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Music / Carrie Underwood

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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

Never bet against Simon.

Carrie Marie Underwood (born March 10, 1983) is an American country singer, known best for her Signature Song "Before He Cheats" and for being in possession of a wickedly stellar set of pipes.

At 22, Carrie — a country farm girl from Checotah, Oklahoma — auditioned for the fourth American Idol with Bonnie Raitt's "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, becoming a true star (like Kelly Clarkson before her) and taking the Country Music world by storm. She has since won multiple Grammy Awards and set a yet-to-be-surpassed benchmark for Idol success. Her albums have consistently produced strong sales, with almost all of her singles to date having reached top 5 on the major country music charts.

In 2017, Underwood moved from original label Arista Records Nashville to Capitol Records. That same year, she suffered a bad fall on the front steps of her home, resulting in a broken wrist and several facial stitches that caused a change in her appearance and a withdrawal from the public eye for several months. Within the same timeframe, she also suffered three miscarriages. These things culminated in the 2018 release of her first Capitol album, Cry Pretty, meant to be a more personal and emotional record than any of her previous. She's gotten better; her follow-up (excluding her Christmas and gospel albums) Denim & Rhinestones is decidedly Lighter and Softer.

As for Carrie's non-musical ventures, they include a women's sportswear line named Calia (which she stepped down from in 2021), a self-penned fitness book and corresponding app, and an infamous lead acting role as Maria von Trapp in NBC's live production of The Sound of Music which received, shall we say, more mixed reviews. Since 2013, she has also sang the theme song for NBC's Sunday Night Football.


  • Some Hearts (2005)
  • Carnival Ride (2007)
  • Play On (2009)
  • Blown Away (2012)
  • Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (2014)
  • Storyteller (2015)
  • Cry Pretty (2018)
  • My Gift (2020)
  • My Savior (2021)
  • Denim & Rhinestones (2022)

Maybe next time he'll think before he tropes:

  • Accidental Marriage: "Last Name" has the narrator getting married after a drunken night in Las Vegas and not recalling the events that led there.
  • Age-Progression Song: "All American-Girl" follows the title character's birth, high school years, marriage, and presumably motherhood.
  • Album Closure:
    • Blown Away ends with "Who Are You", an epic ballad implicitly about turning to God at the end of an ordeal (the rest of the album is less overtly religious).
    • Denim & Rhinestones has "Garden", an acoustic guitar-led ballad about cultivating warmth in your life at the end of an album chock-full of upbeat songs verging on dance-pop and rock.
  • Album Title Drop: Carnival Ride contains the song "Wheel of the World", which has the line "God put us here on this carnival ride".
  • The Alcoholic: The husband in "Church Bells" is a mean drunk who abuses his wife. It becomes his undoing when she poisons his whiskey.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: The opening lines are interpolated over the ending of "Something in the Water".
  • As Herself: She performs "Moment of Truth" from The Karate Kid during the 4th season of Cobra Kai.
  • Asshole Victim: "Two Black Cadillacs" is a Revenge Ballad where a cheating man is murdered by his wife and mistress.
  • Audience Participation: Has been integrated into her live shows since her Vegas residency. "Undo It" features a call-and-response section with a megaphone after the bridge, and Carrie lets the audience sing the entirety of the penultimate chorus in "Before He Cheats" while she ad-libs over them.
    • During the Cry Pretty tour in particular, Carrie would invite an audience member to get up on stage and rap Ludacris' verse in "The Champion".
  • Batter Up!: "Before He Cheats" infamously mentions taking "a Louisville slugger to both headlights".
  • 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.
  • Break-Up Song: Several, in many different flavors. Of course, "Before He Cheats" is the most infamous, but there's also:
    • "Good Girl" and "Cowboy Casanova" in which Carrie warns another girl about a heartbreaker.
    • "Undo It", "Hate My Heart" and "She Don't Know", which are more lighthearted and even have a bit of an empowering vibe.
    • "Good in Goodbye", "Wine After Whiskey", "Backsliding" and "Low", which take a more sentimental and realistic approach.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak: Her 2018 single "Cry Pretty" (her first release for Capitol Records) was her first single not to make Top 3 on any major country music chart. Followup "Love Wins" became her first to miss top 10, peaking at #11.
  • Buffy Speak: "Undo It"; see Lyrical Shoehorn below.
  • The Casanova: The titular "Cowboy Casanova".
  • Churchgoing Villain: Jenny's husband in "Church Bells". He beats her bloody on Saturday, and the next day, attends church like nothing happened.
  • Costume Porn: Oh, and how.
  • Cow Tipping: "I Ain't in Checotah Anymore" contains the lines:
    I'd rather be tipping cows in Tulsa
    Than hailing cabs here in New York
    But I ain't in Checotah anymore
  • Daddy's Girl: "All-American Girl" and "The Girl You Think I Am".
  • A Deadly Affair: "Two Black Cadillacs" is about a woman whose husband cheated on her, and his mistress who was unaware he was married, working together to kill him.
  • Death by Woman Scorned: It's heavily implied in "Two Black Cadillacs", and made explicit in the music video, that a wife and mistress conspired to murder the philandering husband by cornering him in an alley and running him down with one of the eponymous Cadillacs. On top of that, the video has the car used in the murder exhibit an eerie sentience, such as driving the two women away from the funeral, with them in the back seat, and immediately repairing the damage to itself caused in the crash (a la Stephen King's Christine), effectively erasing any evidence of foul play.
    They decided then he’d never get away with doing this to them
    Two black Cadillacs waiting for the right time, the right time...
  • Defenestrate and Berate: "Before He Cheats". She's even mentioned in the trope description.
  • Destroy the Abusive Home: "Blown Away" details how the protagonist locks herself in the storm cellar while her drunken, abusive father is passed out on the couch. In the video, she does make an attempt to wake him up and get him to safety, but in the end, his death by tornado was her retribution.
  • 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 Ax-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).
    • A man's wife and mistress had him killed for lying about his infidelity in "Two Black Cadillacs".
    • Whether or not Jenny killing her abusive husband via poison in "Church Bells" is an example or not is a question left to the listener.
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • "Blown Away" is about an abusive father who is killed by a tornado.
    • Explicitly stated in "Church Bells" when the husband comes home drunk and leaves Jenny in "bruises, covered in makeup, dark sunglasses."
  • 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).
    • "Church Bells" ringing three different times: At Jenny's wedding, at the service the morning after her husband got violent, and at her husband's funeral after she killed him.
  • Elvis Impersonator: The protagonist of "Last Name" is implied to have had her Vegas wedding "officiated" by one of these.
  • Grave Clouds: In "Two Black Cadillacs", the funeral for the man that his wife and mistress teamed up to murder is being held on a cloudy day. In the actual song, thunder can be heard.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Bobby Shaver in "Choctaw County Affair" is described as having a temper "like a buckshot grizzly bear."
  • Hands-On Approach: Implied in "Before He Cheats":
    Right now, he's probably up behind her
    With a pool-stick
    Showing her how to shoot a combo
  • Hate Sink: A lot of the men in her songs, particularly the father in "Blown Away", the boyfriend in "Before He Cheats", and the husbands in "Two Black Cadillacs" and "Church Bells".
  • Hidden Depths: She is a huge, huge fan of Classic Rock, having covered and sang with the likes of Ann Wilson, Steven Tyler, Axl Rose and Joan Jett. She also listens to Heavy Metal bands like I Prevail and Mudvayne when she exercises.
  • High-School Sweethearts: The girl from "All-American Girl" falls for a star football athlete in high school. The two proceed to get married and consider starting a family by the end of the song.
  • Homage: "Two Black Cadillacs" and the music video of "Before He Cheats" are homages to Stephen King.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: "Smoke Break" is about people use vices such as alcohol and cigarettes to cope with the stresses of everyday life.
