My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Carrie Underwood – ‘Cowboy Casanova’

PLAYA while back I must have become a follower of Carrie Underwood on Facebook, because after returning from the library, I saw a notice of her new single on my news feed- and I decided to give it a listen. I enjoyed Carnival Ride at first, but after a while, I got sick of it and her screaming singing (with exceptions for “I Know You Won’t”, “Wheel Of The World” and “I Told You So”). Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to Play On, Carrie’s upcoming album that drops on November 3rd.

Starting out, this song screams Shania Twain, with its strong girl message and fusion of electric guitar, fiddle and steel guitar that all flow in and out of each other throughout the song. It’s a very cool sound, sounding a little like Brad Paisley’s recent album, albeit with less imaginative electric guitar parts. It’s not full-on country, but it’s definitely more country than pop and would never sound at home anywhere near the pop charts.

Carrie doesn’t scream, but sings strongly, reminiscent of Martina McBride’s shift in vocal style on her newest album. She growls a little and doesn’t try to rupture eardrums, and any higher notes really fit in with the song. In “Last Name”, she didn’t really seem to get the joke of the song and sounded empty, but not so on this song. She’s warning a girl about the “good time cowboy casanova, leanin’ up against the record machine.” She disses him with lines about “candy-coated misery” and “blue-eyed snakes” that show Carrie does have a personality behind the American Idol machinations- something rare among idol alums.

This Shania-styled smash is by far my favorite Carrie song yet, and manages to remind of me Shania while not sounding like a knock-off. It’s got the vocals, the interesting production and the attitude that all make a good single. I hope I like her new album as much as this… We’ll see, but for now, this is good.

Grade: B+

Written by: Carrie Underwood, Mike Elizondo and Brett James

36 responses to “Single Review: Carrie Underwood – ‘Cowboy Casanova’

  1. Razor X September 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    A hot commodity like Carrie should have access to the best material Nasvhille can offer, and she’s not need of doing something to get noticed to break out of the pack. Threre is just no excuse for releasing a pile of musical excrement like this.

    And so much for the argument that Carrie doesn’t allow her songs to be remixed for pop radio ….

  2. davilas September 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    The “rock” version you’re referring to was an unfinished rough cut. It’s NOT an alternate version – Carrie made sure to clarify in a blog today that she does NOT do alternate versions of her songs – there’s just the official one and it’s the one you’re linking to.

    The leak of the rough unfinished version forced the early release of the official version.

    I enjoyed your review, it’s well written and discusses specifics about the song as well as the context of how you felt about Carrie’s previous work. Thanks, you seem like you’re being fair.

  3. Occasional Hope September 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    If this is the ‘more country’ version I shudder to rhink what the ‘less country’ version sounded like. I honestly don’t hear anything country here at all apart from the clip from Stand By Your Man – the whole thing screams 80s pop/rock to me.

    • Chris September 3, 2009 at 4:33 pm

      I guess how I feel is in this song the fiddle and steel aren’t afterthoughts- like in most songs. They can be heard and sound like the actual instruments and work with the arrangement, instead of random flourishes that make no sense.

      Maybe why I can’t imagine it near the pop charts is because the pop charts I’m used to are dominated by techno & rap music- so this is firmly in pop-country territory, but at least has noticeable country instruments in the mix.

      Davilas, I’m glad she cleared that up because I hated the unfinished version and I remembered the whole thing about how she wouldn’t remix “Before He Cheats” and wondered why she would now.

      I still stand by my review, I am really liking this song.

      • Razor X September 3, 2009 at 5:25 pm

        Occasional Hope is correct; the construction of this song is not country. It’s dance-pop and the fiddle and steel sound out of place. One of the co-writers of this song is a hip-hop producer.

      • Chris September 3, 2009 at 10:31 pm

        I guess it’s just me that likes it then. Honestly, I know this song isn’t very country. If I compare it to a Shania Twain song, then it’s obviously not country. I was just impressed about how I could actually hear and distinguish country instruments in the mix when usually they’re lost in the production. Everybody has bad taste eventually, I guess it’s just my turn.

      • J.R. Journey September 3, 2009 at 10:35 pm

        You shouldn’t apologize for your tastes, Chris. If you like it, holler it from the rooftops.

