Album Review: Carrie Underwood – Carnival Ride

Matt Clark | October 21st, 2007

Carrie Underwood Carnival Ride“Sophomore slump” is a common affliction of Nashville’s hottest new talents due to the oft-cited reality that young artists have a lifetime to make their first album and one hectic year of touring, interviews and appearances to make their second. One wouldn’t expect this phenomenon to befall Carrie Underwood, recipient of some of Nashville’s best material from day one and a vocalist of seemingly limitless talent. Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with most of the material on Carnival Ride, Carrie Underwood’s sophomore effort, but her performances exhibit a startling lack of vocal maturity that comes close to an atavism to the high-powered karaoke that has characterized the work of less successful American Idol alumni.

Opening track “Flat on the Floor” is a good example. The Ashley Monroe and Brett James co-penned piece is certainly emotional, but Carrie’s performance strays from passionate to obnoxious. “All American Girl” sounds like a nice if familiar reprieve until Carrie again starts reaching for the big notes in the third verse, and the production of lead single “So Small” soars to ridiculous heights somewhere around the bridge.

Carrie Underwood has greater ability to deliver a powerhouse vocal performance than just about any artist on the radio, but regardless of one’s ability, there comes a point when a vocal is so ridiculously overpowering that no one ought to sing that way for the duration of a song, let alone an entire album. It’s the kind of misjudgment that I expect from most American Idol contestants, but Carrie has avoided the temptation for most of her young career.

There are some flashes of brilliance lurking beneath the vocal histrionics. “Just a Dream” actually benefits from the overpowering vocal at times and would be a poignant standout on an album that was not characterized by overproduction. “Last Name” is a high-energy, fun antithesis to “Before He Cheats” and could become a radio smash. “Wheel of the World” isn’t as inspired as the lyricists seem to think that it is, but it might be the only track on the album where Carrie puts the song in the driver’s seat.

No song better exemplifies the interpretive deafness that characterizes the project than “The More Boys I Meet.” A silly lyric like “I close my eyes and I kiss that frog / Each time finding the more boys I meet the more I love my dog” is not worth blowing out your vocal cords, and Carrie’s attempt eviscerates the song’s charm.

Beyond the surprisingly poor vocal performances, Carnival Ride suffers from the same thematic inconsistency that plagued Some Hearts, a collection of strong but unrelated songs that just happened to land on the same album. That deficiency is more damning the second time around because Carnival Ride lacks can’t-miss standouts like “Jesus Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.”

Carnival Ride is more a terrible disappointment than a horrendous album, but it reveals important deficiencies in Carrie’s artistry. It demonstrates that much of the artistic maturity exuded by this overnight success was illusory and that some pronouncements about Carrie’s endless talent were premature. Other successful artists, such as Martina McBride, have gone through periods of self-indulgent bellowing yet still prospered. Nonetheless, the Carnival Ride formula is not conducive to Carrie’s long term artistic or commercial success.

2.5 Stars

2 Pings

  1. [...] Carrie Underwood - Carnival Ride Carnival Ride is more a terrible disappointment than a horrendous album, but it reveals important deficiencies in Carrie's artistry. It demonstrates that much of the artistic maturity exuded by this overnight success was illusory and that some pronouncements about Carrie's endless talent were premature. — Matt C. [...]
  2. [...] more than critical of Carrie Underwood's bombastic vocals on Carnival Ride, but, as I noted in my review of that album, there is one song on which Carrie's performance really works, and that's "Just a Dream," [...]
  1. Jonathan
    October 21, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    If the Grand Ole Opry post is any indication, this comment thread should be fun…

    This is a well-reasoned, measured review that makes clear, specific objections while reflecting a belief that Underwood is capable of better. Pity how none of that is likely to matter once the wailing and gnashing of teeth begins.

  2. Andy
    October 21, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    I’m not a crazed Carrie Underwood fan, but this review is pretty harsh. I think the expectations thrust upon her are a bit too much, given that this is only her second album. She seems to be an easy target.

