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Thread: Why Carrie Underwood's Dark & Brilliant New Album, 'Blown Away', Will Blow You Away

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    Ultimate Carrie Fan Ann055's Avatar
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    Why Carrie Underwood's Dark & Brilliant New Album, 'Blown Away', Will Blow You Away

    Why Carrie Underwood's Dark And Brilliant New Album, 'Blown Away,' Will Blow You Away

    MTV blogger

    Hey y'all! I'm Sam Lansky, and you're reading "Pop Think," my column where I think about pop music. (Crazy, right?) Sometimes, though, I think about other music, like dance-pop, or pop-rock, or even country-pop -- which is where my head is at this week, as I've been utterly obsessed with the new Carrie Underwood album, Blown Away, which infuses the Oklahoma sweetheart's traditional country twang with a fierce pop sensibility, a dark and simmering anger and an emotional complexity and depth that's rare and exhilarating.

    As a pop enthusiast, my diversions into the world of country are few and far between -- I've always been a mega-fan of Taylor Swift, with occasional flirtations with Miranda Lambert and the Dixie Chicks -- but Carrie's album has got me all fired up. The blonde bombshell is saying goodbye to her "Good Girl" roots (see what I did there?) and going to a place that's far more compelling than "Jesus, Take the Wheel" ever suggested she might go.

    If you haven't yet experienced the genius of Blown Away, it's time to throw on your Wranglers and cowboy hat, pile into the pickup truck, and go for a long drive in the Oklahoma fields. There's a Carrie Underwood storm a-brewing -- and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it blew us all away.

    Nobody could have expected a song as dark, sinister and patently weird as the title track on Carrie Underwood's Blown Away from the charming, guileless girl from the heartland who rocketed to celebrity after winning the fourth season of "American Idol." Even at her edgiest, on a song like "Before He Cheats," there was a sweetness to her antics; Carrie was always the virtuous counterpart to the bleach-blonde tramp who drinks those fruity little drinks, and nobody would ever blame her for taking the Louisville slugger to his headlights. (I certainly didn't.) The narrative there was clear: A nice girl gets cheated on by a loser guy, and the nice girl gets the last laugh with some good old-fashioned revenge.

    And more than any other genre of music, country is all about narrative, as the greatest lyricists in country history have always proven. Even the predictable cliches in a country song (references to pick-up trucks and American flags) work because they help to illuminate a great story, one that's emotionally driven and accessible to many listeners.

    But it's unusual to hear a narrative as brilliantly twisted as the one in "Blown Away," which sets the stage for a haunting tale of vengeance and abuse. It's tornado season for the unnamed protagonist, y'all, as "dry lightning cracks across the skies" and "storm clouds gather in her eyes." The girl's father, an abusive alcoholic, passes out on the couch while she goes down in the storm cellar to weather out the worst of the twister. It's not "taking shelter," Carrie sings -- it's "sweet revenge." In a low whisper, she intones, "There's not enough rain in Oklahoma, to wash the sins out of that house." And as the chorus soars explosively against Mark Bright's rollicking instrumentation, expelling a fierce rage on lyrics like "Every tear-soaked whiskey memory blown away," it's hard not to feel the emotional brunt of the song.

    The album spills over with narratives that are as richly drawn and arresting as this one; the apparent simplicity of the spunky, sassy better-leave-your-man-cause-he-ain't-no-good anthem "Good Girl," which opens the record, has a few irresistible lyrical gems ("His lips are dripping honey, but he'll sting you like a bee"), but "Two Black Cadillacs" is particularly chilling in its well-crafted darkness -- a string-heavy power ballad about a wife and a mistress who conspire to kill the man who was playing them both. That's an interesting conceit to begin with, but it's made all the more intriguing by the chorus, which explains, "And the preacher said he was a good man/ And his brother said he was a good friend/ But the women in the two black veils didn’t bother to cry." In "Before He Cheats," there was no doubting that the sleazeball at the center of the story was a bad guy; but on this record, the black-and-white of that emotional strife gets traded for something fuzzier and more compelling. It's a striking turn, and one that makes the song endlessly replayable.

    Of course the album isn't all ominous songs about vengeance and turmoil -- as always, it's a consistently excellent pop-country effort with songs that cover a wide swath of lyrical ground -- but her willingness to uncover these dark, wildly fascinating stories gets me excited about her music like I've never been before. And though she worked with big-name hitmakers like Mutt Lange, Ryan Tedder, and her frequent collaborators Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear, she wrote eight of the tracks on this latest record, which shows that she's emerging as a real force to be reckoned with (as a lyricist, too) rather than resting on the laurels of her spectacular vocal talent.

    Carrie, I tip my non-existent cowboy hat to you. You'll make a country music nerd out of me yet.
    Last edited by Ann055; 05-03-2012 at 12:36 PM.

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    Carrie Guru pkc4rls's Avatar
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    All was very good except the line about being a mega-fan of Taylor Swift, lol. How someone can listen to an artist like like Carrie and then be able to listen to Taylor, I will never be able to understand it, lol. And I am not even intending that to be mean for you Taylor fans, lol. I am just saying that after listening to Carrie the first time, there is no way I could also listen to Taylor and that voice -- cough cough.

