Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “See You Again”
by Dan Milliken
August 6, 2013
You’d be forgiven if Carrie Underwood’s current hit left you a little underwhelmed. After the one-two murderoo of “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs,” the releases that announced Underwood’s ascension from superstar singer to potentially cool artist, the Narnia-inspired ”See You Again” may feel like a retreat back to simpler days. Actually, with its mechanical piano, bloated chorus production, and vague celestial imagery, it almost sounds like a descendant of “Inside Your Heaven,” Underwood’s sappy American Idol single. Uh oh!
But if you can accept that songs of this flavor will probably always be part of the Carrie Underwood experience, you may find that she’s improved the recipe a good bit over time.
It helps that “See You Again” is a decent composition on its own merits, with a stirring – if safe – theme of reconnecting with the loved ones we’ve lost or been separated from, plus some enjoyable – if gratuitous – “woah”s and “oh”s.
But the crucial difference is in the performance. For all the hosannas Underwood’s huge voice received early on, tracks like this demonstrate how much she’s still progressing both technically and interpretively. Early cuts like “Inside Your Heaven” or “Lessons Learned” were occasionally mired by reedy tones, robotic vibrato, or impassive phrasing; you had the sense of a singer finding her way around her instrument. Not so for the muscular, dynamic presence who drives this song. She’s gradually growing into her preordained destiny as a country-pop diva, confidently weaving runs and slurs into the fabric of the melody, and creating fun, little Carrie-isms like her quirky pronunciation of “again,” her whips into head-voice whenever she hits the title phrase, or her impassioned (if unintentional) belting of her own name. (“I will carry!”)
Does that sound like teasing? It’s praise. You can fall in love with a singer’s voice, but you stay in love because of the distinct ways they use it. It’s my opinion that Carrie Underwood still needs a new producer, someone who will encourage her more ambitious instincts and stop putting so much bland noise behind her, drowning out potential nuances. But I’m finally enjoying the Carrie we have at this moment in time, too. There’s something there.
Written by Carrie Underwood, Hillary Lindsey & David Hodges
I wish Carrie would try a different producer. I love mark bright but I think others could do so much with her
I'm going to have to go see how she pronounces "again". I never noticed anything different. Good review, I think. I would love to see how she does with a different producer. Maybe after learning new things during SOM....she will try someone else. Love Mark, but I'm very curious to see something new.
The last line in the review: "There's something there." Really?!? It's called the best female voice in music today - across any genre. It's called 15 million albums and 25 million digital singles. It's called 18 #1 hits. It's called 6 Grammy's and multi Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist wins. That's more than something, Dan. That's everything. But thanks anyway. :-)
Must admit, that's the way many Oklahomans pronounce "again"......"agin"!! I notice the OKie in her in several things that she says now and then.
I like Carrie's version of Lessons Learned and I can remember thinking, at that time, I like hearing Carrie sing a Diane Warren song. And would like to hear her sing more of them.
I also liked songs produced by Dan Huff? on Carrie's Some Hearts album.
maybe that new producer will be a part of that simpler approach she talked about in the Billboard article.
I would love to see what another producer would do with her voice.
There's something there? Yea, like there's something there when talking about Daniel Day Lewis's acting.
Strange way to describe an artist's talent after all those awards, Grammys, platinum albums and singles.
I understand the point about fans seeing "something there" as a disappointing put down - but i don't see it that way. I think the context is better appreciated if we accept that reviewers tend to be looking for something more than number ones and platinum certifications. Those things are rewards in themselves, but reviews tend to be seeking to put more of the focus on the artistic considerations, and the role within the ethos of the genre. Some fans regard that as elitist, opinionated and pretentious - but I would suggest that not being concerned about them may work best during an artist's breakout, when she's becoming established and needs the numbers most. As she matures, it becomes more important to balance that aspect with her longevity, her legacy and her role within the genre's recognized greats. That's where the critics become more important. If she is winning recognition, even from opinionated reviewers, I see that as a good thing, which indicates progress on more than the popularity front.
Interesting review. I love See You Again and I'm glad it was released as a single. The previous two singles were dark and dramatic so it was nice to hear a song with a positive message.
I love how she pronounces "again".