Sometimes we all need a smoke break, whether we smoke or not.
Steve Horowitz: Carrie Underwood has always relied on her working class persona and rock hard country voice to make it seem like she’s singing something important. The same is true here, aided by a martial beat. The song doesn’t make real narrative sense. Instead, it sets the mood. Carrie lets us know that life is hard, so it’s okay to party. That’s something to believe in. The video tries to keep up with the lyrics but can’t make up its mind whether it should illustrate what’s happening or just offer hot sweaty images. Who cares? Sometimes we all need a smoke break, whether we smoke or not. [8/10]
Paul Duffus: Let's put our cards on the table here. I have no clue who Carrie Underwood is. I had to google to find out. So let's see: American Idol, pro sportsman boyfriend, dabbles in acting, well that's all standard stuff, a bit of a cliché, truth be told. Hold on, what's this? Apparently she's "recognized by Rolling Stone as the female vocalist of her generation in any genre"! And I emphasise: Any genre — which by default must include viking metal, pornogrind, and power electronics. Carrie, have you been editing your own wikipedia page again? If so, that is awesome, and I look forward to your upcoming William Bennett duet to back up these wild claims. Of course a duet with a freshly painted wall would be more exciting than "Smoke Break", which is surely a parody if anything, a load of hackneyed nonsense about "a small-town, hard-working woman just trying to make a living", the kind of thing you'd write if you'd never heard a country song before but then someone described one to you and made you sit down and compose one. Musically it's the most obvious kind of country-pop. The video is where it's at though. It begins with a waitress and ends with a sweaty brunette mechanic doing what looks like angle grinding, which is either a step in the right direction, a busting of stereotypes, and so on, or a ham-fisted tokenistic gesture of the most futile kind. [2/10]
Jordan Blum: I don’t have much to say about this, as it’s 95% identical to everything else Underwood (and everyone like her) has being doing for years and years. Musically, visually, and thematically/lyrically, every sentiment, tone, and progression here has been done to death already, making this yet another pointless entry into the genre (which isn’t even country; it’s pop music with a Southern edge). Rather than continue to churn out these mindless odes, Underwood should either stand out from the pack and do something special, or stop all together. [2/10]