Single Review: Carrie Underwood - "Blown Away"
By: Bobby Peacock
In mainstream country music, fewer artists have a more consistent track record than Carrie Underwood. One of the few American Idol alumni to actually have a career after their first album, Underwood has gotten to her enviable position by striking the right balance of marketability and artistry. Her songs aren't overly challenging or risky; neither are they forgettable and bland. Over the course of four albums, she's gradually built up a little variety, whether it be tender ballads that show off the softer end of her big voice ("Temporary Home") or potent up-tempos that recall Shania Twain at her best ("Cowboy Casanova").
That said, "Blown Away" finds her in territory that none of her prior singles have entered. It's far more pop than its predecessors, more grandiose, and far more risky. Like the gathering storm clouds she sings about, the production forms gradually throughout the first verse — synthesizer, pizzicato strings and chimes, then a wall of backing vocals, all building up to a soaring chorus. The overall thundrous production and echoed "blown away"s throughout also aid greatly in the dark, stormy feel.
Taut, simple but effective lyrics convey the scene, easily one of the darkest storylines in any recent country song. A storm is brewing near an Oklahoma house, occupied by an abusive drunk father and his daughter. When a twister hits and kills said father, the daughter calls it "sweet revenge." Swept up in the wind are both the house (in the literal sense) and the painful memories of the past (in the metaphorical sense). For only two verses and a chorus, an incredible amount of detail and metaphor is packed in for maximum impact.
"Blown Away" is the kind of song that comes along so rarely. It has all the markings of a career song — one of those songs that is remembered for years to come, like "The Dance." It's the kind of song that grabs hold of you from the first note and never lets go. It's the kind of song that makes itself known by sounding like absolutely nothing else on radio. It's the kind of song that provoked me to write a longer review than usual. I have rarely been this passionate about a single, but trust me on this one. "Blown Away" is a milestone song.