Thursday, October 25, 2012
Review: Carrie Underwood attempts to be edgy in Dallas show
She went for some darker songs, but she couldn't shake her sugary-sweet cuteness.
DALLAS Carrie Underwood gave herself a tricky assignment Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center. For two hours, she had to be sparkly and dark all rolled up into one.
She’s already got the sparkly part down pat. Since winning American Idol in 2005, the well-coiffed country-pop singer from Checotah, Oklahoma has become America’s Sweetheart with her halogen smile, glistening voice, and Teflon attitude.
And she spent most of the show in familiar happy-shiny mode. Changing from one glittery, thigh-baring outfit into the next, she sang hymns of praise to the “All-American Girl” and good-natured warnings about a “Cowboy Casanova.”
She reminded us to “Thank God for Hometowns” while floating magically across the arena in a glass-bottom Western corral. And she took a stab at feel-good reggae with “One Way Ticket,” a regrettable new ditty that ranks right up there with Miss Cleo in the Jamaican Hall of Shame.
But her bigger challenge came with edgier new material from Blown Away, her fourth and latest CD. She sang about a wife and mistress plotting to kill the man they both love in “Two Black Cadillacs,” about shooting her boyfriend in “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun,” and about an abusive dad in “Blown Away,” which ended the show complete with a nifty special-effect tornado swirling onstage.
It’s certainly not her first dance with violence, as she reminded fans with “Before He Cheats,” her 2006 hit about smashing an unfaithful lover’s car with a Louisville slugger. But the deeper and darker she went, the more her voice and songs seemed too pristine for such a wide range of emotions. She aimed for philosophic in “Temporary Home,” but the music was mired knee-deep in corn.
She also failed to sync with “Sweet Emotion,” Aerosmith’s hypnotic blues-rocker about doing the “backstage boogie” with an underage girl. True, the song no longer seems as skeezy as it did in 1975. But just because Steven Tyler’s been an American Idol judge doesn’t mean “Sweet Emotion” is right for an Idol alum like Underwood -- especially since she couldn’t bring herself to sing the song’s three-letter euphemism for derriere.
Skipping that naughty word Wednesday night may have been a relief to all the parents in the crowd who brought their kids. But it was also a reminder that when you’re America’s Sweetheart, it’s difficult to re-brand yourself as something more complex.
Thor Christensen is a Dallas freelance writer.
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