NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Country star Miranda Lambert says she is shocked -- pleasantly so -- that her domestic-abuse tale “Gunpowder & Lead” has become her first top 10 entry on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
The song is not your typical country fare, even in a format that has embraced prostitution (“Fancy,” the Bobbie Gentry song later covered by Reba McEntire) and vengeful murder (Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls”).
The lyrics would make rapper Lil Kim proud -- “Slapped my face and he shook me like a rag doll, don’t that sound like a real man/I‘m going to show him what a little girl’s made of, gunpowder and lead.”
“It was very shocking to me,” says Lambert, who wrote the song with Heather Little. “It’s the most controversial song I’ve put out so far and it gets to the top 10. I thought it would be (last single) ‘Famous in a Small Town’ or something not so threatening.” (“Famous” reached No. 14 in November, topping previous best “Kerosene,” the title track from her 2005 debut album, which peaked at No. 15 in March 2006.)
The song’s subject matter is “a bit rough,” says Bruce Logan, program director for country station WKKT in Charlotte, N.C., but he adds “the audience is smarter than we give them credit for. All the people who love the song aren’t gun-toting crazies about to off a loved one. They enjoy the song for the attitude, performance, and it’s fun.”
Weekly sales of Lambert’s current album, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” have more than doubled since the single was released. In January, it averaged 4,400 units weekly; in the four weeks ended July 13, it averaged 9,400 units. The album, with total sales of nearly 490,000 copies, soared 13 places to No. 55 on the latest Billboard 200. “Kerosene” has sold more than 930,000 copies.
While “Gunpowder” is still climbing the charts, Lambert says she hopes her next single, “More Like Her,” will show her fans that she has another side.
“I don’t want it always to be about the in-your-face, tough-chick songs, because that’s not all of me,” she says. “I also have a different, softer side, and I want for people to hear that.”