Deep Down in 2011

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November 28, 2011

Lately, I’ve been playing “Deep Down” on a loop, and it got me thinking…

What if one of the big female artists of 2011 were the first to release this song?

If Carrie Underwood recorded it in 2011, the song would be praised as one of the best she’s ever recorded, but she’d be criticized for over-singing and over-producing it.

If Taylor Swift recorded it in 2011, the song would be praised as one of the best she’s ever recorded, but she’d be criticized for missing every other note, even with the help of auto-tune.

If Miranda Lambert recorded it in 2011, the song would be praised as one of the best she’s ever recorded, and further evidence that she’s the messiah of contemporary country music, regardless of how she sang or produced it.

But alas, Pam Tillis recorded it in 1995, and the song went largely unnoticed, because a great song with a great vocal performance and a great production was expected, not special, coming from her.

This same post could’ve been written about  “Nothin’ But the Wheel”, “Believe Me Baby (I Lied)”, “Aces”, “Is It Over Yet”, “I Guess You Had to Be There” or “Standing Knee Deep in a River.”

Perhaps the best way to listen to country music in 2011 is not to listen to anything else in the genre’s history. That way the illusion that there is some great contemporary country music out there can be preserved.

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  1. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    “Deep Down” is a top contender for being my favorite Pam Tillis song. It’s nice to see the song get a spotlight today, even if it does highligh some unpleasant truths about country music in 2011.

    Interesting note about Miranda. As much as I like her, I do have to agree that the praise tends to be a bit inflated at times.

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar says:

    Well the same could be said for Adele as Careie. They both have naturally powerful vocals that countrt music is not used to. Have you ever heard a 13 year old Carrie? She would still blow even Martina away vocally. Taylor is a weak vocalist. Miranda is being over rated by Carrie’s record label to help boost her sales while snubbig Carrie of the credit she deserves.

  3. sharonNo Gravatar says:

    Ben, every genre has it’s good points, and bad. Country music, (Thank God above)leaves the vulgarities to the “others,” and the best/worse thing about it…country music is known for telling the truth!! And…that is why country music lovers love country music. I too, like Miranda, although she is not a favorite…perhaps she could be if she wasn’t telling disillusioned women how to kill their cheating husbands!! ‘Been there, and I am thankful to God above the songs she sings WERE NOT there to influence me when I was going through it!
    Chris…learn to spell. Adele? She has been an all time favorite of mine since I heard her on the Ovation Channel when she was eighteen…..she is not known as a country music singer, so…..that doesn’t count. Taylor Swift is so much more than a realllly good singer, (not an opinion, it has been stated by people who have the knowledge neither of us have to say so)..watch her bio sometime…and her voice is not autotuned. Matina is known world wide by people who are paid to know their “stuff” as one of the best voices EVER, I like Carrie, yet, if she wasn’t so absolutely one of the most gorgeous women in the world (I do recognize this is JUST an opinion…) she would not have gone to the top so fast, nor would we love her as much as she changes into several fashions hosting the awards shows. (high fasion that could possibly feed several families for quiet some time…)

  4. sharonNo Gravatar says:

    …And, if Pam Tillis was as beautiful as Carrie…she would still be pulling in as big a crowds as ever.

  5. DonNo Gravatar says:

    Everything they’ve done Chris ( 2+ years of over hype)still resulted in cd sales that aren’t very good.and a lead single that is pretty bad.

    No, country music needs to find another horse to hitch their wagon too.Miranda doesn’t cut it as the torchbearer of country.

  6. TyNo Gravatar says:

    First of all the gowns Carrie wears at the awards show is loaned to her. She does NOT buy them at all. In my humble opinion John got it right on about the observations of Carrie, Miranda and Taylor singing Deep Down. Carrie is not given enough credit for her vocals, song writing abilities, etc.. by the industry whereas Taylor and Miranda are very overrated in vocals and song writing abilities. I have to say that even though Taylor and Miranda are praised by the industry and Carrie ignored or downright snubbed–the world likes Carrie and RESPECTS her which Taylor and Miranda can only dream of obtaining. Someday maybe the industry will get it right and stop all the politics that makes them competing with Washington politics. Shame!!!

  7. TyNo Gravatar says:

    I am not trying to start a war with anyone. As a matter of fact I am a casual fan of Underwood and I like some of Miranda and Taylor’s work but the industry is the wrongdoer in this scenario by not giving credit where credit is due and overpraising when it is not warranted. It has been going on for a very long time and in my opinion it will continue as most people are biased by personal opinions and favoritism.

