Most artists don’t put new music on a greatest hits album. If Carrie Underwood had chosen to follow this conventional choice, it would have cost her dearly. Luckily, Underwood and her team fortuitously put two brand new songs alongside some of her most successful songs. The first of those singles was “Something in the Water,” which has not only had great chart and sales success, but has received loads of praise from critics. I myself was quite impressed with the song and gave it high marks back in November when it came out. Well Underwood has now released the second single, this one titled “Little Toy Guns.”
Right up front you know this isn’t a country song. No banjos, acoustic guitars or country elements are present in this song. It’s a straight pop song with some rock elements thrown in to spice the sound up. The production of this song is very reminiscent of songs like “Blown Away” and “Cowboy Casanova.” It’s loud, noticeable and has the elements needed to be a crossover hit. By now I’ve grown accustom to Underwood making these type of songs, even though I much prefer when she keeps it more country than pop. There’s a reason I enjoyed her first two albums much more than her recent work.
While the instrumentation and production is not my cup of tea, Underwood does tackle a serious theme in the song and artists always earn my respect when they do this. The song is about a child with parents who constantly argue and fight and this puts the child right in the middle of their words. The child wishes their words were just like little toy guns and that it just rolled off their shoulders. Instead it’s very much real. The child comparing it to toys in their head is a way for them to cope with this mental anguish they’re experiencing with their argumentative parents. It’s a real song that I’m sure hits home with many people who live in these type of homes or grew up in this type of home.
When I first heard this song I thought it was terrible. The loud production annoyed me beyond belief. But after a few more listens the song has certainly grown on me. The lyrics do a great job of telling a story, which is what a good country song does. Underwood’s vocals are great as usual and I don’t think she’s “screaming” at any point either, which is one of the biggest criticisms of Underwood’s songs. While the instrumentation is in no way country, it doesn’t sound out-of-place either. It works so I can’t really criticize it as much as I want to.
Despite the few problems with “Little Toy Guns,” there are also many positives. In fact I would say the positives outweigh the negatives. The song has good songwriting, tackles a serious subject matter and features solid vocals. There aren’t a lot of country songs on the radio today that can even claim this and some of them even sound more country than this song. If you’re an Underwood fan or someone who can appreciate good pop music, you’ll like this song. If you’re neither, well I would just sit this one out. I’m sure you’ll take it over bro country though. And unlike Sam Hunt, Underwood knows what it takes to make a pop song sound good.