Single Review: Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”

Miranda Lambert Carrie Underwood Somethin' BadMiranda Lambert’s tempting fate with her titles, calling her upcoming album Platinum and her high-profile collaboration with Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad.”

No word for a while yet on whether the album will sell a million copies, but as far as the single goes, it lives up to the promise of the two singers more than it does to its title.

It does so by trying not to be as ambitious as the caliber of the collaborators would make you expect it to be.  This was a trap both ladies fell into when collaborating with other A-listers, making  Lambert’s duet with Keith Urban and Underwood’s with Brad Paisley not as successful as they could’ve been.

This is just a plain ol’ good girls on their baddest behavior ditty.  Well, not their baddest behavior.  Underwood doesn’t key up anyone’s car and Lambert doesn’t kill anybody.  But it’s all in good fun, and both ladies can perform the thing solo just fine when the other isn’t around.

And kudos to the production, I feel I should mention.  There were a few moments I thought it was gonna go all eighties glam rock, but the record pulls back before it goes over the edge, and we get just the ladies and a rhythm track, which actually supports the lyric better.  Somethin’ bad’s gonna happen, but….not yet.  Good stuff.

Written by Chris DeStefano, Brett James, and Priscilla Renea

Grade: B+

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37 Comments

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37 Responses to Single Review: Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”

  1. I like it! I heard it for the first time when they performed it on the Billboard Awards show and I didn’t like it, but I hoped I’d like the studio version and it turns out that I do. I like these two ladies singing like they’re having fun and I think they bring out some good silliness in each other. I agree with Kevin that what makes this song work is that they don’t try to be too ambitious considering who they are. They simply have a good time. I really like how Underwood sounds here too. I like her more fun, laid back tone.

  2. rezNo Gravatar

    Is it just me or are they alluding to something more like an album maybe? making them a duo just for an album? I don’t know. But that sure is somethin’ bad (in a good way!) and I sure would buy all them records and tickets! It makes me excited really. *wishful thinking*

  3. I’m guessing it is wishful thinking, but they do sound surprisingly good together on this song at least.

  4. JasonNo Gravatar

    Really dig this song. As their first live performance at the BBMAs, I thought they did fine. I’m sure they were helluva nervous for this, and I think it proved that this is a tough song to sing live.

    On the song itself, it has a cool groove to it…and damn is that chorus catchy as all get out. If the boys can release fun songs, the girls can, too. They hit it out of the park with this one.

  5. I want to like this, but so far it’s leaving me lukewarm. It may grow on me over time.

  6. ToddNo Gravatar

    Ok i guess i’m in the minority on this one but as a longtime big Miranda fan i’m quite disappointed with this song & would go as far as to say this replaces Fastest Girl in Town as my least favorite radio single from her..
    First off let me start with what i did like. I loved the vocal on this, the girls voices blended well & they both brought there A game on the track. Unfortunately that’s all i really like about this song.
    Lyrically this one is just ok to me. Its catchy enough but it doesn’t paint the especially vivid mental picture that the typical Miranda track does. I do greatly prefer Miranda singing songs she wrote over covering other writers material & i notice that she didn’t write this one so my objection to it may be a matter of personal preference.
    The thing i’m most disappointed with on this track however is the production. I have noticed recently that Miranda has been drifting away from the signature sound of her first 2 albums i loved so much & it seems shes abandoned it completely on this track. This cut isnt even remotely country sounding to the point that it seems that it sounds like it would fit better in typical Carrie album than a typical Miranda album sonically. this is straight up 80’s style rock & not particularly goo at that in my opinion. Its unfortunate that she chose to go this direction with the arrangement because i think this coulda been a really cool track if they would have gone with a more rockin country track that prominently featured the banjo, (maybe reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks Sin Wagon with a slower tempo) but they chose to go this direction.
    To the songs credit the title warns somethin bad bout to happens & at least that is truth in advertizing! as far as a grade i’d give this a C- & i may be being a bit generous with that since Miranda’s name is attached to this.

