Posts Tagged ‘Ke$ha’

Single Review: Her & Kings County, "Family Tree"

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

I don’t even know where to begin.

Banjos.   Hand claps.   Dogs with fleas. Fergie with a country accent.

It really sounds like something you hear in between real viagra radio stations when signals overlap.   Like Little Big Town is playing at the same time as Ke$ha.

It’s unbelievable.  It’s also unimaginably creative and undeniably entertaining to these weary ears.

I wrote recently that country music has been leaving me numb lately.   This woke me up.

Grade: B+

Listen: Family Tree

 

Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away”

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

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t/uploads/2012/07/Carrie-Underwood-Blown-Away-Single-150×150.png” alt=”" width=”150″ height=”150″ />Four albums into her career, Carrie Underwood’s career growth has been fairly stunning.

It’s hard to imagine that the talent-show winner who sang “Jesus Take the Wheel” would morph into a fully fledged pop superstar with speaker-rattling pop-rock songs like “Good Girl” and “Blown Away.”

While the evolution has been fascinating to watch, the problem is that someone who was thought of as the next female country superstar has effectively left country music behind and moved on to bigger things, and it’s a loss for the genre.

“Blown Away,” Underwood’s new single, has some of the most interesting lyrics she’s had to work with in some time, courtesy of writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins. It borrows a little from the Miranda Lambert songbook, where an abusive father is made to account for his sins with death by tornado. While it’s a bit more passive than a Lambert song (she would have shot the SOB a few times before letting the twister carry him away), there is a satisfying sense of Old Testament-style vengeance to it.

Many of the main story elements are absent – the age of the narrator, exactly what the father did that was so awful – but there’s still plenty create some vivid imagery. Much like Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” never reveals the actual fate of the mother, “Blown Away” lets listeners fill in their own details.

As noted though, this is not being sung by Carrie Underwood, Country Singer. Instead, this is Carrie Underwood, International Pop Diva, and the song is glitzed up and glossed over to make it pop radio-ready. It’s been so thoroughly produced and sanitized that there isn’t a trace of a country song left in “Blown Away.” There have been “country” remixes of Kelly Clarkson singles that sound more traditional than this one.

The frustrating thing is that the gloss is so uncalled for. The altered vocals, the bombastic instrumentation, those things just take away from the vocals. It’s all well and good if the singer is Katy Perry or Ke$ha, as they need all the help they can get. But Carrie Underwood? Aside from a few impressive and effortless high notes that serve as a reminder of her capabilities, her vocal abilities are effectively buried.

Pop music today is very restrictive – possibly more so than country music – and a certain type of sound is needed to get significant airplay. So if the idea behind the song was to make Underwood sound like every other pop singer out there, then it’s a success. The downside, though, is that everything that made her special in the first place is getting lost in the process.

Written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins

Grade: B-

Listen: Blown Away

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 12

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Today’s category is…

A Drinking Song

Here are the staff picks:

Tara Seetharam: “Smoke a Little Smoke” – Eric Church

I’m still digging this one – part trippy, part creepy vibe and all.

Kevin Coyne: “Misery and Gin” – Merle Haggard

The Back to the Barroom album is best known for its raucous closing track, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.”  But the opening ballad sets the mood for the entire record, and sets the template for a whole bunch of George Strait hits to boot.

Leeann Ward: “Set ‘Em Up Joe” – Vern Gosdin

With as many cheating songs that there are in country music, there are at least just as many drinking songs. I love so many of them, but few more than Vern Gosdin’s “Set Em Up Joe”, to reach back a little. It’s even one of those prime examples of how to worthily drop a name.

Dan Milliken: “Tik Tok” – Ke$ha

I could choose from a couple dozen country favorites here. But they all come from an older perspective than mine. Ke$ha’s goofy trash-pop captures the experience of being twenty-one and living life tongue-in-cheek, trying to enjoy a last hurrah of irreverence and irresponsibility before proper adulthood.

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