Miranda Lambert – “Only Prettier”
Songwriters: Miranda Lambert and Natalie Hemby
Miranda Lambert’s “Only Prettier,” a witty commentary that inspects the toxic culture of gossip and girl talk, begins with a twisting guitar lick not unlike the one that introduced “Dry Town,” a Gillian Welch-David Rawlings gem she covered on her last album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Alas, the song quickly strays from that quirky opening. “Prettier,” with its noisy hillbilly grunge arrangement, describes a petty society where popularity is defined by how much you weigh and who you hang out with. Not one to seethe quietly in the corner, Lambert bellows, “Well, I’ve been saved by the grace of Southern charm.” In the next three minutes, you learn how much of a lie that really is.
Laying on her thick Texas twang, Lambert’s voice cuts through a thick fog of smoke and catty comments. The cleverness of her performance makes up for the clumsiness of the production. A cocky tease “If you wanna pick a fight” is followed by proof that maybe she’s giving up her volatile ways: “Then I’m gonna have to say ‘Good night’.”
As she mocks these small-town southern hypocrites and their Hallmark card greetings, she sounds just a tad jealous, too. Could this smart, cute blonde really make you believe that she feels unworthy because of their size-zeroes and social graces?
Yes, indeed. Lambert, amid the growing buzz surrounding her career, remains convincing as a country outlaw, and that’s a testament to her enormous talent. When she unleashes her us-against-them attitude, she sounds every bit like an outsider.
What makes “Prettier” so smart is that it owns up to the insecurities of young girls, including her own, while admitting how silly they really are. Lambert’s hard-earned lesson seems like a winning strategy for rising Nashville stars–“If you just smile and behave, you can always get your way“—but it’s also sound advice for the next time her friends brace for a collision with their barroom rivals.
Once again, Lambert has bent the iron-clad rules of radio to bring us sharp material like this. Bless her heart.
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