Much like no pop star has ever been able to learn all of the right lessons from Madonna, no country star has yet to learn all of the right lessons from Shania Twain.
But darn if Carrie Underwood isn’t getting close. “Undo It” is short, sweet, and undeniably catchy. “Undo It” features both “We Will Rock You” drum riffs and twangy fiddle, as if those two things together are as natural as peanut butter and chocolate.
It even has a chorus of “Na Na Na’s” so infectious that somewhere in the world, Steam is reflexively adding, “Hey Hey, Goodbye.”
And though she’s such a skilled vocalist that it’s hardly worth noting at this point, Underwood sings the dickens out of the song.
But there’s still one lesson that needs to be learned, one that plagues pure pop and pop-flavored country alike: the way too busy production. Go back and study any classic pop hit of Madonna or Shania Twain, and pay attention to how deceptively simple they are. You can clearly hear every instrument because there’s so few of them, and the lead vocal doesn’t get drowned out by too many backup singers. It’s a problem that plagues even great records like Pink’s most recent hits, which are pure sonic pleasure until the last time through the chorus, when Pink is drowned out by all the bells and whistles.
Now, Carrie Underwood is never in any danger of being drowned out, and she is able to avoid being overpowered without overpowering in return. This is as catchy a piece of ear candy as she’s produced to date, and it’s made me hit repeat the way her best singles tend to do. But she’s really only a tighter production away from inducing Twain-level euphoria, and I can’t wait until she gets there.
Written by Kara DioGuardi, Martin Federiksen, Luke Laird, and Carrie Underwood
I blame Adam Lambert for what I am about to reveal to you all: I’m headed to a Taylor Swift concert tonight. That’s right, Taylor Swift. Insidious curiosity got the better of me.
But why do I blame Lambert, you ask? Because I haven’t been listening to a whole lot of country music recently. Instead, thanks to my new, bizarre obsession with Lambert, in the past month I’ve pulled out old Queen, Bowie, Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin. And I’ve listened to more My Chemical Romance, Pink and even Def Leppard than anything resembling country. So, of course I thought of Swift. Because, when you think of hard rock, isn’t Swift the first person who comes to mind?
(Save your ears, don’t listen)
I’ve also been tuning into rock radio, a rarity for me, to see what’s popular these days. Lo and behold, wouldn’t you know, Taylor Swift is also a rock artist (in addition to being a country, pop and heavy metal artist). She’s regularly squeezed in between All American Rejects and Green Day on my local station. And let me tell you, nothing sounds more rock than a re-mix of Love Story. Don’t you agree?
But you have to give credit where credit is due. This girl has everyone fooled. Re-mix, re-package, throw in a few guest appearances with John Mayer and Def Leppard, form a friendship with Miley Cyrus, and suddenly, wow, you appeal to every demographic (under the age of 20). I gotta admit, I’m impressed. I’m also curious how a tall, gangly misfit, with a precocious attitude, who can’t sing, has made it work. So, I’m headed to a concert tonight and will report back here because I actually know that many of you consider Swift a guilty pleasure. Wish me luck.
But no worries. I also have a number of saner concerts scheduled later this summer. I’ve already got tickets to see Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith and Buddy Miller; as well as tickets to see Gary Allan and LeAnn Rimes (if she doesn’t cancel, which she’s done on me twice). I’m also still holding out for Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson tickets, but I’m sure that one is going to work out.
Summer concert season is around the corner.
Who are you planning on seeing in concert this summer?
10:57 If I was a petty man, I’d be gloating about out-predicting all of my co-writers at Country Universe. Wait a minute. I am a petty man. I won! Yes! I won! This country universe is mine. Y’all just live in it. Suckers. (Except for you Leeann. You didn’t get all up in my grill, talking smack before the throwdown. You’re cool.)
10:56 ENTERTAINER – Kenny Chesney
10:54 Standing O for Shania. Good God, she’s beautiful. Welcome home.
10:50 So the only artist I see live who charges Eagles prices is Madonna, and I have to say that if she just stood there and growled, I’d feel ripped off. Come on, guys. Slap on some heels. Throw in some synchronized dancing. Jump some rope. Rub up against something. You’re supposed to be legends.
10:49 Dan:Once again, a washed up rock act gives us one of the better performances of the night. I like the Eagles, but that’s sad.
10:48 You know it’s bad when you’re hoping that Shania’s the surprise guest because you want to see some real country stars.
10:46 Paisley’s right about that. The Eagles have a lot more to do with country music today than most seventies country stars.