Little Toy Guns

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"Little Toy Guns"
CU - Little Toy Guns single.jpg
Single by Carrie Underwood
from the album Greatest Hits: Decade #1
ReleasedFebruary 16, 2015[1]
GenreCountry pop, Country rock
Producer(s)Mark Bright
Carrie Underwood singles chronology
"Something in the Water"
"Little Toy Guns"
"Smoke Break"
Music videos
"Little Toy Guns" on YouTube

"Little Toy Guns" is a song recorded by American country music artist Carrie Underwood for her first greatest hits album, Greatest Hits: Decade #1. It was released on February 16, 2015 through Arista Nashville as the album's second single.[2] It was written by Underwood, Chris DeStefano, and Hillary Lindsey, and produced by Mark Bright.

The song was nominated for Best Country Solo Performance at the 58th Grammy Awards.

Background and composition[edit]

"I’ve seen it firsthand from different people in my life and seen how the tumultuous parental relationship [...] can affect a child. So that’s kind of what it’s about, but it’s a really tempo-driven song as well, so it’s kind of a bit of a juxtaposition as far as the story content and the music … It sounds rockin’, but it has a positive message."

- Carrie Underwood on the inspiration behind the song.[3]

The song was written by Underwood with frequent collaborators Chris DeStefano and Hillary Lindsey, and was produced by Mark Bright. Drawing on country and rock influences in its composition, "Little Toy Guns" features a "heavy and orchestral" arrangement with emotionally resonant lyrics and an "uplifting" melody.[4][5] Critics have also called the song a prequel of sorts to her 2012 hit "Blown Away" for the songs' similar thematic content and "stormy" sonic aesthetic.[4][5] Lyrically, the song tells a story of domestic violence revolving around a young child overhearing her parents fighting and wanting to escape from the pain.[2][4] Underwood narrates the chorus from the child's perspective, stating that she wishes the angry words were fake "like little toy guns" so they wouldn't hurt.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received mostly positive reviews with acclaim going to Underwood's vocals, production of the song, and the lyrics. Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine called this song "bombastic."[6] News OK called this song "meaningful" and added that it "sounds fresh enough to have fans craving another new studio collection sooner rather than later."[7] Pipy Ellwood concluded that the song is "a mid-tempo number that will appeal to fans of Underwood’s more uptempo moments."[8] Renowned for Sound described that Underwood's "strong vocals create a vigorous atmosphere that fans old and new are going to love."[9] Digital Journals editor Markos Padatados agreed, stating that, "yet again, [Underwood] showcases her trademark pipes."[10]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Little Toy Guns" entered the Billboard Hot Country Songs at number 40 and peaked at number six. It debuted at number 99 on the Hot 100 chart and peaked at number 47.[11] It peaked at number 2 on the Country Airplay Chart, number seven on the Canadian Country Chart, and number 70 on Canadian Hot 100. As of September 2015, the single has sold 437,000 copies in the US.[12]

The song was officially certified Gold by the RIAA on August 10, 2015.[13]

Music video[edit]

Underwood posted a teaser video to her social media accounts on January 28, 2015 with the caption "Friday..." and the hashtags #LittleToyGuns and #CUX1 (Carrie Underwood Decade 1, an initialism for her greatest hits album),[14] which was later confirmed as a preview for the "Little Toy Guns" video premiering via Facebook on January 30, 2015.[2][15] The video was directed by P.R. Brown, who has previously collaborated with Underwood's on her "Two Black Cadillacs" video. The video managed to reach 7.5 million Facebook views on its debut week before being deleted off Facebook and being officially released to Vevo and YouTube. The video received positive feedback and was nominated for "Female Video of the Year" at the 2015 CMT Music Awards; however, it lost to another of Carrie's videos, the one for her previous single "Something in the Water" (which also won "Video of the Year" at the ceremony).

The video stars Grace Rundhaug, who starred alongside Underwood in The Sound of Music Live! television special, as a girl who escapes her parents' fighting by mentally transporting herself to a "storybook land" where she plays a mythical hero and reunites her captive parents. Sara Antonio plays the mother and Kris Wente plays the father, who start the video with a "vicious fight (sans any music at all)."[16] Underwood can be seen in between, singing the song in various locations of the forest.[17][18] Beville Dunkerley at Rolling Stone noted that the end of the video provides a more peaceful resolution than the lyrics of the song.[18]

Awards and nominations[edit]

CMT Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2015 "Little Toy Guns" Female Video of the Year Nominated

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2016 "Little Toy Guns" Best Country Solo Performance Nominated

Teen Choice Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2015 "Little Toy Guns" Choice Country Song Won


Chart (2014–15) Peak
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[19] 70
Canada Country (Billboard)[20] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 47
US Country Airplay (Billboard)[22] 2
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[23] 6

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2015) Position
US Country Airplay (Billboard)[24] 47
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[25] 22


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[13] Gold 500,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "R&R :: Going For Adds :: Country". Radio & Records. Archived from the original on January 13, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Parton, Chris (29 January 2015). "New Single: Carrie Underwood's "Little Toy Guns"". CMT. Viacom. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  3. ^ Whitaker, Sterling (29 November 2014). "Carrie Underwood Shares Inspiration Behind 'Little Toy Guns'". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Carrie Underwood, 'Little Toy Guns' [Listen]". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Carrie Underwood Describes Somber Song 'Little Toy Guns'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  6. ^ Review by Allmusic Retrieved 7 February 2015
  7. ^ NewsOK review Retrieved 7 February 2015
  8. ^ Review by Entertainment-focus Retrieved 7 February 2015
  9. ^ Renowned for Sound review Retrieved 7 February 2015
  10. ^ Digital Journal review Retrieved 7 February 2015
  11. ^ Roland, Tom (December 18, 2014). "Billboard Country : Mid-Week Update" (PDF). Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  12. ^ Bjorke, Matt (September 28, 2015). "The Top 30 Digital Country Singles: September 28, 2015".
  13. ^ a b "American single certifications – Carrie Underwood – Little Toy Guns". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  14. ^ "Carrie Underwood Facebook video". 28 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Carrie Underwood Facebook post". 29 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Carrie Underwood Shoots Through the Heart with 'Little Toy Guns' Video". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  17. ^ Bonaguro, Alison (3 February 2015). "Carrie Underwood's Big Casting Decision for "Little Toy Guns"". CMT. Viacom. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  18. ^ a b Dunkerley, Beville (30 January 2015). "Watch Carrie Underwood Fire a Powerful Message in 'Little Toy Guns' Video". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  19. ^ "Carrie Underwood Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Carrie Underwood Chart History (Canada Country)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Carrie Underwood Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  22. ^ "Carrie Underwood Chart History (Country Airplay)". Billboard.
  23. ^ "Carrie Underwood Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  24. ^ "Best of 2015: Country Airplay". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  25. ^ "Best of 2015: Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2015.

External links[edit]