  3. Bryan
    October 21, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Absolutely disagree! This is an amazing album by an amazingly talented young lady! Her vocals are WAY better on this album then on the first one. I am very dissapointed in this snarky review. I expected you and other critics to pick apart a few songs here and there- but to pick apart her vocals, is insane. Songs are subjective– so some love, some hate. But a good voice is pretty universally recognized. On this album- her vocals show AMAZING growth and versatility- and she takes them to new levels altogether. You just inspired me to buy more copies of her album to prove you wrong. I thought you were going to give a more fair review. This is dissapointing. The songs All American Girl and Flat on the Floor are fun, upbeat and catchy. I agree with you that Just a Dream is superb and will do well on radio. I also agree with you that Wheel of the World is my favorite song on the whole album…vocally and the message. LAst NAme also rocks, as you said. I also agree that The more boys I meet is cute and funny, but doesn’t highlight her vocals so it isn’t my favorite. But where we disagree— is in your assessment of the album as a whole not being growth. It is way beyond the first album- it is more country and more authentic. Carrie- you are always 5 stars in my book. Let the haters hate- let the critics snark. You are going to soar on this album and sell millions. :) It is an arttistic and a commercial success.

  4. Mike
    October 21, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Although the critic above is a little ott I do have to agree that Carrie’s vocals have come a long way since some hearts. She is the most talented young country vocalist by some way and will have commercial success again with this album.

    I have had the album on repeat for a while now and have not had to skip tracks as I had to do due to lack of variety on Some Hearts. Overall this album offers far more varierty than the former album and has some vocal masterpieces present.

  5. Jan Coulson
    October 21, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I so totally disagree with your review, and find it terribly harsh. Although you try to make it seem well-thought out, commenting on almost every song, I find it spiteful and tacky. Wait and see how many millions of people disagree with you….

    It’s a good thing your opinion doesn’t count for that much…..

  6. Betty
    October 21, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Your review is totally off. You will see what happens when this album has success. You may need to seek employment elsewhere. You need to have your ear on the pulse of country not on your on biased opinion. So Small is already at #5 on billboard. Carnival Ride is #1 at Amazon. Those of us who have heard the record know it is a hit. It is more country and the songs are amazing. Her voice has matured and she has never sounded so good. I love everyone of the songs on this album. I am 62 and a long time country fan. I am not a kid. I know country music and Carrie is the best thing to have happened to country music in a long time. This album is better than Some Hearts and need I remind you it sold 6 million copies?

    I’m afraid you will have to eat your words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Jim Malec
    October 21, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Betty–I’m writing a review of this album that will appear in a print publication next week, and I have to say that I agree with most of Matt’s conclusions. What you have to remember is that, from a critical standpoint, high sales does not always reflect high quality.

    I believe this record will peak around the 2-3 million mark–I don’t think anyone here is questioning the fact that it will perform well.

  8. Andy
    October 21, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    What is so wrong with singing with power and reaching high notes?

  9. Mike
    October 21, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    No way will the album peak at the 2-3 million mark – If you have not heard she will be singing the main song for the disney flick enchanted.

    The push from that plus christmas + smash hits with last name / Just a dream / I know you wont + initial push = 4M + Minimum

    Besides check out ashley monroes blog, she knows more about her tune than you guys and her exited description was that Carrie knocked it out of the park.

  10. Jim Malec
    October 21, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Mike–
    You need to recognize the impact of “Before He Cheats,” which was a major cross-format hit.

    That song alone made people go out and buy the record. And I don’t think there’s a comparable track on Carnival Ride. There are some good songs, some cute songs, and some moderately humorous songs, but none of them are going to become as culturally pervasive as “Before He Cheats”.

  11. Andy
    October 21, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    I do agree that there’s nothing on this album that is like “Before He Cheats.” I think Carrie had around 3-3.5 mil albums sold before that song crossed-over. Now look. I think “Just a Dream” will do very well on country radio.

  12. Dave S
    October 21, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    I agree with the review.

  13. Regent
    October 21, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    I completely disagree! The songs are far better than most of what country radio is playing and the vocals show why she’s a star. “I know You Won’t” and “You won’t find this” are my favorites but I don’t skip over any which is more than I can say for the latest releases by other top name artists. “Just a Dream” is haunting and very emotion and “The more Boys I meet” is a great lyrically. I can hear fans singing along to that one now.
    I’m glad this girl chose country, contemporary or not. She brings something new the table and it seems we needed it.

