Ridiculous Things: Miranda’s New Album Cover

(See the full image here)

Although I might append a “-ly Cool” to that “Ridiculous” depending on the day you asked me.

But yeah, let’s talk about this. She’s playing up her primary marketing persona to such an extreme as to make its artifice glaringly, even amusingly obvious. In a way, that doesn’t bug me – it’s not like any of us ever actually believed her to be a vengeful pyro/ex-girlfriend/abuse victim.

But “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder & Lead” are great records because they tap into the hearts of women who have been those things – or at least, because they construct believable hearts for those women as characters. So while it’s cool, in a Tarantino way, to imagine a cute blond getting all aggro, we know that firepower can’t be the whole story; it has to be based on something. For the most part, Lambert seems to have gotten that.

But the silly reference to burning up some guy’s luggage in “Baggage Claim” bugged me a bit, and now we get bold graphics like this. I’m thinking things could either go very right or very wrong here. This is a striking photo, but I’d hate for Lambert to become a parody of herself.

What do y’all think?

(Note: If the album cover shows up as a Mosaic, click “Show Album.”)


  1. I do not find it amusing at all and I think she has gone too far with the “Bad girl image” she wants to portray. Personally I think her music has just been mediocre since The House That Built Me. She does not put her heart and soul into a song and make you believe it. I attended a concert and she either just stood in one spot or sat on a stool and bragged about being wild and drinking. My friends and I thought that was going way too far. Who is she trying to convince? Not everyone likes that kind of person—-or one using foul language in their concerts. I think she needs to clean it up a little.

  2. When I saw this I was like “Whaaaaaat?” It definitely seems a bit over-the-top. And yes, I would definitely hope that she doesn’t take the whole bad-girl act all the way to self-parody.

    I had forgotten about the ‘burning his luggage’ reference in “Baggage Claim,” but yeah. I like it better when she sings songs that more subltly fit into the bad girl theme without beating us over the head with it.

  3. It’s funny how Miranda seem to desperately want to be portrayed as the bad girl, yet her best songs (for me), and her biggest hit so far, are when she sounds most vulnerable.

    Parody may be right.

  4. I agree with Jon. “House That Built Me,” “Virginia Bluebell,” and her cover of “Easy From Now On” are among my favorites of her’s, where she takes off the armor, allowing us to see the side you don’t see on the album covers. That being said, you have to assume that the marketing ploys and schtick are a direct result to the environment into which she has ascended. While a beautiful woman with immense talent and fantastic voice, she has had to embrace something with a rougher image, lest she be seen as a not-quite-Carrie-Underwood.

    For what its worth, I do think she is a very genuine person and I haven’t yet seen it get in the way of her music. Lets hope it doesn’t happen now, as I have been unimpressed with her debut single from the forthcoming album.

  5. Sigh. Why does Miranda insist on going back to this badass image. I was hoping that with the massive success of House she will realize that she does not have to maintain this persona to achieve success with her music, but here she is reverting back to this contrived attitude. Sigh.

  6. I do not like boring album covers. This is not a boring album cover. So I don’t really care if it’s overextending her badass image. At least it’s interesting.

  7. The whole “badass” thing seemed like a joke to me right from the start, though it was a welcome joke when it was new. It was a least different than the other female singers at the time. For me, its played out now.

    Also, Miranda’s biggest hits – like “House that Built Me” – are pretty typical formulaic country radio songs (though definitely good songs, a cut above the average radio hit), and hardly some sort of “badass” music.

  8. Personally, I don’t understand the distaste for Miranda’s image, or her album cover.

    She has always portrayed the image of being a strong, independent woman who doesn’t let men walk all over her.

    As a young woman growing up in this generation with the bubblegum “loves me loves me not” bublegum fairytale crap of Miley, Selena, and Taylor, I appreciate that Miranda is teaching young girls that it’s acceptable to walk away from anyone who doesn’t treat you with respect and dignity.

    Granted, it may be over-the-top at times, but Miranda writes all of that from her own experience. She has talked openly about how her parents brought in dozens of battered women and girls to try and get them out of dangerous situations.

    She has written songs that showcase both her tough and vulnerable sides, and it’s clear they’re both equally a part of her.

    Knowing this, I don’t see how anyone gets the idea that Miranda’s music is “contrived” simply because she’s portraying an image, like any other artist out there.

