Music

Miranda Lambert - "We Should Be Friends" (Singles Going Steady)

Photo: Becky Fluke

There's a sense of inclusion and camaraderie here that only the best crowd-pleasers can pull off without pandering.

Steve Horowitz: This song and video give one a warm feeling inside. Lambert's friendliness extends to all: young, old, different races, the opposite sex, etc. A beauty shop treatment and a cold drink make one feel good. It's cheap therapy! Who could argue with that. Lambert uses bouncy musical rhythms, no heavy statements and a couple of sly winks about her bad reputation to show that life itself is worthwhile if one can just kick back and enjoy it with a couple of like-minded friends. [8/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Miranda Lambert has a lot of charm, and it goes a long way toward making “We Should Be Friends” palatable. It’s not too gripping of a song, but it’s got a good heart, following Lambert as she befriends a ragtag group of people who have too much fun to worry about being polished and perfect. There’s something healthy about it, down-to-earth without having to try too hard, all-inclusive in its simplicity. No barriers were shattered here, but as pop-country goes, this is the kind of song that should show up more often. [7/10]

Andrew Paschal: Lambert's candid personality has often been instrumental in helping to differentiate her music from the rest of the country-rock pack. Here she recites a litany of bad habits and crummy situations that she hopes to relate to the listener over, but through these forced appeals the song ends up feeling superficial and even a bit disingenuous. Finding common ground is great, but here those banal commonalities serve mostly as a feel-good cover for much more interesting human differences. [5/10]

Mike Schiller: I spent a good chunk of my college years frequenting a country bar, and this song is every good thing about that bar rolled up into a tidy three minutes. "We Should Be Friends" is exactly the sort of song that would start people dancing, that would get total strangers staring at each other and singing the "we should be friends" kicker to every couplet in Lambert's thick-as-honey southern drawl, that would get a smile out of even the most cynical of patrons. There's a sense of inclusion and camaraderie here that only the best crowd-pleasers can pull off without pandering. Beer cans as curlers is a nice touch. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: A bit generic, even for contemporary pop country, right down to the "I like regular folks who drink beer" vibe. But musically, it has a nice funkiness that creates a steady, easygoing groove. Terrific lead guitar. Harmless fun. [7/10]

Scott Zuppardo: The best part of this whole deal here is seeing my friend Waylon Payne in the video. A bit too cutesy for my tastes but the video is quite entertaining. [3/10]

SCORE: 6.33

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image