  8. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    I think that of the three, Carrie would do the song the best, and by a fairly wide margin. She’s the best singer.

    One of my points is that the narrative changes depending on the artist, and also that the song would stand out as brilliant today but didn’t in 1995.

    Really, when you think about the signature songs of the nineties artists referenced – “Maybe it Was Memphis”, “Something in Red”, “The Song Remembers When” – even most of their better singles pale in comparison.

  9. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    I should add that I think Underwood has been given plenty of industry accolades. Yes, she should’ve won at least one CMA Entertainer award by now, but she does have three CMA Female Vocalist trophies and five Grammys. Nothing to sneeze at.

  10. ADJNo Gravatar says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you last post, Kevin. :)

  11. TyNo Gravatar says:

    I have been in and around the industry for many years and I agree that Underwood has done well in the awards catagory but I also find that< after many articles written, etc.., that some hold Underwood to a higher standard than they do the other two artists mentioned. That is not fair to Underwood. I regret that in the past I have not been fair to Underwood in rviews but a dear friend pointed it out to me and urged me to listen to her vocals and music with an open mind. I did just that and I discovered an amazing young artist that had amazing vocals and song writing ability. I challenge others to do that and maybe they would change their minds. This girl could have chosen a couple of other genres to go into (and I think she would have done well) but she chose country music and she has been absolutely faithful to it and promoting it ll the time. Every time I mention country music to people immediately they say Carrie Underwood. What better ambassador than her could country get? It is about time she was more respected by the industry because to the world–she is the face of country music. Thanks for listening to this old retired critic rattle on………………………..

  12. TyNo Gravatar says:

    Sorry for my poor writing abilities. Old Arthur(arthritis) has a firm hold on my hands and it is painful. LOL.

  13. It’s interesting to compare how Carrie, Taylor, and Miranda approach the recording of a song. I hate to admit this but I’m one of those who over praise Miranda. She’s been my favorite for a while now because of her ability to write and record top-notch songs. But I agree that Carrie is the best singer of the three.

    Wouldn’t it be great if all songs being recorded today were as good as “Deep Down?” It was easy to take Pam Tillis for granted back then as it was for any of the artists mentioned. With time has come a deeper appreciation for just how stellar they all are. When you come to think about it, only Trisha Yearwood got her due and the respect her music deserved. All the others were then and are still vastly underrated.

    I like Kevin’s thinking in the final line. It would certainly keep all of us long-time country fans from being depressed about the state of our music. But I try not to think about the deteriorating quality of contemporary country music. I either go back and listen to any of the artists mentioned or pull out new releases from female artists who still understand great music like LeAnn Rimes, Suzy Bogguss, and Connie Smith among others. There is still fantastic country music being made it just isn’t in the mainstream.

  14. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    This post reminds me of how I’ve often noted that 1995 seemed to be one mighty good year for country music, at least according to my tastes. A lot of my favorite country songs came out that year, with “Deep Down” being one of them. Shania’s “Any Man of Mine” and Patty’s “You Can Feel Bad” also come to mind.

    As for Miranda, I do think she’s one of the most consistently interesting mainstream artists when it comes to material choices, but I can still admit it when she takes a misstep, and I agree that Underwood is the better vocalist.

    I agree with a few of your points, Ty. I definitely do think that Carrie shows a great deal of respect for and commitment to the country genre, and has made a fine genre ambassador indeed.

  15. TREEDYNo Gravatar says:

    Pam, Patty and Reba from the 90′s has been on a loop on my ipod the last few weeks. The 90′s was hands down the best!. I like it all if it was done in the 90′s! You hit the nail on the head about this one!!! BTW, to the person who said if pam was beautiful she would still be big today, I think she is one of the most beautiful people in country. People like you are the reason we get sucky artist cause music row thinks we want to see only pretty people. I’ll take a good vocalist over beauty any day!

