Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Carrie Underwood – Southbound

Sampling of recent headlines: “Carrie Underwood Sips Margarita In Instagram Post”; “Carrie Underwood’s Insanely Toned Legs Steal The Show”; “Carrie Underwood reveals there’s a look she ‘can’t do’: ‘It’s not going to happen'”


[Video]
[5.09]

Joshua Lu: Country music lyrics are built around signifiers, and Carrie provides them in spades. The margaritas can’t just be margaritas, they have to be redneck margaritas; the boat must be a pontoon boat; the particular brand of Jack Daniels being served needs a Bible Belt state in its name. Carrie’s delivery feels perfunctory in turn, like she’s too busy cataloging the various activities to allow herself to indulge in the experience, and the way she avoids letting on what she herself is doing at this party adds to her detachment. Even the way she sings the title in the chorus belies the pleasure the song is trying to peddle; her voice doesn’t swell as much as we all know it can, making the title come across as yet another cheap signifier that this party is a country party and nothing more.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: This has a fun thrust to it, but it’s paired with some pretty dopey lyrics, reciting clichés about “country” summertime partying. There’s a part of me tempted to cut Underwood some slack, because this is a kind of single we’ve rarely if ever heard from her — she’s not a “party anthem” kind of artist — but I feel like this is a bit beneath her.
[5]

Jackie Powell: Underwood wrote “Southbound” to balance out her latest album, and she seems very aware of how this song is uncharted territory for the American Idol winner. We’ve heard tracks like this from Keith Urban, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean. But Underwood’s feels like she’s providing an explanation to those who don’t really vibe with a country lake-party. This is what it would be like if you were a fly on the wall. This is what you would see. This is what you would hear. Her twang is present, but not incredibly grating, and her top notes are so crisp — it almost allows me to forget how uncharacteristic and indifferent the lyrics are. The track is a foot-tapper, and I enjoy hearing actual guitars and a quiet hint of banjo layering the chorus. But I would have enjoyed this even more if Underwood took these typical tropes of a Southern hoedown and put them on their head. She could have referenced a Keith instead of a Katie who “should take it slow.”
[6]

Katherine St Asaph: I assume this bro-country song was given to Carrie Underwood because that Katie verse would be creepy at best from a man? Apparently she thinks it’s the other way around — “I feel like a guy could get away with saying [some hypothetical line] that we just threw out there, but I can’t for some reason … It surprisingly took us a while to write it,” she said about “Southbound.” But if it’s that hard to write an upbeat country song from the perspective of a non-frat boy, or to write a What If Beer But Too Much line about a woman while still portraying her as “respectable and not [trashy]” (I would pay real money to hear the word Underwood actually said), why bother? Are conditions so bad for women on country radio that even Carrie Underwood feels the need to do it like a dude? It’s not like that’s the only way to write a fun song. Nick a good power-pop riff, and you can go in more than one direction.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Thomas Rhett and Luke Combs aren’t the only ones who can lust over pretty things dressed like Panama City or something. Carrie Underwood wants you to know that she’ll soak in the sun so long as her dudes appreciates those brawny guitars. Much of the thrill stems from hearing a woman in country for once turn men into objects of desire, preferably beer-soaked — if it’s a hit.
[7]

Alex Clifton: Frankly I would not give a shit about this song if it were sung by a male country artist — it’s doofy and generic. But I can’t think of the last time there was a country-party song sung by a woman in quite this way. There are no references here to tottering on high heels, getting dolled up for the club, nothing that screams “FEMININITY!!” (which, I want to stress, isn’t bad within itself). It’s nice to just have an un-gendered party song where the music makes me feel as carefree as the characters do. “Southbound” is evocative of a road trip, wind whipping through the car with the windows down, speeding down the I-65 to Nashville, beer in a cooler in the back. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
[7]

Ian Mathers: This is maybe the least I’ve ever wanted to visit the South, jesus.
[0]

Kayla Beardslee: Do I have any personal connection to songs about enjoying life in the South? Nope. Is this generic enough to have been written by a Tennessean AI? Yep. Does the simple, comforting positivity of “Southbound” still make me feel optimistic about the passage of my own summer? Absolutely.
[6]

Michael Hong: Some of the best songs of the summer (I’m thinking Snail Mail’s “Heat Wave,” Rihanna’s “Needed Me,” and Lana Del Rey’s “West Coast”) feel like a cool breeze on a hot summer night, where everything just feels a little sticky and a little sweaty. They sound exactly like the opening instrumental to “Southbound,” whose beginning guitar feels one part swamp-side, one part beach-side, and something I wish lasted longer. It’s also something that doesn’t really suit Carrie Underwood’s crystal clear Southern drawl, and she turns the track into just another pop-country party song, swapping the pickup truck for the pontoon. Admittedly, it’s kind of fun, but it’s a shame because I could see this being something interesting in the hands of someone like Florida Georgia Line or Brothers Osborne with a murkier instrumental, rather than one filtered through Carrie Underwood’s far-too-clean palette.
[4]

Vikram Joseph: I’m not sure how the main hook sounds so much like “Babygirl” by Charli XCX. This is a two-chord romp with a deceptively sophisticated sense of rhythm and prosody and some fun (if predictable) country guitar flourishes, but once you reach the above realisation, it’s hard not to feel that what “Southbound” really needs is Uffie turning up to deliver a 20-second trash-rap cameo.
[6]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Less a redneck margarita than an Applebee’s $1 Long Island Iced Tea: refreshing, a little bit watered-down, but still more and more digestible with each drink. 
[6]

Reader average: No votes yet!

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Leave a Reply