  14. fran
    October 22, 2007 at 6:44 am

    Total rubbish! This is a wonderful album and it is going to sell HUGE numbers! What is wrong with singing big glory notes? Martina does it too and no one picks on her. Singing glory notes is singing with passion and emotion. When you feel great pain or joy, you want to shout it to the rafters. Carrie makes us feel her pain and her joy- she makes us cry, laugh, dance, reflect, and have a good time on this album. Her vocals are particularly smooth in Wheel of the World- no glory notes there! ? By the way– the NY TIMES gave it a Critic’s Choice review- they loved it! And other reviews such as All Music Guide (much more important then this snarky blog) gave it 4 stars out of 5. The Daily News gave it a B. So clearly- other reputable reviewers totally disagree with you. I know you don’t mean Carrie ill will, but seriously, why would you try to destroy her career with this snotty elitist review? It is a wonderful, warm, rich, moving album that I have played with happiness over and over and over. I think it is going to sell 4-5 million albums-not peak at 2 million. Are you guys serious? It already shipped platinum, and should be certified double platinum by Christmas, maybe better. It will hardly peak at 2x platinum. Carrie you rock! don’t let them bring you down! Wonderful, beautiful album! Just curious guys- what kind of album or music DO you actually like? slow moving traditional country? If so, no wonders you hate this as it is contemporary country, with a mix of arena rock, so it is fun and modern and what the public wants. No one wants boring emotionless songs with no high notes or passion. People love being moved, and glory notes moves people. thank you.

  15. Suki
    October 22, 2007 at 8:12 am

    it’s a sad day when sales supposedly equate quality. I guess by that token Britney Spears and Ashlee Simpson are great examples of shear artistic genius.

    I’ve listened to the album and have to agree with this review. The constant bombast that earmarks every song Carrie sings is grating. Some of the songs would have benefited from some restraint. Just because you can sing that way, doesn’t mean you should every time.

  16. stan
    October 22, 2007 at 8:36 am

    When I first listened to Some Hearts, I had a somewhat similar reaction that this reviewer has towards Carnival Ride. While I really like many of the songs on Some Hearts, I was thinking why does Carrie have to power through each and everyone of them? I knew that Carrie can blow but she didn’t have to blow all the time! But after more listens, I began to appreciate how she was using her big voice to interpret and color the songs. Carrie must have been doing something right, a couple of Grammys and six million CDs later.

    Similarly, it is Carrie’s vocal gymnastics that is making Carnival Ride that much more interesting. We can all agree that Carrie has this amazing voice which is an instrument that she exploits to the fullest. It is akin to a talented guitarist showing off his guitar licks. If he played safe all the time, would his listener ever discover the genius in his guitar play? The songs on Carnival Ride are great in that they are catchy & commercial but once I am familiar with the songs, their melodies and hooks, what makes me want to come back and listen? Again, it is Carrie’s amazingly expressive voice.

    So I can’t blame Carrie at all for wanting to show off her voice, pressing the pedal to the metal vocally so to speak. It’s like you’re in a Ferrari on a racing track, would you be content to drive leisurely at 70 mph? I dont think so.

  17. C. Eric Banister
    October 22, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Here’s a question: when you listen to an album like this, where each song grows in intensity, each one is like a vocal exercise (be it Carris or Martina or Faith or etc, etc), does it signal to you a hypocrisy of record labels claiming albums are the be-all-end-all and then producing albums that seem to be made up or songs that would stand better as singles?

    Concerning Carnival Ride, I don’t think any one has mentioned this important fact: Look at that cover, is she beautiful or what? :)

  18. Lanibug
    October 22, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Since I am such a hater (as many people are now calling me with regards to Ms. Underwood) I have to agree with Suki’s comment, that record sales do not equate quality…and as I put on my other comment, why are people going out and buying 10 albums. Is it just to boost sales, to make it seem like she sold more albums. I am usually more than happy with my one….

