Many will agree that Miranda Lambert is one of the most successful women Country Music has ever seen. She has won countless awards with her chart-topping albums, singles, and her amazing performances. All of her successes, however, can be attributed to her debut album, Kerosene. Lambert’s first album thrust her into the spotlight of country music with its alternative sound and homegrown roots. The album shows honesty and Lambert’s habit to speak her mind with little boundaries, which are reasons for her current fame and likeability.
Miranda Lambert was born in Longview, Texas in 1983 and grew up in Lindale, Texas. She began performing in front of large audiences at the age of 16 when she performed in a talent show titled “The Johnnie High Country Music Revue” in Arlington, Texas. After this, Lambert started recording with a label in Nashville, but left because of the “pop” sounds of the songs she was asked to record. She learned to play the guitar so that she could write her own songs instead, stating in an interview, “I want to say something that makes people think” (Crossan).
In high school, Lambert led a band called “The Texas Pride Band,” which played in Longview at different venues. At one of the performances she met Rod Phelps, an entertainment attorney who helped kick-start her career by sending demos to producers he knew. Lambert moved back to Nashville, which resulted in her auditioning for Nashville Star, an American Idol style TV competition show. She ended up winning 3rd place and signing with the label Epic Records a year later.
“Me and Charlie Talking” was Miranda’s first single and debuted at 42 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Her debut album, Kerosene, was released in March of 2005 and reached Number 1 on the charts. Lambert wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 12 songs on the album, 4 of which were Top 40 singles on the Billboard Country charts. However, the only single that reached the Top 20 was the title track, “Kerosene.”
In 2005, the same year Kerosene was released, YouTube was founded and the first video launched in April. Facebook had been launched the previous year. One can argue that these dates were the “start” of social media, which has been a huge success in aiding artists’ careers and increasing their fan bases. Before this, many artists used MySpace as a way to put out their music and connect with fans. It is unclear as to whether or not this site was used by Lambert for Kerosene or previous to its release. Miranda Lambert’s (now) friend, Carrie Underwood, won American Idol this year as well.
According to NutsAboutCountry.com many fans are impressed with Miranda Lambert’s ability to stay true to herself. By TV exposure on Nashville Star, Lambert was able to build a large fan base early on, rather than through commercial exposure. This quality is appreciated by fans and listeners across the board, including DanD from Amazon.com who commented, “Few artists on the Texas country scene have enough commercial appeal to make national playlists. Miranda Lambert is an exception to the rule; the amazing thing is, she does it without sacrificing who she is.” One of the reasons why this album appeals to so many people is because of the mix of music influences. It has the “Texas Country” sound while also incorporating pop and rock sounds into songs as well. This is especially impressive coming from a younger artist.
Despite the numerous glowing reviews, there were also some bad ones as well, including one from Amazon user LJS “Jumper” who said, “At 24 years old, Miranda’s tracks sound like a 14 year-old’s… Might be able to give a good delivery on a recording when she’s 34 years old… but not yet.” The review is probably harsh considering Kerosene was her first album and Lambert most likely wrote some of these songs at a younger age. Another common critique was of the title track, “Kerosene,” her most popular single from the album. Many argued that the song sounds almost identical to Steve Earle’s “Feel Alright.” Amazon user Michael A. Smith agrees with this notion stating, “I was furious the first time I heard it. It’s a total musical rip-off [with] different lyrics… Hard to give her praise when she’s selling music that’s not hers, nor giving credit where due, for the music.” However, Steve Earle, along with Guy Clark, Jack Ingram, and Emmylou Harris, are some of Lambert’s greatest influences. Because Miranda Lambert strives for a rock-country/alternative-country sound, the song was most likely influenced by the sounds of Steve Earle.
Lambert’s first album hosts many breakup songs, some sad and some angry, including “Kerosene,” “Bring Me Down,” “There’s A Wall,” and “What About Georgia.” The song “What About Georgia” was actually written about another contestant on Nashville Star, Travis Howard. He wrote a song about dating Miranda describing her as a train wreck. After Howard sent her the song, Lambert was furious and decided to write a song about how he left home and forgot about everyone else. On this album, Miranda Lambert also had three songs about moving on. “New Strings” and “I Can’t Be Bothered” are both about getting past a relationship ending. However, “Mama I’m Alright” is about a girl leaving home in a small town to bigger and better things. The song is aimed towards the mother of the girl, telling her not to worry and that the mother did a great job of raising the girl. Lambert’s debut single “Me and Charlie Talking” was written with her dad about childhood love and how much it is treasured, as opposed to love between adults, which the singer argues isn’t always appreciated like it should be.
One of the main reasons that attributes to the success of Miranda Lambert’s first album is how real it is. Similar to Taylor Swift, Lambert writes the majority of her music, making it relatable; this is especially true considering that more than half of the songs are about love, relationships, and heartbreak. The artist uses personal experiences to create a strong bond with her fans, leaving them coming back for more. At this point in her career Miranda Lambert has won over 40 different awards including “New Artist of the Year” at the Music Row Awards in 2005, “Female Vocalist of the Year” 12 times, and “Artist of the Year” in 2014. Lambert has clearly had a successful career and most likely will continue that success for years. Her many successes can be traced back to her original album Kerosene, which caught the attention of the country music world as Lambert prepared to take it by storm.
- “Kerosene” – (M. Lambert)
- “What About Georgia?” – (M. Lambert)
- “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere” – (M. Lambert, R. Lambert)
- “New Strings” – (M. Lambert)
- “I Can’t Be Bothered” – (M. Lambert, T. Howard)
- “Bring Me Down” – (M. Lambert, T. Howard)
- “Me and Charlie Talking” – (M. Lambert, R. Lambert, H. Little)
- “I Wanna Die” – (M. Lambert, S. Wray)
- “Love is Looking for You” – (M. Lambert)
- “Mama, I’m Alright” – (M. Lambert, T. Howard)
- “There’s a Wall” – (M. Lambert)
- “Love Your Memory” – (M. Lambert)
Crossan, Jeff. “Special Interview (2006): Miranda Lambert Talks About Her Debut Kerosene Album, And How She Got Started.” Songwriter Universe. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
“Kerosene: Miranda Lambert.” Amazon.com. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.amazon.com/Kerosene-Miranda-Lambert/dp/B0007OP284>.
Peden, George. “Miranda Lambert – Kerosene.” NutsAboutCountry.com. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Webb, Jennifer. “Miranda Lambert – ‘Kerosene'” About Entertainment. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. <http://countrymusic.about.com/od/cdreviewsal/gr/blkerosene.htm>.