Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “Undo It”

Much like no pop star has ever been able to learn all of the right lessons from Madonna, no country star has yet to learn all of the right lessons from Shania Twain.

But darn if Carrie Underwood isn’t getting close.  “Undo It” is short, sweet, and undeniably catchy. “Undo It” features both “We Will Rock You” drum riffs and twangy fiddle, as if those two things together are as natural as peanut butter and chocolate.

It even has a chorus of “Na Na Na’s” so infectious that somewhere in the world, Steam is reflexively adding, “Hey Hey, Goodbye.”

And though she’s such a skilled vocalist that it’s hardly worth noting at this point, Underwood sings the dickens out of the song.

But there’s still one lesson that needs to be learned, one that plagues pure pop and pop-flavored country alike: the way too busy production. Go back and study any classic pop hit of Madonna or Shania Twain, and pay attention to how deceptively simple they are.  You can clearly hear every instrument because there’s so few of them, and the lead vocal doesn’t get drowned out by too many backup singers. It’s a problem that plagues even great records like Pink’s most recent hits, which are pure sonic pleasure until the last time through the chorus, when Pink is drowned out by all the bells and whistles.

Now, Carrie Underwood is never in any danger of being drowned out, and she is able to avoid being overpowered without overpowering in return. This is as catchy a piece of ear candy as she’s produced to date, and it’s made me hit repeat the way her best singles tend to do. But she’s really only a tighter production away from inducing Twain-level euphoria, and I can’t wait until she gets there.

Written by Kara DioGuardi, Martin Federiksen, Luke Laird, and Carrie Underwood

Grade: A-

Listen: Undo It

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53 Comments

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53 Responses to Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “Undo It”

  1. CelsoNo Gravatar

    I’m one of those crazy Carrie fans but Undo It actually hasn’t done that much to me… It might cross over and so but I just wish we’ll move on and so she can have her next single, hopefully “Someday When I Stop Loving You”

  2. Pingback: Country Universe - Undo It review - Carrie Underwood Fans

  3. I love Undo It!!! The catchy beat, words, and the video is AWESOME!!!! Thank you for the great article.

  4. CJNo Gravatar

    I’m still hoping that they will release Someday When I Stop Loving You, it’s my favorite track from Play On. But Undo It is a catchy single.

  5. I love this catchy little song-when I hear it, I start tapping my foot and want to jump up and dance. Great review , thanks and I agree with all you said. I do hit repeat often when I get to it on Play On, love it.

  6. KNo Gravatar

    First off, I’m a bit shocked you gave such a generous review, Kevin. I enjoy “Undo It” as a lighthearted piece of ear-candy, but am surprised to see this song got a pass, especially because you’ve been particularly vocal about your wish for Carrie to record better material to match her enormous talent and status in the country music genere.

    The lyrics of “Undo It” leave much to be desired (the “You stole my happy bit grates on my nerves a little).

    I think many artists have gotten away with similar offenses of vacuous lyrics, so I tend to overlook that factor a bit more than others.

    But I think the production is fresh and viabrant, which we haven’t really seen in many of Underwood’s singles. I thought “Cowboy Casanova,” “Last Name,” and even “Before He Cheats” fared much worse in terms of production than this song. I even think the song is sparse in production (around the 2:22 mark) with just the clear drumbeat and Carrie’s vocal.

    I think the saving grace is Carrie’s connection with the song; you can almost feel her anger throughout the entire song. She shows versatility with the vocal, and it’s seems to be a tough one to pull off. Although she doesn’t show maturity or growth as a writer on this track, I think she deserves credit for at least TRYING to show who she is by contributing her own hand to her music.

    The single received airplay before its offical release, and is already a top ten on the charts, despite being on the radio for a less than a month. Due to this, I would suspect her label is going to release a new single sooner than expected, and she may have something new by mid-summer. I hope “Someday When I Stop Loving You” or “What Can I Say” are released if a new single is released in the fall, but for a mid-summer single I’d perfer “This Time.”

  7. TomNo Gravatar

    …the only thing missing here is the sound of a key giving the coat of a pick-up truck a good seeing to. the original was a landmark – this is noise.

  8. Tom, I couldn’t have said it better myself. “Undo It” is definitely a bit noisy.

    I think this song could potentially have been some tasty ear candy, but I thought the bombastic production and stupid lyrics ruined it. But to Carrie’s credit, she still sells the vocals.

    On my blog, I gave this song a decidedly negative review, but I suppose this song might grow on me eventually.
    http://1to10countryreview.blogspot.com/2010/04/carrie-underwood-undo-it.html

  9. GusNo Gravatar

    What a great, great review! I agree with all of your points. The live version of this song, with less instrumentation, IS better than the studio version.
    Play On is a must have album!

  10. This is a really annoying song.

  11. I’ll admit that I like the song more than I should, but still I think giving it an A- is a little outrageous. I find that her mediocre lyrics are becoming a recurring issue, even “Temporary Home” was clichéd and predictable. So while I do find this song is very infectious and of course Carrie sings the hell out (though it leaves something to be desired on an interpretive level) this is nothing more than so-so ear candy.

  12. Every time I hear this it makes me wish my radio had an undo button.

  13. ErikNo Gravatar

    This is a new low, even for Blunderwood.

  14. I’m afraid I hate this record.

  15. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    K wrote:
    First off, I’m a bit shocked you gave such a generous review, Kevin. I enjoy “Undo It” as a lighthearted piece of ear-candy, but am surprised to see this song got a pass, especially because you’ve been particularly vocal about your wish for Carrie to record better material to match her enormous talent and status in the country music genre.
    ___

    I hope I haven’t sent that message strongly. I’ve enjoyed most of her material and I think she’s always represented the genre well. Given her contemporaries, she’s elevating it more often than not.

    I like “Undo It” a lot more than “Cowboy Casanova” and “Last Name” because I think it actually achieves what those records set out to do. She sounds more authoritative here. If you’re going to make pop-country fluff, you have to own it.

    I don’t find the lyrics ridiculous, though they’re chosen more for rhythm and rhyme, as is often the case with pop ditties. Write out the lyrics to early Beatles classics and they seem mind-numbingly dumb. (“Love, love me do. You know I love you. I’ll always be true. So please, love me do. Love me do.”)

    Records like this are about big hooks and charming performances, which “Undo It” has in spades, from my perspective. But it’s also the type of song that can drive people crazy. I think great ear candy is harder to pull off than serious material, much like it’s harder to make a comedy work than a drama. I’m in the minority on this, I suppose, but I’m more appreciative of records like this than their sad/serious counterparts.

  16. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    When it comes down to it, I think the only thing keeping me from kinda liking this song is my uncompromising, cringe-y hatred of the “you stole my happy” line. It just starts the chorus on the wrong foot for me, which sinks the whole experience. But I can understand how a lot of people wouldn’t be bothered by such things and would just find it fun and catchy. It’s kind of like how people tend to either love or abhor “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.

    Anyway, very sharp review.

  17. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    That’s one of my favorite lines in the song! It reminds me of Pam Tillis’ “You Put the Lonely On Me.” Just an odd way of saying something that is usually said a different way that’s far less memorable.

    I totally get why it’s a polarizing song, and I think your (Dan) explanation illustrates it perfectly.

  18. Same here. I think the “You stole my happy” line was what did it for me as well.” The 9513’s review of this song rightly asked “Why is she singing in LOL cat?” If not for that line, I might even be able to forgive the poor production.

  19. ZackNo Gravatar

    intially, I was a bit critical of Underwood’s new album (Play On), and “Undo It,” but both have started to grow on me, and with time I have found that “Undo It” is a catchy song that I like to sing along to.

    GRADE:
    C to B

  20. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    Your review has given me a new appreciation of this song (a sign of a great review), but I’m just not a fan. It’s the combination of my distaste for the Jason Aldean-style of country rock and the fact that I can’t for the life of me understand why Bright decided to screw with her voice in the chorus. The one chorus after the bridge that he doesn’t touch is by far the best part of the song – her vocal control is ridiculous.

    Over the years, my confidence in Carrie’s team has rarely wavered, but this choice of single brought it down a notch. There’s better material on the album.

  21. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Great review, Kevin. Because of it, I really, really tried to give the song a chance, but it’s the production that loses me in a big way. I can actually get “You stole my happy” in a song like this though.