  19. Lynn
    October 22, 2007 at 9:54 am

    I think it’s fair to disagree with Matt’s assessment of the album. Music is subjective. However, his review is in line with almost every other review I have read of this album. Search for Carrie reviews online and read what others have had to say. Many of them say that Carrie is a pretty girl, with a pretty voice, but that she tends to overdo it and is lacking in charisma and personality. Few of these reviewers doubt that the album will do well, but…

  20. antonio
    October 22, 2007 at 10:45 am

    waaaaaaa!! waaaaaaa!! whiny little babies. i’ve heard this record and…well, it sounds like you put a whole bunch of songwriters in a few rooms at the grand ole opry and then went from room to room and told them your ideas, what was good, which way to go, …wait. that DID happen. and the record sounds like it. it sounds like her producers have targeted certain demographics and made the songs fit.

    oh, and if it sells oodles of copies, well, that just means it’s gooooood. don’t you know that? sales is everything. quality? not so much. get with the program.

  21. mickers
    October 22, 2007 at 10:45 am

    waaaaaaa!! waaaaaaa!! whiny little babies. i’ve heard this record and…well, it sounds like you put a whole bunch of songwriters in a few rooms at the grand ole opry and then went from room to room and told them your ideas, what was good, which way to go, …wait. that DID happen. and the record sounds like it. it sounds like her producers have targeted certain demographics and made the songs fit.

    oh, and if it sells oodles of copies, well, that just means it’s gooooood. don’t you know that? sales is everything. quality? not so much. get with the program.

  22. Eric
    October 22, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Once again, I’ll have to say that Matt C. should accomplish something before he starts negatively critiquing everything. This is the same guy who completely berated “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney (which is the current #1 single, climbing to #1 in only 8 weeks!!!). How can anyone take this guy seriously? Carrie will make a fool out of him just like Kenny did!!!

  23. Kevin
    October 22, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Eric,

    Commercial success does not negate legitimate criticism. Matt C’s critiques are legitimate, regardless of whether or not you agree with him, as they are based on sound reasoning.

    Personally, I loved “Don’t Blink” and I like Carrie’s album more than Matt C does, but I respect his opinions because they’re well-supported with examples. The English teacher in me could have a field day with some of the logical fallacies in this comment thread, and that includes the Carrie haters, too.

  24. Morgan
    October 23, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Ummm did this person listen to the same album that we heard? I dont think so….But i respect other peoples opinions, so this is just anothers opinion. Little harsh too i reacon, its her 2nd album…and its a killer, i love every song. You could claim that its not good, with evidence im sure, but youve just come up with a review of ‘big words’ trying to put a girl down, seems like Matt has too many feelings inflicting his judgement. But 1 thing im never bored of with Carrie is her voice (some reviews claim the songs are too similar to SH) but that doesnt phase me at all, her voice never bores me whatever she sings. And to the people saying Carrie lacks personality…wow you must be totally deaf/blind, what i love IS her personality. Sorry to be like this, but sometimes i seriously dont see where people come up with such bull….like they must be on a totally different planet.

    AS carrie says…let the haters hate. It will get them no where. And lets watch all the comments roll in of people disagreeing…but once again, its your opinion i respect that and all, but theres no need to put a girl down that badly….

  25. Niel Santos
    October 23, 2007 at 6:35 am

    thrash review. they are jealous of carrie’s success. read the reviews of nerw york post, a more legitimate and credite organization

  26. Onry & Mean
    October 23, 2007 at 9:57 am

    I agree with the review in general. I’d have rated it another half star, but I love “The More Boys I Meet”…that saying had to turn into a hook one of these days. I wanted to like this album a lot more than I do, but it’s more like debut than a second album – more sizzle than steak. She’s big enough that she could have recorded some deeper, more meaningful songs. As it stands, Carnival Ride is just that… loud and fun with lots of pretty lights (not sure what that meant), but you can only stand to ride once or twice every now and then without feeling a little queasy.

  27. Mike
    October 23, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Jim – I disagree completely on crossover material but time will be the judge on that score. I respect your posts over at pulse however although I notice your work for an alt magazine. (Nothing wrong with that but I would expect an alt magazine to like Carrie Underwood lol). Full respect to you however

    I will say however that the majority of major critics across the nation are giving this album very good reviews – Washington Post, USA Today, New York post, All Music guide, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press and so on.

    For now it appears you are out on a limb with Slant Magazine and the star telegram whose reviewer is very biased against her claiming “I got everything i needed to know back in 2005 when I first met her” which screams impartiality and great critic to me.

    Also a great article in the LA Times and on Yahoo – All talk about how talented a vocalist this young lady is!