  16. TyNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for your post Ben. I am getting on in years now and trying to make right a wrong I made from the beginning about Underwood. It is never too late to make things right and I definately did not take the time to listen or research her from the beginning. You say that Miranda consistently has good material when in fact the song that actually brought her into the spotlight was “The House That Built Me” which she did not write and now she is back to the mediocre songs before that song. Compare that song to Underwood’s Temporary Home (which some critics said was about homeless people—obviously they did not listen to the lyrics or they would have known that the song tells us that this earth is just our temporary home), So Small, Just a Dream. Those are outstanding songs that Underwood wrote but received little recognition for them. Yes she got them to number 1 and got awards but the critics were not kind nor fair to her at all. Swift’s songs all sound the same and some of the most childish jabber I have ever heard in some of her songs but she is praised as being brilliant. Since I have researched Underwood, one thing really stands out to me—the girl drips with sincerity and is one of the most grounded, humble artists around. There is no pretense about this girl–she is the real deal. She shows grace, class and dignity in all her appearances and hosting the awards shows. I am so sorry I did not see this sooner. That is enough for this old timer. Have a great day and keep on being fair and open minded.

  17. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Label hype is one thing, but I think the fundamental reason Miranda gets so many free passes is because she often seems like one of the only mainstream artists who’s working to make music with novelty and more than one dimension. That stands out to critics who’ve been listening to the mainstream fare of the last six or so years. I have absolutely nothing against Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift, but it’s hard to imagine either of them (or, as importantly, any of their male counterparts) recording something as successfully weird as “Fine Tune” or “All Kinds of Kinds” or the stuff on the Pistol Annies project.

    That doesn’t mean Miranda’s some kind of messiah, and I don’t like when that lazy narrative emerges, either; she’s just an ambitious artist in a field where there aren’t many left (or not many who have major label trust). I think she would’ve fit in with the similarly ambitious female artists of the 90′s (fit in – not stood out, which I guess is one of the points of the post), and I imagine she wouldn’t have had to play up her image so much back then, either.

  18. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I tend to find it a bit irritating in general when any artist, Miranda or another, is tapped as some sort of “saviour” of the genre. I suppose it could be a reflection of how desperate we are these days, but it puts a lot of unfair expectations on an artist, which he or she may struggle to live up to. I tend to think we should put off such accolades until the artist has built up strong enough body of work to back it up.

  19. GatorNo Gravatar says:

    Ben I agree immensely with your last comment as we tend to go from one person to another calling them saviors and they never are able to live up to what we hope for. In some respects similar to what Ty has been saying about the standard of which we hold Carrie to in respect to many of her contemporaries (insert young, beautiful, blonde name hear), but that is probably because we know she can do more as she has proven so occasionally with songs like “I’ll Stand By You,” “Before He Cheats,” “Just A Dream,” and “Someday When I Stop Loving You.” Next I agree that we over praise Miranda, although her second album is among my all time favorites, her follow up had some production issues and this new one is a step down lyrically. Taylor, while I am a fan, her flaws go without saying, yet she seems to be the “Miranda” of many pop music critics (Rolling Stone…) for reasons I am not sure they can truly justify.

    As for artist and quality in general, the quality is definitely down, but artist like Sunny Sweeney and LeAnn Rimes are making some stellar music for the current time that is often, and unfairly, overlooked by fans and radio alike. Finally, we have some great talents on the edges, namely Laura Bell Bundy, who with fine tuning may turn into great artist in their own respect, while Bundy will likely not become as consistent and frequent as artists like Trisha, Pam, and Patty I believe she could very well end up a woman with very remarkable and intriguing music a kin to Shania Twain.

  20. bobNo Gravatar says:

    I think that every decade has its share of great music but I do find that I listen to 90′s country more than anything else. I like all the songs Kevin mentioned.

    Of the current female country artists, I agree that Carrie U has the best voice but her material doesn’t do much for me. I like most of Sunny Sweeney’s material but can’t really say much about her vocals since I’ve never heard her sing live. Dan made a good point when he said that Miranda often seems like one of the only mainstream artists who’s working to make music with novelty and more than one dimension. I don’t care for most of it, but it is different.

  21. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Ditto to Dan’s comment.

  22. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    I get where you’re coming from, Dan. I think my disagreement regarding Miranda is that I don’t think she’s been terribly successful at making compelling or interesting music.

    I’m with Ben in that such expectations are an unfair burden. Call it Jamey Johnson syndrome.

    In the nineties, would Miranda Lambert have even blended in among the strongest female artists? I don’t think so. I think Carrie’s voice and Taylor’s perspective would’ve better equipped them for distinction than Miranda’s skill set.

