The debut country offering by Broadway star Bundy is one of those weird critical anomalies: a single that dares you to hate it, and thereby ends up being – though you’ll never admit it to anyone in person – kind of charming. It wears its campy garishness more boldly than possibly any country release since “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” which isn’t so surprising coming from the former lead of Legally Blonde: The Musical, but is certainly big news in a format as dependent on the tried-and-true as mainstream country.
That’s not to say “Giddy On Up” (commiserate with me for a sec on that title?) is a completely odd duck. In plot terms, it’s just another cutesy girl-power kiss-off song, the likes of which have been standard fare since the Shania boom and will probably be for some time to come. This one can stand proudly among the most lyrically bland of its kin, too, with the most interesting line being a little knock on Bath & Body Works in the second verse.
But the single saves its real story for the production, a va-voom country-pop thump unlike anything else we’ve heard at radio in recent memory – or maybe ever. You might just crap your pants the first time you hear the razzle-dazzle brass section enter in the pre-chorus, particularly because it follows so shortly (and unashamedly) in the wake of fiddle and beat-riding banjo. So is it country, then, or a country-inspired excuse to bust out a sweet group dance routine? The answer to that question is obvious within the first five seconds of play; the more pertinent matter is how we treat this kind of thing.
Meaning, should we be all panty-knotted that country music has become suburban enough to attract such frivolous theatrical treatments? Has its rich tradition finally devolved into mere dress-up for otherwise-affiliated musicians? It could well be that we’re heading that way – or, just as likely, perhaps this is just the kind of big bang it takes to make a new female artist stand out from the pack these days. So what do we do? Revolt? Dance? Who really knows?
Not me, but I will say this: for what it is, “Giddy On Up” has more vision and personality than any of the other crossover attempts by the legion of boring, pretty girls and guys attempting to “go country.” It has more discernible “country” to it, too, somewhere under the trombones and hip-shaking. And though she sounds flimsy and swallows her words in this recording, I think Bundy may actually have the goods to sing this genre of music. So I’m throwing her a bone.