  28. Mike
    October 23, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Jim – I meant would not expect in paragraph 1

  29. Paul W Dennis
    October 23, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    I agree that Carrie is guilty of a little of the “shrieking diva” treatment of a few songs, but I think the real problem is that the material is definitely subpar. There is nothing wrong with this CD that a few Harlan Howard, Dalls Frazier or Hank Cochran-penned songs couldn’t correct.

    I expect her next CD to be better so I’ll just chalk this one up to a sophomore slump – I’d give this 3.5 stars which equates to a C+

  30. Matt C.
    October 23, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    I don’t think that the material is that bad. The best songs are not as good as the best songs on Some Hearts, but as a whole I’d call the writing on this album stronger than the writing on Some Hearts. There’s nothing brilliant, but also none of these silly meta-country tunes that most young acts need to be recording. Most artists are recording material that amounts to redneck grocery lists set to music, and Carrie hasn’t committed that sin yet.

  31. John
    October 23, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Average songs, average singer, average white bread. BORING AND AVERAGE.

  32. Onry & Mean
    October 24, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Average singer? They have Q-Tips at Walgreens. You should apply directly to the ears.

  33. Chris N.
    October 24, 2007 at 8:37 am

    Can I steal the phrase “redneck grocery lists set to music” for myself?

  34. Jim Malec
    October 24, 2007 at 8:42 am

    At best, she’s a slightly above average singer. There are a million people in the world who can belt out those big notes. That doesn’t make you a great singer in my book. It makes you a technically proficient singer.

  35. Andy
    October 24, 2007 at 9:14 am

    I’m glad to see most critics have enjoyed this album.

  36. Matt C.
    October 24, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Chris: No, it’s all mine.

    Jim: I think that Carrie has the potential to be a great vocalist. She’s at least as technically proficient as Martina yet has far greater interpretive ability (though it’s not very apparent on this album).

  37. John
    October 24, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    “#
    Onry & Mean
    October 24, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Average singer? They have Q-Tips at Walgreens. You should apply directly to the ears.”
    OK Ornery, I might have spoken a bit to hastily. She’s a bit above average, but not much. Real singers, THE REAL ONES, sing with their heart as well as their voice. Plus they don’t go into their nose or throat, as Carrie does when she reaches/screaches for the high notes.
    Her interpretation is stiff and robotic and her vocal personality is about as lifeless as bland dead whitefish.

  38. Kingston
    October 25, 2007 at 7:49 am

    I totally disagree with the review, I believe that Carrie is really doing well in her business and I think that this album is the fruit of all her hard work. Do you think it’s fair if someone says something bad about a certain thing you put your heart and soul into? As a matter of fact, I have been listening repetitively to her album already for a week and I still enjoy it… This is really hard for me to say because I usually get easily bored… Kudos Carrie Underwood

  39. Paul W Dennis
    October 25, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    p.s. to all

    If you see the word “amazing” in a comment you should feel free to disregard the entire comment in which the word appears. Very very few things in life are truly amazing, and repeated use of the word suggests an extreme measure of cluelessness .

  40. Jenn F.
    October 27, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I love and listen to all types of music. Carrie has a voice that is beautiful, powerful and that evokes emotion. She belts it out because she can…she always has…that’s her style…just like every other singer out there has a style..this is hers. I disagree with the comment that she is an average/a little above average singer….come on now…are you kidding me? Most of the female singers on the radio, can’t hold her a light to see by…..I also agree that sales & numbers don’t always reflect quality…just look at Britney Spears, Ashley Simpson, Jennifer Lopez…I can go on and on…however, in this case…Carrie has hit it out of the park and this album will do better than her first…so all you haters, hate on…and Carrie will continue to sing the house down with a voice that will sell millions for years to come!

  41. Carl
    October 27, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    I hate to be rude, and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, that review was ridiculous. I find it very hard to believe that anyone could listen to “Carnival Ride” all the way through and have such a negative opinion about it. I can understand someone’s music not being your preference, but to sit there and completely bash someone’s whole album is uncalled for. It’s also understandable to not like a couple of songs, but to say that there were no standouts one the whole album is not even true. I strongly feel that “Last Name” has crossover potential, “I Know You Won’t” (my personal favorite), “Flat On the Floor” big pop/country singles, “Just a Dream”, “Twisted”, “You Won’t Find This”, and “Get Out of This Town” have big potential as country singles. Perhaps the most absurd comment in the review is that Carrie’s voice has not matured since “Some Hearts”. Just listen to how she flawlessly hits those high notes on the CD and Live, and then tell me that she has shown no vocal maturity.

