There’s no turning back. It really has been 10 years since Carrie Underwood won “American Idol.” Since then, she’s bucked trends, blasted through the #SaladGate barriers and become a leader in country music. Carrie’s music certainly leans pop in production, but is grounded in truth and earthy stories. Even when the radio climate continues to narrow the margin for new female soloists, the Oklahoma native bridges the gap by championing bright hopefuls and continues to release music that defies all odds. More often than not, her radio releases march valiantly to the summit, or at least to the Top 3. Her record is simply unmatched; all 20 worked singles at radio (including “Remind Me,” with Brad Paisley, and excluding the Top 7-platueaing “Somethin’ Bad,” with Miranda Lambert) have reached that dizzying upper tier.
When examining the sheer power and depth of her work, seven songs ride above the fray and have already earned classic status. Years from now, when historians turn back time to educate a new generation on this period’s country music and trail-blazers, Underwood’s name will certainly be one of those mentioned quite frequently. Her songs stretch from faith-based anthems to gut-punching journeys to stunning photographs of life, love and loss. As the singer, who recently ruled the 2015 CMT Music Awards, basks in her already flourishing legacy, Country Outfitter has put together a list of those seven tracks that could stand the test of time 20, 30 and even 50 years from now.
Here we go:
“Jesus Take the Wheel” (from 2005’s Some Hearts): At the time, it was a risk to release such a boldly religious song, even given country’s rooted history in faith. Coming off what was then-seen as a “pop” show, this gospel anthem went on to spend an impressive six weeks at No. 1 at radio.
“Before He Cheats” (from 2005’s Some Hearts): Talk about a 360 turnaround. After shouting from the mountains about her religion, Underwood then proved she could be as badass as the next singer. When it peaked at country radio, it was then shipped to pop and became a massive crossover success.
“Just a Dream” (from 2007’s Carnival Ride): Underwood’s most criminally underrated radio hit to-date. She continued to demonstrate her versatility not only as a vocalist but as real storyteller. As an ode to war and the troops, it served some comfort to those families dealing with their loss.
“Remind Me” (duet with Brad Paisley, from his 2011 This is Country Music): Something magical happens when you plop two talented singers in a room and ask them to churn out an electric collaboration. Another severally under-appreciated hit (it didn’t run away with any CMAs or ACMs), this romantic and nostalgic-laced song ebbs and flows, borrowing from duets that have came before.
“Blown Away” (from 2012’s Blown Away): Taking a break from her typical two-year album cycle, her creative drive hit a new height. Not only did it become one of the biggest hits that year, it showcased how you can have uptempo (the most suitable driver for radio during the summer months) and quality in the same three minutes. It’s message is timeless.
“Two Black Cadillacs” (from 2012’s Blown Away): While she was at the helm of the boy bashing trend, she shattered expectations with this southern gothic-inspired revenge tale, packed with as many twists and turns as a Stephen King novel, or FOX’s American Horror Story. Also, can you find the nod to a classic ’80s horror flick?
“Something in the Water” (from 2014’s Greatest Hits: Decade #1 compilation): Sure, the song was only released last fall, but it’s blockbuster sales and dance-centric music video catapulted the song to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs (now a sales/airplay/streaming hybrid) for seven weeks. That doesn’t happen often for a female, especially with a song about baptism and redemption.
Image Source: PR Photos, CMA