    But then again, all three of these women broke through in their teens/early twenties. The women above were mostly in their thirties at their peak. Trisha Yearwood was the baby of the group, and even she was 26 when she had her first hit.

  23. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    Also have to super ditto this comment from Ben:

    I tend to think we should put off such accolades until the artist has built up strong enough body of work to back it up.

    This is my single biggest pet peeve in contemporary music. Be consistently compelling over the course of a decade, then we’ll talk about your significance.

  24. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    It’s hard for me to have an objective perspective, because I generally enjoy Miranda’s music as much as I enjoy most of the women of the nineties aside from the fact that her catalog is not as deep yet. I’m a pretty big fan though, I suppose.

  25. Jonathan KeefeNo Gravatar says:

    The THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE stan-war tone that this comment thread is very pointedly dancing around is disappointing, to say the least.

    In the nineties, would Miranda Lambert have even blended in among the strongest female artists? I don’t think so. I think Carrie’s voice and Taylor’s perspective would’ve better equipped them for distinction than Miranda’s skill set.

    Lambert may not have blended in among the strongest female artists on the mainstream country scene, but since when has “blending in” ever been any kind of metric of an artist’s worth?

    That said, she absolutely would’ve fit right in alongside the likes of Kelly Willis, Kim Richey, Lucinda Williams, Kimmie Rhodes, Maria McKee, Patty Griffin, and Allison Moorer. Her albums have far stronger ties to what those women were doing in the 90s than to the music Tillis, Loveless, Yearwood and the like were making. That’s not to imply that one is better or worse than the other by any means, but I think Lambert would’ve kept fine company in the 90s and certainly could’ve been a distinctive talent even within such company.

  26. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    “The THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE stan-war tone that this comment thread is very pointedly dancing around is disappointing, to say the least.”

    Word. Though I’ve probably inadvertently contributed.

    “That said, she absolutely would’ve fit right in alongside the likes of Kelly Willis, Kim Richey, Lucinda Williams, Kimmie Rhodes, Maria McKee, Patty Griffin, and Allison Moorer…I think Lambert would’ve kept fine company in the 90s and certainly could’ve been a distinctive talent even within such company.”

    This is a more precise, tidier version of what I was trying to go for with my comment. I mostly meant “fit in” in the broad sense of her ambitious creative spirit, which I think she inherits from the previous generation (like, how “The House That Built Me” would have seemed totally par-for-the-course and not like THE BEST SONG EVER in 1995). It’s indeed hard to imagine Lambert on the radio alongside Tillis and Yearwood, though it’s also hard for me to imagine how Lambert’s talents might have manifested themselves in that era of country music versus the current rock-infused, post-Chicks/Shania one that she’s such a product of. The age thing is certainly significant, too; I’m sure all three (ugh) of the big solo female artists today will be able to make richer music as they get older – heck, look at LeAnn Rimes (29 now). It’s really a shame their career peaks are coming before that.

  27. Martin in NYNo Gravatar says:

    Great post, Kevin. Those were some golden days. I do love me some Pam Tillis.

    I am a huge Miranda fan and not such a big Carrie fan. It’s simply a matter of personal taste. Carrie has the bigger voice, but the better vocalists don’t always make the better music. A couple of the posts here indicate that Carrie has been under-appreciated. I think she’s been very rewarded by sales and by awards.

    However, the most unsettling thing about the past couple of years is that every time women of country are discussed, it always turns into a Carrie versus Miranda versus Taylor. I have found myself doing this too. I have to remind myself that they are all three VERY different. It is possible that they are all excellent and are all deserving of great success. Why does there have to only be one? I find it sexist that country radio and the industry seem to think that there can only be one or two women at the top of the charts. The men are allowed to do-exist alongside one another. Alan Jackson/George Strait
    Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw Keith Urban/Brad Paisley It’s always less about which one is better, but about how they are individually.

    I think Carrie, Taylor, and Miranda are all three very vibrant talents. While I prefer Miranda’s style, I think there is room for all of them and for many more at the same time.

  28. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    If country music is looking for a savior or a torchbearer, then it tells me the genre is in a lot of trouble. What I feel the genre has now, more than anything else, are trends of various kinds, and I don’t think country music has ever been able to find any leading figures from mere trends.

    Was Garth Brooks ever part of a “trend”? Or the Dixie Chicks? Was anyone actually anticipating what they would bring to the table? I don’t think so, and that’s what made each of them special; they bought new life into country music at a time when, and from corners where, nobody was looking. That element of surprise has often been what has helped every genre of American popular music, country and otherwise.

