Carrie Underwood has been on fire this past year, and she doesn’t seem to be cooling down anytime soon. Raking up #1’s and numerous awards and accolades, Carrie is indeed the biggest country music artist right now. Her 5th studio album, Storyteller, was released in October and has already been certified Gold, with its lead single “Smoke Break” being Carrie’s latest #1 single. As far as I’m concerned, and I know a whole paso of people who would agree, Storyteller is indeed a huge contender for best album of 2015. It’s such a strong record, lyrically and vocally, containing quite a few excellent songs that would be amazing singles.
I guess that is why, when Underwood announced “Heartbeat” would be her second single, I was quite disappointed. For me, “Heartbeat” is one of the two weak songs on the record, with “Clock Don’t Stop” being the other. It’s not a bad song, just pretty weak, especially compared to the more substantial, stellar songs on the record. I think most of us can agree that “Church Bells”, “Dirty Laundry”, and “Choctaw County Affair” all should have had a chance at being a single over “Heartbeat”.
“Heartbeat” is a sweet, pop/R&B infused track that features Sam Hunt on background vocals. It’s actually the first full on love song that Underwood has released as a single. Underwood has said many times before that she’s not really a mushy person and doesn’t really like love songs, hence why she’s never released one before. Evidently, when it came to “Heartbeat”, Carrie felt differently, feeling that this song wasn’t too mushy and that it was definitely a song she’d play for hubby Mike. But of course, the fact that Carrie actually co-wrote this love song, with Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley, obviously plays a role in why she chose to include it on the record.
There’s been a great deal of buzz surrounding this song, even before it became the official second single from Storyteller, and that’s due to Sam Hunt’s involvement. Media outlets have been heavily promoting the fact that Hunt sings backing vocals on the song, which most definitely plays to Carrie’s advantage, using the combined help of Sam Hunt’s loyal fans and her fiercely loyal fan base to boost the song even higher. But, for me, it kind of turned me off the song. If you follow FTCR, you already know my feelings toward Hunt. For those of you who don’t, in a nutshell, I don’t like him at all. My main issue with Hunt is the fact that he is marketed as country, when in reality, he is FAR from being country. I think I could get more on board with him if he was in another genre. That being said, when listening to the song, you can’t actually tell it’s Hunt on backing vocals, in fact, you can barely make out the backing vocals. So why everyone is making a huge deal that Carrie collaborated with Sam is beyond me, they didn’t really do a full collaboration.
“Heartbeat” itself is a love song sung from the point of view of a female narrator, as she declares that she’d rather be alone with her man. She goes on to explain that “sometimes I want you to myself” and that she wants to get away from the city lights, go out to the country where they can hear the crickets and see the fireflies, and just dance to the rhythm of his heartbeat. Lyrically, the song is actually quite sweet. Carrie achieves what the majority of her country male counterparts have failed at time and again. She manages to be sexy, without being sleazy, creepy, or overdone. Carrie has always been all class, and that shines through to her music as well. “Heartbeat” is an excellent alternative to the “love” songs currently being played on mainstream country radio. It’s sweet and sexy, but keeps it classy, and contains a very mainstream sound, exactly what fans will want.
I will admit that although I’m not a huge fan of the song, it’s not bad either and does grow on you the more you listen to it. Really, my two main issues with the song are the production and the fact that other, better songs were passed over for it. For me, the production is what makes it weak. I don’t want to hear Sam Hunt or any of the other Metro Bros when I listen to Carrie, and that’s what I hear (through production) when I listen to this song. I also have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that songs like “Church Bells” and “Choctaw County Affair”, which are far superior lyrically and production-wise, were passed over for “Heartbeat”. I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Personally, I’d rather have excellent material released, even if it meant not as much radio success, rather than mainstream sounds that will succeed. I mean, let’s face facts, Carrie’s fans will help her succeed no matter what, so why not take a chance on the better material?
“Heartbeat” will no doubt be Underwood’s next #1 hit. As for me, I’ll just keep enjoying the record and hope that Carrie’s team picks one of the other, better tracks for her third single. (Fingers crossed it’s “Church Bells”!)
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