Country music isn’t exactly a haven for female artists these days. Take a look at this week’s Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and you’ll find one—just one—solo female artist in Top 30 (Little Big Town, The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum all feature female singers).
Only Godzilla Underwood—who came to the genre with a swell of support from her season four American Idol win—and Queen Swift have been able to carve out places in what has become a “boys only” social club.
So, emerging Columbia Nashville artist Joanna Smith has a rough road ahead of her if she hopes to be the one and only breakout female of 2010. The odds aren’t in her favor, and her debut single “Gettin’ Married” does little to tilt the scale in her direction.
A spunky up-tempo co-written with Tom Hambridge and Jeffrey Steele, the song tells the story of a young woman who comes to that point in life where she’s watching all of her girlfriends tie the knot. Smith doesn’t want any part of that, because she doesn’t “want to be the reason for a Friday night poker game,” or to be stuck at home doing the laundry on Saturday night.
That, and she doesn’t like the fact that “this being Maid of Honor’s keeping [her] from makin’ out.”
It’s not an especially cogent premise, and what was meant to be cute and playful leaves Smith sounding bitter and catty.
She just doesn’t sound very good, either. Smith’s vocal is shrill and thin, and lacking panache, flair or anything else that might separate it from Nashville’s very large pool of good (but not great) singers. She breathes a faint air of personality into parts of the song by playing around with the delivery of certain words—which helps the song come off as a slightly more playful and relatable than it otherwise might have—but it’s difficult to see how that’s enough to make her the one to do what essentially no other female has been able to do this year (or last).
Between the mediocre songwriting, the average singing and the stuck-in-the-90s production, “Gettin’ Married” comes off as a C-list effort. Judging by this record, Smith’s not ready for the big time—and why her label thinks she’s going to make so much as a dent in the country landscape is a mystery.