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"Cry Pretty" Carrie Underwood

by Margaret Stewart | copy editor
Tue, Oct 2nd 2018 01:00 pm

Released on Friday, Sept. 14, “Cry Pretty” is Carrie Underwood’s sixth studio album and has a different feel than the rest. Underwood is no stranger to love songs, her song “Heartbeat” from her fifth album “Storyteller” was her fourteenth hit to reach No. 1 on Billboard Country Airplay, cementing her record for the most No. 1 among women in the chart’s history. However, rather than about being in a relationship, a majority of these tracks pertain to the moments after. Save one or two songs, this is an album that explores loneliness and the strengths and weaknesses that are associated with it.

The first song is also the title song of the album, “Cry Pretty.” Unlike her song “American Girl,” this song provides a commentary about the superficial expectations of society in regards to handling a break up. Or, more specifically, how a woman should handle a break up. “Cry Pretty” is a call to the societal expectation of women to be lady-like and classy at any given moment despite the circumstance. The title is a play upon the notion of “ugly crying” which, is what Underwood is saying we all do when she notes “you can’t cry pretty.”

The subsequent two songs, “Ghosts on the Stereo” and “Low,” like their titles may suggest, are slower ballads with heavy lyrics. That being said, while both songs deal with loneliness, “Ghosts on the Stereo” also subtlety suggests that there is a strength in being on your own. Underwood’s lyric, “No I ain’t alone, I feel right at home, with the ghosts on the stereo”  could be interpreted as a pity party, the song seems to suggest a comfort within oneself that many people can’t come to terms with. Underwood expertly balances the strength and weakness of these moments with the juxtaposition of the musicality of her accompaniment and her lyricism.

“Spinning Bottles” is a play on the infamous high school game of the same name. This song is about spinning bottles while waiting for your partner to return while layered with the partner not knowing if they want to. This explores a different side of loneliness, the loneliness of waiting. The spinning bottles represent the endless cyclic nature of a dysfunctional relationship that both are trapped in. As Underwood says, “this ain’t a game, nobody wins.” 

Written by Underwood, the song “Love wins” is arguably the most potent track on the album and is about a person who was killed. With lyrics like “politics and prejudice, how the hell it’d ever come to this” Underwood offers a social commentary upon the current climate of America.  The chorus begins with her vocalizing “I” as a nod to the legendary Whitney Houston in “I Will Always Love You.” Rather than focusing upon the isolating, the song is about uniting a broken country and divided people.

Though incredibly different than her other works, Underwood’s latest album, “Cry Pretty” is deeply impactful. With potent lyricism and musicality, Underwood continues to amaze and connect ot her audiences.