Why I Couldn’t Be Happier Carrie Underwood Has A New Single On The Way
The news coming out of the Carrie Underwood camp is that she will be debuting a brand new single at the ACM Awards on Sunday (4-15) called “Cry Pretty,” and regardless of how good or godawful the song is, I couldn’t be more happy. Because no matter what the new single turns out to be, it is not Carrie Underwood’s “The Champion” with Ludacris being sent to country radio.
In an ideal world, a collaboration between Carrie Underwood and Ludacris wouldn’t even exist. Not that cross genre collaborations are errant every single time, but “The Champion” was never supposed to be more than promotional single for NBC’s coverage of the Super Bowl. And in that capacity, the song served its purpose. But as downloads and streams of the song soared, the pressure to add it to country radio must have become nearly insurmountable.
Without any serious push as a commercial single, “The Champion” debuted at #3 on the Digital Songs Sales chart—the best-charting digital sales performance for a song in Carrie Underwood’s career. The song debuted on the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100. Sales and streams then soared again when the video was debuted during the Super Bowl presentation. Even without any effort to push the song on country radio, it still bubbled up to #57 on the country radio charts due to eager programmers adding it to rotations anyway.
Look at what happened with the Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line collaboration “Meant To Be.” Initially it wasn’t supposed to be sent to country radio at all. It was recorded and released as a pop song, which it is. But due to the song’s success, they chose to try it out at country radio, and now the song has already broken a slew of records on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and here very shortly will test the record for the longest-charting #1 single in country music history.
We had assurances from other artists about other singles that they swore publicly would never be sent to country radio, including Zac Brown’s “Beautiful Drug” that ended up being a #1, or his Sir Rosevelt side project that has now sent two singles to country radio. Thomas Rhett’s awful “Vacation” with its 14 songwriters was supposed to be “just for fun,” and was released as the 4th single from his album Tangled Up. On the country charts at the moment, there are country/pop collaborations by Chris Lane and Tori Kelley, Keith Urban and Julia Michaels, and David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney. Wait scrap that last one. No wait on second thought, don’t.
But Carrie Underwood stuck to her guns despite surging data that was telling her to roll the dice with “The Champion” on country radio. Carrie Underwood fans will say, “Yeah, but Carrie Underwood would never do that.” And that’s exactly my point.
It’s reminiscent of the story of Dolly Parton’s first crossover single, “Here You Come Again” from 1977. It was written and recorded for the express purpose to cross Dolly over to pop. But during the recording process, Dolly insisted the song still feature some steel guitar. Of course to be optimized for pop radio, leaving steel guitar out was important. But eventually Dolly won out. “She wanted people to be able to hear the steel guitar, so if someone said it isn’t country, she could say it and prove it,” said producer Gary Klein at the time. “She was so relieved. It was like her life sentence was reprieved.”
The leadership Dolly and Carrie Underwood displayed is exactly what Florida Georgia Line did not display with the Bebe Rexha and “Meant To Be.” And give kudos to Maren Morris, who just like Carrie, could have released her big smash single with Zedd “The Middle” to country, which has gone all the way to #1 on the Mainstream Top 40 charts. Granted, the latest Morris single “Rich” is nowhere near country either, and releasing “The Middle” would have disrupted her current single strategy. But after the success of “Meant To Be,” there is precedence if any artist wants to release a pop collaboration to country radio.
So to make a long point even longer, good on Carrie Underwood for sticking to her guns on this very sticky issue. Of course she’s more of a pop star than country, always has been, and always will be. As a true country fan, you’d be a fool to get your hopes up for her new single, whatever it is. But hey, we’ll see on Sunday. You never know. It could be another “Something in the Water.” But just like Carrie is one of the very few current country stars who keeps up with her commitments to the Grand Ole Opry, she deserves credit for not being the next or latest country star to disrespect the country format by releasing a song that was never meant to be considered country in the first place. At the very least this is the commitment all “country” performers should keep for the integrity of the format.
Sometimes it’s worth doing the wrong thing financially in the short term, for your career and country music in the long term. Eventually, everything comes back around.
April 10, 2018 @ 9:23 am
I am biased because I am a Carrie fan, but I have very high hopes for the new single, “Cry Pretty,” that is she is debuting on the ACM’s, partly because she co-wrote it with the “Love Junkies” (Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose, and Lori McKenna.) Based on that letter to fans she wrote on the website, it seems like she is in a good place, mentally and physically. I’m excited to hear the direction of this new album and, if anything, hopefully we get at least a couple stone-cold country album cuts that we’ve gotten in the past – (i.e. “Wine After Whiskey” and “Someday When I Stop Loving You.”)
