Carrie, you're not just the girl to beat, you're the person to beat. I'm going to make a prediction that not only will you win this show, you will sell more records than any other previous Idol winner.
— Simon Cowell
Did Simon call it or what?
Carrie Marie Underwood (1983-) is an American country singer and songwriter. At 22, Carrie, a country farm girl from Checotah, Oklahoma, auditioned for the fourth American Idol
with "I Can't Make You Love Me". Although the judges were impressed, it wasn't until Underwood sang Heart's "Alone" that her true potential appeared. She won the final over Bo Bice and immediately proved Simon right: Like Kelly Clarkson
before her, Underwood became a star in her own right (yet unlike Clarkson has completely escaped association with the Idol brand) and took the Country Music
world by storm. She has since won multiple Grammys and set a yet-to-be-surpassed benchmark for Idol
success. So far, none of her singles have peaked at lower than second on at least one major country chart, by itself an impressive streak, but the strong sales of her four albums and omnipresence in two genres are next-to-impossible to ignore.
She also played the role of Maria in NBC
's production The Sound of Music Live
, to, shall we say, more mixed reviews
- Some Hearts (2005)
- Carnival Ride (2007)
- Play On (2009)
- Blown Away (2012)
- Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (2014)
- Storyteller (2015)
- Accidental Marriage: "Last Name".
- Album Title Drop: Carnival Ride contains the song "Wheel of the World", which has the line "God put us here on this carnival ride".
- Amazing Freaking Grace: The opening lines are interpolated over the ending of "Something in the Water".
- Beware the Nice Ones: She got surprisingly vicious about the people insulting her performance in The Sound of Music Live, essentially saying they would all go to Hell.
- Breakup Song: "Before He Cheats" hints at this at the end ("'Cause the next time that he cheats / You know it won't be on me").
- Broken Streak: Between "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and "Undo It", all of Carrie's songs had gotten to #1 on at least one major country singles chart — 12 singles in a row went to #1 on the Mediabase country charts, of which all but two ("Don't Forget to Remember Me" and "I Told You So") did the same on Billboard. Then in early 2011, "Mama's Song" became her first to miss the top spot on Mediabase. Since then, among her successive #1 hits, "Two Black Cadillacs" and "See You Again" went to #1 on Mediabase only and #2 on Billboard.
- Following Billboard's split of the country charts into two separate chartsnote , the streak was broken again on Country Airplay with "Somethin' Bad", her duet with Miranda Lambert which only got to #7 there. However, the duet was released from one of Miranda's albums, and it still got to #1 on Country Songs.
- "Something in the Water" also only got to #3 on Country Airplay, her lowest solo peak there to date, but it was still #1 on Country Songs.
- Buffy Speak: "Undo It"; see below.
- Daddy's Girl: "All-American Girl".
- Disproportionate Retribution: "Before He Cheats," in which she vandalizes her boyfriend's property because he's probably been cheating. Even though she constantly says "Right now he's probably…", she likely has reason to believe that he's doing so, because the song implies that this is something he's done before. Others instead choose to interpret the song as her being Axe Crazy (especially since she "carves her name into the seat" of her boyfriend's car, making it extremely obvious she's the one who vandalized it).
- It's heavily implied that a man's wife and mistress had him killed for lying about his infidelity in "Two Black Cadillacs".
- Domestic Abuse: "Blown Away" is about an abusive father who is killed by a tornado.
- Dual Meaning Chorus: "Jesus, Take the Wheel," from literally taking the wheel in a car crash, to "taking the wheel" of the singer's life.
- Also "Temporary Home". In the first two verses, a foster child and a mother in a halfway house see their respective dwelling as "temporary homes" in the physical sense; the dying old man in the third verse sees his life on Earth as a "temporary home" in the spiritual sense (i.e., he's about to go to Heaven).
