Single Review: Sugarland, “Little Miss”

“Little Miss’ is one of many socially conscious songs on Sugarland’s The Incredible Machine, but it’s the only one that truly works.  It succeeds where the others fail for two main reasons.

One, it describes things as they are now, instead of trying to inspire us with idyllic images of how the world could be if we just, you know, did something. The details used to describe a woman who “is so much more than you like to talk about” captures the dilemma that faces so many women today with little descriptions that add up to a larger picture of all of the compromises that must be made to a woman’s ambition and talent for her to not offend those who might be offended by them.

And it’s the tension created by those compromises that lead to the second reason for the song’s success.  The tale of a woman holding back her potential must be matched by a production and vocal performance that also hold back. The lyric demands restraint, which prevents the over-singing and arena bombast that sinks the other songs on the album from taking over this track.  The elements are still there, but they don’t overwhelm the proceedings.

It’s interesting. The Incredible Machine has already been certified platinum. When the first two singles are inevitably included on the first Sugarland hits collection, they will represent what I consider a very weak set in the best possible light.  That’s encouraging in the long run, because quite frankly, when Sugarland is on the top of their game, they’re still better than everybody else in mainstream country music.

Written by Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles

Grade: A

Listen: Little Miss

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15 Comments

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15 Responses to Single Review: Sugarland, “Little Miss”

  1. I am just loving this song. It’s really interesting how the lyrics flesh out the Little Miss’ character, and the restrained vocal and production work very well. And even though I like Jennifer’s “twang,” I do think it was appropriate that she toned it down on this track.

    It would be nice now if, after making hits out of “Stuck Like Glue” and “Little Miss,” Sugarland could just move on to the next album so that we could pretend that the less-successful tracks never came about. But we might not be that fortunate.

  2. One of the first tracks i fell in love with. Kudos to whomever is making the single choices.

    This song would easily fit alongside the tracks of Love On The Inside.

  3. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    I like the verses a lot. The pre-chorus and chorus don’t say much to me. But I agree it’s one of the only listenable tracks on the album. I wonder what the inevitable third single will be – “Tonight”?

  4. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    I have no reference point beyond this single. There’s never been another album that I can think of with two killer tracks and the rest being awful to the point where they don’t even sound professionally done. I have no idea what could even be the third single. All of the rest of the album is fatally flawed.

  5. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    @ Dan,

    I think the pre-chorus and chorus is what she tells herself to keep from getting angry/losing control over the injustice of the roles she has to play with a smile.

  6. DanNo Gravatar

    Unlike most of the people commenting on this site, I actually like certain songs on Sugarland’s new album, and “Little Miss” is definitely one of them. The others are the title track, “Tonight,” and “Wide Open,” but even I can admit that they’re seriously lacking as far as lyrics go. Not the case with “Little Miss.” I’d have to agree that it was a great choice as a second single. It has a message behind it that none of the other songs have, it’s as simple as that.

  7. Awesome review. I couldn’t agree more with the last sentence. This is possibly my favorite Sugarland single since ‘Already Gone’.

    I’m with Dan M. about ‘Tonight’ becoming the obligatory third single – it’s the only other song on the album even close to what country radio will play, but you never know with these guys. And like Kevin, I hear the chorus (and pre-chorus too I guess) as a sort of mantra.

  8. KeithNo Gravatar

    Better than EVERYBODY else? I don’t know about that, but they certainly are good when they’re on their game. In truth, though, I can’t think of a single Sugarland track that I’d put ahead of Miranda Lambert’s new-found artistry.

  9. DanNo Gravatar

    I disagree with J.R. Journey about “Tonight” being the only other song that could find success on country radio. If they’re willing to play Taylor Swift or Lady Antebellum, I’m pretty sure they’re willing to play anything. Nothing against those artists, but they’re hardly country by any stretch of the imagination. I think almost any song on the album would be successful for no other reason than having Sugarland’s name on it.

  10. When I listened to the Incredible Machine album, I thought “Shine the Light” sounded like it might be a potential single. It wasn’t great, but I liked Jennifer’s vocal on that track, and my expectations had been significantly lowered by the time I got to hearing it. Haven’t listened to it in a while though.

  11. “Little Miss” is my favorite Sugarland song ever. It always makes me feel good to listen to it. The song shows marked growth both vocally and lyrically and gives the listener something to hold on to and remember. It’s cleaver and thought-provoking. A worthy choice as a single and a reminder of why Sugarland can be a force to be reckoned with.

    I agree with Kevin, when they’re great, there isn’t anyone better – except for Dixie Chicks. If Sugarland had taken more time to craft an album as good as “Little Miss,” they’d be on top of the world right now.

    As for potential singles, I don’t think “Tonight” is a good choice. I liked the song when I first heard it, but it really is a mess. The awkward spacing issues kill the song for me. Plus, there isn’t anything to hold onto as far as the lyrics go. (kind of sounds like a lot of what’s on country radio right now…)

    I have to admit I did like the album more than most. “Every Girl Like Me” seem like a good choice for a single. It fits perfectly into guilty pleasure territory. I know many find Jennifer’s voice annoying on that track, but compared to the rest of the album it’s one of the stronger songs. Unfortunately, it isn’t close to being country, nor is it as good as anything from Love On The Inside, but that’s the world we live in now.

    And I agree with J.R., this is Sugarland’s best single since “Already Gone.” I also loved “Joey” but think they had better material they should’ve released instead of “It Happens.” But this is by and large one of their most artistically credible songs to date. It proves “Stay” wasn’t a fluke.

  12. KNo Gravatar

    I’ve tried to see the appeal of this track, but I can’t buy into the hype. The entire track seems to be a string of chliche phrases the listener doesn’t remember once the radio is turned off.

    I cannot stand Jenifer’s voice on “Every Girl Like Me,” but I think it’s lyrically stronger (and more sonically interesting) than “Little Miss.”

  13. KatieRNo Gravatar

    Agreed with Ben. “Shine the Light” is my vote for the next single. It’s gonna be at least a little while until they put out another cd, so until then I’m sure they’ll be pushing more songs from this cd on an unsuspecting public. After Stuck Like Glue and Little Miss, “Shine the Light” is the only song on the cd I can actually tolerate to the point of liking it.

    If I had to guess though, “Every Girl Like Me” will be their next single. It’s catchy in that pop/country kind of way (aka, mainstream country radio).

    If I had to choose I would rather they release some of their singles off their “Live” cd. There isn’t a cover on there I don’t like. Then again, I don’t think “Sex on Fire” would ever make it onto country radio. Too risque for them I’d imagine.

  14. On topic of singles from their live album, i think their cover of “Irreplaceable” would easily shoot up the charts.

  15. I’m very fond of “Irreplaceable.”