July 19, 2008
The media is picking up on Miranda Lambert scoring her first top ten single. In this Reuters article, Lambert herself is quoted as being shocked that a song this dark broke through:
The lyrics would make rapperproud — “Slapped my face and he shook me like a rag doll, don’t that sound like a real man/I’m going to show him what a little girl’s made of, gunpowder and lead.”
“It was very shocking to me,” says Lambert, who wrote the song with Heather Little. “It’s the most controversial song I’ve put out so far and it gets to the top 10. I thought it would be (last single) ‘Famous in a Small Town’ or something not so threatening.” (“Famous” reached No. 14 in November, topping previous best “Kerosene,” the title track from her 2005 debut album, which peaked at No. 15 in March 2006.)
The song’s subject matter is “a bit rough,” says Bruce Logan, program director for country station WKKT in Charlotte, N.C., but he adds “the audience is smarter than we give them credit for. All the people who love the song aren’t gun-toting crazies about to off a loved one. They enjoy the song for the attitude, performance, and it’s fun.”
I wouldn’t describe it as “fun”, nor the woman in the song as a “crazy” about to off a loved one, but maybe other radio programmers have also been misreading the message, allowing the song to sneak into the top ten, certainly aided by Lambert’s surprise (and deserved) Album of the Year victory at May’s ACM Awards.
But as cool as it is that the strongest new female artist out there is finally getting serious airplay, this isn’t just a first for Miranda Lambert. “Gunpowder & Lead” is also the first domestic abuse song to crack the top ten. That may be surprising to many, since Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” and the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” are both signature hits that sold a ton of records, but they peaked at #12 and #13, respectively. Even Rachel Proctor’s “Me and Emily”, which just had the abused wife leaving with her child in tow, stopped outside the top ten. Other major female stars tackled the issue on their albums, including Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, Rosanne Cash and Faith Hill, but the songs were never sent to radio.
This seems like a big step in the right direction, and it’s good to see Lambert join the very small ranks of female artists who have top ten hits at country radio these days.
What other songs with controversial topics should have been hits, or deserve a shot today?