This did not end well.
Taylor Swift – Back to December
This melody is such an exemplary piece of text painting, you almost don’t need the text. She hovers around a very narrow range here — the first half of Verse 1 and most of the chorus span just four notes (C# to F#). She’s constraining her usual ebullience to convince whatshisname (I envision Taylor Lautner, fwiw) that she means business, that she really wants to make things right. The insistent chorus rhythm is her determined form of penance. But at key places she breaks out: her voice glowers low on “burned in the back of your mind”; she reaches wistfully for “thaaat night”, wishing she’d behaved differently, put the roses in water or something. Second verse she’s got her foot in the door, so she widens the tune’s range coquettishly, trying to remind whatshisname how great she can be — only to snap back shut for the chorus. To get him back she’ll forswear freedom, so much that she even assumes a chain on his door, subconsciously associating it with her voluntary imprisonment. Bonus: she and Nathan Chapman forswear power chords, leaving space around her voice. OK, maybe she’s as brilliant as you all say. Docked a point because the bridge doesn’t do anything for me.
Margaret Durante – Mississippi’s Crying
If a state can cry, goes the argument, it has jurisdiction over rain and sky, formerly the domain of the federal government. National airspace becomes state airspace, militias start firing on Air Force One, and pretty soon we’ve got a Civil War 2 to rival Sudan’s, ostensibly over water rights. Great. As it happens, Mississippi’s governor is currently challenging the constitutionality of “Obamacare’s” individual mandate — which leads to my probably untenable hypothesis that, if a state song personifies its subject or depicts the state as a metaphysical sympathizer, rather than simply as a nice place to live, it’s about a Red State (with a few exceptions for California, which incidentally has its own water issues, but the Red States are much more common). Examples: “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Tennessee”, and “Rainy Night in Georgia” brashly extends its reach “all over the world”. Anyway, Durante’s from Maryland, not that it matters.
Carrie Underwood – Mama’s Song
Music for use! If people start playing this for Mother/Daughter dances at wedding receptions, because Dad’s not in the picture or whatever, I’m totally on board. I also like how Mama “gives away” the daughter, reclaiming the barbaric women-as-property tradition. Lovely and open-hearted, with a supportive crowd of background singers.