  7. Sofa CriticNo Gravatar

    Performances aside, the song is full of cliches, from the Aerosmith pre-chorus to the 80s stadium-rock “whoa – whoa” refrain. Nothing is original here.

    I thought Carrie and Miranda sang the song well at the recent Billboard Music Awards, despite the songwriters saddling them will ultra low notes in the verses.

    For anyone who enjoys the familiar and the tried-and-true, this song will have appeal.

  8. Sofa CriticNo Gravatar

    That should be “with” not “will”.

  9. PatrickNo Gravatar

    I like Carries singing on this, but then I just like her voice anyway, so it sounds as good as it always does. Mirandas voice certainly gets lost in all the trappings. She has little character to her voice is it becomes hard to even identify her here.
    I agree that the song itself is at fault here for the most part. Its just entirely too “Aerosmith” for me to really appreciate. and the lyrics are even repetitious in the references to mattresses and New Orleans. It really goes nowhere and does not resolve anything enough for it to be a story song. Instead I guess it is just a raucous lets ditch the dude and go out and party.
    Not a great or fresh concept.
    I agree also that it sounds more like a Carrie tune than a Miranda tune. But I also must say that I like most of Carries music much more than Mirandas so it may be the “bad-ass” miranda-esque tone of the song that puts me off a bit.

    I’m affraid it does not do much more for the antifipation of Mirandas new album, but I am glad it is not on Carries…

  10. bobNo Gravatar

    I wouldn’t change the channel if i heard this on the rare occasion i listen to radio, but i wouldn’t buy it.

    Todd say he “greatly prefers Miranda singing songs she wrote over covering other writers material.” The few Miranda songs i like include “The House That Built Me” (Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin) and “All Kinds of Kinds” (Phillip Coleman & Don Henry). To me, Carrie is a far better vocalist but I’ve never thought much of her material. Her cover of “I Told You So” is still my favorite CU song.

  11. PatrickNo Gravatar

    Even as a big fan of her music, I Told You So is a standout! The combination of voice and song is practically perfect. And it is rare that you get a Carrie song that is so simple in arrangment that Carries voice is the one true instrument. I would say the same for The House That Built Me, but I just don’t find enough character in Mirandas voice to. Its a great recording of a great song, don’t get me wrong. But I can never help wondering what a more interpretive singer might have done with it.

  12. ToddNo Gravatar

    Bob don’t get me wrong i do like most of Miranda’s covers (especially House That Built Me & Dry Town) but my all time favorites (Famous in a Small Town, Bring Me Down & More Like Her) are all songs that Miranda had a hand in writing. It seems to me that she gives her best vocal performances on the songs shes actually written, possibly because of the emotional connection to the material.
    I’m going to have to disagree with your statement about Carrie being a far better vocalist, though i can definitely see where your coming from. I personally would say that Carrie has a far more powerful voice with a greater vocal range but i would contend that Miranda is the better vocalist due to her interpretive skills. To me Carrie tends to overuse her power notes and other vocal tricks to the point that it seems as if shes screaming at you at times and trying to inject emotion into the song instead of letting the material speak for itself, which is something Miranda does very well. I would also agree with you about the general weakness of Carries material, though i may not be the best judge of that since as a 30 year old male i don’t think i’m exactly in her target demographic. My favorite Carrie song is Don’t Forget to Remember Me, i would say for my money its the best blend of good production and vocal performance of any Underwood track.

  13. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    Sorry. This flat-out doesn’t work for me.

    *

    Firstly, there is a lack of clarity between the lyrics and the production.

    On the surface, that’s not something to be particularly worried about as long as one of two things happen: the production helps complement the tone for the lyrics eloquently, or the lyrics are strong enough to make up for any production setbacks. Sometimes even a compelling, standout, nuanced vocal can offset drawbacks with both.