      • Steve from Boston September 3, 2009 at 11:04 pm

        Like J R said Chris, if you like it, then sing it’s praises (well, that’s not EXACTLY what he said, lol, but you get the idea)

        What offends me most is that this is the kind of stuff that is defining the genre nowadays…I’m sure it’s well done for what it is, but I just wish they would stop calling it Country..

        I don’t know what it is exactly, but it ain’t my kind of country. .;)

  4. UTMOM September 3, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I really love this new song by Carrie. I love the upbeat feel and the lyrics are great! Davilas is right, the leaked version was an unfinished rough cut. Not sure how it got leaked because Sony jumped out quick & released the song early so the official version would be out there. Loved your review & I can not wait until November 3rd!

  5. J.R. Journey September 3, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I can definitely hear the Shania influence – but this song takes everything I don’t like about Shania Twain’s music and magnifies it 100 times. I think the main reason for the driving backbeat is Mike Elizondo – who, as pointed out on The 9513 blog, is a hip-hop and rap producer – him being a songwriter would definitely affect the whole ‘countryness’ of it all. But not just the production, I still think the lyrics are boring too.

  6. Johnny Paycheck September 3, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    This song is like Poop on a popsicle stick, but the rabid Carrie fanbase will still lick it up like it’s made of pure chocolate. I’m sure it’ll go #1, seems like all the biggest mainstream artists are guaranteed a #1 no matter what they release, as long as they are on top of the publicity and kiss enough radio behind.

  7. Steve from Boston September 3, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    She’s got an electronic timbre to her voice in this one…could it be?? a little (or a lot) of autotuning here..not as pitch correction necessarily, but as production gimmick? Just wonderin’…

    I don’t hear anything Country about this one either, at all…..token fiddles at best.

    • Razor X September 3, 2009 at 10:18 pm

      I thought the same thing, Steve. I don’t know that autotuning is the correct term, necessarily, but her voice does sound like it was electronically altered.

    • Steve from Boston September 3, 2009 at 10:24 pm

      I just want to add…so much for Carrie’s growth as an artist, I don’t see it, and I certainly don’t hear it in this song. I thought she was supposed to be embracing her country roots as time went on..(that’s what I’ve been told, time and time again..The thumping dance beat is the complete opposite of pure country, not to mention country in it’s purest form, Bluegrass., which has been called “the purest water from the well”. This, on the other hand, is polluted with every concievable artifice designed to make it a best seller, and therefore is bound to suceed on country-lite radio and TV..

      What a stark and damning contrast Tammy’s classic makes to this mess.

      Vocally, she sounds more like Cher and Paula Abdul in this song than any real Country singer that I’ve heard.

      This is a piece of plastic, mechanistic, artificial crap.

      • Razor X September 3, 2009 at 11:37 pm

        I agree that it’s a huge step backwards for her. At a point in her career where presumably she should have a little more leeway in what she records, there’s really no excuse for something like this.

  8. James S. September 3, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    I was also hoping for something more traditional sounding after the success of “I Told You So.” I don’t really hate it either, though, and if I actually bothered to flip on the radio, I wouldn’t turn it off if this song came on.

    • Razor X September 3, 2009 at 11:38 pm

      I actually did turn the radio off when Carrie came on back when “All American Girl” was climbing the charts. I never turned it back on; at least not to the country station.

  9. James S. September 3, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Yeah, I never cared for “All American Girl,” either. I’m not sure what song caused me to stop listening to the radio. Probably a combination of all of those “I’m Country” anthems

  10. TexasVet September 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    After releasing two ballads in a row I’m not surprised that she chose a more up tempo tune to start her “Drive On” era. I’m not crazy about Cowboy Casanova but won’t change stations either. Hopefully “Oklahoma Wind” a song she co-wrote with Bill Anderson made the album and will be released as a single.

  11. TexasVet September 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    “Drive On” Oops, I meant Play On! LOL!

    • Knightwalker September 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm

      This makes me think of how many great inventors, discoverers of medical breakthroughs and other great men and women have always reiterated the phrase about “standing on the shoulders of giants” to achieve even greater heights.

      I think Carrie and others of modern country radio could say instead that they “have stood on the throats of Country giants” and kicked them in the face as added insult, all in a rush to achieve fame and status as “Superstars”.

