My Kind of Country

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

Single Review – Carrie Underwood – ‘Blown Away’

The modern state of country music finds songs fitting into one of two categories – southern party anthems (usually sung by those unwilling to accept their 20s are long over) or tunes primed for the pop world (usually sung by female artists or acts like Lady Antebellum and Gloriana). Very rarely does a song stand on its own truly as a piece of country music.

“Blown Away” attempts to fit into that third category by resurrecting the long forgotten era of murder ballads, a sub-genre made famous by the likes of Johnny Cash (“Banks of the Ohio”) and Porter Wagoner (“Cold Hard Facts Of Life”) in the 1960s and more recently, Martina McBride (“Independence Day”) in the 1990s and Brad Paisley (“Whiskey Lullaby”) about nine years ago.

This time, a daughter is seeking revenge on an abusive father by keeping him “passed out on the couch” during what appears to be a very strong tornado, powerful enough for her to “lock herself in the cellar” and wait it out.

Unfortunately, the similarities end there, with “Blown Away” underscoring Underwood’s grave failure as a storyteller – her inability to grasp the art of subtlety. She, and producer Mark Bright, mistakenly turn the song into a pop power ballad, where the overwhelming production and bombastic vocal become the focus instead of the fabulously dark storyline.

How many people, in the times “Blown Away” has been given television exposure in the past two months, actually know what the song is really about? The tune’s presentation, complete with a distracting wind tunnel and falling debris, only manages to dilute the overall storyline and water down what could (and should) be one of the greatest country singles of the year.

For a lyric this promising, I only wish it had been given more room to be the star.

Grade: B

6 responses to “Single Review – Carrie Underwood – ‘Blown Away’

  1. J.R. Journey June 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    “Independence Day” is marginal, but I wouldn’t consider “Whiskey Lullaby” a murder ballad. It’s more a maudlin tale of suicide IMO. Still, I consider this very much akin to “Independence Day” in both style and sound, but I think Gretchen Peters’ song is a lot more effective in its subtlety.

    And I think you hit the nail on the head about the dichotomy between lyric and performance here. Good review.

    • Occasional Hope June 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      I don’t even think Whiskey Lullaby is suicide per se, just someone drinking to such a degree they end up dead. It’s a great song, though.

      This one could have been interesting if not for the production and lack of vocal subtlety, as you say, Jonathan.

      The cover picture is very strange, too.

  2. Jonathan Pappalardo June 29, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I totally see where “Whiskey Lullaby” isn’t a murder ballad. But it is as dark a lyric as this.

    And yes, the cover photo is strange. Perfect example for the disconnect between lyric and performance.

    I do enjoy the Gretchen Peters song a lot more, too. At least she had the guts to finish it and provide an outcome for the parents and 8 year old girl. No such luck here. Would it have been too dark to see the outcome of the tornado coming through?

  3. Michelle June 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I love “Indpendence Day” and Martina’s version although it is country/pop is my favourite Gretchen Peters just was too subtle for me.

    The version of “Banks Of The Ohio” that I have in my collection is Olivia Newton John’s and that is also a favourite.
    I have not heard this single of Carrie’s but I love her music.

  4. Ben Foster June 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Definitely one of the strongest lyrics Underwood has tackled in recent memory. The production is loud as usual, but I don’t think it detracts from the overall strength of the song. I do have to disagree that she interprets the song poorly though. I think she imbues a strong and genuine sense of empathy into the lyric, and she really seems to connect with the desperation of the protagonist. Subtlety has never been one of Underwood’s strengths, but I don’t think this particular storyline necessarily calls for it – McBride’s performance of “Independence Day” was hardly subtle, but her powerful performance added to the forcefulness of the song’s message. That’s not to say that “Blown Away” is in the same league as “Independence Day,” but I would consider it a solid record on its own merits.

  5. Ben Foster June 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    To me, the cover art just says “Trying way too hard to be sexy.” I imagine the hair is supposed to look windblown, but it just looks like a hot mess.

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