"All Kinds of Kinds" by Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert has perfected a contemporary-country sound whose sweetness often belies sassy and flip lyrics. Like the similar song "Only Prettier" from Lambert's previous record Revolution, "All Kinds of Kinds" demonstrates this subversion. With a title and chorus appearing to deliver a sappy, trite message of inclusion, the song seems to fit the bill of a cliche country song. However, it quickly takes an unconventional turn to make the real message more potent.

Much of the song's power comes from the way it builds in strangeness to set up the context for its real point. The first two verses describes a wedding of two circus performers in the big top tent, with all of the sideshow oddities (such as the dog-faced boy and tattooed lady) watching. The following story involves Thomas, a "congressman with closets full of skeletons / and dresses that he wore on Friday nights." Phyllis suppressed her appetite with drugs and "when the children were fiddlin', she'd slip 'em some Riddlin" while awaiting the arrival of "Thomasina". Lambert sings this anecdote just as sweetly as she states that "to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds."

This incongruity prompts the listener to question the automatic assumption that such inclusion is admirable. Conditioned to be skeptical of clichéd sentiments (such as "it takes all kinds of kinds"), the listener starts to engage with the song with more consideration than before. This attitude is much more receptive to Lambert's message. By saving the song's true message for the latter half of the song, Lambert prevents it from being diluted by listeners' mistrust of cliches.

Lambert sings a much more personal anecdote about "tossing [a math] test into the trash" and hitchhiking out of her "bush league" small town before challenging people who question her worth to look in the mirror. Within the song, the people listening to Lambert at "children shows [and] smoky bars" are willing to "let ignorance linger" instead of realizing that she is as necessary to the world as they are. This serves as the core message of the song as Lambert urges those people to use more thought and empathy when judging others.

Listen to "All Kinds of Kinds" on Spotify