“Prize Fighter” (with Kelly Clarkson)
Written by Jessi Alexander, Sarah Buxton, and Ross Copperman
Yes, it’s been more than seven years since Trisha Yearwood has released a proper single. Yes, it was worth the wait.
“Prize Fighter” is uplifting, inspirational, and powerful. It showcases Yearwood’s still flawless voice, an instrument that is effective at every setting between whisper and shout, and is always properly calibrated to the material it delivers. It’s a credit to Kelly Clarkson that she can even keep up with Yearwood, and her contributions to the track are complementary, if not entirely necessary.
As for the song, I’m pretty sure it’s great. I say “pretty sure” only because it’s Yearwood singing it. She’s so good at what she does – so, so good – that she can make a good song sound great. Is this song more insightful in the end than similar go get ’em anthems because of Yearwood’s legendary taste in material, or her legendary skills as an interpreter of material?
Would it sound less profound sung by Jo Dee Messina or Martina McBride? Certainly. But would Yearwood ever go near some of their mediocre anthem songs in the first place? Certainly not.
For me, “Prize Fighter” is holding up well after dozens of listens and still sounds great when put up against her best singles and tracks. As usual, Garth Fundis scales the production perfectly, and things get more intense without getting more loud. Maybe we can get Yearwood to head up A&R and Fundis to be an in-house producer, and they can show the new generation how it’s supposed to be done.
Because even twenty-three years after she first came on the scene, she’s still in a class all by herself. Prize fighter, indeed.