  22. K-ManNo Gravatar

    I’m going to have to agree with fans on this one. Undo It is quite simply an amazing piece of ear candy. Sure, maybe a few lines in the song aren’t my favorite, “I need you gone so fast” being one of the big ones for some reason, but they are at least relatable. Carrie’s vocals are stunning, she adds emotion to it, and I’m just a sucker for banjos and songs with a little bit of edge. I can’t help but love it!

  23. SchmegmaNo Gravatar

    This song is ear candy, sure, but its awesome, awesome ear candy. I do agree with kevin that the production is too busy and I also agree with K that the “you stole my happy” line is no good.

    The song has its flaws. But still, I love it. Its one of my favorite songs on the radio right now and I hope it gets a lot of airplay.

  24. GloriaNo Gravatar

    I’ve grown to really like Carrie more than I use to because I’m just so happy so can sing and on key and doesn’t strip off her top layer of clothes to another outfit and throw her guitar to someone on the side of the stage and then sling her head uncontrollably with hair going everywhere and stands there agging the crowd on for more applause. She has class. The person I’m describing…does not! I didn’t like Undo It the first couple of times I heard it but like you’ve all said it’s catchy and I’ve grown to like it!

  25. lam0210No Gravatar

    Great review. This is a great song for summer time. It’s easy to sing with and uptempo. You’re hearing a little more of the rocker side. Don’t understand some of the comments above. Love the song.

  26. KlarkNo Gravatar

    uhm.. A- is way too high for this song. It’s too loud, if I were to give this song a grade, that would be B.

  27. Stephen MainstreamNo Gravatar

    As I’m sure EVERYONE knows, I’m a huge Carrie fan, but while I do love this song I’m hoping this is the last time Carrie works with Dioguardi. I genuinely love this song for what it is – a mindless summer anthem – but it feels too Shania to me. I, personally, think Carrie is miles better than Shania could ever hope to be [/cue Potter66], so it pains me to see Carrie almost swagger jack her. I feel like Carrie is better suited for “Cowboy Casanova” than “Undo It”. UI sounds like a Shania song with Carrie’s vocals, whereas CC sounds entirely Underwood. I know Kevin didn’t like it much, but I find CC to be Carrie’s best uptempo song to date. I like it that much. Anyways, excellent review (as always) Kevin.

  28. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    “I, personally, think Carrie is miles better than Shania could ever hope to be”

    GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.

  29. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    :)

  30. I have to say that I’m a bit surprised at your review of this song. I’ve let it be known here that I’m a huge Carrie fan but this song, I think, is one of – if not the – worst songs off her Play On album. I agree that she kills the vocals, but I’m not a big fan of the production or the lyrics. It’s just all a bit too much for my tastes. But based on the comments I’ve gotten on my blog, it’s a “great summer song.” I’m really hoping “Someday When I Stop Loving You” is the next single after this mess of a song.

  31. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    I don’t really hear Shania in this song. Am I crazy?

  32. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    I don’t either. I find it kind of hard to trace, really. It’s kind of like a poppier version of Lucinda Williams’ “Joy.”

  33. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    The arrangement is pretty close to “Honey,I’m Home” and “Shoes” on the verses. I think the song as a whole could be dropped on to the UP! album and not sound out of place, with the notable caveat that Underwood’s vocal style is more rangy than Twain’s everywoman sing-a-long approach.

  34. I also think you were very generous with this song. But then, I’ve always thought you were too generous with Underwood.

    Like Tara, and some others, I don’t really hear the Shania Twain influence either. Aside from the production (which has since been adopted by nearly every female country singer at some point), I think the mood of the song and the lyrics are different from even the weakest of Shania’s songs. The attitude, and the production is more ‘Before He Cheats’ than anything else IMO. It sounds like she’s trying to reproduce that song again – and this is not nearly as good. Even the ‘nah nah nahs’ you speak of sound angry, instead of cheery and sing-a-long.

    Shania Twain never really took the angry-woman or the vengeance approach to her femininity, or her heartbreak.

  35. Oh dear, what is happening to me? I have made no secret of my strong dislike for this song. But just earlier today, it came on the radio. When it got to the first chorus, I suddenly thought “Wait a minute! I’m singing along! I’m supposed to hate this song! Why on earth am I singing along?”

    Help! Carrie has me under her spell! Where’s my copy of the “Mountain Soul II” album? Must find the “Mountain Sould II” album…!

