Cat Cohen's Anatomy of a Hit a Hit in 2012

Merry Go 'Round by Kacey Musgraves

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Relative newcomer Musgraves has a winning social commentary country-pop hit on her hands

Song: Merry Go 'Round
Artist: Kacey Musgraves
Album: Same Trailer Different Park
Songwriter: Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally,
Producer: Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves

A poignant portrayal of small town life with the emphasis on how easy it is to get stuck in a conventional rut there.


Full of imagery and pathos, the song is a naturalistic All-American portrait as vivid as early Bruce Springsteen’s Jersey shore lyrics.

If you ain't got two kids by 21,
You're probably gonna die alone.
Least that's what tradition told you.
And it don't matter if you don't believe,
Come Sunday morning, you best be there in the front row like you're supposed to. Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park. Mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane.
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops nobody knows and it ain't slowin' down.
This merry go 'round.

A brisk gentle rolling 16th arpeggiated fingerpick pattern moves the song along nicely.

Reminiscent of Glen Campbell’s “Gentle On My Mind,” this well-crafted lilting memorable three-part melody in a pop 7-tone major scale has the kind of shape and contrast to match the dimension of the vivid lyrics.


A full palette of conventional major diatonic chords plus a tearful minor iv harmony for added pathos.

I Imaj7 I I maj7 I Imaj7 I Imaj7 vi vi(add2) vi vi(add2)

iv I iv Vsus V IV I IV I V vi ii I I V vi V IV I Imaj7


Sig ABC Post ABC Post CA

Sig Verse Pre-chorus Chorus Post-hook Verse Pre-chorus Chorus Post-hook Chorus Verse

Banjo figure sets the country-pop style to come.

Subtle yet effective instrumentation showcases both singer and song with a true Americana feel.

Musgraves sings simply, straightforward, and with conviction and compassion.

Predicted Longevity
An excellent recording on all levels. The memorable melody and gentle but biting lyrics will keep this song on the airwaves for a long time. A Grammy winner next year to be sure. On the “Cat Scale” from 1 to 5, I give it a 5.

Album Cover: Same Trailer Different Park

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