Tag Archives: Storyteller

Billboard Country Airplay and Country Albums Chart (November 14th)

Billboard Country Airplay

1. Old Dominion–“Break up With Him” (up 1)
2. Cole Swindell–“Let Me See Ya Girl” (up 2)
3. Florida Georgia Line–“Anything Goes”
4. Carrie Underwood–“Smoke Break” (up 1)
5. Chris Young–“I’m Comin’ Over” (up 2)
6. Dan + Shay–“Nothin’ Like You”
7. Blake Shelton–“Gonna” (up 1)
8. Luke Bryan–“Strip it Down” (down 7)
9. Jason Aldean–“Gonna Know We Were Here” (up 2)
10. Kenny Chesney–“Save It for a Rainy Day” (down 1)
11. Cam–“Burning House” (up 1)
12. Tim McGraw–“Top of the World” (up 1)
13. Brothers Osborne–“Stay a Little Longer” (up 1)
14. Parmalee–“Already Callin’ You Mine” (up 1)
15. LoCash–“I Love This Life” (up 4)
16. Big & Rich–“Run Away With You”
17. Jana Kramer–“I Got the Boy”
18. Thomas Rhett–“Die a Happy Man” (up 2)
19. Kelsea Ballerini–“Dibs” (down 1)
20. Randy Houser–“We Went” (up 2)
21. Brad Paisley–“Country Nation”
22. Sam Hunt–“Break Up In a Small Town” (up 1)
23. Granger Smith–“Back Road Song” (up 1)
24. Hunter Hayes–“21” (up 1)
25. A Thousand Horses–(“This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” (up 1)
26. Chase Bryant–“Little Bit of You” (up 1)
27. Dierks Bentley–“Riser” (up 1)
28. Lee Brice–“That Don’t Sound Like You” (up 1)
29. Zac Brown Band–“Beautiful Drug” (up 1)
30. Rascal Flatts–“I Like the Sound of That” (entering top 30)

  • new #1: “Break Up With Him,” aka the douchebag anthem
  • next week’s #1 prediction: “Let Me See Ya Girl”
  • Chase Rice’s “Gonna Wanna Tonight” finally, mercifully fell out of this chart after a year

Billboard Top Country Albums

1. Carrie Underwood–Storyteller [debut]
2. Blake Shelton–Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits [debut]
3. Luke Bryan–Kill the Lights
4. Thomas Rhett–Tangled Up
5. Don Henley–Cass County
6. Sam Hunt–Montevallo
7. Sam Hunt–Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape [debut]
8. George Strait–Cold Beer Conversation
9. Eric Church–The Outsiders
10. Jimmy Fortune–Hits & Hymns [debut]
11. Toby Keith–35 Mph Town
12. Jana Kramer–Thirty One
13. Various Artists–Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8
14. Colt Ford–Answer to No One: The Colt Ford Classics [debut]
15. Kelsea Ballerini–The First Time
16. Zac Brown Band–Jekyll + Hyde
17. Little Big Town–Painkiller
18. Brett Eldredge–Illinois
19. Jason Aldean–Old Boots, New Dirt
20. Carrie Underwood–Greatest Hits: Decade #1
21. Alabama–Southern Drawl
22. Florida Georgia Line–Anything Goes
23. Brantley Gilbert–Just as I Am
24. Kane Brown–Closer (EP)
25. Chris Stapleton–Traveller

  • Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller debuts at #1
  • Sam Hunt’s “acoustic mixtape” Between the Pines debuts at #7
  • Kelsea Ballerini’s The First Time moved up to #15 this week from #28

Source: Billboard

Album Review: Carrie Underwood–Storyteller

Country Rating: 5/10
Overall Rating: 7/10

Carrie Underwood’s fifth album, Storyteller, has been the subject of heated debate since its first single, “Smoke Break,” was released in August.

Single Review: Carrie Underwood’s “Smoke Break”

Carrie had promised that her next album would be more rock-influenced, have more twang, and respect her country roots. “Smoke Break” was certainly more rock-influenced, but it had so much twang that I felt like Carrie Underwood didn’t sound like herself–instead she sounded like a lesser version of Miranda Lambert. So it was with mixed feelings that I came into Storyteller, and after several listens, I still have many mixed feelings.

The album opens with “Renegade Runaway,” a pop/country/rock song about a woman who is a “Tumbleweed blowin’ in the wind come sundown, call a girl like that renegade runaway.” This immediately reminds me of a Miranda song, but here this is not necessarily a bad thing, as Carrie Underwood does not emphasize her twang and still sounds like Carrie. However, it’s not more country, as Underwood promised–and if you were looking for more of a country sound, I suggest you avoid this album because it does not get better in this regard. However, if you enjoy good songwriting and “storytelling,” Carrie does deliver on this promise, and “Dirty Laundry” does a good job of telling the story of a woman who catches her man cheating by finding his dirty clothes. It’s a nice double meaning, and I’d be able to enjoy this song more without the pop production. “Church Bells” is a pop country song about Jenny, a woman who marries a man for his money, only to find out he is abusive. Carrie sings, “All his money could never save Jenny from the devil living in his eyes.” Jenny slips something in his whiskey and “he hit a woman for the very last time.” This is a Miranda Lambert-esque song as well, but despite this and some overproduction, the story makes it one of the better songs on the album.