    “Somethin’ Bad” falls short on all fronts.

    Lyrically, “Somethin’ Bad” compares most closest to Carrie Underwood’s previous hit “Last Name” as far as tropes are concerned: except the locale this time is decidedly New Orleans instead of Las Vegas in the former song. In the beginning, we see the subject apparently balances a life fearing God, with a life raising hell by smoking a bag of pot and spending all the money stashed underneath her mattress at the local bar. Then, she heads down to New Orleans on a full tank of gas with a few friends, and even entertains the idea of “kidnapping” as an end rhyme (I couldn’t decipher the whole set of lyrics in that last quartet).

    There is a subtle, sinister undercurrent behind both Underwood and Lambert’s vocals (though too bombastic to the degree nuance is missing) in this song: perhaps alluding to the disintegration and other potential consequences that come with debauchery and living life on the edge like Thelma and Louise. I get where they were attempting to go with this…………….but here’s the problem.

    The production fails to back it up.

    *

    While they may, in fact, have been trying to deceptively offer a rollicking, fun-sounding arena rocker that deceptively masquerades as a three-minute public service announcement urging awareness of the dark side of extreme behavior put to song……….that self-awareness just isn’t executed well even on behalf of the vocalists, or by the flatness of the production. I’ve made it clear to many on reviewing sites including this one that I’m no fan of the murder-that-cheating-ex song or man-bashing rawker that Lambert and Underwood have most notably popularized through a small handful of single releases any more than the vast majority of shallow “frat-country” debris out there………..…but at least on a song like “Two Black Cadillacs”, I acknowledged that the production at least sets the tone and mood of how dark and complicated the situation all around is for everyone involved, rather than merely celebrating his death. With “Somethin’ Bad”, whatever attempts at ambiguity they may have strived for are poorly-executed, and this record comes across as one-dimensional.

    It doesn’t help matters that Lambert has already been known for writing about drinking and smoking pot in a celebratory, social libertarian context……….and so when taking that into consideration, many listeners are not going to pick up on the underlying subtlety and nuance………and rather take it as another “Hell yeah! Time to light it up and throw it down!” party anthem.

    *

    This is, ultimately, the musical equivalent of a summer movie blockbuster; whose promotional trailers are incessantly flashed in your face leading up to its monumentally-hyped release as an all-ensemble “event of the season”…………..but ultimately its cover is blown and is exposed as all power and no purpose.

    At the end of the day, I understand many will always have a soft spot for loud sounds, flashy performances and barrels of bombast much like summer blockbusters. But for someone like myself who prefers seeing artists evolve and step up their game as entertainers, this is a terribly wasted opportunity and one of the gravest disappointments of 2014 thus far.

    *

    Two thumbs down.

  14. SRMNo Gravatar

    Upon first listen, I absolutely hate it. Still have hopes for Lambert’s album.

  15. I agree that this sounds much more like a Carrie Underwood song/record than a Miranda song. Musically, this might appeal more to Carrie fans than Miranda fans.

    I am so happy that this song happened. I almost don’t care about the quality. I don’t love it or hate it. I am just kind of super excited that they recorded this together. For me, having the two most popular/powerful country women working right now coming together to “bro it up” is wonderful. Because there is so little room for women on country radio, it is easy to see these two as competitors. This actually deflates that and makes a very powerful statement about the power of women in music. I love that this collaboration happened.

    It’s getting all kinds of mixed/polarizing reviews across the Internet.

    But has been sitting at number one on Itunes since the release.

    It’s not a favorite song of mine, but I hope it bullets to number one and stays there for a while.

  16. ADJNo Gravatar

    First of all, LOVE the new layout to the site! :)

    Second, I definitely like…this is going to have to grow on me. I’m so used to having heard the studio versions of new songs first, then having a live performance, so maybe that’s why it was weird hearing it live first and then hearing the studio version. I’m sure that it will do well and happy that Miranda and Carrie did the duet! :)

  17. Not feeling this one so far at all. Might take a few listens. Never been a fan of Underwood’s bad girl, pissed off work.