    Besides, I think it’s a little dangerous to look for a leader anyway. As Bob Dylan sang in his 1965 classic “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: “Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters.

  29. HaweNo Gravatar says:

    A great music group. Carrie is so beautifull. I like their song so much

  30. Razor XNo Gravatar says:

    “I find it sexist that country radio and the industry seem to think that there can only be one or two women at the top of the charts. The men are allowed to do-exist alongside one another. Alan Jackson/George Strait
    Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw Keith Urban/Brad Paisley It’s always less about which one is better, but about how they are individually.

    Good point, but it’s not just the women they do this with. They do it with duos and groups, too. When the Oak Ridge Boys moved over to country from gospel, people said that there wasn’t room in country music for more than one group, and THE group at that time was The Statler Brothers. Duos, groups and female solo artists are always presented as rivals, while male soloists are not. I don’t know why that is.

    “A couple of the posts here indicate that Carrie has been under-appreciated. I think she’s been very rewarded by sales and by awards.”

    I agree with you 100%. But whenever Carrie fails to win an award, her fans complain that she’s been snubbed. I have a theory about that. It’s purely speculation on my part but I suspect that a lot of Carrie’s fans are new to country music and came to it through her. As such, they tend be Underwood fans more than they are country fans in general. I don’t think they quite understand why everybody isn’t as enamored with Carrie as they are.

    I still don’t understand why anyone takes Taylor Swift seriously.

  31. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    I think that Miranda, Carrie and Taylor are all reasonably good artists in their own right, even if they don’t measure up to the ladies that owned the genre in the decade before them.

    I just think that the difference between the three in terms of artistic merit is exaggerated. They all strike me as talented artists who are still finding their voices, and it seems like the weak points of any given two are promoted as more significant than they are when the third is being praised.

    It’s kinda like watching people get really, really competitive about which AAA baseball player is the best.

  32. ADJNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Razor X. :)

  33. JakeNo Gravatar says:

    I am enjoying reading all the discussions! I think Martin is dead on about sexism with country women singers and not just by the fans. I have been listening to many of my local and non-local country stations and find it very surprising how few women get played compared to men. They’ll play a Taylor, Miranda, or Carrie song every once in a while but overall male artists are still getting more radio play and the funny thing it’s not just the current popular male artists. It’s a lot of singers that haven’t been very successful since the 90s; but the strange thing is they won’t play women artists from that era? It’s sad to think sexism is still happening in 2011!

  34. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I still don’t understand why anyone takes Taylor Swift seriously.

    When it comes to Taylor Swift, I am neither a die-hard fan nor an instantly dismissive detractor. I think she has her strong points and her weak points, as any artist does. No, she’s not a world-class vocalist, and she never has been. Yes, she can be a near-disaster live. But I think she compensates to a degree with her interpretive ability, as well as the expressive character of her performances. As a songwriter, she comes across as one who writes what she feels from her own distinct perspective, as opposed to her songwriting being purely commercial-driven. She really seems like she has something to say, and as a listener who craves substance and sincerity, I find that refreshing.

    I can understand perfectly why there are many who don’t care for her music, but at the same time, I do think we should give credit where credit is due.

  35. Razor XNo Gravatar says:

    Her music is awful. I don’t think she’s a good songwriter and her vocal performances are embarrassing, to pit it charitably. I think she has done tremendous damage to the genre and I don’t think she deserves any credit at all.

  36. KarlyNo Gravatar says:

    I used to really respect Taylor Swift, but sadly I have to agree with Razor. Taylor is pretty overrated as a writer (I actually think the quality of her writing decreased on “Speak Now”). Her older songs have elements of maturity and introspection, but I just don’t see that in her newer material. Her knowledge of melodies and song structure seems to be very limited & the same could be said for the subject matter of her songs. Perhaps I’ll feel differently in a few years, but she really needs to try something fresh and be a little bit more ambitious. Until then, I hesitate to call her a great songwriter.