    Thanks for posting the link to this blogger at MTV. Very nice article.
    Last edited by pkc4rls; 05-03-2012 at 02:52 PM.
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    Obsessed Carrie Fan cmarieu's Avatar
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    I really loved reading this article. Great.
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    Insane Carrie Fan pandy's Avatar
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    Thank you Ann005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann055 View Post
    Why Carrie Underwood's Dark And Brilliant New Album, 'Blown Away,' Will Blow You AwayHey y'all! I'm Sam Lansky, and you're reading "Pop Think," my column where I think about pop music. (Crazy, right?) Sometimes, though, I think about other music, like dance-pop, or pop-rock, or even country-pop -- which is where my head is at this week, as I've been utterly obsessed with the new Carrie Underwood album, Blown Away, which infuses the Oklahoma sweetheart's traditional country twang with a fierce pop sensibility, a dark and simmering anger and an emotional complexity and depth that's rare and exhilarating.As a pop enthusiast, my diversions into the world of country are few and far between -- I've always been a mega-fan of Taylor Swift, with occasional flirtations with Miranda Lambert and the Dixie Chicks -- but Carrie's album has got me all fired up. The blonde bombshell is saying goodbye to her "Good Girl" roots (see what I did there?) and going to a place that's far more compelling than "Jesus, Take the Wheel" ever suggested she might go.If you haven't yet experienced the genius of Blown Away, it's time to throw on your Wranglers and cowboy hat, pile into the pickup truck, and go for a long drive in the Oklahoma fields. There's a Carrie Underwood storm a-brewing -- and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it blew us all away.Nobody could have expected a song as dark, sinister and patently weird as the title track on Carrie Underwood's Blown Away from the charming, guileless girl from the heartland who rocketed to celebrity after winning the fourth season of "American Idol." Even at her edgiest, on a song like "Before He Cheats," there was a sweetness to her antics; Carrie was always the virtuous counterpart to the bleach-blonde tramp who drinks those fruity little drinks, and nobody would ever blame her for taking the Louisville slugger to his headlights. (I certainly didn't.) The narrative there was clear: A nice girl gets cheated on by a loser guy, and the nice girl gets the last laugh with some good old-fashioned revenge.And more than any other genre of music, country is all about narrative, as the greatest lyricists in country history have always proven. Even the predictable cliches in a country song (references to pick-up trucks and American flags) work because they help to illuminate a great story, one that's emotionally driven and accessible to many listeners.But it's unusual to hear a narrative as brilliantly twisted as the one in "Blown Away," which sets the stage for a haunting tale of vengeance and abuse. It's tornado season for the unnamed protagonist, y'all, as "dry lightning cracks across the skies" and "storm clouds gather in her eyes." The girl's father, an abusive alcoholic, passes out on the couch while she goes down in the storm cellar to weather out the worst of the twister. It's not "taking shelter," Carrie sings -- it's "sweet revenge." In a low whisper, she intones, "There's not enough rain in Oklahoma, to wash the sins out of that house." And as the chorus soars explosively against Mark Bright's rollicking instrumentation, expelling a fierce rage on lyrics like "Every tear-soaked whiskey memory blown away," it's hard not to feel the emotional brunt of the song.The album spills over with narratives that are as richly drawn and arresting as this one; the apparent simplicity of the spunky, sassy better-leave-your-man-cause-he-ain't-no-good anthem "Good Girl," which opens the record, has a few irresistible lyrical gems ("His lips are dripping honey, but he'll sting you like a bee"), but "Two Black Cadillacs" is particularly chilling in its well-crafted darkness -- a string-heavy power ballad about a wife and a mistress who conspire to kill the man who was playing them both. That's an interesting conceit to begin with, but it's made all the more intriguing by the chorus, which explains, "And the preacher said he was a good man/ And his brother said he was a good friend/ But the women in the two black veils didn’t bother to cry." In "Before He Cheats," there was no doubting that the sleazeball at the center of the story was a bad guy; but on this record, the black-and-white of that emotional strife gets traded for something fuzzier and more compelling. It's a striking turn, and one that makes the song endlessly replayable.Of course the album isn't all ominous songs about vengeance and turmoil -- as always, it's a consistently excellent pop-country effort with songs that cover a wide swath of lyrical ground -- but her willingness to uncover these dark, wildly fascinating stories gets me excited about her music like I've never been before. And though she worked with big-name hitmakers like Mutt Lange, Ryan Tedder, and her frequent collaborators Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear, she wrote eight of the tracks on this latest record, which shows that she's emerging as a real force to be reckoned with (as a lyricist, too) rather than resting on the laurels of her spectacular vocal talent.Carrie, I tip my non-existent cowboy hat to you. You'll make a country music nerd out of me yet.
    Very nice summary of Blown Away and another converted Carrie fan. There will be more before the era ends. Thanks Ann for posting.
    gwade82 and Ann055 like this.

