Lambert finally won her first award in the spring of 2007, ACM Top New Female Vocalist. That same evening, she was a surprise nominee for Top Female Vocalist, a nod that the CMA would match the following fall.

2007 also saw the release of her sophomore set, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which became her second consecutive #1 album. It was the most critically acclaimed country album of that year, and garnered raves from newspapers and magazines that don’t traditionally cover country music at all. The single “Famous in a Small Town” became her highest-charting hit to date, and earned her a second consecutive Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Late in 2007, Lambert released the powerful spousal abuse anthem “Gunpowder & Lead”, which is off to an encouraging start at country radio. Her ability to craft smart, compelling songs at such a young age points to a promising future, but she already has a solid debut album and an outstanding second one under her belt. Lambert has quickly become one of the most significant female artists of the past four years, and looks poised to have a lasting impact on the genre in the years to come.

Miranda Lambert

Essential Singles

  • “Bring Me Down”, 2005
  • “Kerosene”, 2005
  • “Famous in a Small Town”, 2007
  • “Gunpowder & Lead”, 2007

Essential Albums

  • Kerosene (2005)
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2007)

Industry Awards

  • ACM Top New Female Vocalist, 2007
  • ACM Album of the Year (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), 2008

==> #89. Jeanne Pruett

<== #91. Roba Stanley

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  1. bobbyNo Gravatar says:

    i thought me and charlie talking was a pretty mediocre song, but after that i have really enjoyed her music. i love the crazy ex-girlfriend cd, but i have thought the singles chosen from it were some of the weaker ones, with the exception of gunpowder and lead. i thought love letters, more like her and dry town would have been stronger choices, although they may have been trying to appeal to country radio with the choices. hopefully she will finally have a radio hit soon, because she is what country music needs!

  2. Jordan StaceyNo Gravatar says:

    Miranda? It’s not that I don’t like her or anything but, I’m not sure she should be on this list. It’s great that she is but I don’t think she’s accomplished enough to be here. Though I gotta admit she is one of the few critically acclaimed female singers who still get hit songs on the charts.

  3. RussNo Gravatar says:

    I think you have to look at the way at which she has grown a fan base to really understand her significance. She has managed to become one of the biggest female acts in country while lacking the traditional resource of national radio airplay. Her rise is very old school, touring like crazy, developing a solid, supportive fan base, and just flat out working her tail off. For example, I really didn’t like Charlie Talking, and was indifferent to her next two singles. It wasn’t until “New Strings” came out from the Kerosene album that I really noticed her. Now she is easily my favorite female artist. Its how she has grown nationally without relying upon exposure from traditional national outlets that is what’s important.

  4. LeeannNo Gravatar says:

    I fully expected Miranda to be on this list. I think she’s already been extremely influential on the genre. Perhaps, she’s the female country singer who’s getting the most attention these days in the media. It is notable that while Blake Shelton, her boyfriend, had a #1 radio single with “Don’t Make Me” from Pure BS while Miranda’s's “Famous In A Small Town” didn’t chart well, her album sold more than his upon their simultaneous release date.

    I didn’t like Miranda’s voice at first, but after listening to her album, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, on CMT.com, I was absolutely hooked. Even if she doesn’t get radio recognition, I think she’ll be around for awhile, which is a testament for why she’s appropriate for this list.

  5. LanibugNo Gravatar says:

    I have been a fan of hers since Nashville Star, one of my favorite songs of hers is a song she did on Star, called Greyhound Bound for Nowwhere – she has a great writing and singing ability that draws in people and she is extremely influential on country music.

    To Jordan – If Jennifer Nettles is on this list, how can you not expect Miranda Lambert to not be on it….

  6. [...] Miranda Lambert landed at number 90 on Country Universe’s list of 100 Greatest Women of Countr… [...]

  7. Jordan StaceyNo Gravatar says:

    To Lanibug – I just didn’t think she has accomplished enough to be here. Don’t think I hate her, because I don’t. I was voting for her when she was on Nashville Star, so I am glad that they (meaning Kevin) included her, but I personally wouldn’t have had her on my list just yet.

    To Leeann – Just to correct you but “Don’t Make Me” didn’t go to number one, it only went to #12. Blake’s last #1 was Some Beach.

  8. LeeannNo Gravatar says:

    Ah, Jordan, I stand corrected! I wonder what I was thinking?

  9. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    I think that the “should be on here/shouldn’t be on here/should be higher/should be lower” reactions to lists like this are understandable and unavoidable. Given that I’m only at #90, I’m sure to see a lot more of this as the list progresses.