April 10, 2018 @ 9:54 am
I must say, as a huge Carrie fan, I’m honestly a little nervous at the moment. The single cover art is very poppy/va va voom looking, and she mentioned that she co-produced the new album with David Garcia, who works primarily with Christian pop artists. I don’t want her to go even more pop and lose all personality in her music. But who knows. We’ll just have to wait and see.
April 10, 2018 @ 9:52 pm
He’s also the producer behind the BeBe Rexha/FGL song – for whatever that’s worth.
April 10, 2018 @ 9:57 am
Wow! The ACMs are this weekend. I didn’t even know that. I’ve been a country fan for 30 years and I had no idea they were on. Of course, why would I watch? Mainstream country is just unlistenable anymore.
April 10, 2018 @ 11:08 am
Just an FYI the single will be released tomorrow on iTunes
April 10, 2018 @ 11:35 am
As she debuts her new face.
April 10, 2018 @ 12:01 pm
It remains to be seen but recent trend shows us that releasing higher quality singles is worth it. FGL were popular, Sam Hung was popular then Stapleton is far more popular that those wannabes.
If Black Shelton is improving which I find hard to believe, I cannot see why Carrie Underwood cannot release a great song!
April 10, 2018 @ 12:10 pm
Ok, where is the consistency on this website. Your rail against any artist who releases pop sounding songs to country radio but her you are praising Carrie Underwood for doing just that? MOST of her material is pop leaning but its ok for her and not others? Just a bit confused……..
April 10, 2018 @ 12:54 pm
You didn’t read this post, did you?
April 10, 2018 @ 12:57 pm
Because if you had, you would have read, in the last sentence of the first paragraph, that the pop song she recorded with Ludacris is NOT the single being released to country radio.
April 10, 2018 @ 8:58 pm
Aren’t all of her singles both pop and ludicrous?
April 10, 2018 @ 12:21 pm
Not to be a country purist, but why make “The Champion” in the first place? Carrie has a very “powerful” voice — I just can’t help but feel that nothing she sings she connects with on an emotional level.
There’s a pretty wide gulf between doing a rap collaboration and going into pop territory (which Carrie has always done unlike Dolly).
Most of my experience with Carrie has been forced listening via my wife or radio, from what I can hear there’s not a lot of sincerity in anything she sings. (That’s just my opinion) It’s all some sort of vocal exercise to hit a note- sustain said note- or have some bullshit chorus or refrain.
April 10, 2018 @ 5:09 pm
I thought that song was made for the Super Bowl because it was on NBC this year and Carrie sings the theme song for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
April 10, 2018 @ 6:09 pm
Is she more racially inclusive than bocephus? ( that’s rhetorical)
April 10, 2018 @ 1:12 pm
I think Carrie Underwood holds a really interesting place in country music. She is probably never going to be overly country or consistently release music this crowd will be pleased with. But she always has a couple of solid country gems on her albums, but of course they are never singles. But Carrie, unlike the vast majority of mainstream pop/rock country artists, has always shown real appreciation and respect for the genre. She refused to bow to significant pressure in her early years to remix Before He Cheats and let it crossover on its own. She’s never remixed a song, and she’s had a handful that probably could’ve done well as crossovers if she did. Like Trigger said, Carrie is pretty much the only mainstream artist that genuinely cares about the Opry and her commitment, and then refused to send “The Champion” to country.
Now, as a fan, I do have a little concern that this is about to be her most pop influenced cd. But Carrie’s absolutely the most prominent female artist to continue to get radio play, and it’ll be interesting to see how that continues. I feel like this goes back to an article Trigger wrote years ago about not all pop country being the same. At least until now, I’d argue Carrie was on the “good” side of pop/rock country (i.e. Something in the Water), and I hope that doesn’t change with her new music.
April 10, 2018 @ 1:32 pm
Sorry to interrupt the Carrie Underwood love-fest…
…but a female (!) singer reached the Billboard Country Airplay Charts & her name is not Carrie, Miranda or Maren. Stephanie Quayle is new on #60 with “Selfish”. (Source: Billboard Country Update 04/09).
Her current album is a pretty good mainstream country album. (Love The Way You See Me).
Good New Music:
Jamie McDell feat. Kasey Chambers – “Tori”
Amanda Page Corrnett – “Judds & Joplin”
Brad Cox – “Lake House”
Red Marlow – “Horses Had Pedals”
April 10, 2018 @ 2:56 pm
That whole red marlin album is great
April 10, 2018 @ 11:40 pm
Thanks for that Stephanie Quayle recommendation. Great voice and very easy on the eyes.
April 11, 2018 @ 7:43 am
Stephane Quayle does have a good voice . Not unique but good .
The song ” Selfish ‘ is something else . Very poor ,trite , amateur-sounding lyric and , except for a steel guitar , not country whatsoever. Not sure we need another Kelsea Ballerini, Ashely Monroe or Carrie Underwood releasing non-country material to country radio right now . Its pop …simple pop music .