  36. KNo Gravatar

    Ben,

    Carrie can put anyone under a spell with that great voice of hers!

    Kevin,

    That’s a interesting viewpoint, thanks for replying. I too think the song has a certain charm to it, and I think there are far worse songs and singers out there.

    I have to be on the Anti-Shania train in this discussion. Most of Shania’s songs were ridculous little pop ditties- no real substance to a lot her material. Plus, she could only dream to have the tone and vocal control Underwood does. I could never quite understand her appeal (much like I can’t understand the current lovefest for Swift).

  37. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar

    Quoting J R:

    I also think you were very generous with this song. But then, I’ve always thought you were too generous with Underwood.

    Like Tara, and some others, I don’t really hear the Shania Twain influence either. Aside from the production (which has since been adopted by nearly every female country singer at some point), I think the mood of the song and the lyrics are different from even the weakest of Shania’s songs. The attitude, and the production is more ‘Before He Cheats’ than anything else IMO. It sounds like she’s trying to reproduce that song again – and this is not nearly as good. Even the ‘nah nah nahs’ you speak of sound angry, instead of cheery and sing-a-long.

    Shania Twain never really took the angry-woman or the vengeance approach to her femininity, or her heartbreak.
    ———–
    Exactly…

    And Ben, you have the perfect antidote with MS II

    K, I for one am innoculated against Carrie’s spell.(see above statement)

    This song to me sounds like every other uptempo Underwood song. A great voice wasted on another loud but weak song.

  38. JoJoNo Gravatar

    Great song! Great review!

  39. The posts on Carrie Underwood is very interesting. Thank you.

  40. Since I’ve heard a few people slamming Shania Twain, I’m just going to step in and jump onto the pro-Shania train. Shania actually takes partial credit for introducing me to country music. While she did take a lot of crap for singing pop-country, I think it should be noted that she had a very diverse style. She believed that measured amounts of pop influence were good for country music, because such influences broadened its audience. While some of her songs were on the pop-heavy side, songs like “No One Needs to Know” and “I Ain’t No Quitter” were pure country, even bordering on neo-traditionalism.

    She wrote all of her own songs, and did a fantastic job of writing relatable songs that touched on many different aspects of everyday life. On each Shania album, the throwaway album tracks were of the same high standard as the hit singles. But it was the spunk and sass in her vocal delivery that made every hit song of hers memorable. It’s no wonder that she became one of the few women to take home the coveted Entertainer of the Year award, because she was just that – a true entertainer.

    So, for the record, I think Shania rocks… in a country kind of way, that is.

  41. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar

    Pop-Country ain’t my favorite style, but I do like Shania’s brand of it, and I’ll take it over what predominates today on the airwaves.

    Ben, you made a lot of the points I was thinking as well, and even used one of the examples I had in mind of Shania’s creativity..No One Needs to Know..

    And very few of today’s Country Pop princesses have have matched the soaring beauty of From This Moment.

    Shania Twain was and is a class act.

  42. ErikNo Gravatar

    What Ben and Steve said. Shania doesn’t deserve the grap she got/is getting, and especially not from Carrie Underwood fans.

  43. KNo Gravatar

    To clarify, I don’t have anything against Shania. She deserves immense credit for being talented enough to become an internationally-known superstar, and I do think she does have a certain charm to some of her material, as well as a certain “star quality” when she performs.

    However, I personally think a lot of her songs WERE mindless pop fluff and the females of today would probably be blasted if they chose to record such songs (examples: “Waiter, Bring Me Water,” “Shoes,” “I’m Gonna Getcha Good,” “Up,” amd some others).

    She has a distinct voice, but there have been dozens of ladies to come along within the last few decades that are far suprior to her, and I take that into account when evaluating her overall artistry. She’s better than Taylor Swift, but has more in common with Kellie Pickler than Carrie Underwood when it comes to superb vocal ability.

    It’s admirable that she writes a lot of her own songs, but the factor dims for me when evaluting the sheer mindless qualities to some of the materai.

    I know she’s one of the top female entertainers of all time, but I think her fame has to do with catchy songs and average vocals- I don’t think awards matter in this debate much either.

    Just my opinion of course.

