Miranda’s Re­venge on Gwen

At last! Miranda Lam­bert blows crit­ics away — and slams a jeal­ous Gwen Ste­fani — with her emo­tion­ally hon­est new al­bum

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Fi­nally, it was Miranda Lam­bert’s turn. Nearly 16 months after di­vorc­ing Blake Shel­ton in a cloud of heartache, fol­lowed by in­ces­sant head­lines about how he’d quickly and hap­pily moved on with pop star Gwen Ste­fani, Miranda Lam­bert dropped the mu­sic the world’s been wait­ing for. Crit­ics couldn’t get enough of Nov. 18’s The Weight of Th­ese Wings, Miranda’s stun­ningly well-re­viewed al­bum — her first postBlake. “Gwen,” says one of Miranda’s friends, “has got to be dev­as­tated by what a mod­ern coun­try mas­ter­piece Miranda’s made.”

She is. Though Blake and Gwen both re­leased au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal al­bums after their re­spec­tive mar­riages crum­bled and they found love again with each other, Miranda’s is in a whole other league. “Miranda Lam- bert gets the last word with The Weight of Th­ese Wings, a dou­ble-disc mag­num opus that tack­les breakups, booze, friend­ships, fetishes, old scars and new be­gin­nings,” gushed Rolling Stone, not­ing that while Blake “rush-re­leased his own trib­ute to Splitsville” in May, Miranda’s ef­fort is “a pure, pointed look at heart­break and re­con­struc­tion, de­liv­ered by a writer who’s at the top of her game.” Now, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the joy of plan­ning a wedd­ing with Blake, Gwen’s wal­low­ing in mis­ery. “With Miranda’s al­bum mak­ing news like this,” says a source, “it’s a con­stant re­minder of Blake’s past with an­other woman — and how she’s just on an en­tirely dif­fer­ent level than Gwen.”

Gwen only makes head­lines when she talks about how Blake “saved” her. Which is why the 47-year-

old pop star, who re­cently praised Blake, 40, for “kiss­ing me back to life” after her 13-year mar­riage to rocker Gavin Ross­dale ended amid a nanny cheat­ing scan­dal, is ob­sess­ing over Miranda’s al­bum. “But she hasn’t lis­tened to it yet be­cause Blake is cur­rently liv­ing at her house in Beverly Hills while he’s tap­ing The Voice in LA,” ex­plains the source, “and he has a rule that Miranda’s mu­sic isn’t played — ever.”

She won’t be pleased when she fi­nally hears the track that some be­lieve is an ob­vi­ous slam. In “To Learn Her,” Miranda, 33 — who’s hap­pily been dat­ing mu­si­cian An­der­son East all year — de­liv­ers the lyrics, “To love her/is to learn her/ And see her at her worst/ Dance with her when she’s drink­ing/hold her when she hurts/she’ll be happy, you’ll be sorry/ Well, that’s just how it works.” It’s dif­fi­cult not to make the con­nec­tion be­tween those lines and Blake’s first post-miranda single, “Came Here to For­get,” which was all about two heart­bro­ken peo­ple find­ing com­fort with each other over drinks.

Gwen’s own song about her ro­mance with Blake went nowhere. The cou­ple co-wrote and recorded the duet “Go Ahead and Break My Heart” and Gwen per­formed it all sum­mer long on awards shows and on her tour, which — un­like Miranda’s — strug­gled to sell tick­ets even when Blake joined her on­stage. “Gwen had hoped that do­ing a duet with Blake would en­dear her to coun­try fans and give her a new fan base, but it has never ma­te­ri­al­ized and just won’t,” says the source. “It has to be very hard for Gwen be­cause Miranda is an absolutely beloved artist who is a house­hold name all over the coun­try.”

There’s just no es­cap­ing Miranda’s suc­cess. “Gwen may have Blake and The Voice next sea­son,” says the friend, “but Miranda has just rewrit­ten the coun­try mu­sic play­book with a land­mark al­bum. She’s on track to wed An­der­son in the new year. She wins hands down when it comes to the com­pe­ti­tion for hap­pi­ness and artis­tic sat­is­fac­tion.” ◼

WILD SUC­CESS “Miranda’s new al­bum is a mas­ter class in coun­try mu­sic,” says Miranda’s friend. “It makes the dis­pos­able pop of Gwen’s’ pale in com­par­i­son.”

HARSH RE­AL­ITY “Miranda’s al­bum sales are go­ing to absolutely eclipse Gwen’s,” says a source. “It’s just an­other bit­ter pill for the pop star to swal­low.” MAY 2015 NOV. 14, 2016

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