    5 stars! GO CARRIE!

  42. Matt C.
    October 27, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Carl, I gave the album a negative review but didn’t “completely bash someone’s whole album.” You’ll note that I called several tracks “flashes of brilliance” including some of the ones that you mentioned. I said that there were no “can’t miss standouts,” meaning that I don’t think that any of the tracks has a high probability of attaining the success of “Before He Cheats,” not necessarily that they aren’t good. Finally, ability to hit high notes is not a sign of vocal maturity. Vocal maturity is knowing when to hit the high notes. Furthermore, I don’t doubt that Carrie could’ve hit those notes two years ago, so she hasn’t vocally “matured” since Some Hearts.

  43. Matt
    October 30, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    I was really hoping for a “Breakawaay.” Instead, I got a “My December.” Not bad, but I was hoping for better. This reviewer is straight on, by the way. “Just a Dream” is the highlight of the album. “So Small” is all right, but her first effort was better.

    The positive is that her heart is in these songs 100%.

  44. Brianne
    October 31, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Obviously this review is completely crazy! I would first like to ask who gave you the title of “Critic” and how much you actually know about music when you accepted this title? I think so many talented singers are underrated now and unlike what most people are saying, it is only sales that matter. Carrie Underwood is one of the best….if not THE best vocalists of our time. To say the high notes are too much and then to say she hasn’t matured vocally since “Some Hearts” is nothing more than a contradiction?? I don’t understand that at all! And to say none of the songs stand out….”Flat on the Floor” , “Just A Dream”, “So Small”…..just to name a few. However, we are all free to an opinion. Like many have said before, Carrie will prove anyone with a negative opinion to eat their words and the rest of us can be thankful for the majority of excellent reviews of “Carnival Ride” from the critics that really matter.

  45. Kingston
    November 3, 2007 at 12:02 am

    See? The album totally rocked the charts! It sold 527,101 copies just in its first week, Carrie is so cool, I am now her fan!

  46. Jim Malec
    November 3, 2007 at 7:41 am

    Did anyone doubt it was going to do well on the charts?

  47. IAN
    November 8, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Congratulations Carrie on your Female Vocalist of the Year Award!

  48. Double-L
    November 16, 2007 at 1:57 am

    So, I’m addicted to US Weekly and I can’t help it. In fact, I don’t even try to hide it. I just love it. Now, I come to The 9513 for my music reviews, not US Weekly. Them, I use for fun pictures and gobs of gossip. A recent issue compared Carrie’s “I Know You Won’t”, (a song that, if she wasn’t singing it I would absolutely LIVE for), to a “Loretta Lynn-Esque” performance. It was, at that moment, I reminded myself why I never, ever, EVER read US Weekly for music reviews of ANY kind. There is just nothing comparable between Loretta and Carrie. Ever. With all of that being said, I don’t hate “Last Name”. And although I think Katrina Elam’s version of “Flat on the Floor” is WAAAAAY better, it never got released, so I’m glad the song has ended up somewhere. Carrie does sing the crap out of it, but I just never feel the right emotion. It’s just words, flying out of her mouth, not meant to make me feel. And this is COUNTRY music. I want to feel it.

  49. E. Davis
    November 16, 2007 at 10:44 am

    I read your review and was well, frankly a little disgusted. Carrie Underwood is one of the few country artists that I would actually pay to hear, and have bought both of her CD’s.At first I was a little shocked by the powerful vocals displayed in her 2nd CD, but the more I listened, the better I liked it. I really like all the songs on the CD and think her voice is the best I’ve heard in all musical formats. I hope her new music surpasses “Some Hearts”, andI hope you have to apologize to Ms. Underwood for your harsh appraisal.

  50. Josh Preister
    November 16, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I was definitely one of those people who bought “Carnival Ride” the morning it came out and was highly anticipating that moment when the first chord would reach my ears until the final note had been sung.

