November 18, 2005

Idol’s Carrie Underwood won’t let country clichés keep her down

American Idol-—the reality show to end all reality shows. It started out as just another Americanized show lifted from England, but with its complex cast of judges (pleasantly outdated Paula Abdul, famed producer Randy Jackson, and offensively blunt Simon Cowell) and gifted contestants, this little program has escalated to become so much more. Over its three previous seasons, the show has pumped out three talented singers, only one of whom actually has a rising career—Kelly Clarkson. However, season four produced one diva that may just put Clarkson’s reign to an end—Carrie Underwood.

Whenever one thinks of country music, the impression generally involves someone singing about relationships gone wrong, money issues, or some other useless gibberish that fills up a solid three minutes. So, when Carrie Underwood made it clear her debut album would fall into this genre, it seemed her career had already ended. After listening to Some Hearts at least five times, one thing was made perfectly clear—country never sounded this good.

Some Hearts starts on an easygoing note, perfectly balancing rock and country, and featuring Carrie telling the story of people who won’t let their lives slip away “Wasted.” The classic country storytelling continues in the endearing and inspirational “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” ending with Underwood on her knees, praying for God to aid her and her family in their turbulent times.

Confusion is prevalent in the beginning of “Some Hearts” as Underwood wonders why she can’t find love, but realizes in the chorus that “some hearts just get lucky sometimes,” and that even her own heart can get lucky as well. Carrie doesn’t hide her faith throughout this CD, especially on her power ballad “Jesus Take the Wheel,” in which she narrates a tale of redemption where a woman gives her life to Jesus after she and her child are saved from a possible collision.

Unfortunately, people have to ultimately accept that some relationships won’t last forever, and in “The Night Before (Life Goes On),” a couple’s summer fling ends and they sadly part ways to live their own lives. A reflective yet thankful tone governs “Lessons Learned,” as Underwood looks back at her heartbreaks and is grateful for all of them.

Carrie gets revenge on her cheating boyfriend by carving her name in his car, slashing all of his tires, and taking a Louisville Slugger to his headlights, so that maybe he’ll think next time “Before He Cheats.” Piano dominates the murky and gloomy “Starts with Goodbye,” as Underwood admits that the end of this relationship may make her cry and hurt inside, but she has to move on with the rest of her life.

In “I Just Can’t Live a Lie,” Carrie has to accept the fact that she still loves her ex-boyfriend and that she cannot live without him. The uplifting “We’re Young and Beautiful” brings the tempo back to a more cheerful route by keeping not only “their sweet love alive,” but also this album.

After that shot of espresso wears off, Carrie returns to her daydreaming in “That’s Where It Is,” as she describes the feeling of having that special someone’s “love-hold” (whatever position, grasp, or action that may be). Underwood pulls off an amazing performance in the heartfelt song we’ve all been waiting for, “Whenever You Remember,” filled with enchantment, awe, and the vintage choral key change.

Carrie reminisces on her vivid childhood, happily exclaiming “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore,” illustrating the difference between her life in a small town and her new one in “A world so wide/ It makes her feel small sometimes.” Some Hearts ends with the engaging pop ballad that made her the superstar she is today, “Inside Your Heaven.”

Some Hearts bests all of the former idols’ debut releases. Even though it may not incorporate as many genres as the others’, it features superior production and a voice so confident that the competition doesn’t stand a chance.