    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. And Emily, as she have acknowledged, is exactly 9 years her junior, to the day.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Occurs at the end of "Just a Dream".
  • "Leaving the Nest" Song:
    • "Don't Forget to Remember Me", which is told from the POV of a newly-flown woman calling home to talk to her family.
    • "The Night Before Life Goes On" counts, about leaving behind a childhood love to pursue bigger things.
  • Leg Focus: Carrie's stage outfits often show off her incredibly sculpted, muscular legs. Justified as she has gone on record saying her legs are her best attribute, and you would definitely believe her.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: The "Good Girl" music video features Carrie in several different get-ups, with the light ones meant to represent the innocent good girl and the dark ones meant to represent the more cynical narrator.
  • The Lost Lenore: "Just a Dream" is about a young woman mourning her soldier fiancé, who was killed in war before he could come home to her.
    Baby, why'd you leave me? Why'd you have to go?
    I was counting on forever, now I'll never know...
  • Let the Past Burn: "Blown Away" plays with the idea. The house isn't destroyed by a fire, but by a tornado. The protagonist of the song takes shelter from the tornado while letting her abusive father stay passed out on the couch without trying to wake him up, resulting in the house being destroyed and her father dying via Murder by Inaction.
  • Lipstick Mark: In "Dirty Laundry", he's sloppy not only about the lipstick marks ("That lipstick on your collar ain't my shade of pink") but also about his mistress's perfume ("I can tell by the scent of that perfume it's 'bout forty dollars too cheap") and he let her spill red wine on his shirt ("You drink beer and whiskey and you know I don't drink red").
  • 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The subject of "Cowboy Casanova".
  • Murder Ballad:
    • "Two Black Cadillacs" is about a wife planning to kill her husband with the assistance of his mistress.
    • "Church Bells" could be considered a Darker and Edgier version of the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl".
    • "Blown Away" is about a girl refusing to wake her abusive father as a tornado bears down on their house, instead leaving him to die.
  • 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.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Carrie is an avid fan of fitness and is quite visibly built, so it's no surprise as to how she has so much stamina on stage.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Storyteller has some tracks produced by Zach Crowell (a more electronic sound akin to his work with Sam Hunt, who coincidentally sings backing vocals on the Crowell-produced "Heartbeat") or Jay Joyce (a grittier rock sound similar to his work with Eric Church), as opposed to longtime producer Mark Bright's trademark slickness.
    • Cry Pretty is even a bigger departure from all her previous albums, going into a more modern pop/R&B route. Continued with Denim & Rhinestones.
  • 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
  • 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".
    • Also present in "Love Wins":
      I, I believe you and me are sisters and brothers
      And I, I believe we're made to be here for each other
      And we'll never fall if we walk hand in hand
      Put a world that seems broken together again
      Yeah I, I believe in the end love wins
  • Prequel: The video for "Last Name" shows what happened three months before "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, and David Garcia handled Cry Pretty.
  • Recycled Premise: "Last Name" is basically a gender-flip of Alan Jackson's 1995 hit "I Don't Even Know Your Name".
  • Revenge Ballad: She writes a lot of these.
    • "Church Bells" is about an abused wife who poisons her husband.
    • In "Blown Away", a woman refuses to wake her abusive father as a tornado bears down on their house, instead leaving him to die.
    • "Before He Cheats", where the singer vandalizes her ex's vehicle for being unfaithful.
    • "Two Black Cadillacs" tells of two women who discover the same man is dating both of them and team up to take him out, only meeting face-to-face at his funeral.
  • Shout-Out: One of the lyrics of "Love Wins" is "Love's an open door". However, this was likely unintentional, considering the implications.
  • Smoking Is Cool: "Smoke Break". Make no mistake — Carrie is a non-smoker. But she raised a few eyebrows in 2015 when she released the song as the lead track of her album Storyteller, with some critics claiming it promoted smoking as an acceptable habit. Underwood defended the song and said that was not her intent: "The song itself is just kind of one of those story songs that I feel like everybody can relate to, about how life is so hectic and it's so nice when, if and when, you actually get to kind of step away for a second." She went on to say the song was not a pro-cigarette anthem but "a tribute to sneaking away from your responsibilities and taking a minute to breathe."
  • The Something Song: "Mama's Song".
  • Take the Wheel: The central character of the song "Jesus, Take the Wheel" pleads for Jesus to do this metaphorically: first to her car when she slides off the road in an ice storm, and then again as a symbol of keeping her on the right track in life.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In "Church Bells", Jenny kills her abusive husband by putting poison in his whiskey.
  • Title Track: Five of her albums: Some Hearts, Play On, Blown Away, Cry Pretty, and Denim & Rhinestones, are all named after songs of the same 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.
  • 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.
  • Wanted a Son Instead: "All-American Girl" starts with the titular character's father dreaming of having a son, but changing his mind as soon as he finds out his baby is a girl.
  • Wartime Wedding: Implied at the beginning of "Just a Dream".
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: "Last Name".
  • Woman Scorned: Typical of the female country singer, she has tons of songs on the topic. "Before He Cheats", "Two Black Cadillacs", "Church Bells", "Dirty Laundry", you name it. Her Creator Breakdown album Cry Pretty is notably lacking in these, with any expression of anger traded in for ones of pain or sadness.


Video Example(s):


Before He Cheats

So the lesson is: don't cheat on Carrie Underwood.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / RevengeBallad

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