Daily Top Five: Carrie Underwood Singles and Tracks

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I’ve been at this whole Country Universe thing for eleven years now, and one of the early highlights of my time doing this was the arrival of Carrie Underwood.  She was so, so good on American Idol, but it didn’t quite prepare me for how much I would love hearing her do original material.

From day one, I’ve been something of an outlier among online country music writers. Underwood’s tendency toward bombastic vocals and dramatic story songs isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I love a vocalist who is strong enough to remain front and center, no matter how big their musical surroundings. I also love songs that are about more than just love and the loss of it.  Her stabs at social commentary track closely to my own worldview, and as I’ve written before, she radiates humanity.

So as I prepare a review of her new single, “Smoke Break,” today seems like a good day to look back on where Underwood’s already been. She doesn’t even have five studio albums yet, so I’m going with two lists – Favorite Singles and Favorite Tracks.

Here are my top fives:

Favorite Singles

  1. Blown Away
  2. See You Again
  3. Little Toy Guns
  4. Undo It
  5. Wasted

Favorite Tracks

  1. I Know You Won’t
  2. Do You Think About Me
  3. Change
  4. Play On
  5. How Great Thou Art

23 Comments

  1. This is so freaking hard!!!

    Favorite Singles:
    1.) Something In The Water
    2.) Jesus, Take the Wheel
    3.) Wasted
    4.) Temporary Home
    5.) All-American Girl

    Favorite Tracks:
    1.) How Great Thou Art
    2.) Wheel Of The World
    3.) Do You Think About Me
    4.) Leave Love Alone
    5.) Wine After Whiskey

    I’m really looking forward your review of Smoke Break! I really like this blog/site, and I appreciate your honest reviews. :)

  2. Singles

    1) Two Black Cadillacs
    2) Last Name
    3) I told You So (Duet with Randy Travis)
    4) Jesus, Take the Wheel
    5) See You Again

    Favorite Songs

    1) The More Boys I Meet
    2) Wine After Whiskey
    3) The Night Before (Life Goes On)
    4) What Can I Say
    5) Unapologize

  3. 1. Just A Dream
    2. Temporary Home
    3. Wasted
    4. Jesus, Take the Wheel
    5. I Told You So

    1. How Great Thou Art
    2. I Know You Won’t
    3. Do You Think About Me
    4. The More Boys I Meet
    5. Crazy Dreams

  4. Album Tracks
    1. “Someday When I Stop Loving You” (how has no one mentioned this gem?)
    2. “Leave Love Alone” (jam!)
    3. “Do You Think About Me” (should have been a single)
    4. “Flat on the Floor” (should have been a single)
    5. “Quitter” (should have been a single)

    Singles
    1. “Wasted”
    2. “Blown Away”
    3. “Before He Cheats”
    4. “Something in the Water”
    5. “So Small”

  5. Carrie is one of the few mainstream artists who continues to grow artistically.
    She has a knack for balancing what her fans want from her with steady and impressive growth as a vocalist and artist.
    I love your continued support of Carrie, Kevin, and it’s nice to see a reviewer who is objective AND remain a big fan.

    Singles:
    1. Blown Away
    2. Two Black Cadillacs
    3. Just A Dream
    4. So Small
    5. Good Girl

    Album Tracks:
    1. Wine After Whiskey
    2. Do You Think About Me
    3. That’s Where It Is
    4. You Won’t Find This
    5. Get Outta This Town

  6. Favorite Singles:
    1. Jesus Take The Wheel
    2. Blown Away
    3. I Told You So
    4. Something in the Water
    5. Before He Cheats

    Favorite Tracks:
    1. Someday When I Stop Loving You
    2. Leave Love Alone
    3. Wine After Whiskey
    4. Flat on the Floor
    5. How Great Thou Art

    Extra: Favorite Demo that didn’t make it as a final album track: Oklahoma Wind

  7. Favorite Singles

    1. I Told You So
    2. Temporary Home
    3. Little Toy Guns
    4. Before He Cheats
    5. Two Black Cadillacs

    Favorite Tracks

    1. Someday When I Stop Loving You
    2. Look At Me
    3. Songs Like This
    4. Good In Goodbye
    5. Do You Think About Me

  8. Favorite Singles (hard one)
    1. Wasted
    2. Just a Dream
    3. I Told You So
    4. Before He Cheats
    5. Temporary Home

    Favorite Tracks
    1. Wine After Whiskey
    2. Play On
    3. I Ain’t In Checotah Anymore
    4. I Know You Won’t
    5. You Won’t Find This

  9. Singles . . .
    1. I Told You So with Randy Travis (The only song she’s released as a single that qualifies as country.)
    2. Temporary Home (Ok, maybe this one qualifies as country too, but what else does?)
    3. Wasted (Maybe we’re at three now?)
    4. Blown Away
    5. Mama’s Song

    Album Tracks . . .
    1. Someday When I Stop Loving You
    2. Wine After Whiskey
    3. Cupid’s Got a Shotgun
    4. Do You Think About Me
    5. Quitter

    Carrie Underwood, when compared to her peers in “country” music looks and sounds outstanding as a music artist. Her music sounds deep and her collection of good, quality songs seems vast and wide. However, the shine doesn’t last when you go back one, two or three decades and compare her to peers of the past. Go and stack her up with Patty and Pam in the 90’s or Dolly, Tammy, Loretta, EmmyLou and Reba of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Her collection of good material (and country material) pales in comparison to those artists, even at that point in their careers.