  18. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    I definitely expected more off of a Underwood/Lambert pairing than this. It’s a crushing lost opportunity to my ears, for sure.

    I’d rather have two of the three consistently-successful female superstars of the format record something compelling together that gives me goosebumps but perhaps doesn’t translate to mass commercial returns than record a forgettable bombastic paint-by-numbers boot stomper that will immediately seem mundane when sized up to a few previous rockers from either artist featured.

    Trust me, I would hypothetically call out George Strait and Alan Jackson if, instead of joining forces to cut something as truly poignant as “Murder On Music Row”, they trotted out a half-baked, amped-up anthem with little use value other than a bid for instantly gratifying mass airplay pandering. Or if Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood hypothetically released a painfully mediocre duet once Brooks gets serious about making a comeback in the form of brand-new studio material. And so forth.

    Go hard, or stay home.

  19. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    Lambert and RCA Nashville have this bizarre tendency to front-load each Miranda Lambert release with the worse or more disposable cuts as singles, and later release some of its very best as latter singles.

    It is for this reason why I retain optimism about “Platinum” overall.

    *

    However, I’ll also admit I’m a little concerned about a couple of other details at surface level (and I acknowledge it’s just gut impressions that may be shattered once we actually listen to the material).

    Firstly, two titles on the track listing feature gratutous profanity (“Old Shit”, “Gravity is a Bitch”). Regardless of the quality of these tracks, it all screams “Shock value!” to me with no purpose other than to further market Lambert from the rest. It’s all about marketing as opposed to art, much like P!nk in her thirties still feels the need to pander to her audience via constant use of profanity and song titles like “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” when we know she is perfectly capable of carrying a song without those gimmicks.

    Secondly, we know the songwriting credits for every track, but we don’t know how the producing credits as of yet. It joys me to see Glenn Worf and Chuck Ainlay (who are most known for producing Mark Knopfler’s material) pairing with her again, but I’m mixed on Frank Liddell. You can’t argue that Liddell, on a whole, has been pretty successful with elevating Lambert’s output overall………….but sometimes his worst of tendencies crops up where he’ll overproduce and generate a bombastic wall-of-sound style of sound that deprives songs of their intimacy and nearly drowns out the vocalist. Outside of Lambert’s discography where I’ll agree he has been mostly successful, he pretty much butchered David Nail’s latest album “I’m A Fire” as well as took each of the Eli Young Band’s records down a couple pegs because of the obtrusive production that also doesn’t suit Eli’s voice well overall.

    I just hope Liddell is discerning enough in trusting Lambert to effectively be able to deliver the songs herself and serving more as a guide Otherwise, we’ll be left with a disappointing, cluttered-sounding and more uneven effort.

    *

    That said, the songwriting credits re-ignite my optimism a bit in that they feature Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe, Tom T. Hall, Dixie Hall and Heather Little most notably.

    There are also some mixed bags in there. Jimmy Robbins shows up on three tracks, and he has released some painful duds as of late (“Sure Be Cool If You Did”, “It Goes Like This”, “Sorry For Partying”). Luke Laird shows up on a mercifully minimal two songs who is largely responsible for the “frat-country” glut on Music Row. Natalie Hemby shows up on a whopping seven (!) cuts, but I’m not worried about in that she has already worked with Lambert on her two previous albums and delivered mostly winners in her efforts (“Fine Tune”, “White Liar”, “Only Prettier”, “Virginia Bluebell”). I guess I only felt the need to cite Hemby in that she’s featured on nearly half the album, and I always can’t help but express immediate concern when there are monopolies of sorts.

  20. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    Agreed.

    To her credit, Underwood has been incrementally stepping up her game with each successive release in terms of songwriting contributions and topical range. I respect that.

    Still, Underwood has yet to release a, shall we say, “complete” album that isn’t compromised slightly by its share of filler. Her first three albums suffered from way too much of that, and while “Blown Away” is easily her best album to date in that it has more teeth, there’s still this compulsory need to toss more generic throwaways in the track listing that make for a sometimes uneven listening experience.

    *

    Lambert, as you said, is clearly not as strong a vocalist as Underwood, but her personality and confidence more than compensates for that and makes for more complete album listening experiences.

    Yes: sometimes she’ll release painful lead or secondary singles, and yes: she does have a little filler here and there. But it’s hard to argue she succeeds as an album artists more than most of her contemporares in her genre.

  21. I also wish this was a better track too.

    I am excited by the collaboration but less excited by the song. Still, I’m glad it happened.

    Just the two of them doing a Pistol Annies-type thing would have been awesome.

  22. VickiNo Gravatar

    I like that’s its a fun song with bite and just two friends having a go at “bro-country’s domination”. I had hoped for a true Miranda song duet but oh well. The recorded song is good and with more balance..and little more. The actual Billboard performance was dominated by Carrie which she can’t help. Her voice is that strong. Also, unfortunately, both had disappearing low notes and that black stuff thickened around their eyes made them look like raccoons. But I know it was all in fun to go with a fun song. No harm. I have already pre-ordered Miranda’s album and will continue to get little snippets of Carrie performances while I wait for her album drop in late fall/winter.

  23. Margaret K.No Gravatar

    I can always appreciate a Thelma & Louise-themed song. They really kill this song; I’m excited to see how this does in the long run. Maybe this will help get Carrie back into the winner’s circle for awards season since she’s got the almighty Miranda to tag along with.

  24. LynnNo Gravatar

    It’s a fun song, and I enjoy it for what it is.

    You can listen to the stream of eight tracks from Miranda’s upcoming album Platinum at cmt: http://www.cmt.com/artists/miranda-lambert/

  25. I am also not a fan of Carrie’s bad girl, pissed off stuff. There is something about it that just does not feel like the right fit. It does not seem authentic. She’s an amazing singer, but I think it’s one of the reasons I’m not a big fan.

  26. Hi, Lynn,
    Thanks for linking to the preview.
    I like the songs. A lot. They are very unique and different. As always, Miranda is doing something brand new. Good stuff!

  27. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    I just have half of the album previewed a listen myself.

    All in all, not too bad. “Little Red Wagon” was the clear left-of-field standout among the bunch. It sounds like Lambert’s attempt at a country-fried version of a Ke$ha anthem (she used a Gold Trans Am as a double entendre in her song). The lyrics are inane, but it sounds fun.

    The first impression I got is that this album confirms both the best, as well as worst, of Frank Liddell is present in the production. His best comes out when he, along with his two fellow producers of this project, embed some zesty country flavor into the mix. We see this most reflected in “Old Shit” and, to a lesser extent, “Bathroom Sink” (which I’ll return to in a moment). However, he is at his worst when he succumbs to his usual “loudness wars” habits………..and that is unfortunately what mars “Bathroom Sink”, for instance, and what truly consists of a powerful message regarding body-image.

    Moreover, I’m a bit concerned of the number of interchangeable, glossy mid-tempo textures in this mix. “Girls”, “Babies Makin’ Babies” and “Another Sunday in the South” all seem to bleed together into one homogenous mass, and “Holding On To You” is only somewhat slower in tempo.

    My biggest disappointment here was “Smokin’ & Drinkin'”. I expected more from a Little Big Town collaboration just as I did a Lambert-Underwood marquee match-up. Instead, we’re treated with another lazily-written, overly-glossy nostalgic drinking song, with Little Big Town’s signature harmonizing buried deep in the overproduction.

