Review: Laura Bell Bundy, “Giddy On Up”

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.

Grade: B

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28 Comments

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28 Responses to Review: Laura Bell Bundy, “Giddy On Up”

  1. Nice review. I think she does too, particularly after talking with her yesterday and hearing that she’s in love with traditional country music and storytelling like that and it’s backed up even more by her smoldering “Cigarette” that comes with the Giddy On Up single.

  2. Her indie album is also available at eMusic.

  3. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Ha. I’m not really sure what to say. It’s fun and weird. This just may end up being a guilty pleasure. It kinda has a disco sound to it too. Great review, which goes without saying at this point, but whatever.:)

  4. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    Thanks, Leeann! Now that you mention disco, it does kind of remind me of some of Dolly’s really pop moments.

  5. KevinNo Gravatar

    Totally digging this.

  6. KNo Gravatar

    Anyone else think this girl sounds somewhat like Kellie Pickler?

  7. DiamondNo Gravatar

    Not sure if it passes the “country” test, but I can not turn away.

  8. Funny thing is that it kind of feels like someone in a play performing a “country” song. But gosh…it’s infectious.

    I like the review more than the song, though, for sure. Awesome, Dan!

  9. Alright. Three listens later and I may like the song as much as the review. Why can’t I turn away?

  10. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    I think Tara’s right though; it does sound theatrical, like it belongs in a countryish musical. I love me some musicals though.

  11. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    “Why can’t I turn away?”

    You’re all describing my experience of listening to it, too. I must have played it like ten times yesterday before, during and after the review, though I’m still content with the ‘B’ grade.

  12. Cutting the TreacleNo Gravatar

    Dan – “So I’m throwing her a bone. Fetch, girl.”

    There’s a smutty country song in that line. Something along the lines of “It’s Midnight Cinderella” or “Big Green Tractor”. I would just change the “her” to “you”.

  13. Fadi H.No Gravatar

    I LOOOOOOVED this song! i’m sure it’ll be one of those songs that will be on heavy play on my iPod!

  14. MandoNo Gravatar

    this is turning out to be my guilty pleasure as well. the theme of the song and the burlesque costumes remind me of CU’s Cowboy Casanova, but this is way more entertaining.

    here’s laura on a segment Billboard Underground talking about her music and you can see her perform some of her music.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp7dKy5Kcis&feature=related

  15. NicolasNo Gravatar

    I loved this this immediately after seeing the music video advertised on the front page of CMT.com; I went n downloaded it right away!

    Its got an amazing production and I love her voice (reminds me at times of Kellie Pickler, who I love), especially because it packs an enjoyable personality that really sells this sort of song

  16. GalPalNo Gravatar

    OMG! Another wanna be! She needs to go back to Broadway-

  17. baby girlNo Gravatar

    why does she look forty? or is she 40?

  18. GalPalNo Gravatar

    Very Theatrical-I love country and she makes a mockery of it-please just because you can’t make it in the pop world–don’t come to country!!! Taylor Swift is enough thank you very much

  19. lisaNo Gravatar

    Wow, I can’t believe how many people say they like this. It seems like some kind of parody to me. She definitely has that Broadway style, which comes across as overdoing it on a smaller stage, such as a video.

  20. MandoNo Gravatar

    her other stuff from her album ‘ longing for a place already gone’ is better and def not a parody. you should check it out on cdbaby.com

  21. K-manNo Gravatar

    Well she certainly has personality, doesn’t she? I can’t say I love it, but I definitely don’t hate it either. And my finger is trembling in front of the replay button. I definitely see a little bit of Dolly in her voice too.

    And the video is very entertaining!

  22. Paul DennisNo Gravatar

    It’s a lot better as a video than as a tune to be played on radio

    Rated as a video – B+
    Rated as an audio Single – D+/C-

  23. Rebecca S.No Gravatar

    I saw the music video before listening to the audio alone, which is maybe why I instantly fell in love with it? The video–and her facial expressions, choreography, costumes, etc–are certainly quite theatrical, but that’s sort of what’s fun about it and differentiates it. I think in order to appreciate this song you have to take it for what it is and who she is: a Kentucky girl with a successful Broadway background, who now wants to try her hand at country music. She’s talented and pretty with a playful personality–and is already somewhat of a household name–I think she could be a real success!

  24. I’m almost embarrassed to say I don’t hate it. Without the dance-ish-ness of the music, it would be very country actually. Better than a lot of Shania’s stuff. Still, it won’t be loaded onto my iPhone.

  25. I dont want to sound too mean here but I think the song is pretty terrible. The horns are not working for me. Her voice isnt all that bad as a country musician, but the song is tough to listen to.

  26. A very accurate description of “Giddy On Up.” It dared me to hate it, but something about that song hit me right. On one hand, it did sound like an odd conflagration of pop and showtunes, but at the same time I really couldn’t say that it wasn’t country. Despite the song’s quirks, I applaud Laura’s attempt to make a classic country theme seem new again. Eventually, I broke down and downloaded it onto my iPod.