Single Review: Keith Urban, “Female”

“Female”
Keith Urban

Written by Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally, and Keith Urban

“Female” is two half-finished songs stitched together.

The verses are intriguing, with a man trying to empathize with what it feels like to be a woman in a world that doesn’t value women. At one point in the second verse, Urban even brushes up against the idea of rape culture, though he switches to Adam and Eve so quickly afterward that it’s easy to miss it.

But then you have the chorus, completely disconnected from the idea of trying to understand what it’s like to be a woman and instead falling into the trap of defining womanhood through relationships with men. It’s a laundry list of nonsense, providing equal space for the Virgin Mary and whatever “Technicolor river wild” is supposed to mean.

Urban’s sentiment is kindhearted, but its execution ends up reinforcing country music’s biggest ongoing problem: its ongoing marginalization of female artists. Having a man singing about the female experience is a poor substitute for providing space for a diverse collection of female voices.

Grade: C

15 Comments

  1. This song ultimately fails in a similar way Kenny Chesney/Grace Potter’s “Wild Child” and Dierks Bentley/Elle King’s “Different For Girls”……………..they have a very utilitarian and stereotypical leaning that ultimately undermines whatever statement they were trying to make.

    And am I the only woman who thinks the latter half of the second verse is absolutely off-putting? It’s not flattering: it sounds more like a corny pick-up line than sincere sentiment.

    We don’t need to hear more mansplaining on the airwaves. I want to hear more women sharing their stories and experiences on the airwaves.

  2. I agree with this review! It’s kind hearted, but misses. I also agree that the chorus is random.

    Nadia,
    I thought the same thing about the Adam and Eve part! It sounds like ageneric pick up line.

  3. I also completely agree with this review. Keith’s heart was likely in the right place, and I appreciate him trying to get the message out there, but in the end, it just wasn’t that well executed. I agree that the verses are the most intriguing part (except for the cheesy Adam and Eve line Nadia and Leeaan mentioned). It totally loses me with the boring laundry list style chorus, and the overall lack of melody doesn’t help, either.

    The last paragraph in the review pretty much sums it up for me. I respect Keith for trying, but I would much rather hear more actual women on the radio singing about what it’s like to be a woman in today’s world.

  4. I don’t blame Keith for radio not playing more female artists and won’t hold that against the song. I will, though, blame Keith for not releasing a fully fleshed out song. The intent is good enough, but he fails to carry through.

  5. Good intentions – poor execution
    I’m all in favor of having more female artists on the radio. However, when it comes to songs addressing rape culture, the first song I think of is Danny O’Keefe’s “Drive On Driver” from his 1973 album “Breezy Stories” (best known for “Good Time Charley’s Got the Blues”).
    3rd verse:

    In his pants he had a deadly weapon
    But his silver bullet would not shoot
    He slugged me till he’d gotten what he wanted
    Ain’t it strange the way you find a substitute

  6. The Adam & Eve line I found relevant. Many women are taught to be obedient to men depending on which church they go to. With lines like Eve was made from Adam’s rib a frequent response. You can see more under #thingsonlychristianwomenhear

    Women should have more space on country radio. (spotify playlist are another area too look for sexist programming). However it’s not Urban records I want replaced. Songs with sexist undertones like When It Rains It Pour are the songs I wish country radio would do away with and replace with the experiences of women.

  7. I’m confused how “When It Rains It Pours” is sexist against women? If anything I find that song to be one of the best mainstream country songs this year and honestly a real fun country song.

    As for this song. I get the intention, but that chorus is just faceless and Keith Urban’s production is just not what it used to be.

    It seems like ever since Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing album, Keith Urban has been on a steady decline to mediocrity and it has gotten to the point where it feels like he isn’t really trying anymore.

  8. @raymond

    It fits several sexist entertainment tropes. Think what role do women have in the song?

    Role 1: Naggy woman

    “Sunday morning, man, she woke up fighting mad
    Bitching and moaning on and on ’bout the time I had”

    Bitching is a sexism term in general and while it can be used to either gender the imagery it pulls is that of a naggy women. When used to guys its to emasculate.

    Role 2: Gold digger


    Now she was sure real quick to up and apologize
    When she heard about my new found luck on that FM dial”

    She’s only came back to him because of his new financial gains (despite only winning a vacation at that point!?)

    Role 3: Sexy woman who doesn’t say anything

    See “Girl In Country Song” for response.

    Add onto it country radio format being extremely limited in the perspective of female artist (2 songs in top 20) to a have a song that basically a love-letter to how women cause all problems and life would be better without her/them is troubling. The music video only furthers this. It’s wish fulfillment for sexist guys.

  9. T – That response was perfect.

    The sad part is how many women (and men) fail to realize what is going on with all of these songs. I know women who sing along with the songs and will tell me they mind ‘bro country.’ They have a right to their opinion of music, but those same women tend to unknowingly undermine other females on a consistent basis (an example being questioning why it takes some women so long to come out about their sexual assault experiences). I can’t help but think the two go hand in hand.

    I think one thing that isn’t talked about enough is how much women country music fans contribute to the existing issues of discrimination in country music. I do occasionally see someone talk about how female listeners rate songs by males higher, but the issue extends well beyond that one piece of information.

  10. Amen to everything T and Jason said. I thought I was the only one who doesn’t like “When It Rains It Pours.”

    Anyway, I don’t blame Keith or this song for the lack of women on the radio, even if it might’ve come off that way in my previous post. Even though it’s a poorly executed song, I’d still rather hear it over “When It Rains It Pours” or anything by Sam Hunt, Walker Hayes, Luke, FGL, and the other bros.

  11. I don’t think you’re supposed to take “When It Rains It Pours” seriously. It’s a humorous song and a really tongue in cheek song, also it doesn’t really bring gender into it other than the fact that the ex is female as that’s the gender the guy is into.

    Sexist songs to me are stuff that does straight up degrade a whole sex like “God Made Girls” and “Real Men Love Jesus”.

  12. The woman in “When it Rains it Pours” is a plot device, serving no purpose other than to play foil to an inconsiderate man’s revenge fantasy. I think Combs comes off as a selfish jerk.

  13. Do you believe most people that listen to When It Rains it Pours think of him as selfish jerk? The promotion for the song and the music video certainly don’t support this narrative.

    On top of that when was the last time a woman got a number one song on country radio where she was a shelfish jerk?

    The song being called tongue in cheek reminds me of the conversation of hipster racism.

  14. Well, Carrie Underwood’s killed a few people in her #1 songs, but they usually had it coming!

    I agree with you about the misogyny that “When it Rains it Pours” depends upon. It reminds me a bit of “How Do You Like Me Now,” though it doesn’t approach the pure viciousness of that song’s second verse.

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