    Taylor Swift writes her own music & 99% of her music is about relationships; is she contrived because that’s her image?

    Kenny Chesney and Zach Brown Band churn out song after song about beaches and paradise, are they contrived? Every artist has some sort of image that they’re expected to adhere to, in one way or another.
    There are millions of women who don’t think they deserve to be treated with respect, and think they just have to deal with being abused or mistreated. Miranda gives a voice to those women, to let them they don’t have to tolerate being mistreated.

    If she wants to portray that image in her music, I say more power to her.

    Anyone who has actually listened to Miranda’s music (outside of her single releases), knows that her vulnerable side comes out in her music as much as her tough side does.

    The album cover shows both sides of Miranda’s personality, and it’s in no way a “parody” of who Miranda is attempting to be.

    It’s creative and fresh, something she hasn’t showcased on an album cover.

    It’s incredible to me how more and more people are now calling Miranda contrived and too polished, simply because she’s finally experiencing success.

    Miranda has always been a tough girl with a sensitive side, and she’s always written her own songs, giving her own prospective to her music.

    It says a lot when most of those people who would’ve called Miranda “underrated” or “more authentic than the current contrived artists in Nashville” are suddenly finding every little reason to nitpick her “image” because she’s successful. It’s sad when we build someone up just to tear them down.

  9. “It says a lot when most of those people who would’ve called Miranda “underrated” or “more authentic than the current contrived artists in Nashville”…

    I would still call her both (“underrated” in terms of the audience, anyway – the critics and music writers have always been onboard).

    “…are suddenly finding every little reason to nitpick her “image” because she’s successful. It’s sad when we build someone up just to tear them down.”

    I know what you mean, but I think I would have found threatening to incinerate a boyfriend’s luggage silly no matter her level of success. That might have worked better if she’d gone full bizarro with it, Neko Case-style. (Though I also just don’t like the idea for the song. But I digress.)

    Like I said in the post, I think the cover is a striking photo – it reminds me of Case, actually, which is a big compliment. And I have no problem with this being Miranda’s image (on the contrary, I think it’s totally rad), so long as she doesn’t lose the human, feminist heart of it that you’re addressing. An iconic image like the one she’s chosen here just makes me think that either her art is about to go into startlingly strong focus (good), or that she’s getting swallowed by the image at the expense of that art (bad). We’ll have to wait and hear which.

    Also, a general comment for no one in particular. I don’t agree with this idea that her vulnerable side only comes through on the ballads. It seems simplistic to me. One of the things that makes Miranda Lambert a compelling artist is that her rocking numbers have a heart, too, which is the main thing I was trying to get at in the post. The key line of “Kerosene” is “I’m giving up on love ’cause love’s given up on me.”

  10. Quote by Ben Foster:

    And yes, I would definitely hope that she doesn’t take the whole bad-girl act all the way to self-parody.

    That might be a lot to ask for, in my honest opinion. After all, Gretchen Wilson took her “Redneck Woman” act to that point, and now she’s basically stuck with it.

  11. …to me, it looks as if the photographer stumbled and almost missed her completely, bless him. the capital letters in the background? there’s possibly a bet goin’ on with blake about who’s the bigger name in the business at the moment.

  12. Have you guys checked out the track list for Four: The Record? It’s up at the Country On Demand blog:


    Appears Miranda wrote on 6 of 14 tracks according to Frank Liddell. None of them are with Eric Church (disappointment).

    01. “All Kinds Of Kinds” (Don Henry, Philip Coleman – Waymores cover – studio performance available, live version)
    02. “Fine Tune” (Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird) demo: here
    03. “Fastest Girl In Town” (Miranda, Ang Pressley)
    04. “Safe” (Miranda)
    05. “Mama’s Broken Heart” (Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark) Kacey’s demo: here, partial Miranda live performance here
    06. “Dear Diamond” (Miranda)
    07. “Same Old You” (Brandi Carlile, live performance here: here)
    08. “Baggage Claim” (Miranda, Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird)
    09. “Easy Living” (Miranda, Scotty Wray)
    10. “Over You” (Miranda, Blake)
    11. “Look At Miss Ohio” (Gillian Welch cover? Check it out: here)
    12. “Better In The Long Run” (Charles Kelley, Gordie Sampson, Ashley Monroe)
    13. “Nobody’s Fool”
    14. “Oklahoma Sky”

  13. In my opinion, maybe she is taking the bad girl image a little too far, but on the other hand, album covers are supposed to attract your attention, and this cover definitely caught my eye. She should come up with a versatile image soon, or she will be stuck with the bad girl image throughtout her career, or trying to keep her bad girl image alive could ultimately damage her career because her audience will begin to think she is trying to hard to maintain her image instead of just exuding her image.