April 11, 2018 @ 12:44 pm
Hey, thanks for the Stephanie Quayle recommendation. Surprisingly good album!
April 10, 2018 @ 2:54 pm
MOST of carries singles ate POP leaning….can you argue with that statement?
April 10, 2018 @ 3:03 pm
I made that very point in the article.
Quote: ” Of course she’s more of a pop star than country, always has been, and always will be. As a true country fan, you’d be a fool to get your hopes up for her new single, whatever it is.”
The point is that it’s bad enough that country is turning pop. The least artists can do is put their foot down on songs like “The Champion,” and not allow them to be sent to country radio like Florida Georgia Line did with “Meant To Be.”
April 10, 2018 @ 7:17 pm
But again, it goes back to the fact that this is a problem that country music has been dealing with since the birth of rock and roll in the mid-1950s. It is a fait accompli that pop and/or rock have been influencing country music during that time, and are still doing so. That is a fact; and while people can beef and complain about it, it’s a done deal. It’s OVER.
In my opinion, the real problem is the motivation for it. Is it just for purely shameless commercialism (for example, Bebe Rexha/FGL) or fidelity to art, with the commercialism resulting FROM that art, plus the desire to combine traditional and progressive values? Carrie may not be everybody’s favorite (I admittedly have been a little bit uneasy with her), but to me she does walk that weird boundary between art and commercialism with a fair amount of integrity.
April 10, 2018 @ 3:05 pm
Pop leaning but NOT pop unlike half of what’s played on country radio.
April 10, 2018 @ 5:41 pm
Okay… so. here goes.
Remember when the ACMs promised a Charley Pride tribute and failed to deliver?
remember when they said they’d tribute Merle Haggard and just splashed a photo of him on the wall for thirty seconds?
How about the time they disrespected Roy Clark?
And people are “relieved” that Carrie Underwood,’s new single isn’t the one with Ludicrous?
It sounds kind of like somebody moved into your house, redecorated, and you got sick and tired of trying to kick them out and resigned yourself to “at least they’re using the coasters when they drink.”
Because frankly that’s how I feel every time I see and hear all this stuff. like somebody moved into my house and screwed everything up and everyone else doesn’t see the problem.
I want Country Music, with lots of fiddles and steel guitars and songs about trains and dogs and fields and wheat and Johnny Cash, with ZERO computers and fake instruments and ZERO backup dancers and gimmicks, performed by people who play and sign without the aid of machines and fifteen people to write a shitty verse like “red red redneck or hillbilly bone bone bone”
Carrie Underwood and Trisha Yearwood weren’t funny fifteen years ago and frankly the joke’s gotten pretty old.
You couldn’t pay me enough so sit through a televised clown show starring a bunch of embarrassing grown men who aren’t talented enough to work on the Disney Channel and make millions by lying to the audience about Country Music.
Yes I realize that this is a bit of a rant about several grievances all boiling over.
But Ludicrous is already on Country Radio, in the guise of most of the embarrassing grown men who act, in a word, Ludacris.
and how is keeping this collaboration song off the radio making any kind of an impact when we already have Sham Hunt doing his POP music on COUNTRY Radio?
King Honky Of Crackershire
April 10, 2018 @ 6:16 pm
That’s legit, Fuzz. Carrie is just more non-country music on “Country” radio.
Even “Something In The Water” sucked a fat Muley. The bar is so low now, that a website called Saving Country Music is desperate to celebrate anything that’s not full blown rap, as a victory.
April 10, 2018 @ 6:55 pm
Carrie Underwood makes Linda Ronstadt look like Ellen Muriel Deason.
King Honky Of Crackershire
April 11, 2018 @ 5:54 am
Nah, not really. As far as I know, Linda never considered herself a Country singer.
April 11, 2018 @ 12:07 pm
Also Linda Ronstadt sang a bunch of duets with Dolly Parton… if Dolly and Underwood sang together Dolly’s natural talent would make Underwood look and sound like a tin can falling down a flight of stairs
April 11, 2018 @ 4:40 pm
Funny you should make that comparison between Carrie, Linda, and Kitty Wells, because four years ago in New York, this happened….
The Goddess Of Country Rock
April 10, 2018 @ 9:12 pm
I say this with no snark whatsoever: What’s wrong with Trisha Yearwood? She’s NEVER struck me as a problem with country music, EVER.
Again. no snark, I’m genuinely curious.
April 11, 2018 @ 3:52 am
Un-/popular opinion: Trisha Yearwood is one of the best artists of the “modern era” of country music with one of the best voices.
Even her version of “How Do I Live” is country. Carrie Underwood & her producers would have turned the song into a 4-minute overproduced & sugar-coated soap-opera theme (like the LeAnn Rimes version). You know…when Sami & Austin ride into the sunset…or Josh & Reva (i still miss my daily dose of Guiding Light).
April 11, 2018 @ 4:53 am
100%. Even though Trisha ia still country pop her songs arent all vapid excuses to hit a note. She sings with sincerity, doesnt come across as shrill and I believe her. Carrie will never be Trisha or Leann.
Tanya had more sincerity on any given track of What’s Your Mama’s Name at 13 than anything Carrie has done.
The Goddess Of Country Rock
April 11, 2018 @ 6:30 am
I know “How Do I Live” was written with LeAnn Rimes in mind, but Trisha’s version blows hers out of the water. I stand by that.
April 11, 2018 @ 9:26 am
Has anyone ever listened to Trisha’s version of Sunday Morning Coming Down?
She outdoes every version I have ever heard.
April 11, 2018 @ 9:39 am
My favorite song of Trisha’s is still “Lying To The Moon”.
April 10, 2018 @ 6:01 pm
Let’s not forget that the highest selling female “country” artist in history is Shana Twain .
Whatever damage Carrie Underwood has done or will do to “country ” radio will never be as bad as what Shania did . As Chris Stapleton would say ” Fire Away ” Carrie . We’ve survived far worse .
April 10, 2018 @ 6:04 pm
Carrie Underwood is one of the few artists from the 2000’s/2010’s era that can be considered an “institution,” and for that reason it’s tremendously important that she releases good material. If Carrie Underwood is releasing good music, the state of country music is healthier overall.
King Honky Of Crackershire
April 10, 2018 @ 6:19 pm
“If Carrie Underwood is releasing good music, the state of country music is healthier overall.”
Maybe Carrie will release good music someday, and we can test your assertion to see if it’s true.
April 10, 2018 @ 6:29 pm
She still remains the leading female face of the genre. If she were to release a purely traditional country album, the rest of the female singers in country would follow suit. Watch.
King Honky Of Crackershire
April 10, 2018 @ 6:54 pm
She’s never released any good music. Why would she start now?
April 10, 2018 @ 8:18 pm
Some incentives would be perhaps her getting into older age, maybe attempting to shake things up to try and pull more eyes her way now that Ballerini and Morris represent the female youth side of the genre, who knows?
April 11, 2018 @ 12:21 am
You haven’t really paid attention have you? Her good singles: “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” “Wasted,” her cover of Randy Travis’ “I Told You So,” “Just a Dream,” “Blown Away,” “Two Black Cadillacs” and “Something in the Water.”
April 10, 2018 @ 10:11 pm
I don’t think any amount of facial damage could make her look anything other than stunning.
King Honky Of Crackershire
April 11, 2018 @ 4:53 am
OBJECTIFICATION ALERT. OBJECTIFICATION ALERT.
THIS POSTER IS IN VIOLATION OF SPEECH CODE 243871, AND MUST BE SILENCED, IMMEDIATELY.
April 11, 2018 @ 4:58 pm
United States Government Federal Speech Code 243871; Anyone guilty of making a general observation about a woman’s beauty, no matter how provocative they dress or how truly accurate their statement might be, shall be sentenced to no longer than 2 years imprisonment and/or fined an amount no greater than $25,000.
April 10, 2018 @ 10:54 pm
ACM’s this Sunday… good time to finish filing my taxes.
April 11, 2018 @ 5:00 pm
Goddamnit I did mine in February. There goes that option.
April 11, 2018 @ 2:12 am
…a slight correction, “Here You Come Again” was written by Mann/Weil – years before Dolly Parton released the song. In fact, Brenda Lee recorded the tune and held it “in the can” – before deciding to skip the release, which allowed Dolly & Co. to proceed. It is fact that Parton “hated” the original arrangement, believing it to be “too bubblegum” pop to perform well on the Country Charts. which caused a remix to feature the end tag, that seeming pits the petal steel guitar against the orchestral strings, mirroring the battle between a country/pop sound and Dolly’s desire to cross over. Within a month, “Here You Come Again” outsold any other previous Parton release and launched her mainstream career. Even more controversial than the song was the “Here You Come Again” album cover photos, which featured three sassy, seemingly prancing disco Dollys, an image that was quite shocking to Nashville’s extremely conservative (especially about “their women”) mainstream guard.
April 11, 2018 @ 3:30 am
I saw Cry Pretty as the title and instantly thought of Jason Eady’s song by the same title. If she did that song then it might be something to get excited about. Eady’s song is pretty legit so if she did her version, it might not do the song justice.
April 11, 2018 @ 10:19 am
“Cry Pretty” is out & it’s a big ballad. The drums are too prominent in the mix.
Remember the time when Reba McEntire confused singing with belting/screaming/yodeling out every song? Someone should tell CU that less can be more.
April 11, 2018 @ 12:04 pm
Anyone have an opinion on how she has named a song the same as the one Jason Eady wrote and Courtney Patton sings?