Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “See You Again”

carrie see you againYou’d be forgiven if Carrie Underwood’s current hit left you a little underwhelmed. After the one-two murderoo of “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs,” the releases that announced Underwood’s ascension from superstar singer to potentially cool artist, the Narnia-inspired “See You Again” may feel like a retreat back to simpler days. Actually, with its mechanical piano, bloated chorus production, and vague celestial imagery, it almost sounds like a descendant of “Inside Your Heaven,” Underwood’s sappy American Idol single. Uh oh!

But if you can accept that songs of this flavor will probably always be part of the Carrie Underwood experience, you may find that she’s improved the recipe a good bit over time.

It helps that “See You Again” is a decent composition on its own merits, with a stirring – if safe – theme of reconnecting with the loved ones we’ve lost or been separated from, plus some enjoyable – if gratuitous – “woah”s and “oh”s.

But the crucial difference is in the performance. For all the hosannas Underwood’s huge voice received early on, tracks like this demonstrate how much she’s still progressing both technically and interpretively. Early cuts like “Inside Your Heaven” or “Lessons Learned” were occasionally mired by reedy tones, robotic vibrato, or impassive phrasing; you had the sense of a singer finding her way around her instrument. Not so for the muscular, dynamic presence who drives this song. She’s gradually growing into her preordained destiny as a country-pop diva, confidently weaving runs and slurs into the fabric of the melody, and creating fun, little Carrie-isms like her quirky pronunciation of “again,” her whips into head-voice whenever she hits the title phrase, or her impassioned (if unintentional) belting of her own name. (“I will carry!”)

Does that sound like teasing? It’s praise. You can fall in love with a singer’s voice, but you stay in love because of the distinct ways they use it. It’s my opinion that Carrie Underwood still needs a new producer, someone who will encourage her more ambitious instincts and stop putting so much bland noise behind her, drowning out potential nuances. But I’m finally enjoying the Carrie we have at this moment in time, too. There’s something there.

Written by Carrie Underwood, Hillary Lindsey & David Hodges

Grade: B+

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21 Comments

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21 Responses to Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “See You Again”

  1. I don’t love this song, but I agree with many of the points in the review, particularly Underwood’s growth as an interpretive singer, and the point that you can stay in love with the singer’s voice because of the way they use it.

    Oh, and “one-two murderoo” is probably my favorite thing I’ve read this week. :) Fine work, Dan!

  2. Ha! I love this review!

    I agree that I’m really liking Carrie’s voice a lot more these days. I do wish the production on this song was much different than it is though.

  3. Beautifully honest review, Dan, like one an older, wiser brother would give Carrie. More astute than anything else was your observation of her evolving vocal talent beyond technical skill. It’s the reason I often preferred, say, Sheryl Crow’s, Miranda Lambert’s or even Taylor Swift’s catalogue to Carrie’s–I often feel exhausted by what you called a singer finding her way around an instrument but what I liked parading around a song with “look how big my pipes are!” written on a banner, prompting me to think, “Yeah, but they’re pretty empty.” Blake Boldt made this point better than I do in a review of Sparks Fly in 2011:

    “Swift’s pitch might waver but her purpose never does. Her infusion of individual lines with urgency and earnestness are a tribute to her talent, not so much as a distinguished vocalist but as an excellent communicator. Each frazzled note is freighted with meaning.” My favorite singers know how to make words sound like what they mean. I concur with your entire review, although the “woaaohhs” are a bit more than gratuitous for my taste.

  4. Correction to my above post: “What I liked to call* parading around….”

  5. VickiNo Gravatar

    You were more generous than I would have been. This was the most boring song on “Blown Away” for me and it irked me to no end that she chose it. She seems to be going right in order of the album tract listing when it comes to picking releases. So I’m assuming if this song hits #1, the next release will have to be, “Do You Think About Me” (which to me would have been a much better choice than See You Again) But even though the song did nothing for me, the video was excellent and brought more depth to the meaning of the song. I too so desperately want Carrie to give Mark Bright the boot. She has improved but she needs a new direction. How about Jay Joyce as producer?

  6. This one has always been one of my faves from ‘Blown Away’.

    I especially like the ‘oh oh oh’s.

