Country Music Roundup: Carrie Underwood is a multi-platinum ‘Storyteller’

This Week’s News

She’s hosting the entire show and she’s nominated for four Country Music Association awards next week, but Carrie Underwood just racked up a new award to add to her trophy case.

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 19: Singer-songwriter Carrie Underwood performs on stage during CMT Artists of the Year 2016 on October 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT)

NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 19: Singer-songwriter Carrie Underwood performs on stage during CMT Artists of the Year 2016 on October 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT)

On Monday, exactly a year and a day after its release, Underwood’s fifth studio album “Storyteller” was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, meaning it’s sold more than 1 million copies. All four of her previous albums have also gone multi-platinum, with her debut “Some Hearts” selling more than 8 million copies.

So far, “Storyteller” boasts three Top 5 singles (“Smoke Break,” Heartbeat” and “Church Bells”) and was nominated for Album of the year in two other awards shows besides the CMAs.

Looks like that Entertainer of the Year crown might be hers after all.

This Week’s Best New Song

Kenny Chesney seems to be taking a darker, more grown-up tone on his latest album “Cosmic Hallelujah,” which drops Friday after a pushed-back release date. First, lead single “Noise” thoughtfully (if clunkily) bemoaned our constant state of screen validation. Then, “Setting the World On Fire” found the perennial party boy singing about the end of romance and pondering mortality (again, with some stumbles) with P!nk. The song chases the latest radio pop-country crossover trend, but it’s another move in a more mature direction for the second coming of Jimmy Buffett.

The third single from “Hallelujah” is “Rich and Miserable,” which finds Chesney fully shedding his party persona as he talks about the dangers of coveting excess.

Whereas the first two singles stumbled on account of lyrical and musical tones that didn’t quite mesh, this one hits the nail on the head. It still isn’t entirely country, but Chesney’s act was never entirely country. “Rich and Miserable” traffics in some of the same tropes that a lot of pop country uses today, like electronic drum beats and corny buzzwords. And the lyric video is set in New York, the big city “enemy” of rural America. But hearing Chesney sing “We don’t know what we want, but we want it, and we want it all right now” and “We’re born, we work, we die, it’s spiritual” gives you pause. Sounds like that island boy’s got some Ecclesiastes hidden in that beach chair of his.

This Week’s Worst New Song

Brett Young, a former collegiate baseball pitcher turned Big Machine country bro, somehow got a song about a needy young dude into the Top 10 of Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs” chart.

Now at No. 9 after 26 weeks on the chart, “Sleep Without You” finds Young singing about how the “babe” he’s dating has him “wide awake waitin’ on a goodnight kiss,” as he awaits her return from a Girl’s Night Out. He’s “countin’ down the hours till it’s 2 a.m.”

Look, if you want to write a song about how that certain someone new you’re dating has you doin’ all sorts of things you never thought you’d be doin’, that’s great. Just know that Brad Paisley slyly cornered the market on that trope in 2001 with “Come On Over Tonight.” And don’t write a song about an emotionally insecure dude who can’t deal with one night of alone time while his girlfriend goes out with her friends. I’m no expert on the ladies, but I doubt being writing a song about how needy you are is going to get you any points. Be your own person!

This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

Sunday: Chris Porter & Mitchell Vandenburg Memorial at Continental Gallery. The loss of singer-songwriter Porter and bassist Vandenburg last week in a North Carolina crash while their band was on tour has hit many in the local music community hard. Some of those who knew and played with the two musicians will gather to play songs in their memory as part of the weekly Lo Jinx Orchestra show with hosts William Harries Graham and Jon Dee Graham, the latter of whom played guitar and contributed artwork to one of Porter’s recent albums. $10. 8 p.m. 1313 S. Congress Ave. continentalclub.com. — Peter Blackstock

Chris Porter at SXSW 2015. Sharon Alagna/chrisportermusic.net

Chris Porter at SXSW 2015. Sharon Alagna/chrisportermusic.net

This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: jharris@statesman.com.

 


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