    My first run through of the album left me exactly where this review is. I felt Carrie oversang on a lot the songs and some where lacking the catchiness that appears to be climbing up the country charts.

    But as such a huge supporter of Miss Underwood and everything she has done for the genre of country music in her very short time in the spotlight, I had to give the album more of a chance. Then around the 4th or 5th listen of it, I realized I was loving every song on the album. I found myself skipping to certain tracks because I wanted desperatly to know every word of every song.

    It’s no secret that whether the album is good or bad that it will sell extremly well. What I wanted from Carrie was the perfect album, and upon first listen, it might not be that, but once you start actually listening to the words and melodies, you find out that this really is a good record.

    I think “Flat on the Floor” will be a great single and do well on the radio. The vocals and music are awesome and definitely something different than what Carrie’s radio fans are used to, but could definietly be a top 5 single.

    Currently, I am in love with the single, “Ever Ever After” from the Disney movie “Enchanted”, which I feel was inappropriately left off the new record. That will go right to #1 on country radio and do well on Adult Contemporary as well. I find it funny that Carrie wanted to make a country record, which I believe she did, but that the second single is from a movie soundtrack which can and will be marketed to non-country fans. As a marketing major, Carrie’s people are guaranteeing her a very long stay in the music business.

  51. Ben J.
    December 3, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    2 1/2 stars. I’d agree with that. There’s a couple songs that will do well on radio (“So Small” obviously already being one of them).

    My favorite song from the album has to be “I Know you Won’t”. It reminds me of something I heard years ago and shows the fulcrum of the depth that Carnival Ride has to offer.

    The song “Last Name” is the only other song that stuck out to me just because it shows a little personality.

    For her and her fan’s sake hopefully she has some better albums ahead.

  52. Peter Kohan
    December 3, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I just listen to the record, and think, the label even had a writer’s retreat with some of the top dogs in the biz, that this bunch of songs was the best they could come up with as a team? A song like “All-American Girl” seems so rote. The stories these songs tell just aren’t that interesting with rare exception (“Just a Dream” and “I Know you Won’t” being two of them).

  53. USNavy Mike
    December 12, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    While “Carnival Ride” is certainly above what one would call a sophomore slump, I’d say she’s doing pretty darn good at this point in her career. I’d give here three stars for this album. A few hits and a few misses (most notably the “shrieking diva” syndrome as someone posted earlier)…big deal. I’d fault the producer for not using discretion as to when she should or should not go Martina-McBride on everyone. (note: I still love Ms. McBride, btw)

    Given the clear evidence that she has in mass audience appeal, and record sales worthy of a long career in the industry itself, I’d say the best is yet to come from the very talented Ms. Carrie Underwood.

  54. Nikki
    January 11, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Alright, for those who criticize “Carnival Ride” as being over powering in vocal performance and lacking in lyric strength and creativity; who else in country music has released an album (with the exception of past legends and more recent Shania) that was “just so great?” No one, even these days Reba, no offense whatsoever, is doing a cover of a song that was a major hit less than two years ago and is releasing it as a single. Carrie took a shot at creativty (writing/vocals) and in my opinion did more than well. One definite thing about Carrie though, is that she has a passion to do what she does. The fact that she puts that strength into her work should alone make this album a success; both commercially and critically.

  55. Tyler
    January 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    I did lie her first CD better and i like all the song but one. On her new CD i like all them except one. So it close but i like some of the song that didn’t become hit on some hearts better. Like Just can’t live a lie and when ever you remember. I thought songs like wheel of the world was to slow. It just went on and I told you so could be more creative but her voice in them is amazing yeah i said amazing Paul.

  56. Tyler
    January 20, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    I did like

  57. Tom F
    March 22, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    While there is nothing wrong with having a powerful voice, there is such a thing as “ear fatigue”. Great country singers like Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire and Tammy Wynette knew that nothing made the big notes stand out like backing off and whispering other notes. It is possible to oversing a song, and Underwood falls into that trap. She should get herself an ALison Krauss CD and see that “powerful” and “loud” are not synonymous.

  58. Tom F
    March 22, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Even Vince Gill’s backing vocals sound overwrought. A veteran of hundreds of backing vocal sessions before he made it big, he could make his voice blend effortlessly with everyone from Conway Twitty to Patty Loveless. But on “I Told You So, his voice sticks out like a sore thumb, providing more of a distraction from her performance than a supporting role. I blame the producer.