    “One-two murderoo”

    That is the best thing I’ve ever read.

  7. johnNo Gravatar

    Compare to her previous two singles this song does sound a bit weak.
    But I LOVE this music video

  8. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    I dare say this is my favorite track on the album.

  9. KentNo Gravatar

    This is not my favourite Carrie song, but after releasing three fantastic singles in a row, I’m not going to complain. And even if I don’t like this as much, it is slowly growing on me, because it’s hard not to appreciated that voice.

  10. Tyler H.No Gravatar

    This, the title track, “Wine After Whiskey”, and “Good in Goodbye” are my favorites off of the album. Even though the lyrics are rather generic, it leaves the song open for a diverse universe of interpretation, which I love. Beautiful song, amazing vocal interpretation, and yes — Carrie’s growth this era has been immaculate. Loving it!

    Every time I revisit this album, though, I get stunned as to how amazing of a record it actually is. It has a couple of weaklings — “Thank God For Hometowns” and “Nobody Ever Told You”, to be specific, but from the starting (the incredible “Good Girl” – “Blown Away” – “Two Black Cadillacs” – “See You Again” – “Do You Think About Me”) 1-2-3-4-5 punch to the closing vocal performances of “Wine After Whiskey” and “Who Are You”, this album is very cohesive.

  11. Okie GirlNo Gravatar

    “Agin” is Okie for “again”!!! :)

  12. Louie MNo Gravatar

    I used to be among those who thought “See You Again” was a wrong single choice to follow up “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs.” When I bought the album, this was one of the songs that I often skipped. But I have actually fallen in love with “See You Again,” that it is now among my most-listened to tracks off the Blown Away album (as per my music player counter reflects).

    I have always thought that Carrie really has incredible instincts in determining which of her songs are going to be hits. “See You Again” seems to be another proof of that, as the song is already on the cusp of keeping Carrie’s extraordinary top 2 streak in the country charts.

  13. TomNo Gravatar

    …not very impressed with this. jesus take the mixer.

  14. TomNo Gravatar

    Not a fan. Carrie really doesn’t do it for me in general, actually. I recognize that she’s a great singer, but with a couple of exceptions (“Wasted” and “Jesus Take the Wheel”) I just don’t think she sings good songs.

  15. Michael A.No Gravatar

    I agree with Tom on this one… and on Underwood in general, except I’m not exactly a fan of “Jesus Take the Wheel”. Mostly her material bores me.

  16. TomNo Gravatar

    Jesus Take the Wheel isn’t anything special, but it’s fun to hear her cut loose, so I don’t change the station.

  17. JessicaNo Gravatar

    I feel in my honest opinion, this is a very good song and it has a true meaning. Every time I listen to this song, it reminds me that I will see my loved ones again. I’ve recently lost my friends dad to lung cancer, my grandma to ovarian cancer, when I visited my roommate and her family before we went back to school, when I go back to college and I miss my family, etc. I could continue on about this but I know when I hear this song, it really hits home. I also think of the good times that I had when I listen to this song.

  18. KevinNo Gravatar

    I couldn’t agree more about getting rid of Mark Bright. I want her to go in a new direction and take some chances. She’s the rare artist who can do ANYTHING with her voice.

  19. JessNo Gravatar

    So, Carrie has said the Blown Away era is over. Wow. I can’t believe they will only release 4 singles from the album, especially with sure hits like “Do You Think About Me,” “Cupid,” etc. left. Why is her label so stingy with the singles?!?! It’s not like she’s about to release another album. Heck, Miranda is on single 5 right now to boot!

  20. Louie MNo Gravatar

    I agree. There are so many gems in the albums that are way better than so many songs in the radio right now. I am re-loving “Wine After Whiskey” these days and it is only now that I am recognizing how impressive Carrie’s vocal interpretation on this song has been. She effectively channeled the ache of losing a passionate love, and settling for something less. The songwriting, the country production, and Carrie’s perfect vocals and interpretation – it could have been another career hit for her. :(

  21. StaceyNo Gravatar

    When/where did Carrie say there were no more singles from Blown Away? Man, that bums me out.

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