“Heartbeat” is a straight pop song that Carrie should have left off the album–it’s a female bro country song, albeit more romantic, but we’ve already heard 957 songs about people hooking up by rivers, and so this is just unnecessary. Also, if you didn’t hate this, prepare to–Sam Hunt is the backup singer. Next is “Smoke Break” which I already shared my thoughts on in my review, and in the context of the album, it actually bothers me more. The story told here, of characters who drink and smoke (or would like to but don’t actually do it) to cope with the pressures of their daily lives, doesn’t compare to the other stories on the album, and her Miranda Lambert impression is more noticeable in the context of an otherwise Carrie Underwood-like sound on this album. “Choctaw County Affair” is one of the best songs on the album; this is a country rock song about a small town murder. Carrie sings from the view of one of the suspects. It’s great songwriting, and the production doesn’t overshadow it. I recommend listening to this if you only listen to one song on Storyteller, and I will post it here.

“Like I’ll Never Love You Again” is another of the better songs–a pop country love song in which Underwood gives us a rare subdued moment on this album. The sincerity in this song makes it even better. “Chaser” and “Relapse” could have been left off the album, as neither of them add a thing to it. The first is a pop rock song basically about telling a man to go ahead and “chase” the other woman. It doesn’t work as a pop song or a country song. “Relapse” does have a more pop country sound, but it’s just a boring song. It tells the story of a woman having “relapses” with an ex–that’s all I can say, as this is all there really is to it. “Clock Don’t Stop” is another straight pop song, complete with a clock ticking. This is a song explaining that “the clock don’t stop ticking away”–I wouldn’t blame anyone for hating this song, but I actually don’t mind it as a pop song. At least it chooses a genre, and this certainly helps it as a song, even if it does nothing for Storyteller as a whole.

“The Girl You Think I Am” explores the relationship between a father and daughter. The daughter just wants to be the girl that her dad sees–the girl in church who was “eight years old wearing angel wings.” It’s a heartfelt moment with stripped-back production that I also recommend you listen to. “Mexico”–now that sounds like a bright, happy beach song. Not from Carrie Underwood–it’s a song about running from the law with “blue lights on the horizon, dust clouds filling the sky.” This is a mix of country, pop, and rock that actually works–another Miranda-esque song that Carrie doesn’t overdo with twang. The album closes with “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted,” a personal song for Underwood about her marriage and new son. She says she never thought she would be this type, but now she has “what I never knew I always wanted.” Despite the fact that this song is a pop song, it is one of the better ones because it shows some of Carrie Underwood’s heart.

Storyteller came with many expectations. It was said to be more twangy and contain more stories. On this front, Carrie delivered–the songwriting here is actually really great, with the exception of a few songs. Carrie Underwood had a hand in writing many of these songs, a fact that should certainly be noted. If you prefer great songwriting, you’ll really enjoy this album. On the other hand, Carrie Underwood promised this album would sound more country–it’s actually an album of pop and rock and country mixed together to create a unique sound. If you place emphasis on a country sound, you will probably find a lot to hate with this album. I personally find more to enjoy than to criticize, but it’s an album you must hear for yourself.

Listen to Album

Single Review: Carrie Underwood’s “Smoke Break”

Rating: 6.5/10

Carrie Underwood announced Thursday evening (8/20) that she will release her long-awaited fifth studio album Storyteller on October 23rd. This is her first full-length album of new music since 2012’s Blown Away. The first single off Storyteller is entitled “Smoke Break” and is quite different from recent Carrie Underwood singles.

In 2014, Carrie Underwood released Greatest Hits: Decade #1 while she took time out of her career to have a child. Singles from that album included the Christian song “Something in the Water,” as well as “Little Toy Guns,” which dealt with domestic abuse and how the parents’ words were affecting their daughter. “Smoke Break” is a much lighter song, which can be expected. After the serious issues of her previous singles, Carrie delivers an ode to the hard-working people who deal with life’s daily problems and sometimes feel like they need a smoke or drink to get through. It is not clear whether the characters discussed actually smoke and drink from time to time, or whether they simply would like to. This can be regarded as bad songwriting or good songwriting, depending on your viewpoint. I view it as good songwriting because it is ambiguous and thus more relatable. This song relates to those who do take a drink or have a “smoke break” sometimes to deal with the pressures of life, as well as to those who wish they could drink or smoke but for whatever reason (pressure from family, religion, etc), feel that it would be wrong to do so. The characters portrayed are also relatable. The woman works three jobs trying to feed her four children and struggles with being a “good wife and a good mom and a good Christian.” The man in the second verse is struggling to climb the corporate ladder and be a “good man, good son, do somethin’ good that matters.”

This song is a country rock song, and Carrie Underwood sounds more country singing it than she has in years. I do feel that perhaps she is trying to sound country on purpose, though. This song is very different from standard Carrie Underwood material, and I would have thought a title and lyrics like those of “Smoke Break” came from Miranda Lambert. Some have pointed out that part of the chorus of “Smoke Break” sounds like Lambert’s “Automatic,” a comparison that is not hard to make. However, the thing I noticed when I heard the song and before ever hearing these comments or similarities, was that Carrie seems to be trying to be more like Miranda. This song is Miranda Lambert material, and it’s no coincidence that Carrie Underwood suddenly sounds more country when she’s singing it. I think after losing at all the award shows for years, she and her team might be trying to make her into another Miranda Lambert. I am not saying I blame them, but that won’t help, because in the end, Miranda Lambert will still be a better Miranda Lambert, as “Smoke Break” proves. In the end, “Smoke Break” is fluff, similar to Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town’s “Smokin’ and Drinkin’.” I would give Lambert’s song a 5. This song is better because it is more country and the lyrics have more depth, but it’s not especially great. I hope Carrie’s album is better. I liked Carrie when she was herself, and I don’t want to see her become an inferior Miranda at the expense of her music. “Smoke Break” is not bad, but Carrie Underwood is better than this.