    Carrie Underwood has the charisma, charm and most of all, vocal abilities to be in a league with these women, maybe even better than some of then. It’s too bad she doesn’t have the green light from her corporate, record label masters to reach the standard that these women have all set with their music. Instead, she is reduced to putting out the occasional strong song, inter-mixed with party anthems and blaring arena-pop/rock kiss-off songs. Instead of getting more of the “I Told You So” and “Someday When I Stop Loving You” Carrie, we are spoon fed, by her and her label, the “Last Name” and “Good Girl” artist. She’s an artist that could smash through the glass ceiling of modern country music if given she were given a chance with the radio audience. If she could not only release, but have her label heavily promote a song like “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, “Boulder to Birmingham”, “Maybe It Was Memphis”, etc. she’d soar with it. But that seems a pipe dream really.

    Not to nit-pick her and bring up a retread issue, but I also don’t think Underwood qualifies as much of a country artist. What singles and album cuts has she put out that were truly country material. Better material than her peers? Absolutely! But anymore country than the Aldean’s, FGL’s and Ballerini’s of the world? Not really.

  10. Motown Mike – A lot of “country” artists have incorporated elements from other genres in their music, though. You mention Dolly Parton as a counterpoint to Carrie’s style, yet Dolly had a lot of songs that people questioned as “country.” For my money Carrie singles like Before He Cheats and Jesus, Take The Wheel have enough country elements to be classified as country, even if they have elements of other genres. I would agree her last album didn’t have any truly ‘country’ singles, but that’s also a reflection of the country industry at this point.

  11. Carrie doesn’t have but one single that can ever match the “country-ness” of Dolly Parton or any of her era. I don’t think Carrie’s brand of “country” is as much a reflection of the direction of modern country as it is her allowing herself and her career to be dictated and highly controlled by a corporate master at a record label. Carrie allows them to control everything from her image to marketing to sound of records and types of songs recorded.

    Carrie should be sent a copy of a Lindi Ortega, Holly Williams, First Aid Kit, Karen Jonas album, etc. Those are raw, authentic, strong female artists, out there doing what they want and how they want. Carrie and those in her generation should take notes from the top-shelf quality independent artists. Figure out what they are recording, how they sound and then emulate that style.

  12. Singles:

    1. Good Girl
    2. Wasted
    3. I Told You So
    4. Don’t Forget To Remember Me
    5. Cowboy Casanova

    Album tracks

    1. This Time
    2. Someday When I Stop Loving You
    3. Wheel Of The World
    4. Get Out Of This Town
    5. Lessons Learned

  13. Singles:

    1. Two Black Cadillacs
    2. Just A Dream
    3. Good Girl
    4. Wasted
    5. Before He Cheats

    Album Tracks:

    1. I Know You Won’t
    2. Someday When I Stop Loving You
    3. Whine After Whiskey
    4. Good In Goodbye
    5. What Can I Say

    6. Play On
    7. The Night Before (Life Goes On)
    8. Flat On The Floor
    9. You Won’t Find This
    10. Change

    Picking tracks was hard, because there’s so many good ones out there. Especially on her last two albums (not counting the Greatest Hits) there were so many “Why didn’t they release this as a single?” songs. So yeah, I just went with 10 that I felt needed mentioning. >.>

  14. Motown Mike – But why should Carrie take notes from those artists? Just because you want her to? The reality is that while Carrie has shown appreciation for more traditional country artists like Randy Travis and Patty Loveless, she has also always shown love for less traditional country acts like Martina McBride and Rascal Flatts (see her performances on American Idol). Carrie grew up in a time when country had moved into a more ‘pop’ feel (not to mention her love of ’80s rock), and it makes sense to me that her music would reflect that. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, of course, but the reality is the music she makes is what is considered “country” in the 00s and now 10s. Her music wouldn’t fit on pop radio or rock radio, for instance.

  15. Motown Mike – Oh, and in terms of your question album cuts that are country, in addition to some of the songs you have in your top 5 album tracks for her, what about “Leave Love Alone” with the mandolin line and “Flat on the Floor” heavily featuring banjo, fiddle, and jaw harp?

  16. And, really, since Carrie has been such a loyal supporter of the Grand Ole Opry, has intentionally not remixed her songs for crossover success, has paid tribute to classic country artists in various ways, has been a consistent host of the CMAs, and more, I don’t feel a need to nitpick how country all of her songs are. As in, she is clearly a fan of country music, a supporter of country music, and a great representation for country music in a time when it needs it, so let’s place criticism on other artists.

  17. It’s fair to critique her music and to not even like it, but it’s probably extreme to suggest that she should emulate artists who aren’t even trying to make mainstream music.

  18. Ditto to Leeann, and I might add that I don’t think an artist who attempts to replicate the styles of other artists (even good ones) is necessarily more credible than one who is manipulated by corporate label heads (which I’m not personally convinced is the case with Underwood).

  19. Singles:
    1. Blown Away
    2. So Small
    3. Don’t Forget to Remember Me
    4. Good Girl
    5. Before He Cheats

    Tracks:
    1. Do You Think about Me?
    2. Someday when I stop loving you
    3. Night Before (Life Goes On)
    4. Flat On the Floor
    5. Wheel of The World

  20. This piece almost needs a third category for live performances as I listen to some of her live covers as much or more than her singles and album tracks. My favorites:
    1. “How Great Thou Art” (various, but especially ACM celebration)
    2. “Alone” (American Idol but also the VH1/Decade Rock performance with Heart)
    3. “Different Drum” (RNR Hall of Fame)
    4. “Patience” (Azalea Festival)
    5. “Neon Moon” (ACM tribute)

    I also listen to her versions of Desperado (Grammys), Praying For Time (American Idol), Could’ve Been (American Idol), and Making Love Out of Nothing at All (American Idol).

  21. With an introduction by Glenn Frey, here’s Carrie doing “Different Drum” during the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame segment for Linda Ronstadt:

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