- Genre Shift: Blown Away saw her move from the country part of the music store to the pop/rock part.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: "Smoke Break" is about people who feel stressed out by everyday lives and express this phrase:
She said, I don't drink
But sometimes I need a stiff drink
Sipping from a high, full glass
Let the world fade away
She said, I don't smoke
But sometimes I need a long drag
Yeah, I know it might sound bad
But sometimes I need a smoke break
- Identical Stranger: Much humor has been made by fans of Hannah Montana co-star Emily Osment (and Emily herself) on social media of her resemblance to Carrie.
- Incredibly Long Note: Occurs at the end of "Just a Dream".
- Jesus, Take the Wheel
- Lyrical Shoehorn: The chorus to "Undo It":
You stole my happy, you made me cry
Took the lonely and took me for a ride
And I wanna uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it…
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch: Apparently "So Small" is actually about a car wreck... which then freezes and reverses. It was directed by Roman White, formerly the go-to man for country music video Mind Screw.
- Murder Ballad: "Two Black Cadillacs" is about a wife planning to kill her husband with the assistance of his mistress.
- Murder by Inaction: In "Blown Away" a young girl gets rid of her abusive father by locking herself in the cellar while he’s passed out drunk and there’s a tornado headed straight for the house.
- Ode To Sobriety: "Wasted" is a type 1, about a couple split over the male's drinking. The second verse, from the male's perspective, makes it clearest:
Another glass of whiskey but it still don't kill the pain
So he stumbles to the sink and pours it down the drain
He says it's time to be a man and stop living for yesterday
Gotta face it
Cause' I don't wanna' spend my life jaded
Waiting to wake up one day and find
That I've let all these years go by wasted
- Older Than They Look: Look at the picture above; it's hard to believe she was already past legal drinking age before she released her first single.
- The Power of Love: From "So Small": "When you figure out love is all that matters after all / It sure makes everything else seem so small".
- Prequel: "Last Name" was what happened three months "Before He Cheats". It explains the 4-wheel drive truck she smashes up in "Before He Cheats" was won as the prize in a wheel-of-fortune game. And in the whirlwind that was between the time Carrie was with her girlfriends and she saw the ring on her finger, they'd ended up married in Vegas (and taking the roulette table for quite a few chips).
- Record Producer: Nearly all of her material from 2004-2014 has been produced by Mark Bright (whose other credits include Blackhawk and the first three albums by Rascal Flatts), except for her coronation single "Inside Your Heaven" (produced by Desmond Child) and a handful of guest appearances. Storyteller breaks the pattern somewhat, as some tracks are produced by Zach Crowell or Jay Joyce instead.
- Recycled Premise: "Last Name" is basically a gender-flip of Alan Jackson's 1995 hit "I Don't Even Know Your Name".
- Toon Transformation: Inverted in the music video for "Ever Ever After", which sees Carrie change from animation to flesh-and-blood while visiting a live-action city. Played straight at the end, when Carrie brings her new Love Interest back to her cartoon world so they can get married. This parallels Enchanted in Broad Strokes, which feels appropriate because the song plays during that movie's epilogue.
- Unreliable Narrator: "Blown Away" paints the father as an abusive bastard who deserved to die in the tornado, but there's nothing in the song's music video to back this up. If anything, the music video makes the father more sympathetic than the daughter.
- Vehicular Sabotage: Done in "Before He Cheats":
I dug my key into the side
Of his pretty little souped-up 4-wheel drive
Carved my name into his leather seats
Took a Louisville Slugger to both headlights
Slashed a hole in all four tires
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats
- Vocal Evolution: She's gone from belting nearly everything to a more diverse vocal and dynamic range. "Good Girl" has her doing some impressive rock growls.
- Wartime Wedding: Implied at the beginning of "Just a Dream".
- What Did I Do Last Night?: "Last Name".
- What the Hell, Carrie?: See Beware the Nice Ones.
- Woman in Black: In "Just a Dream".
- Woman in White: Also in "Just a Dream".
- Woman Scorned: "Before He Cheats" is all about this.