    She can’t sing well, but the biggest issue I have regarding her vocals has to do with the fact that she writes her own songs, yet she cannot sing them. As someone who prides herself on being a singer/songwriter, it baffles me that Taylor continues to write songs that are clearly out of her reach as a singer. She performs much better when she’s singing songs that are tailored to her limited range and vocals. I think if Taylor wrote songs that were more fitting for her vocals people might actually give her a little more credit as a singer/songwriter, rather than focusing on her weaknesses. If she continues to set a bar she cannot reach, people are going to continue to focus on her flaws, and not her strengths. I hope Taylor learns to accept that she isn’t a singer, and she doesn’t have that gift, because I’d rather see her focus on developing as a songwriter rather than focusing on being known as a singer, because she’s never going to have that talent (sorry, Taylor). Look at Miranda Lambert; she is an average vocalist at best, but she realizes that and she has chosen to focus on her songwriting, rather than her weaknesses. She’s a great artist because she knows what does and does not work for her; she focuses on her strength as a writer and lets it guide her artistry, instead of writing and singing songs that highlight her weaknesses.

    And I also have to agree about Taylor’s limited contributions to the country genre. I used to think she showed a sharp, introspective insight that is at the roots of great country music, but now I can’t help but feel like she has abandoned country music in a sense. She rarely gives credit to the country artists who introduced her to a whole new legion of fans, and I don’t see her making an effort to prove she respects country music, save Shania and Faith. When you consider all the artists who’ve worked hard to prove they love and respect country music, despite the fact they may still be considered “pop” by the industry, it’s kind of a shame that Taylor is embraced by the genre who has shunned so many like her, but ironically embraces her music, which is about as pop as they come. We’re discussing an artist who brought two country artists on her world tour, despite the fact that she claims to love country music. She’s an artist who associates herself with young Disney artists like Selena Gomez and Demi Levato. Ironically, she seems to enjoy herself a lot more when she’s with them than she ever does when you see her at country awards shows. I can respect an artist who draws from a wide range of influences, but Taylor seems to care more about promoting her pop artist friends than her “friends” in country music.

    Not only does Taylor seem to be distancing herself from Nashville and her peers, but sadly she doesn’t seem to care. She has an excellent opportunity to bring country music to a worldwide audience, but she continues to stray farther away from who she used to be as an artist. Considering that very few actual country artists ever get the chance to expose their music to such a worldwide audience, I find it annoying that Taylor has been given that chance, yet she is not using it to expand the genre she claims to love.

    When you compare Taylor’s situation to artists like Kellie Pickler and Carrie Underwood, who are proud country artists who work hard to bring the roots of the genre to a younger audience,I find it even more disheartening that Taylor has been given such a rare opportunity, yet she isn’t attempting to promote the genre, while there are plenty of artists who would love to have the chance to promote actual country music to a new audience.

    And to put the icing the cake, I find it disgusting that the country music community falls all over Taylor like she is the Second Coming of country music, when has shown she is not yet good enough to live up to the hype. Please don’t tell me a girl who cannot sing well and is obsessed with boys and fairytales is the best the music business has to offer. For goodness sakes, this is an artist who has been slammed worldwide for her vocal “ability” yet she has won vocalist awards from the AMA’s, CMA’s and Grammys? Something tells me people are afraid to tell Taylor the truth simply because she’s portrayed as an innocent, sweet girl who needs protection from the big boys. She’s 21 years old; does anyone really think a girl who bashes her exes so heavily is not capable of speaking her mind and standing up for herself? Everytime I read a Taylor Swift review, the critics praise her left and right for her songwriting and concert spectacles, but yet they can’t take one minute to say this girl cannot sing well- which is what she is being paid to do? I almost think people are afraid to say anything negative about this girl, because everytime I hear anyone say anything about her, it’s always about her strengths and what a great role model she is. I find it funny how so many older country legends criticize a great vocalist like Carrie Underwood for being too pop, but yet they cannot find anything to say about Taylor’s pop music. Am I the only one who thinks this is odd?

    The genre is sending the message Taylor is the best the genre has to offer, when most country fans know there are much better spokeswomen for the genre than her. Why has the genre embraced Taylor, yet they criticize Carrie, Rascal Flats, and everyone else under the sun for being too pop? Talk about calling the kettle black. There have been plenty of artists who love the genre and who have worked to expand the audience. Taylor is hardly one of them.

  37. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar says:

    I like Taylor Swift. Sure her vocals are pretty questionable, but a lot of country stars and even superstars haven’t been great vocally. Singing is only one aspect -and a small one – of being a country star, and this isn’t new – it goes way back to the days of Jimmie Rodgers. The right image is what matters, it always has been and is even more so in the Internet and Video ages. I like where Swift is going and what she brings to country music.

