Underwood Plays On

Carrie Underwood's third studio album, Play On, debuted at the top of the Billbaord 200 last Tuesday and moved 320,000 copies in its first week, becoming her second #1 album. This marks the highest first week sales of a female artist in 2009.

The first single, "Cowboy Casanova", has reached the top of the Country Hot 100 in record time, becoming the Oklahoma native's 11th #1 single. Underwood is no dummy; she's mastered a fail-proof formula that has brought her incredible success, and her third album strays very little from this formula.

It wasn't long after being crowned the fourth America Idol in 2005 that Underwood established herself as a powerful force in the music industry and quickly became the most decorated new-comer in the business. Her list of awards to date is astounding: 7 AMAs, 5 CMAs, 8 ACMAs, 14 Billboard Awards, 4 Grammys, and the most prestigious of all honors for country music stars, becoming an inductee into the Grand Ole Opry.

Album sales reflected this surge in popularity; her debut album, Some Hearts, has been certified 7x platinum, making it the highest selling female country artist debut ever, and her follow-up, Carnival Ride, has sold nearly 3 million records in the U.S. alone. With ten #1 singles under her belt, two critically-acclaimed blockbuster albums, and countless honors and awards, Underwood's third effort came with some pretty high expectations.

Whether you're a country music fan or not, there's no denying Underwood's incredible talent. Each of her albums have been polished, sparkly productions, with impeccable, near flawless vocals from Underwood. And that's where this effort falls a little flat -- it's too neat. It's too much of the same.

Play On has all the staples: The treacly love songs with lines like, "Life is short, love is sweet"? Check. The kiss-off anthem complete with sass and growl? Check, check and check. The tear-jerker about a starving child, a leaving lover, or a old man on his death bed? Of course. The title track brimming with inspirational messages? To be sure! As an artist, Underwood could really benefit from taking a few risks and stretching herself artistically.

Then again, Country music hasn't really changed since...ever. If you were to look up the term "old-fashioned" in a dictionary, you just might find yourself looking at a picture of a Country singer. So if Underwood isn't looking to broaden her fan base, general appeal, or musicality, she deserves all the accolades the country music world so liberally gives.


hun*ter said...

She's in the Grand Ole Opry already? That's crazy. Her and Taylor Swift have done wonders for the country genre, opening it up for fans who don't normally listen to it.

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