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    Carrie Guru rainbow1's Avatar
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    Thank you, Ann !! I'd say he likes it!! Wish it counted!!
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    Insane Carrie Fan liz278's Avatar
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    I like that he actually listened to the album. So many of these guys don't really pay attention to it, they just sorta listen but not really hear it all the way through, and write their preconceived ideas about the album.
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    Now that's what I'm talking about. Hope Carrie reads that one.
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    Huge Carrie Follower rosie08's Avatar
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    HOLY CRAP!!! That was pretty good! another good review!! thank you Ann
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    This one of the BEST review yet, considering the writer is a pop music reviewer from MTV !
    Ann055 likes this.

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    This was a great example of Carries growth. She is not the same person who sang JTTW. And I love JTTW but each time she goes to bat she deserves to be heard. She really is that good.
    I do understand the TS refenrence. for pop enthusiasts, Ts is about as close to what they think country is as they can get.
    That is why this album will be great for Carrie. The most important thing Carrie can do for herself at this point is continue to challenge herself as an artist.
    There is really no one else to compare her to. Her voice alone causes her to stand alone.
    All she can do is grow and improve. and this album does that.
    I'm so happy that this person gave it a shot and was rewarded.
    I hope others do to.

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    Well that was a very nice review! It seems a lot of people are really liking the song BA. I have been listening to that more and I really do like it. I am wondering how country radio is going to accept it if it is indeed the next single. I really think this song could really be hugh for Carrie. What do ya'll think?
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    This is an excellent review. I'm glad he actually took the time to listen to the album. I recommend everybody reads this particular review. It's nice to hear something more positive after all those negative ones we've seen over the last few days. Thank you for posting, Ann055.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nccountrygal View Post
    Well that was a very nice review! It seems a lot of people are really liking the song BA. I have been listening to that more and I really do like it. I am wondering how country radio is going to accept it if it is indeed the next single. I really think this song could really be hugh for Carrie. What do ya'll think?
    I think it could rival BHC especially in the "pop" market. I am a little worried about how it will do on country, but everyone seems to love it. Most people don't seem to care that "it's not that country". I would say that since it's a great song it won't matter because people will request it anyway, but look at what's going on with GG on country radio..

    Sales wise it WILL be huge, in fact for a song that hasn't been played EVER on radio or had any promotion, I'd say it's selling great. I think it will do better then even GG is doing on "hot ac". Ugh... Who knows?
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    Carrie Fans Legend countryfan2006's Avatar
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    Thanks Ann055.
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    Carrie Guru pklongbeach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nccountrygal View Post
    Well that was a very nice review! It seems a lot of people are really liking the song BA. I have been listening to that more and I really do like it. I am wondering how country radio is going to accept it if it is indeed the next single. I really think this song could really be hugh for Carrie. What do ya'll think?
    I am probably the only one who is somewhat apprehensive about BA as a single.
    It is by far her most pop song to date. Polorizing.
    It uses voice-effects. polorizing.
    It is a downer. polorrizing
    Some would suggest it insights or supports violence. polorizing
    *And it is my favorite Carrie performance EVER! polorizing. I usually do a terrible job of choosing singles! wink.
    Ann055 likes this.

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    Insane Carrie Fan Suellen's Avatar
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    Another great review of Blown Away. Ann, thanks for posting.
    Ann055 likes this.

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    I was a bit apprehensive about it at first but that was when I had only heard the "clips". After hearing the whole song, I mean, yeah it's a risk, but I do think the BA era is about taking risks for Carrie. Good Girl seems like a safe "bridge" to take fans to the dark side of Carrie. With the love of BHC, which shows people love the revenge side of Carrie, which I don't think we have actually seen SINCE BHC, I think BA and TBC will sell like hot cakes. Overall people seem to love the song, BUT, will RADIO love it??? That's the question here. BA (the song) is groundbreaking for music period, and country radio doesn't seem to handle change very well. Only time will tell!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pklongbeach View Post
    I am probably the only one who is somewhat apprehensive about BA as a single.
    It is by far her most pop song to date. Polorizing.
    It uses voice-effects. polorizing.
    It is a downer. polorrizing
    Some would suggest it insights or supports violence. polorizing
    *And it is my favorite Carrie performance EVER! polorizing. I usually do a terrible job of choosing singles! wink.
    But it is so different than what is on radio today and I really think it could be hugh for Carrie. I would hope that country radio would play it. I know there have been other songs about abuse played on country radio (Independence Day (Martina), Conrete Angel (Martina), Gunpowder and Lead (Miranda), and I know there are some others. I know someone said that Independence Day did not make it to the top 10 but I believe Miranda's song did. I don't know I would hope country radio would play it. I know it is more pop sounding but they play pop sounding stuff from Taylor, LA, and Keith Urban. Gosh they played Jason Aldean's rap song.
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    Carrie Fans Maniac kewlie78189's Avatar
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    oh man I really love this review!! Thanks for posting!
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