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Thread: 1-to-10 Country Music Review: Blown Away

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    Carrie Guru Claire2004's Avatar
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    1-to-10 Country Music Review: Blown Away

    Carrie Underwood – “Blown Away”

    Songwriters: Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear


    Though Carrie Underwood has released a fair amount of tepid material over the past few years, her new album Blown Away hints strongly at a restless creative spirit beginning to bubble up underneath that powerhouse voice. This is particularly evident on the album’s title track, which has been slated as its second single.

    With this ambitious new release, Underwood ventures into the thematic territory of domestic abuse with a harrowing tale of a girl claiming revenge on her violent alcoholic father. When a twister touches down on the family’s Oklahoma residence, the protagonist takes cover in the cellar while her father lies passed out on the couch, allowing the storm-ravaged house to collapse on top of him. The lyric invests a sense of symbolism in the events it describes, building on effective metaphors between the destruction of the house, and the protagonist moving on in the wake of her tortured past. It adds up to one of the most complex and engaging set of lyrics Underwood has tackled in date, which will undoubtedly make it a sharp standout on country radio.

    Though “Blown Away” doesn’t quite reach the spine-tingling heights of Martina McBride’s flawless “Independence Day,” it represents significant growth as an interpretive singer on Underwood’s part, as she gives an empathetic delivery that imparts a sense of humanity to the desperate protagonist who takes extreme measures to preserve herself. Though it’s all too easy for a big-voiced singer of Underwood’s caliber to veer off toward ill-advised power notes, “Blown Away” finds her striking a balance between power and nuance, ably stepping up to the role of a storyteller as well as a singer.

    Why producer Mark Bright felt to need to slap on unnecessary, distracting reverb effects on Underwood’s otherwise solid vocal is anybody’s guess. It doesn’t necessary sink the record, but it acts as a barrier between the song and the listener, and it takes focus off of Underwood’s committed, dynamic performance. Other than that, the arrangement, which tastefully incorporates a few orchestral touches, is generally effective at conveying a sense of intensity and urgency to fit the dark lyric.

    “Blown Away” may be a bit rough around the edges, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of Underwood’s most interesting and challenging single releases to date.

    CARRIE’S SCORE: 8

    Carrie Underwood – “Blown Away” « The 1-to-10 Country Music Review

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    Ultimate Carrie Fan bigbluegrl23's Avatar
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    Good review but I disagree about the the production. I think the effect on her vocals during the "There's not enough rain/wind" part, which I assume the reviewer is referring to, is BRILLIANT. carrie sounds freaking possessed and even more angry. everyone know's she can sing better than anyone in the industry. why not play around a bit with her voice sometimes.
    Becca
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    Insane Carrie Fan liz278's Avatar
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    Great review! 8 out of 10 is really good!


    Thanks for posting!!!!
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    Insane Carrie Fan Suellen's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting Claire.

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    I disagree about the spine tingling thing..

    It took me forever just to figure out what was going on in the song "Independence Day".

    I love it, I just don't believe it's as climatic as BA.
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    Insane Carrie Fan liz278's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lstname89 View Post
    I disagree about the spine tingling thing..

    It took me forever just to figure out what was going on in the song "Independence Day".

    I love it, I just don't believe it's as climatic as BA.
    That was my thought too. When you listen to BA there is an angry Carrie - I didn't hear that same thing in "Independence Day"
    And then you watch her sing the song - especially the Billboard awards when they scan to her face during "sweet revenge" it gave me chills.

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    Ultimate Carrie Fan Ann055's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by liz278 View Post
    That was my thought too. When you listen to BA there is an angry Carrie - I didn't hear that same thing in "Independence Day"
    And then you watch her sing the song - especially the Billboard awards when they scan to her face during "sweet revenge" it gave me chills.
    I agree with you and Anthony. You're right -- everytime I hear that 'sweet revenge', I get chills and when you see her sing it -- wow! Thanks for posting Claire!!
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    I wasn't a fan at all on Bright's production on the first two albums, but I don't think that he did anything over the top on this song or the last two albums.
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    Ultimate Carrie Fan bigbluegrl23's Avatar
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    It may have been because I was so young but I use to think Independence Day was a fun song about the 4th of july. I always would dance to it LOL.
    Becca
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    Insane Carrie Fan The Nanook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbluegrl23 View Post
    Good review but I disagree about the the production. I think the effect on her vocals during the "There's not enough rain/wind" part, which I assume the reviewer is referring to, is BRILLIANT. carrie sounds freaking possessed and even more angry. everyone know's she can sing better than anyone in the industry. why not play around a bit with her voice sometimes.
    Becca
    Those four lines sound even better when you listen to BA through something that has a good amount of bass, like a nice set of headphones or a surround sound system with a subwoofer. And speaking of "orchestral touches," the one thing I would hope for in the BA tour but do not expect at all is an orchestra to accompany her setlist. I was watching performances from the Hollywood Bowl again and each song and performance were so much more incredible and had so much more depth than normal with an orchestra. Though that would probably cost a lot of money to have basically a second band.

