CD Review:
Oops... Britney, Carrie do it again
Posted Nov. 2, 2007

Erin Konrad
Arts Editor

Two female music sensations released albums this Tuesday in a fierce battle over record sales.

Although Britney Spears has become an infamous celebrity known more for her crazy antics than for her singing voice, she is being pitted against Carrie Underwood, the favorite good girl winner from “American Idol,” in the music industry’s recent releases.

Surprisingly Spears’ CD “Blackout” (Jive) is not a complete mess like its performer’s personal life.

Spears has produced a pop album that is sure to engage listeners with its fast-paced dance rhythms and catchy lyrics. Listeners can easily visualize a club atmosphere when hearing Spears’ breathy voice purring about getting her groove on.

Although this is nowhere near the best pop album produced in the last several years, considering Spears’ head shaving, rehab-going affairs, this CD could have been a lot worse.

The woman may be an absolute walking disaster, as witnessed by her nightmarish performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. But she knows how to use other talented performers to improve her songs.

T-Pain wrote and arranged the track “Hot as Ice,” and singer Keri Hilson wrote and sang backup on three songs, including Spears’ first released single, “Gimme More.”

While “Blackout” does not offer intelligent lyrics, the songs do reflect Spears’ hard-partying, drinking and dancing ways. She co-wrote the song “Freakshow” which presents lyrics like: “Let your inhibitions go/ It's a crazy night/ Let's make a make a freakshow.”

Song titles like “Get Naked (I Got a Plan)” and “Ooh Ooh Baby” let the listeners know exactly what to expect: some good old-fashioned “Girls Gone Wild” dance tunes.

There are lots of entertaining songs, but no sure-fire radio hits like Spears’ last single,”Toxic.”

So far the pop princess, who used to perform to packed arenas and became a sex symbol before age 20, has released five albums.

Her newest venture isn’t quite up to par. Her fans—the few devoted ones left—deserve better than recycled beats and an album that has no heart.

While her songs may be fun to dance to, just like Spears’ partying, it all seems old after a while.

On the complete opposite end of the music industry spectrum is Underwood.

The country singer won “American Idol” and has sold more records than any of her “Idol” competitors of any season.

Her sweet, honest delivery of songs helped to win her the contest, and has since allowed her to achieve the rare crossover from country to pop when she released her vengeful hit “Before He Cheats.”

That song alone catapulted her from a reality show success to a bona fide star.

Underwood continues her impressive streak with the new CD “Carnival Ride” (Arista/ Nash­ville/19 Recordings).

Although the album title seems saccharine, Underwood’s songs range from the moving ballad “So Small” to the spirited, honky-tonk “Last Name.”

Underwood co-wrote many tracks on “Carnival Ride” which has certainly helped to create a feeling of originality and variety.

Another positive aspect of Underwood’s CD is that it feels truly genuine, like an album that someone spent hours in the studio perfecting. This artfulness is unlike Spears’ songs, which seem to all be coming from the same one-dimensional party-animal mode.

Underwood appears vulnerable in “Wheel of the World” with lyrics like: “Love goes out, out like a light/ Out like a flame, and you can't find it anymore/ Just when you think it's lost in the rain/ It comes back knocking at your door.”

But it’s certainly possible that with this first-rate CD, Underwood’s fans won’t soon fall out of love with her.

Spears should take a page from Underwood’s playbook. It is much better to produce a well-crafted album that fans will go crazy for than to create an album just to keep your name on people’s lips.

Erin Konrad can be reached at ekonrad@ulv.edu.

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