  10. LeeannNo Gravatar says:

    Jordan, I wonder if I was thinking of XM Radio’s Traffic Report chart. It’s ranked by requests of that week, so the song positions are always quite different than the commercial based charts. Obviously, if that’s the case, I need to make sure I check on stuff like that before I go spouting off chart positions. While listening to the xm countdown is more interesting to me, it’s not really the chart to be “quoting.” I really don’t listen to regular radio, because I like xm much better, so I admit that I’m not connected with that world. Thank God for wikipedia, huh?

  11. Jordan StaceyNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah that’s true Kevin, you’re not going to be able to please everyone. I know I’m curious to see whether or not some of my favorites even make the list at all. And just to clarify, I don’t think any of the choices so far are bad. But in my list Miranda would be somewhere at like #101 – 110, almost there but not quite.

  12. LynnNo Gravatar says:

    I really like Miranda’s music. Her songs are lyrically interesting, which is such a rarity in country music these days. She also interprets her songs really well – vulnerable, angry, nostalgic, fun – they don’t all sound the same. “Famous in a Small Town” was the single that hooked me, but my current Miranda favorites are “Guilty in Here,” “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere”, “Kerosene” and “What About Georgia.” I was happy to see her gain a lot of recognition for her recent album, I hope younger artists coming up use her as an example…

    She’s a cutie and very talented: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1BkdSeaEic

  13. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    Jordan,

    I think that’s a good measuring stick. A list of 100, being off by 10-20 with another’s opinion is pretty close.

    This list has been being made in my head for years, so I’m enjoying getting it out there. I hope others go ahead and do the same, as I’d like to see what different visions of the same idea would be. It’s so subjective in some ways; as much as I’ve tried to be objective, I’m sure my tastes are sneaking through anyway!

  14. Leeann's Husband says:

    New artists on a Top 100 list are tough calls. Top 25 lists are easy because you never need to include someone new, but when you get close to 100 you have to make some judgment calls. After all, the next CD could be their (anyone’s) last, or it could be the next big thing. Do you include Carrie Underwood, or don’t you? Someone who is well regarded but gets little radio play?

    Must be what the Grand Ole Opry feels when they roll the dice and invite relatively new artist to become a member.

  15. MikeNo Gravatar says:

    I think Miranda it was a good call to put Miranda on the list. I have an 10 year old son. When he’s 20, I will bet that he knows Miranda’s music (assuming he listens to country). However I doubt that he’ll no very many of the artist that are out-charting her now. Even though her music isn’t blasting up the charts, I think it has much more staying power and Miranda’s future in the music business is much brighter the many of the young artist that don’t write their own songs in have the “Karaoke queen” image.

    Mike

  16. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    Leann’s Husband,

    You hit the nail on the head. It’s a given that an artist as new as Lambert wouldn’t make a top 25 list, but how can you discuss the 100 Greatest Women of all-time, and leave out the past decade? The purpose of a list like this isn’t where the artists are ranked down to the number; there’s no qualitative difference between being #90 and being #95. The purpose is to tell the story of women in country music, and the women from the past few years are part of that story.

    I didn’t include anybody on their first album because that’s not enough to go on, but there are a very small handful of female artists that have only two or three albums to their credit that are on the list.

    Mike,

    You make some very good points, but I just want to note that there have been some young female artists in history who didn’t write their own songs, but were far more than Karaoke queens. Some, like Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris and Reba McEntire – have become legends.

  17. DanNo Gravatar says:

    I love Miranda Lambert but I agree she might be a teeny bit high up here. I probably would have stuck her in Jennifer Nettles’ spot.

  18. Matt F.No Gravatar says:

    Despite some of the disagreement as to location, it’s great to see Miranda Lambert on this list. She is one of many of today’s generation of women that is making a big impact on Country Music (along with Jennifer Nettles, Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, etc…the list can go on and on). I’m sure we can debate positioning, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s hard to argue with who is on the list.

  19. CarrieNo Gravatar says:

    I love Miranda Lambert! She’s an awesome singer, and I love all her albums. I agree that Miranda shouldn’t be in the spot she is in- she should be higher! Maybe in Carrie’s spot? Carrie Underwood is nothing but country pop, and, even though I have the same name as her and like her music, I think she should be in Miranda’s spot. But that’s just what I think. You can think whatever you want and say it, too, but I’m NOT going to change my mind. No matter what. Yeah, I know, I’m a string hearted woman. :)

  20. CarrieNo Gravatar says:

    Lol, meant strong hearted woman. Lol!

  21. PatrickNo Gravatar says:

    Hope she gets higher :)

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