    Also, I would guess that this reviewer is a bit of a traditional country fan or at least also doesn't like overproduced/contemporary-sounding songs too much (he also picks at the production in songs like GG and Blake Shelton's "Over," but loves ZZB's "The Wind"). But given this if this is the worst he thinks of BA, since it does sound very contemporary, and he still thinks as highly of BA as he does, then I think, and hope, we don't have too much to worry about from other traditional country critics.

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    Ultimate Carrie Fan bigbluegrl23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nanook View Post
    Those four lines sound even better when you listen to BA through something that has a good amount of bass, like a nice set of headphones or a surround sound system with a subwoofer. And speaking of "orchestral touches," the one thing I would hope for in the BA tour but do not expect at all is an orchestra to accompany her setlist. I was watching performances from the Hollywood Bowl again and each song and performance were so much more incredible and had so much more depth than normal with an orchestra. Though that would probably cost a lot of money to have basically a second band.

    Also, I would guess that this reviewer is a bit of a traditional country fan or at least also doesn't like overproduced/contemporary-sounding songs too much (he also picks at the production in songs like GG and Blake Shelton's "Over," but loves ZZB's "The Wind"). But given this if this is the worst he thinks of BA, since it does sound very contemporary, and he still thinks as highly of BA as he does, then I think, and hope, we don't have too much to worry about from other traditional country critics.
    I doubt we'll get an orchestra on tour but I REALLY hope we get to hear Carrie sing this song with an orchestra in a special performance. She could do it at the grammys!
    Becca
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  • #12
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    "Independence Day" is a Gretchen Peters song, which I've known and loved well before Martina's and Carrie's versions. The songs do have some thematic similarity, in that both female characters lose both parents, and in both cases the father is abusive, and dies. However, there are significant differences. In "Independence Day", the spine-tingling element is that the mother finds release in killing herself and orphaning her daughter (highlighted by the metaphor of Independence Day celebrations, as a poignant background to the girl's need to survive alone.) It's a powerful and well-crafted song.

    However, in BA, the girl herself is taking control of her destiny, and takes the step that leaves both the father and the house of bad memories to their fate. Here the wind is the metaphor - a symbol both of release and revenge. Carrie's sung both songs, and can probably see the progression. I think BA wins on the "spine tingling" factor, partly because of the hidden significance of the "sins " in the house, and the ripping out of the nails that metaphorically link the house to its past; and partly because of the girl's identification of her escape with destruction and the revenge wreaked by the elements.

    This is a significant song for Carrie's new level - and I seriously doubt that Mark Bright was allowed to "slap on" effects that she hadn't considered and participated in. The vocal effects are important - they suggest the gathering storm, and also the haunting sense of the grim house awaiting its doom.

    However, this is generally a good review, which shows solid appreciation for Carrie's development.

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    Carrie said in an interview that she's the one who wanted more and more. Mark finally said he can't put anymore and she told him, ok then it's perfect. lol.

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    Ultimate Carrie Fan bigbluegrl23's Avatar
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    I honestly believe that if carrie were any other artist, or even had a slightly bigger ego, she would take a co-producing title. She's clearly very involved.
    Becca

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    Carrie Guru Claire2004's Avatar
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    The Pulse member who has heard the BA demo posted a while ago that in the demo, there were thunder sound effects at the intro. Wonder who decided not use the sound effects in the final recording?

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    Insane Carrie Fan The Nanook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opry051008 View Post
    Carrie said in an interview that she's the one who wanted more and more. Mark finally said he can't put anymore and she told him, ok then it's perfect. lol.
    Do you have a link to the interview? In that case I wonder why they removed the thunder sound effects at the beginning if Carrie wanted "more." The thunder is actually something I personally would have wanted to hear, if not in the final version then at least in the demo. Maybe in the music video...

  • #17
    Ultimate Carrie Fan bigbluegrl23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nanook View Post
    Do you have a link to the interview? In that case I wonder why they removed the thunder sound effects at the beginning if Carrie wanted "more." The thunder is actually something I personally would have wanted to hear, if not in the final version then at least in the demo. Maybe in the music video...
    There's definitely sound effects in the music video. You can hear thunder in the trailer, along with the sirens and the severe weather alert announcement. ahhhh can't wait!!!
    Becca

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    In an interview Carrie said she kept sending the song back to Mark saying she wanted bigger for the production. Carrie fully participated in the production it sounded like.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nanook View Post
    Do you have a link to the interview? In that case I wonder why they removed the thunder sound effects at the beginning if Carrie wanted "more." The thunder is actually something I personally would have wanted to hear, if not in the final version then at least in the demo. Maybe in the music video...
    I'm still looking for it. I listened to so many I can't remember but if I find it, I'll post it. If anyone else remembers which one it is, maybe they can help out.
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  • #20
    Insane Carrie Fan The Nanook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbluegrl23 View Post
    There's definitely sound effects in the music video. You can hear thunder in the trailer, along with the sirens and the severe weather alert announcement. ahhhh can't wait!!!
    Becca
    I caught the thunder in the trailer (the first few booms were shockingly loud when I listened to it on my headphones haha), but we don't know for sure if the audio from the trailer is also in the music video. I though it was made just for the trailer.


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