My Kind of Country

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

Single Review: Trisha Yearwood ft. Kelly Clarkson – ‘PrizeFighter’

PrizefighterArguably the most exciting news in country music this year was the recent announcement that Trisha Yearwood had inked a deal with RCA and was releasing a new single. “PrizeFighter” is her first single since 2008’s “They Call It Falling For A Reason”. It reunites her with her longtime producer Garth Fundis and with her pal Kelly Clarkson who provides harmony vocals on the track. The two had previously collaborated, along with Reba McEntire, on a recording of “Silent Night” for Clarkson’s 2013 Christmas collection.

I was so glad to hear that Yearwood was back, that the song itself almost didn’t matter to me. The tune, which was written by Jessi Alexander, Sarah Buxton, and Ross Copperman, is a midtempo empowerment anthem which stands as a metaphor for the uphill battle Trisha faces to get back on the charts and country radio. In lesser hands the overall “Yes, we can” message might sound trite. But her voice is as beautiful as ever, meshing well with Clarkson’s harmony vocals and that more than compensates for the lightweight lyrics. The production is tasteful, just layered enough to sound contemporary without being intrusive. It is not particularly country but Trisha was never a traditionalist. It is stylistically close enough to her big hits from the 90s that longtime fans will not be disappointed. It is in many ways, a play-it-safe choice, but that is understandable given the obstacles Yearwood faces as she attempts to relaunch her recording career.

The big question mark is whether country radio will welcome back into the fold a female artist whose last Top 10 hit was 13 years ago, and who turns 50 years old in a little more than two weeks’ time. If this record is successful, Yearwood will become one of a very select number of female artists to score a hit after the age of 50. This is presumably why the much younger Clarkson is credited as a featured guest, to appeal to younger audiences. Hopefully the strategy will work, because although “PrizeFighter” doesn’t rise to the level of Yearwood’s very best work, hers is still a voice that deserves to be heard. Hopefully we’ll be hearing much more from her in the near future.

Grade: B+

5 responses to “Single Review: Trisha Yearwood ft. Kelly Clarkson – ‘PrizeFighter’

  1. Leeann Ward September 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Unfortunately, the youtube clip for this is no longer available.

  2. luckyoldsun September 3, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    “The big question mark is whether country radio will welcome back into the fold a female artist whose last Top 10 hit was 13 years ago, and who turns 50 years old in a little more than two weeks’ time.”
    Huh–Is that even a question?
    Country radio won’t play it.
    There are plenty of artists–mostly male, I guess–who seem to have pretty successful post-country-radio careers–Marty Stuart, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Willie-Dolly-Merle.
    Can Yearwood’s join that sort of group of older artists who have something to say?
    I don’t think so but that’s because she doesn’t write or play.

  3. Erik North September 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I thought it was a good song for Trisha to come back on; and Kelly Clarkson’s duet vocal was just right for the song’s purposes, which wasn’t to overshadow Trisha herself.

    It’s just a tragedy that Trisha was not able to ever do this kind of thing with her spiritual role model Linda Ronstadt, when Linda was still in top vocal form.

  4. Pingback: Album Review: Trisha Yearwood – ‘PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit’ | My Kind of Country

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