  44. Stephen MainstreamNo Gravatar

    I’m with K. I know Shania is talented, I prefer Carrie. I don’t understand why a Carrie fan cannot have a negative opinion on Shania Twain. Way to make yourself look dumb, Erik.

  45. ErikNo Gravatar

    Yes, saying that I don’t think she deserves the crap she gets from Underwood fans made me look, like OMG, so dumb.

    I find Shania’s stuff to be cleverer than most of what’s released by Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift. Yes, her subject matters have often been inane and less-than-deep (which coincidentally is the explanation all Carrie fans hiss at you if you criticize her lyrics, “Songs don’t have to be meaningful or intelligent; sometimes you just want to crank them up!”), but the way she spun them was more often interesting and clever than not. In “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” you could find amusing and sharp lines such as “You’re a fine piece of real-estate, and I’m gonna get me some land”.

    So, to summarize: Not every song has to be intelligent, deep, or meaningful. But if it chooses not to be, it has to have some sly, witty, and sharp lines and a defined style to make up for it, something “Undo It” and every other uptempo Carrie single (almost excluding “Before He Cheats”), lacks.

  46. CarsonNo Gravatar

    Carrie really owns ballads, in my opinion.

    I think she has to be careful with uptempo because some of them are a tad mindless or more focused on her voice and the instrumentation rather than lyrics.

    “Undo It” is catchy and has got the short timing and fun beat for country radio, but I feel it’s missing the brains and wit that was behind “Before He Cheats” and “Last Name”.

    She can’t be all ballads, and I appreciate her bouncing around musically, but I dont like this sound for her :]

  47. NicolasNo Gravatar

    This isn’t one of my favorites of her’s, although I do think its definitely a catchy release for radio… as evidenced by it soaring up the charts

    I would’ve personally preferred “Play On” though as an uptempo single <3

    And I still hope that "Change" is released at some point, that song is my favorite

  48. KNo Gravatar

    Erik,

    First of all, I think this “Carrie vs Shania” argument is ridculous and not fair to them or their fans. Both women have managed to reach astronomical heights that are unknown to most artists- let alone two women who have who have managed to do so in a male-dominated industry.

    Is it really necessary to be rude to someone with an opinion different from your own? Opinions make the world go around- this world would be pretty dull and lifeless without them, and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if they didn’t exist.

    Yes, I perfer Carrie’s music over Shania’s, but that doesn’t mean my opinion (or yours) has any less value.

    I personally think Carrie has a better voice than Shania- I would argue that fact alone elvates her above Shania. I think much of Underwood’s material has the same charm as Shania’s- “Last Name,” “All-American Girl,” “Before He Cheats,” and many others among them.

    I think lines like “even my skin is acting weird, I wish that I could grow a beard,” are not clever, but ridculous. Carrie would be crucified if she ever tried to get away with singing a lyric like that. On the contarary, there are plenty of Carrie fans who don’t defend her trite lyrics, either.

  49. TomNo Gravatar

    …i’ve got no doubt that carrie underwood could sing an album like “come on over” but can she ever come up with one as good as that one. we’ll see – actually, one as good as “the woman in me” would be a fine start.

  50. justinNo Gravatar

    Oh come on I love shania twain she had her glory days in the 90s in to the early 2000s but underwood is here now and she puts her own flavor on her music. Personally like other people have said, its not as good as b4 he cheats or last name but the guys review is pretty much on with the A-. (thats because the other two were wouldve shouldve been A++) (:

  51. TexasVetNo Gravatar

    After “Undo It” runs it’s course I hope Carrie’s next single is either “Someday When I Stop Loving You” or “Look at Me”. Here’s a live video of LAM from her fan club party: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q6ZPEWoPFI&feature=player_embedded

  52. PatrickNo Gravatar

    I will agree that the review is a bit too high. The song is alright, but an A-? I’d give it a B, at best. I’ll second the “You stole my happy” being an awkward line

  53. Undo it is one of those songs that you cant help but sing along to! it is an amzing song and so much fun. everytime i hear it i just want to dance around and sing. it is upbeat which is a little different for her becasue you usually know carrie underwood for her powerful slow song, but this song is defienetly up there with those songs. when i went to a carrie underwood concert in november you could just see she was loving this song and the crowd was to. it was amzing when she let us sing the “na,na,na,na,na” part so muchfun!!!!! LOVE YOU CARRIE!