  12. Brenda September 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Well, all of you tear jerking country folks, I love it, and Carrie is the reason I returned to country-finally a song that does not drag you to the botom of the pits. I love to laugh, dance and feel good when I hear music, not cry my poor eyes out over all the lost loves in country music. Isn’t anyone in country happy? This fan is. Keep thos tear jerkers, I can’t stand any of them.

    • Steve from Boston September 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

      Ohhh…leave us alone, we can feel bad if it makes us feel better…;) (it’s called paradox.)

    • the pistolero September 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm

      Carrie is the reason I returned to country
      And she and her too-polished ilk are the reason I and (many others, I’m sure) have by and large left mainstream country behind and started exploring other genres. To hell with these hacks and their ’80s pop-rock retreads. If that’s what they’re gonna give us as “country” now, I for one am just going to go for the real thing as opposed to some rehash of it.

  13. jennifer mangrum September 4, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I personally think this is exactly what Carrie needed because if she would of came out with a ballad it could of ended her career. I really like the real version not the unproduced version.I heard both and I loved the produced version so much.that song is great and proud of Carrie for doing this.

  14. Razor X September 4, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    More Kool-Aid, anyone??

  15. Tiffany September 5, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I love Cowboy Casanova and as a matter of fact, I can’t stop listening to it. I love that Carrie released a sassy song as the first single. We had two great ballads released from CR so it was time to sass it up. I think the lyrics are catchy and you can sing along with her. She has a great voice! I can’t wait to purchase Play On and I hope she has more songs like this one on the album. I’m sure we will get the power house ballad and that will be great but for now I love this song!! WTG, Carrie!!!

  16. arw September 5, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    No, thanks. You’ve had enough Razor.

  17. Nicolas September 7, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Pretty good song =)

    I like it more than “Last Name”

  18. Chris B. September 8, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I personally like this song! Her tenacity and vibrato make a perfect combination. However, I do agree that this isn’t exactly “traditional country”, but more of a pop/rock country sound.

    BUT, the thing I don’t get, is when did Carrie Underwood became a “Traditonal Country Artist” in the first place? I don’t think I’ve heard Carrie, her label, or anyone else say that she sang traditional country. I believe Carrie Underwood is a Modern Country Artist. (or Pop/Country artist if you want to stretch it)

    She makes Modern Country music, and she does it well. Why do people criticize whether or not it sounds like Tammy or Loretta? I think people get confused that country music is a whole set of music genre’s within itself. There’s Traditional, Bluegrass, Roots, Gospel and tons of other catagories that fall under Country. If you want old or “pure”, country music, then go listen to Tammy, or Alison. Don’t go complaining on Ms.Carrie Underwood’s or anyone else’s review that this “isn’t country” or “belongs somewhere else”. I don’t go to Loretta Lynn’s review (if there was one) and say “Ewwww this is old sad boring grandpa music”. (Because it isn’t! I love her!) Her style of country is merely different than today’s, and I respect that.
    Now there IS a fine line between a full blown pop single and a pop/country single, but I believe the writer of this review states that country instruments still exist.

    Now, when Carrie throws out the fiddle and steel guitar and starts singing about “Disco Sticks” and a “She Wolf” , I’ll gladly admit defeat. But until that day comes (and hopefully it won’t) I stand by Carrie. I think she is a great artist with powerhouse vocals that still has tons coming for her.

    • Razor X September 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

      What about the Metallica covers? Are they country too?

    • Steve from Boston September 8, 2009 at 11:13 am

      I think the reason many of us criticize her is that she is redefining the genre in the minds of the general public, and her brand of “country” is completely dominating the airwaves, making it difficult for any one (of the ladies, anyway) with a real, traditional sound to get airplay. (And yes, Traditional, by definition is real Country). In the popular mind, Carrie, Taylor and Rascal Flatts is all many folks know of country, and all they want to know. And that is just criminal.

      Carrie’s brand of pop country-lite is what should be on the fringe, if indeed Country’s umbrella is as big as you suggest. Because it is only by the biggest stretch of the term that most of her stuff can rightly be called “Country”..

  19. Pingback: Carrie Underwood "Cowboy Casanova" | Country Radio Hits

  20. Andy October 9, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Who gives a sh*t whether it’s ‘Country’, ‘Rock’ or ‘Heavy Metal’, it’s a damn fine song and another sure fire hit for the sensational Miss Underwood.

  21. Erik October 9, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I, for instance, care whether it’s country, rock or heavy metal. What’s worse is the horribleness that is the songwriting.

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