  59. Morgan
    July 12, 2008 at 11:04 am

    wow. this is probably the worst review ever written. Carrie Underwoods powerful vocals in this album are necessary to the songs! her vioce is amazing she has talent comming out her ears and the producer, song writers, and vocalists were all amazing!! I thin this reviewer needs to actually start listening to the music instead of looking up long insulting words in the dictionary all day. but thats just me.

  60. Morgan
    July 12, 2008 at 11:07 am

    the album gets 5 stars.

  61. Finnur
    July 26, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Carnival Ride has a couple of amazing songs, the worst being “The More Boys I Meet”, even though I as a Carrie-fan love it and think it’s great. “Just a Dream”, “Wheel of the World” and “I Know You Won’t” are probably the best ballads, however “Flat on the Floor”, “Twisted”, “Crazy Dreams”, “Last Name” and “All-American Girl” are all fun and super-catchy songs and great to sing with her on. On the point that her vocals ‘haven’t’ grew, I pretty much don’t get. Her vocals sound amazing, and she has grown sooooo much since Some Hearts, and I agree with All Music Guide’s review, this album can messure itself with another huge, amazing country album, Shania Twain’s Come on Over, just better. “So Small” is also a great vocal performance, and has an amazing message. However THE best song on the album is the bonus track on some albums, “Sometimes You Leave”. I know it’s a lot more pop than country, however that is probably one of her best vocal performances EVER, which doesn’t say very little. If they do a Deluxe Edition and release it as a single I wouldn’t wonder if it would become her second number one on the Hot 100, and her best (“Inside Your Heaven”, sorry, sucked). And that is all my opinion. Matt C. or whatever, Y-O-U S-U-C-K

  62. Stephen H.
    July 26, 2008 at 10:21 am

    You know, even though I don’t agree with you, your post was almost readable until the personal attack at the end.

  63. Jake B.
    September 5, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    This review is very harsh.. What do you expect out of someones second album? Shes not Mariah Carey releasing her tenth album, she Carrie Underwood releasing her sophomore effort.. And it seems as though the general public disagrees with this review, why? Because its really harsh and volatile. Actually this review is quite ridiculous and stupid.. The album is called Carnival Ride and all the songs affilliate with the entire album in uniform.. Have you read carries viewpoint on her new album? “Life is like a carnival ride” Last name, so small, the more boys i meet,,,, all of these tracks tell you something about a girl going through a good or bad time or say things about life in general.. As for her vocals,, i dnt know what this critic was looking for but I think Carries vocals are brilliant and embracing.

  64. Helena
    December 7, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Okay. Something is wrong with you. Carrie’s songs are touching… all of them. Maybe her lyrics are different, they definitely are. That doesn’t make her songs bad. you should think and use your head that you were born with.

  65. CMW
    December 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    you should think and use your head that you were born with.

    Well said, Helena. Also, if you’re going to use any head other than the one you were born with, get permission first.

  66. Dan Milliken
    December 7, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    if you’re going to use any head other than the one you were born with, get permission first.

    Yup. Otherwise it’s kind of plagiarism.

  67. CMW
    December 7, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Right, or unlawful organ harvesting.

  68. Dan Milliken
    December 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Oo, good one!

  69. CMW
    December 7, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week.

  70. Stormy
    December 7, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I didn’t give Carrie’s songs permission to touch me.

  71. Stella
    March 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    This review is awesome

  72. Dan
    September 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I love this CD and her first one as well. Her third one, PLAY ON, is going to be amazing and be on the charts for a long time. Her first single, Cowboy Casanova, is already so popular and it’s only been a couple of days since she released it.

  73. Laughter
    September 12, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Actually, I thought her second album was better in the “country” sense. Surpirsingly, I didn really like this album (3.5 stars maybe?) I think its very random how they just slap in songs (especially some of the slow ballads) to fill up the empty space between the hit singles.

    Carrie’s voice is…well…loud. But pretty good. I think this article was but I agree with most of
    the album, except for the part about her voice. Could you elaborate more; is it not enough feeling, to scratchy etc.
    (I haven’t heard every second of this album though so this is probably not fair :)

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