Music » Critics' Picks

Taylor Swift / Kellie Pickler / Brad Paisley

7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10. Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (14141 Riverport Drive, Maryland Heights).

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The new country feminism isn't revolutionary, but it isn't predictable, either. Taylor Swift may look like an over-tanned MySpace kitten, and Kellie Pickler may be an American Idol also-ran, but they both follow in the mega-platinum stiletto-boot-steps of Gretchen Wilson and Miranda Lambert, with shuck-and-sass that's as faithful to teen pop's manic angst as it is to their small-town souls. At the age of sixteen, Swift encoded her self-titled debut with messages to high school "friends" who burned her and to Tim McGraw, the subject of her catchiest single. Lacking Swift's instinct for phrasing or revenge, Pickler just has bubblegum fun with gender stereotypes, consumer culture and making out with the varsity football team. The two upstarts should make for a fine pop tonic to the more sober country stories of headliner Brad Paisley.

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