After having been the dominant female force in country music for a good while, Carrie Underwood has been relatively quiet on the music front for the past year. Though her highly successful Play On tour kept her more than busy, her only new music released in the past year was her appearance as a duet partner on Brad Paisley’s “Remind Me.” The wait is now drawing to a close with the release of “Good Girl,” the first single from Underwood’s as-yet-untitled fourth album, set for a May 1 release.
“Good Girl,” essentially does what “Cowboy Casanova” did a few years prior, but does it a bit better. Once again, Underwood plays the part of a woman warning a companion against tangling with a no-good man. This time the lyrics largely steer clear of overtly cliché territory, while offering a few clever lines such as “His lips are dripping honey, but he’ll sting you like a bee.” But while the song flirts with the idea of having some sort of meaning, it remains clear that the song’s main purpose is to set toes tapping, and to get the crowd singing along, which is not inherently a bad thing. To that end, “Good Girl” serves its purpose well.
Of course, some of the typical Underwood criticisms still apply here. Yes, the sonic treatment is bombastic as usual. Fortunately, the production stays out of the way for the first half, leaning on a catchy guitar hook and hand clap section, before finally succumbing to the temptation to indulge in some electric guitar shredding. More irritating are the unnecessary layers of background vocals, which give the track a murky, watered-down sound, whereas a crisp and clean edge could have made it a little better.
At the end of the day, “Good Girl” succeeds in spite of itself because it plays to Underwood’s strengths as a vocalist – simply by allowing her to rock out and show some attitude. Indeed, the main thing that makes “Good Girl” enjoyable is the way Underwood tears into the song and owns it. Thus, we’re left with a good single that falls a degree short of greatness, but that nonetheless succeeds in whetting appetites for new music from the ever-so-talented Carrie Underwood.