  14. Personally, I think the titles of the tracks look pretty promising plus I am loving the demo of “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Kacey Musgraves. I think it helps I love Kacey’s voice as well.

  15. She’s standing in a dress in front of a car on fire.

    I don’t understand this at all, and it just looks odd and out of place.

    Oh, well. I don’t judge much from an album cover, and the album cover itself makes no impact on my opinion on the album itself, so I’ll still buy it and support her this era.

  16. Cover notwithstanding, I’m quite looking forward to this album. Chris Willman tweeted that Miranda Lambert is responsible for two of his favorite albums of 2011 so far, so I’m very hopeful.

  17. I can’t take Chris Willman too seriously. He’s nice to read if you have the same favorites as he does and you want to read a review with tunnel vision for their strengths and a blind spot for their weaknesses. He earned his great reputation but the last few years I feel like he’s become this go-to person when you want to generate advance critical hype for a project. Like a critical “friend” to certain acts and there’s something a little wrong about that.

    Not only do I have no problem with Miranda’s album cover, I think it’s her best yet. It’s perfect-glam-Southern-belle-meets-arsonist which also happens to sums up ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’. It’s detached calm meets deranged and it gets at what makes Miranda distinctive and appealing.

    That being said, I’ve been disappointed by both of Miranda’s live performances of ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’. I’ll give her a pass on pitch since it’s always awkward performing new stuff live but I feel like Miranda’s version strips away a lot of the emotional layers that you get from Kacey Musgraves.

    I don’t understand Miranda’s introduction to the song which defends mama knocking some sense into a girl going crazy after a breakup. I didn’t think that was what the song was really about. When you hear Kacey sing it, there’s a story of a mother that reminds me of the Norman Bates Mother persona. Mama brought up her daughter to repress all feelings, but the daughter’s feelings are finally bubbling forth in rebellion. The song’s as much about rebelling against mama’s emotionally abusive raising as a broken heart. I picture the girl singing this Chicago-style from behind bars, where you can’t help but sympathize with the crazy criminal because there’s a story there. Miranda’s performance doesn’t let you get inside the song and see anything but unexplained derangement. But just as with Baggage Claim I bet the studio version’ll be better than the live version.

  18. Leeann: I don’t begrudge CW his rooting interests. It’d been building a while but what finally sent me over the edge was him ending 1 of his 2 Taylor Swift Speak Now reviews with a “take that, haters” after a full buy in to her nanny nanny poo poo ethos and no notice of the lyrical incoherence that Liz Rose would’ve caught in a cowriting role. I just don’t think there’s any excuse for a critic (never mind a middle aged person) to make no effort to achieve some emotional distance from the persona/music he’s reviewing and it was really clear he had no desire to achieve that distance.

    But that’s the mainstream critical edifice for ya these days. Critics get invested and swept up by waves and stories just likes fans do, especially when they’re granted special access. There was a big New York Times article last year when one of their critics called out his peers for collectively fawning over Kanye West’s album, accusing them of rewarding Kanye with gushy praise for doing and being what critics consider fashionable and cool, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as making the best music.

    It’s not just Kanye. There are other artists who’ve built a critic-friendly persona and they seem to get more positive treatment when critics hear their music. Critics know and remember more of their history and willingly plug holes on their own but they don’t make the same effort with other artists they don’t find as cool. I think Miranda falls into that category of somebody who music critics approach with rose colored filters. She’s earned that by making good music but I also think there’s a sentiment of needing/wanting her to be a significant artist because of what she represents that helps her.

    But there’s others like Eric Church who have a tougher road to hoe after he got himself caught up in this outlaw nonsense. Read the mainstream reviews of Chief and there’s a whole lot of not getting it. My jaw dropped when the AP review of Eric’s album accused him of being too snarly and not having a sense of humor. But just watch: Eric’s next album will probably get better reviews than it deserves because after Chief it’s going to be cooler for critics to buy into Eric Church.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.