Single Review: Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood, “The Fighter”

“The Fighter”
Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood

Written by busbee and Keith Urban

The chorus of this record is fantastic. It’s catchy as all get out, and I wish more songs did the call and answer structure that used here.

It’s a great tradition going back to those great country duet records – Conway & Loretta, Porter & Dolly, Johnny & June. Of course, that’s about the only connection to country music here. This is a pop record, through and through.

That’s hardly a pejorative in my world. I love a good pop record. But good pop records are a lot harder to make than good country records, and this one has too many production tricks that get in the way.

Seriously. If there’s a better male singer than Keith Urban and a better female singer than Carrie Underwood in the current generation, I can’t name them. Just get out of the way and let them sing.

Ring me up when they’ve made the unplugged version. I’m sure it will be an A.

Grade: B

 

17 Comments

  1. Yeah I wish they had done a more acoustic version (at least as an intro or outro) at the Grammys. It would have made the spot more ‘country,’ too.

    It’s interesting how well this song sells with the slightest promotion. It went top 5 off that car version going viral, and now it’s top 10 after the Grammys. People are clearly feeling it.

  2. I just don’t buy this pair singing these lyrics, as good as they are vocally. I mean, you’re trying to tell me that Keith “Somebody Like You” Urban is going to play the knight in shining armor to Carrie “Two Black Cadillacs” Underwood’s damsel in distress?? Reverse the roles, and then we’ll talk…

  3. When I first heard the chorus, I thought about how much stronger the song would’ve been if they switched it up. Make one verse be about him being there for her, and the next about her being there for him. They could adjust the chorus afterwards to go with who played what role in the verse. That would’ve been great.

  4. Kevin, that would have been more true to Carrie’s usual style at least. When I first heard this song I just thought “If someone causes her to fall or cry, that guy should be worried about her burning the house down with them in it”, because she’s pretty much the queen of revenge songs.

    I like this song alright, but I was wondering if there was anything about it that actually made it country, because this is the least country sounding song I’ve heard of either artist. And that’s saying something, because Carrie especially is solidly country-pop and mostly that because of her slight twang.

    I would have liked it better had Carrie had more agency in the song, or more to do than just the call in the call and response part. The first verse being from Keith’s perspective and then the second one being about Carrie being there for him like you mentioned would have created a sort of balance I feel this song could have really used.

    As far as Carrie duets that were made it as singles, this is my least favourite behind “I Told You So”, “Remind Me” and “Something Bad”. It’s the least country of them, and just the least lyrically/sonically interesting. I love me some good pop music, and I’m really more on the edge of the country music scene as an ignorant European, but when listening to country I’d like to hear at least SOME things that make me feel like I’m actually listening to a country record.

    This gets a B- from me ONLY because it features my two favourite country artists and I’m clearly biased. It should probably get a C.

  5. For one, most people are not definitively one thing; we all have moments of obvious strength and moments of vulnerability. I think expecting someone to be emotionally consistent in every song is too much. Just because “Carrie” trashed a guy’s truck for cheating on her doesn’t mean she can’t also be vulnerable at some other point.

    Along with that, I don’t think that inherently means Carrie couldn’t be there for Keith in other moments. The idea KJC mention of reversing the roles in the 2nd verse and chorus could have been cool, but I don’t think them not doing it means Carrie’s character in the song is never a fighter. It’s just that in this one moment she’s upset, and he’s going to be there for her.

  6. I have no love for this song, but I agree that Carrie’s tough songs don’t exclude her from singing from the point of view of somebody who is vulnerable or or dependent on somebody. One of the reasons that I love Miranda Lambert is that she can sing from a bad-ass point of view, but can also be vulnerable.

  7. And really, anger is just an extension of pain. For most of us, an angry or even “tough” moment is really a mask for pain. So, it makes sense for Carrie, Miranda, etc to put on a brave face in one song, but then to be vulnerable in another.

    If any of you know someone who is 100% consistent emotionally, then you probably know someone with a mental illness.

  8. Leeann, I agree with you about Miranda. I liked her tough-girl songs like Gunpowder And Lead. But it was when I heard her more vulnerable songs – More Like Her, Dead Flowers, House That Built Me – that she made my jaw drop. It’s a rare gift to be able to do both those types of songs as incredible as she does.

  9. This song had me singing along the first time I heard it. It’s catchy and just fun to listen to by two of my favorite artist, plain and simple.

  10. Speaking of Miranda, the terrific “Vice” failed to make the top 10 at country radio, and her new song seems to be struggling. Meanwhile Blake is still having #1s. Is it too early to speculate that Miranda is suffering a backlash as a result of their break-up?

  11. KJC – In a general sense, sure, but it’s not like Lambert hasn’t had a lot of radio success; she’s had multiple #1s and a lot of top 10s. This time around her lead single missed the top 10. It remains to be seen how the now one will do, but thus far it isn’t having a fast rise. To that end she’s fallen off from her past few albums.

  12. It sounds like a bad 80’s song, I swear to God. I hardly recognized Carrie’s voice until the song’s bridge all thanks to that weird vocal effect.

    The chorus is okay though.

  13. Now, I admit to being surprised by the general comments on this song to Kevin’s fine review. I also admit that the Fighter is not in any way, shape or form a country song. If two other artists had performed this song, I might not have liked it. And yet, I love this single. Keith and Carrie have a natural chemistry, voices and personalities. Their performance was heads and shoulders above anything else that the Grammys produced.

    Now, I completely agree with Leeann and Caj regarding Miranda Lambert. The House That Built Me is one of country music’s finest songs ever; you can feel the emotions of the past enveloping her. She is generally just one of country’s finest female voices.

  14. Count me among the many who don’t care for this at all. Like Kevin, I love a good pop single… But I don’t think this qualifies.

    The call-and-response is really the only thing I think it has going for it– the production, in particular, is overbearing and tacky in a parts-of-the-80s-that-would-best-stay-there kind of way.

    And, as I’ve said on the CU twitter account, if Tim McGraw could chart 3 singles concurrently just a couple of months ago, there is no reason why this, of all things, should somehow be blocking Underwood’s team from releasing “Choctaw County Affair” as a (career-best) single for her.

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