Carrie Underwood is a country music powerhouse
These days, TV singing and talent competitions are everywhere, and winning one is no guarantee of success or even continued recognition beyond a given show’s finale. But back in 2005 when Carrie Underwood won the fourth season of Fox’s American Idol, all eyes were on her, following the popularity of previous top finishers including Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken. More than almost anyone in the show’s history, Underwood has parlayed her victory on Idol into a long and hugely successful career, becoming the top-selling former Idol contestant in the U.S. Early on, Underwood established herself as a country music powerhouse, and her appeal to country fans helped propel her to stardom with early singles “Inside Your Heaven,” “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.”
Underwood’s fame has long since eclipsed Idol, and she’s consistently one of the most popular singers in country music, one of (unfortunately) only a handful of women who are genuine country superstars in 2019. Throughout her country success, Underwood has maintained the pop credentials she established on Idol, and many of her hits are true crossovers, climbing the country and general singles charts at the same time. Underwood broke multiple chart records with her 2005 debut album Some Hearts, and her subsequent albums (including last year’s Cry Pretty) have all debuted at the top of the Billboard country chart (with all but one hitting the top of the overall album chart).
Underwood’s combination of her stellar voice (which garnered her that Idol win), sassy attitude (demonstrated on barn-burner hits like “Before He Cheats,” “Dirty Laundry” and “Two Black Cadillacs”) and open approachability has helped her reach a wide audience, from country purists to pop and rock fans who never bothered with country music before. Underwood has also built critical respect for her music over time, taking a more active role in songwriting since her Idol days. On Cry Pretty, which All Music called “as satisfying as it is surprising,” she co-wrote nine of the 13 songs, and co-produced the entire album with David Garcia. Rolling Stone said that Underwood “show(s) the kind of character more mega-stars should aspire to,” and Entertainment Weekly said that “she’s never sounded more vulnerable.”
Underwood’s live shows have always matched the grand ambitions of her music, and her new Cry Pretty 360 tour should be no different. Once again, Underwood will be performing in the round, allowing fans throughout the arena to glimpse the full production. “It’s so much fun for me and the band to play in every direction and creates a much more intimate and immersive experience for the audience, even in a larger arena setting,” she said in the tour announcement. She’ll be joined by opening acts Maddie & Tae and Runaway June, demonstrating her commitment to supporting fellow women in country music (she also inducted Kelsea Ballerini into the Grand Ole Opry last month). Underwood may have started out at the top thanks to her Idol win, but she’s only continued to reach new heights since then.
MGM Grand, 7 p.m. May 11, starting at $49.50 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster