Carrie Underwood, “I’ll Stand By You”

The original version of “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders is a love anthem that is part tenderness, part defiance. In covering this standard from the early nineties, Carrie Underwood transforms it into a vulnerable, passionate country song. Rather than do a paint-by-numbers cover, she strips the song of its original piano and power-chord theatrics and sings it with just an acoustic guitar and gorgeous fiddle, a choice that should by all laws of reason and logic make it impossible for her version to match the emotional impact of the original, since all she has to sell the song is her voice.

But good Lord, what a voice. It’s not just being able to hit the notes that makes an effective singer, but knowing when to hold back and when to let go. Carrie Underwood is a stunningly effective country singer because she lets the lyric guide the way; she understands that it’s the song is what counts, and the singer just the messenger delivering it. The result is a transformation of a song we’ve all heard countless times into something brand new. She drops the rough outer skin of the original that was needed for it to be an effective rock ballad, and the song is reborn as a fearless declaration of true love, country style.

It’s time to stop dancing around the obvious. Carrie Underwood is clearly the most gifted female vocalist to grace the country charts in a generation, and there’s no point in pretending the jury is still out on that claim. Please, no more caveats that she’s too new or unproven to stand among the greats. It didn’t take two albums for Trisha Yearwood or Wynonna Judd to prove their talents were otherworldly, and Carrie Underwood is the first woman in a decade and a half that is worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as those two legendary vocalists. We’re witnessing the early recordings of a woman who will be one of the definitive country artists of our time. Start taking notes and paying close attention. History is being made every time she sings.

Grade: A+

Listen/Watch: I’ll Stand By You

Buy: I’ll Stand By You

More Carrie Underwood:

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Country Rocks the Grammys as Chicks, Carrie Clean Up

Carrie Underwood Joins the Five Million Club

Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “Wasted”


  1. I’m sorry but your review of Carrie Underwood’s performance of “I’ll Stand By You” is just country blather. Carrie sang the song allright but it was not a tour de force by any stretch of the imagination. One of Idol’s rejects from season 6 gave a more compelling performance of the song without starving African children in an impoverished and destitute state gratuitously hanging all over her.

    Your proclamation that Carrie Underwood is already a legend is further evidence the country establishment is invilved in a war for the Idol invested fans who lean heavily to the Pop side. I consider your entire review, and all of your coments another tactic of attack to win fans over to the Country genre.

    I like Carrie Underwood but I see her flaws. She has little if any stage presence, she’s let her fame affect her and succumbed to an extrem weight loss that can only be explained by an emotional eating disorder that takes the focus off her bland performance style and lack of charisma. It appears her priorities are based upon foundations that are not her personal principles, but rather, the agenda of the Country Music Industry, and American Idol & all it’s tentacles.

  2. I disagree with Kevin on many things, but he certainly is correct in this instance – Carrie is the best major label female country vocalist to emerge since Trisha Yearwood. This sort of talent only shows up about nce a generation – Connie Smith in the 1960s, Crystal Gayle in the 1070s, Wynonna Judd in the 1980s , Trisha during the 1990s and now Carrie .

    Yes, Carrie has little stage presence but that will develop with time

  3. Who wrote that review? her mother lmao!!!
    Vocal style is all al matter of opionion. She is isn’t any better or worse than other female country vocalists.
    As far as standing out, she sounds just like along the line of a numbe of othe clones.
    But to be fairs he was manufactured from AI pop talent and show and she has nothing new to offer execept being produced by Nashville and them controlling her.
    If you want to stand out and be considered great then you have to change the industry like Shania Twain did and do your own thing. Shania became the biggest country female of alltime by creating her own songs and image and then selling it to the world.
    Now adays artists are created and controlled by everyone.
    You don’t have true megastars like a Shania or Dolly anymore who tancend genre and did their own thing.
    And like I said vocal style is all a matter of opinon. I for one can’t stand vocalits who scream their songs like a Martina Mcbride or many other.
    I think someon is showing their bias in this review because she has a long,long,long way to even be considered credible in country music.

  4. I agree with what Jordan says.
    There are so many female country vocalists who have their own style and who have made a much bigger impact on music in general.
    And of course Shania comes to mind as the biggest country female in history who changed counntry music forever.
    It is not about just vocal style it is about the whole package and being a leader not a follower.
    Carrie Underwood is created by AI and they own her, she has no power. And there are people in my church who sings better than her. It is called flavor of the month. Next year someobody will come along and then they will be praised.
    So I think it is time to give it a rest realize it is all a matter of taste not who is a better vocalist because nobody is 100% right.
    Carrie Underwood can sing Okay but I can say that about 200 other female vocalists.

  5. i agree with your reveiw 100% . carrie is an amazing vocalist. you can base her talent on her personality. although you may think she has let the fame go to her head i can tell youdifferently. carrie gainalot of weight on idol from beinghoem sick. over the summer she worked out at hotles and ate better so she could be in shape forher tour. it takes alot to be able to perform every night. if yu have ever seen carrie live i can telly ou her stage presence is so much better from american idol. she did a cover of sweet child of mine on tour and it was amazing she worked the stage every well, also i ahve seen the real side of carrie i have met her a few times and she realyl is the sweetest person ever. if that africa video was no enough to prove that well then i am sorry. it’s obvious that we have a real star on our hands here carrie underwood’s voic eis so pure and genuine. there is nothing fake about her she is just 100% pure county girl.

  6. I serously don’t see what the fuss is about. I agree 100% with this review of Carrie’s take on the song. It think people are taking it way to personally that Carrie’s one of todays biggest country artists and she won a contest to get there. Who cares what she won, she’s in the genre now and she’s proven countless times through performance and vocals alone that she deserves to be where she is.

    I don’t know if its jelousy, traditionalist, critics or just people who don’t find Carrie’s music appealing but whatever the case all opinions aside Carrie pulls off this song better than anyone else could have. I think this is the first time I’ve actually had a 100% agreement with the reviewer on this thing.

    I also would like to question wether this song will be on Carrie’s new album she is working on because it would be an interesting first single from the CD.

  7. It has nothing to do with jealouy. Some people just don’t like her singing is that hard to grasp. She has had huge support and exposure from AI and Nashville which no other country artist has and yet she will never come close to the success or status as a global icon like Shania.
    Carrie is still an opening act.
    Maybe if Carrie is lucky, Shania will ask her to open up for her on her world tour in 2008 or 2009.
    I find anyone who is manufactured and gotten support from AI to have a huge advantage over anyone so they need to take advantage of the advantage they have gotten before someone new comes along next year.

  8. If you look at my comment I did say maybe its just that some people don’t like her style.

    Anyways I don’t give a damn about the whole AI issue personally. Considering how much my personal opinion really matters to others I respect who doesn’t like her. But shooting her down as an innocent victim of cercumstance just annoys the hell out of me. Anyways I think both Carrie and Martina are on their way to overshooting Shania. I think SHania needs to step it up a notch and release some new music. She’ll always be the George Strait of female country singers, but I’m sick of waiting for SHania’s new music. Martina and Carrie are both working their way quesckly to taking her place. You are right George that Carrie is still an opening act, but she has one album out. That fact is mearly a result of her lack of material. Within the peak of her second album I predict she’ll start looking into a solo tour as Gretchen WIlson did with her second Album. You can’t critisize Carrie for not being a headliner because she doesn’t have enough music to last a long enough show yet. SHe’ll get there though.

    I do look forward to SHania coming out with more music. I seriously want to see her come back and whip the women back into shape because although I am a 100% supporter of Martina and Carrie, i think SHania needs to create some constructive compatition in the genre. All three women are excellent singers and just don’t see it right at all to critisize Carrie for being from AI or for her lack of material as a performer.

  9. countryblue, don’t worry Shania is going to have a new album soon and new world tour.
    But you can’t compare country acts to a global icon like Shania. Shania is huge worldwide and concentrates on all genres worldwide. Nobody will ever come close to Shania’s sales and status worldwide. She could retire now and forever be the biggest selling country female of alltime. But shania ain’t done yet and has lots of great music to make. Just remember Shania is private and has the power and money to do what she wants. she has a family and her priorities are different now.
    Shania music and songs are staples all over the world but yet Shania is humble and a class act and just lives her life private without drawing attention to herself despite being one of the biggest stars of alltime worldwide.

  10. Talk about hyperbole, that review was just too much. Carrie has a great voice although very bland to my taste. She is decades away from being called a legend.

  11. One last thought ad I’m outta here. If Carrie Underwood still looked like the picture on the front of this blog entry she wouldn’t be nearly as popular as she is. It’s a shame society is so shallow but it’s true. Carrie has lost at least 35 pounds from the time tha t picture was taken and she is curently at least 20 full pounds underweight and any doctor would be very concerned with her weight loss considering she was never overweight to begin with.

    I believe her severe weight loss is already a major problem. I’m certai her family has intervened and she did gain a few pounds but when she’s back out and away from their influence I believe her emotional eating disorder issues will arise again. It’s clearly a solution to her self esteem problem of lacking stage presence, charisma, and appearing sexy. This is a major issue that won’t go away because Carrie Underwood has a base underlying psychological problem of inferiority with her appearance.

  12. Potter aka George – I get so sick of your Shania rantings every time someone writes a good review on Carrie. This isn’t about Shania! You’ve been ranting for over a year now about Shania’s new album that isn’t there. Come back around when you have new music from your goddess and we’ll talk.

    Ben – What does Carrie’s weight have to do with her voice? 20 pounds underweight? You can tell by looking at her muscle tone that this woman does not have any eating disorder. I somehow visualize a fat woman sitting behind a computer typing your entry LOL.

    Back to the review – I TOTALLY AGREE!

  13. It’s amazing that the SAME people continuously look and find things about Carrie Underwood just to slam her. Do you guys have her on your google search on something?

    Spend more time supporting your favorite artists, because Carrie ain’t going away anytime soon.

  14. Louise, why are you bashing such an icon and legend like Shania.
    I think from last I heard Shania is in Switzerland and New Zealand in her estates rasing her family and making a new album.
    I really don’t think a woman of shania’s power and money has any pressure to put out new music. she does it on her time and when she wants to.
    Shania set the standard and I will alway be in debt to Shania for bringing me to country music. I live in Brazil and she is the only country artist we know up here.
    So lets relax now and dont’ go overboard and out of hand over every new act that comes along.
    and I agree with George on this one.

  15. Nice review. ….. and I agree Carrie did sing this song beautifully…. If I recall Carrie did comment in an interview that she sees herself as the messenger of a song… and when I heard the song ,I was in awe with her conveyed emotion and interpretation .. I think Carrie has a lot more talent to share with the planet… and she has only just begun.

  16. Why do you care so much about her weight? And why, Stan, do you know so much about her if you don’t like her or her music? It sounds fishy to me.

  17. At least my perspective is untainted by American Idol – I’ve never watched the show (and I’ve only seen two or three episodes of Nashville Star – I was never a big fan of the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, either).

    Little Jimmy Dickens was credited with discovering Marty Robbins but Dickens always disclaimed credit, stating merely that he simply was to first Nashville star to cross Marty’s path but that Marty had so much talent that he was destined to be discovered

    American Idol may have accelerated Ms Underwood’s emergence but she would have emrged sooner or later anyway

  18. Stan Gaghanht– What concert did you say your wife attended to get these pictures? I am thinking the pictures —- were probly altered and created in photoshop …

    and really what does her weight have to do with her singing ” I’ll stand by you”…

    a nice review on Carrie Underwood shows up on the internet and out of the woodwork comes the Carrie haters that have nothing better to do than attack how she looks ….and not the performances or the info contained in the review….

    What is ludicrous to me is the idea that some here think they are qualified to give a psychological assessment of Carrie Underwood based on tabloids related information..

  19. Wow I thought when I read the review the commentary would reflect people’s opinions of the song and performance, but sadly I see this has once again become lets judge Carrie’s weight part 31851314864201354. To try and defend it for a moment (not that it needs defending) Carrie is a vegitarian that works out and I can say as a medical student and vegitarian that her appearance is well within normal weight, so people saying this is a psychological eating disorder is just ludacris. But before I get on that tangent I absolutly agree with the review, she is an amazing vocalist that just keeps proving herself. I am excited to watch the future of this one! Thanks for the positive reveiw, and people need to research before they make ridiculous medical judgements.

  20. I agree with this review. I didn’t really pay much attention to Carrie Underwood until I heard
    the song Don’t Forget To Remember Me on the radio and really connected with it and thought her voice was very special, I didn’t watch the Idol show your talking about. I heard her new song on the radio and I think Carrie is going to be around for many years.

  21. “Carrie can sing but she’s not a legend and to call her one based on her spate of good luck is ludicrous.”

    Spate of good luck? Is that what they’re call’n extraordinary talent these days?

  22. This review is right on and everyone knows it. Those that don’t are fans of other artists and just don’t want to admit to it.

  23. Whether you are a Carrie Underwood fan or not, this is one of the most beautiful renditions of this song that I’ve ever heard. This woman is beautiful on the inside, as well as out. We’ll see who calls the kettle black in a few years.

  24. carrie underwood i jus wanted 2 say i really love ur songs they r great an u r 2 but i love ur song ill stand by u its a great song it remindes me of my big sister stephanie 4 some reason i dont no why but im am i 14 year old girl an i jus wanted 2 write u an let u no that ur songs r great ps love ya always

  25. word! i absolutely adore the song the moment i heard it, and i’m that sort of person who generally doesn’t take to a song until after listening to it several times. despite her powerful vocals, she sang it with such vulnerability and tenderness. she’s absolutely proven herself as an american idol over bo bice.

  26. Sticking to the actual review of the song, and not her weight, appearance, etc., I would say the original review is right on. Carrie’s more than proven herself with the first album. Whoever says she lacks power with her voice is simply not listening. She outpowers many of the country vocalists, including (I’m sorry to say, being from Texas) LeAnn Rimes (who has been a critic), Faith Hill, and other newcomers like Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift. The awards Carrie has won are not just a coincidence; they will keep coming and the critics will eventually see that she is the real thing, whether they become fans or not.

    As for Shania, I am a fan, but in my opinion, she is more of a commodity, bang -’em out kind of performer than a true legend in the making than Carrie. Sure, she is a world-wide icon, and has a pleasant enough voice, but none of her songs or vocal stylngs have ever reduced me to tears. I’m not trying to say she’s not enormously talented, because clearly she is, but, without trying to sound too harsh, it’s almost too emoitionless because her voice seems so smooth it’s like she’s getting ready to sing elevator music sometimes. And I really like her–have all of her CD’s. It’s just that none of her stuff MOVES me, you know what I mean?

    Martina and Carrie–their voices stir my emotions, and IMO, that’s what I want in music and what will make people really remember most songs. Not what sold 50 million copies or whatever. And, ultimately, if your song does stir people’s souls, it will probably sell more copies anyway.

    Thanks for the really insightful review. And people, commenting on the substance/performance of the song, not the performer’s appearance or psyche, is really the most intelligent and helpful content, don’t you think? Carrie’s weight has nothing to do with how good the song is/isn’t. Just comment on the review.

  27. Anyone who says she has no stage presence clearly hasn’t been to a concert. Anyone who says she’s just okay and not one of the best country singers in years clearly haven’t watched the CMAs, AMAs, Grammys, ACMs, Billboard Awards, or any other award show she’s been to. Heck, if you said she’s just okay I’d have to question you and ask if you’ve ever even HEARD her sing.

  28. okay so i see people throwing numbers out left to right..this person is the highest selling of all time crap..first off MADONNA is the highest female recording artist to sale more records than anyone other girl out there next to whitney,mariah,etc but respectfully in there own rights they sale the highest for there GENRE. Glad i got that out of the way. Now to answer carrie’s comments, I thought her performance was Great really just simple melody. The Girl Can Sing, Has vocal chops, Now She is just starting her Career Give her Time. Carrie will Develop her style her niche in country music(which is a shame) her Diversity is great She def could focus on countryPop, regular Pop,soft Rock etc I def think she should Switch it up and release a non country album next round so we can hear what she can really do. I have seen her Perform and she really is Great,smart, but lets give every artist there respect and like them and there music just like we like other known artist and stop comparing each one!

  29. first of all i would like to say that although she hasn’t made true country history yet, she will with time!! i mean look at her, shes young and has amazing talent. the whole africa thing for Idol Gives Back, i feel, was not just for publicity. shes a good person inside and out. i think the people that said some pretty negative things should re-evaluate. shes successful, beautiful, talented, and brings a certain presence to the stage that i havent seen very often. i saw one of her concerts and the audience adores her. i honestly dont see how they couldnt though. anyway, i feel that negative things shouldnt be said about her because she is amazinggg. she hasnt done anything that deserves a negative attitude and she only works harder as time passes. i just want to say that I LOVE CARRIE UNDERWOOD!!!! =]

  30. Carrie sings with heart….people that are not in touch with their own wouldn’t decern that in her singing. It’s too bad for them because they are really missing out! With or with out AI, Carrie was on her way to stardome…AI just expidited her journey there!

  31. Carrie just sang I’ll Stand by You again on the Idol final and it was just about perfect, very heart-felt , sweet pure and strong. She deserves what she’s attained. I would guess that she owes AI and will be guided by them, but she will record a break out album and we’ll all be happy.

  32. I think many of you are twits. She sang that song so beautifully it gave me goosebumps. Seriously little stag presence…. Why don’t you bring your fat arse up there and fill it up for her?

  33. I agree with NHGranite…when she performed on the finale I was worried that it would lack the orginal impact because there was no shot of the africa visit….but she was FLAWLESS…just as good as the recorded track…amazing all over again

  34. Man..ya’ll are Shania slap happy aren’t ya’ll? Im sad to see that hardly anyone even mentioned Reba in comments. How sad as it is Reba who has opened the door for Shania and other female artists. And Reba is sooo much more talented than Shania.

  35. I agree 100% with the original review. I love Carrie Underwood. She’s very talented singer & a good person. Never been big fans of any singer, Carrie Underwood change me because of her talent & genuine personality.

  36. I love Carrie Underwood. She has an amazing voice and could pull off any song brilliantly. So to those of you who disagree, shut up! you don’t know nothin.

  37. I LOVE CARRIE UNDERWOOD! She’s sooooo awesome! My favorite song of hers is “Before He Cheats”. She has a brilliant voice and is sooooo sooo beautiful! I love her!


  39. I love Carrie Underwood’s version of I’ll Stand By You!!! It is my favorite. Once I heard it on Idol Gives Back I have been looking for it. It is the best. Carrie Underwood is the greatest female country singers ever. She is my idol and I loved it. My dream is to meet her one day. I am so happy that I watched Idol Gives Back. Carrie Underwood is the greatest.

  40. Carrie has a beautiful, mesmerizing voice and she uses it to the max on “I’ll Stand By You”. Her voice is so rich and pure. Her compassionate and caring nature is very apparent in the delivery of this song and was most evident during her performance on the AI finale. I could listen to her sing all day long and not tire of her beautiful voice. If you haven’t seen her in a live concert you are missing a real treat. I think this was a very insightful and accurate review.

  41. i agree. carrie underwood is amazing. i don’t know why so many people are disapproving of her. she puts emotion into a song, and it becomes so wonderful. her voice is one of the few which actually move me. i love carrie underwood!

  42. i love carrie as a friend and her music my fav song is i’ll stand by you carrie that show of it you really care about others no matter what color skin that have rock on carrie

  43. everyone i get to meet carrie under everyday she reg all she different is that she is famous and we ain’t which i will when i am older but if tanda southern and alexandra jade boone don’t get out of my life it might get tough

  44. the country blue person is tanda e. southern and she is 10 yrs old live on mt olive road in wv she was born on june the 10th 1997 she goes to lashmeet matoka school in 5th grade get have blue eyes dirty blond hair she loves music and she is stupid and mean to me

  45. I love Carrie!! I’ve always wanted to talk to her about how I want to become a singer! ‘Cause I want to know how you get in to all that stuff!!!

  46. Oh…you know what? You guys should check the fact. She, alone, has the the most successful debut album in the country music scene.. You can compare her with Shania or anybody else all you want..

    Her first album is still in the 200 BILLBOARD CHART~~~ That was released 2 years ago!! It has gone to sold 8M copies!!!

    What’s not so successful and good about that?!?!?!

  47. As much as I love Carrie, I can get the point that she doesn’t have that “stage presence”.

    She’s an amazing singer, she’s likeable…but somehow I want her to be more…

  48. I’m not exactly sure that Carrie’s weight has anything to do with her voice. Whether you dislike her because of the route she took to reach this point in her career but it is hard to overlook the fact that her first album went platinum faster than any female country artist ever (including Shania). Her sophomore album also sold more copies in its first week than ANY artist’s or band’s second album. You can dislike her all you want. The proof of her talent and yes, popularity, is in record sales. The entire music industry is stuck in a popularity contest which is why it is so hard for new artists to become better known. So, I personally applaud American Idol for bringing new talent so quickly to the forefront of the music industry no matter what genre they choose. Carrie is dominating the country charts with every release so far reaching number 1. Daughtry is climbing the ranks with his brand of rock. Elliot Yamin is fantastic as an R & B singer. So I don’t think bashing someone for coming from that show is necessary.

  49. David said, “Her sophomore album also sold more copies in its first week than ANY artist’s or band’s second album.”

    That’s not even remotely true.

  50. Ben Stieger – Carrie is a vegetarian. That’s why she lost weight. Why don’t you eat what you eat and let her eat what she eats.

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