    Again, however, ultimately the preview’s biggest strength lies with the songwriting. It’s refreshing to see Lambert break further away from the murdering-a-cheater/man bashing trope (although she does play the bad rebellious girl hand pretty aggressively here, too). I probably wouldn’t consider “Platinum” as strong an effort lyrically as “Revolution” (which I consider her best album to date) but Lambert is indeed trying to stretch herself a bit outside of “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” (which she didn’t write) and “Another Sunday in the South” (essentially another interchangeable semi-Southern pride song) and she’s got a lot of infectious personality as always that effectively sells her artistry quite well.

    So, yeah, I’d consider “Bathroom Sink” the overall standout (despite the loudness wars), “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” the standout dud, and Little Red Wagon” the curveball that is something of a guilty pleasure for me at the moment but I’m not even sure what to think of it quite yet.

    *

  28. “Little Red Wagon” is indeed a strange curveball. I feel the same as you do about it, Noah. I’m not quite sure what to think, I guiltily like it, and it’s one strange song! So, I straddle the fence of liking it and not liking it, if you know what I mean.

    Over all, I don’t love any songs from this album so far, but I think some will grow on me. Some of the production choices, as Noah, points out keep me from automatically embracing the album. I do not like the production on the Little Big Town collaboration at all and I agree that the production on Bathroom Sink keeps it from being a great song. I’m a little confused by some lines in “Babies Making Babies”, but I do enjoy her exaggerated phrasing, I’ll admit. “Old Shit” has the same production and I like the many songs and groups references in “Another Sunday in the South”, but it’s a silly song over all, though it was fun/heartening to hear Marty Raybon at the end of the song.:)

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend followed by Revolution are my favorite Lambert albums and I’m afraid I won’t like this one nearly as much, but I’m still holding out hope for the Tom T Hall composition with the Time Jumpers on it. I hope they’re used much better than LBT are.

  29. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    ugh

    unworthy effort

  30. TomNo Gravatar

    …nomen est omen.

  31. TexasVetNo Gravatar

    From Billboard:

    Closing out the top 10 is the chart’s (All Genre) highest debut, Miranda Lambert’s duet with Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad.” It launches at No. 10 with 107,000 — the biggest sales week ever for Lambert. The pair premiered the song on the Billboard Music Awards. It previews Lambert’s new studio album, “Platinum,” which is due on June 3.

    This is after only a single TV performance and very little radio play. SB may not be a critical success but it’s certainly serving it’s purpose as a great launch vehicle for Ran’s Platinum album.

  32. Tom PNo Gravatar

    Looks like we have some bias here from lontime Carrie fans. This song is bad to say the least and if it were sung by someone else this review would have been much different. It is such a copycat of so many 80’s rock songs. I respect everyone’s opinion of couse. However, this song only brings country down a few more notches. I guess it really is all about the money for everyone at this point.

  33. JessNo Gravatar

    My only issue with the song is the lack of melody. I think it’s got a good attitude to it, though, and I find it catchy (my favorite part is the outro parts of “Oooooh…somethin bad”).

    In terms of the country or not country thing, I think it’s honestly just time to get over it. I’m not saying we can’t appreciate things that are more traditionally country, but what’s “country” is no longer what we think of. Even if it’s “80s rock,” it means rock is no longer that sound. Current country wouldn’t fit on rock radio formats.

  34. jacquieNo Gravatar

    Not liking this song….i listened to it a few times and still not a fan .sorry it is too repetitive and lacks any real meaning…

  35. Tom PNo Gravatar

    Jess, I don’t disagree with you. I just grew up loving country and I think I do have to come to the reality that country music & country radio is something I am not a fan of and I just need to stop giving it a try and just not listen. I just miss that GREAT country song you used to get and apply to your own life. Those times are gone. I guess I just keep hangin’ on hope that it will resurface as some have predicted but I think it just may be a thing of the past.

  36. CountryKnightNo Gravatar

    I have heard much better from both artists. At least in their other songs, their sharp and clever lyrics distracted from the rock and roll sound.

  37. JasonNo Gravatar

    Can we talk about how bad a*s the video is?