If you’re looking for the female equivalent to Bro-Country songs, i.e. something featuring lower brow formulaic songwriting, however less frequently they may find their way onto your radio, the proper comparison would be the “attitude song.” That’s what Miranda Lambert calls it.
“I love attitude songs,” says Miranda, who is regularly regarded as the queen of the style, and whose influence as one of the highest-grossing females in country music in the last half decade has seen female country performers like Carrie Underwood and others follow suit with similar songs not putting up with crap from their men, or the women who would be inclined to steal them. Attitude songs are all about keying paint jobs, swinging baseball bats, and lighting shit on fire, all while looking fabulous and sporting perfect hair. And like Bro-Country, they regularly list off items involved in such badassedry with little or no story conveyed.
Though attitude songs may not be as prevalent or intellectually torpid as Bro-Country, they can be just as tiring. Even Miranda Lambert agrees. “They can get old if you don’t do ’em right,” she says. “I don’t want to keep doing the same type of attitude song, I’ve got to change them up.” So her answer to this concern on her latest album Platinum is called “Little Red Wagon,” written and originally performed by fellow Oklahoma-dwelling singer and songwriter Audra Mae. It has been announced as the third single from Miranda’s latest release, to impact radio right after the holidays.
Oh, you only love me for my big sun glasses
And my Tony Lomas
I live in Oklahoma
And I’ve got long, blonde hair
And I play guitar, and I go on the road
And I do all the shit you wanna do
And my dog does tricks
And I ain’t about drama, ya’ll
I love my apron
But I ain’t your mama!
And on and on from there, with a reprise about how you can’t ride in her little red wagon because “The front seat’s broken and the axle’s draggin'” which I’m not sure lends any more point to this song.
The music of “Little Red Wagon” is unapologetically rock, with a frenetic and diverse arrangement punctuated by wild dynamics that if nothing else, gets your attention and sends the pulse racing. Arena guitar indicative of Guns & Roses weaves in and out of an extra loud drum track, while the song starts and is bisected by two ultra-hushed pianissimos. Yes “Little Red Wagon” paws for your attention with its pronounced topography and has some interesting and original textures, but it lacks in pentameter. No consistent groove emerges in the wild-ass mood swings and multiple instrumental layers, potentially a symptom of the production crew trying to pull this new version comfortably away from Audra Mae’s original.
But the one thing high-minded standards for music, and opinions peppered with musical terms like “pianissimo” can’t resolve is just how fun many people will find this song, especially amongst the female listener. This is the reason it has been slated for a single release, and will probably hold its own on the charts for a valiant run. It’s fluff, but it doesn’t try to portray itself as anything but.
Miranda Lambert’s Platinum has become mainstream country’s default critically-considered album in 2014 despite songs like “Little Red Wagon” and “Somethin’ Bad” that have little to no nutritional value being put out there as singles. Though deeper listeners may complain why tracks like “Hard Staying Sober” and “Holding On To You” remain shelved, the point of singles is to draw the most attention as possible to albums and artists, and “Little Red Wagon” will most certainly do that.
This is not a good song, or at least not a good version of it. But there’s much greater sins out there to get worked up about. Let the ladies have their fun.
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1 Gun Up for being fun, involved, and invigorating.
1 Gun Down for being frenetic, pointless, and patently un-country.