  38. runtheworldNo Gravatar says:

    @Karly: Help me out here. Which older country legends have criticized Carrie Underwood for being too pop? Randy Travis has obviously been incredibly complimentary of her, I’ve read Brenda Lee praising her, Loretta Lynn saying Carrie’s a favorite of hers from the current country scene, and Tanya Tucker was recently very complimentary of her too. Dolly Parton too, declaring Carrie to be one of her top 5 favorite duet partners ever. If anything I’d say the older country folk have been surprisingly supportive of Carrie despite the production gloss that weighs down some of her songs!

    I know there was that George Jones interview where it appeared he was criticizing Taylor and Carrie but it was later clarified that the reporter asked him about the current country scene and inserted Taylor’s and Carrie’s names into the article despite George never singling them out.

    I also remember Patty Loveless (who perhaps can’t be considered a legend yet but she’s somebody I respect and admire greatly) being very complimentary of Carrie’s voice but also commenting she felt Carrie was under pressure by the record label to record contemporary sounding material instead of the traditional country her voice would be greatly suited for. In fact I believe those comments were made in an interview done by this very site! But, if that’s going to be called criticism it was very kindly stated.

    @Ben Foster: I agree Taylor’s perspective is distinct but I disagree in that I find her perspective to be very calculated to be commercial. She IS skilled at expressing a very modern, young narcissism but I don’t find that to be very sympathetic. I spent most of Speak Now wanting Taylor to please get over herself. But to give her a little credit I think Speak Now has more songs where she can sing off pitch without sounding as bad as she did on earlier albums.

    It’s easy to get excited about Miranda because she tries to use her place in mainstream music to spotlight really good alt scene music and she experiments in some non obvious directions. I think critics are so grateful for that they overlook the overproduction and oversinging you sometimes get from her.

    Despite the imperfections in their music I think Carrie and Miranda can develop into 2 people who turn out to be pretty important for country music down the road. It’d be nice to see the critics give them some time to develop their music instead of delivering snap judgments based on who represents their notion of doing things the right way better.

  39. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar says:

    Love this post. I think what makes Miranda stand out for me is that she recognizes and takes her potential by the horns. “Taking risks” is one thing; understanding the scope of your talent and how best to sculpt it is an entirely different thing. Miranda seems to have the firmest grasp on this of the three, and it’s encouraging. But that’s right now – who knows how this decade will play out.

    I still don’t understand why anyone takes Taylor Swift seriously. I think she has done tremendous damage to the genre and I don’t think she deserves any credit at all.

    I continue to be amazed / frightened by people’s black-and-white viewpoints.

  40. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I can definitely agree that Taylor has had her share of weak moments, with “Today Was a Fairytale” and “Picture to Burn” being foremost among them, imo. But on the other hand, “Back to December,” “White Horse,” and “Fifteen” are genuinely well-crafted songs that any songwriter would rightfully be proud to have written. She has a sweet spot for delving into things that are personal to her, and communicating them in a way that feels universally relatable, and that’s a trait shared by many of her best compositions.

    I tend to think that Taylor’s first album was her weakest, and that each successive release has been a moderate improvement on the predecessor, with Speak Now being her strongest effort to date. But that’s just me.

    I can respect any objective criticism of Taylor, Carrie, Miranda, etc. when it based on the music itself, but I do think it’s best to avoid over-speculating things, which seems to be a recurring tendency when attempting to elevate one over another. Claiming that Taylor “enjoys” being in the pop crowd more than the country crowd strikes me as a bit of an over-reach.

  41. BrandyNo Gravatar says:

    When it comes to true country music, Miranda,Reba and Martina are the leaders of the pack. Miranda is not only the best vocalist for the Genre and has no equal as a songwriter. I like Carrie and Taylor but they are more pop-country.Like Loretta Lynn said,as long as Miranda sings Country music is in good hands and this is from an Icon !

  42. BrandyNo Gravatar says:

    Miranda is being over rated by Carrie’s record label to help boost her sales while snubbig Carrie of the credit she deserves. lol Chris this makes absolutey no sense . Im so sick of people looking for excuses why Carrie doesnt win awards and telling snubbed. Truth is, orhers are better.

  43. JoJoNo Gravatar says:

    Truth is, Carrie’s the best. :) Just sayin’

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