100 Greatest Women, #59: Carrie Underwood

100 Greatest Women


Carrie Underwood

With a voice that could’ve made her a legend in any era of country music, Carrie Underwood has quickly become the most successful female country of the decade.

Her breakthrough came through the biggest show on television, American Idol. She was one of thousands who auditioned for season four and by that point, the show had established itself more as a ratings winner than a record seller. Previous winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia released debut albums that sold respectably, but nothing on a scale that would seem to match the ratings success.

Enter Carrie Underwood. When she auditioned with the Bonnie Raitt classic “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, the tone of her voice signaled her country leanings. Throughout the Idol season, she built a fan base quickly. The belief was that it was the year of the guys, but after she performed Heart’s “Alone” on the Top 11 show, judge Simon Cowell made a bold prediction: “You’ll not only win this show, you’ll go on to sell more records than any previous Idol winner.”

She did go on to win the show, never even visiting the bottom three. But along the way, she made clear that country music was what she wanted to perform, and demonstrated a depth of knowledge that included Martina McBride songs “Independence Day” and “When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues”, Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road.” She even had the gumption to cover the raunchy Dixie Chicks cut “Sin Wagon”, leaving the “mattress dancin'” line intact.

After her win, she released the obligatory post-victory single, a pop ballad called “Inside Your Heaven.” Strong sales made it a #1 pop hit, but country radio showed some interest as well, giving it moderate airplay. When she released her first real single, “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, radio jumped on it immediately. It entered at #39 and rapidly rose to the top, spending 6 weeks at #1.

The success of that single was a strong beginning for her debut album, Some Hearts, which would eventually sell more than seven million copies. She took home ACM trophies in 2007 for Top New Female Vocalist and Single for “Wheel.” Her next release, “Don’t Forget to Remember Me”, went to #2.

Then her label released “Before He Cheats”, and amazingly enough, it was a bigger hit than “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” It not only topped the country singles chart, but got massive crossover airplay, too. Awards began to roll in, with a shocked Underwood receiving the CMA award for Female Vocalist, along with Horizon Award. Underwood was only the fourth act to win both the Horizon and their vocalist race in the same year, following Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss and the Dixie Chicks.

Underwood also picked up two Grammys three months later, including Best New Artist. “Wasted” became another #1 hit, and her charity single “I’ll Stand By You” sold so well that it entered the top ten of the pop singles chart the week it was released.

Obviously, the pressure was on to follow up her debut album. Carnival Ride featured a more country sound and several songs co-written by Carrie herself. The first two singles, “So Small” and “All-American Girl” both went #1. Along the way, she repeated as CMA’s Female Vocalist while winning Single of the Year for “Before He Cheats.” That hit also netted her a third Grammy in just two years.

As this is being written, the third single from Carnival Ride, “Last Name”, is already in the top ten. Underwood is the most-played and top-selling female artist in country music today, after only two albums. She was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry cast early this year, further solidifying her country bona fides. Given her widespread appeal and undeniable vocal prowess, the possibilities for her future seem limitless.

Carrie Underwood

Essential Singles

  • “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, 2005
  • “Before He Cheats”, 2006
  • “Wasted”, 2007
  • “I’ll Stand By You”, 2007
  • “All-American Girl”, 2007

Essential Albums

  • Some Hearts (2005)
  • Carnival Ride (2007)

Industry Awards

  • ACM Top New Female Vocalist, 2006
  • ACM Single – “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, 2006
  • ACM Top Female Vocalist, 2007 & 2008
  • ACM Album – Some Hearts, 2007
  • ACM Video – “Before He Cheats”, 2007
  • CMA Horizon Award, 2006
  • CMA Female Vocalist, 2006 & 2007
  • CMA Single – Before He Cheats”, 2007
  • Grammy: Best New Artist, 2007
  • Grammy: Best Female Country Vocal Performance (“Jesus, Take the Wheel”), 2007
  • Grammy: Best Female Country Vocal Performance (“Before He Cheats”), 2008

==> #58. Jan Howard

<== #60. k.d. lang

100 Greatest Women: The Complete List


  1. I was wondering where she would be. It’s amazing that after only a few years she could already be at #59, but looking at her success there is no doubt that she deserves to be here. What a great talent!

  2. Janis,

    #59-#100 are listed on the 100 Greatest Women page, which you can link to from the top or the bottom of this post. The women are being revealed one a day, so keep checking back.

  3. once again great read kevin, thanks for this fantastic list, its kept me interested from day 1!

    its amazing to think about all carrie has accomplished in a few years…to see it written out all at once is just cool

  4. Sorry but I think that she is listed too high, for having only been in the business for a few years (3-4) she has not really proven that she has the staying power to rate a spot this high. I am not a fan of hers and never have been.

    I am sure that I will be criticized for this but it my opinion.

  5. I actually agree with Lanibug.
    I have no idea what Metric you’re using for this…but 59? Really? The 59th greatest woman in the history of country music?
    By ANY metric, that’s a stretch. Especially considering who you’ve placed below her.

  6. Jim? Let’s revisit this:

    ACM Top New Female Vocalist, 2006
    ACM Single – “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, 2006
    ACM Top Female Vocalist, 2007
    ACM Album – Some Hearts, 2007
    ACM Video – “Before He Cheats”, 2007
    CMA Horizon Award, 2006
    CMA Female Vocalist, 2006 & 2007
    CMA Single – Before He Cheats”, 2007
    Grammy: Best New Artist, 2007
    Grammy: Best Female Country Vocal Performance (”Jesus, Take the Wheel”), 2007
    Grammy: Best Female Country Vocal Performance (”Before He Cheats”), 2008

    Now, go back to all the other ladies listed below this post and combine the awards they’ve received. You might get a wee bit of a surprise.

    I know you have never been a fan, as evidenced by your viewpoint that Carrie’s “All American Girl” was a huge feminist joke, but it still boggles the mind that you can deny her popularity. Frankly I don’t get that. There are quite a few women on this list that I really don’t care for but I would never begrudge them their places. They did the same as Ms. Underwood – they EARNED their spots!

    Now you can throw in the whole “video killed the radio star” meme you want but facts are facts. Will Carrie continue at this pace throughout her career? That remains to be seen but I have a sneaking suspicion she’ll be a force in Country for quite some time. Perhaps not as this level but if she was the flash in the pan you think she is I would imagine she’d have fallen off by now. Not be selling out shows in all parts of the country. Including Texas which seems to be a watermark that most traditionalists seem to measure artists by. Her ticket selling prowess is not matched by any other female in Country music at this time. She’s even managed to keep her market share of internet downloads. Times have changed and she is adapting to the new market with a savvy that cannot be totally attributed to the whole Music Row influence. No matter how hard some folks would like to make her seem as she’s some kind of packaged product turned out by Nashville execs she has proven time and again that she is one intelligent young lady. Hard to deny her impact. Or her singing ability.

    I don’t consider it a crtiticism Lani to argue merit. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, likes, and dislikes but I think Kevin made his case quite clear on why Carrie was included and the placement was not an aberration. He can argue his own case. Carrie seems to be tinder for the entire modern/pop/traditional firestorm debate but she seems to have survived and by any count has increased the numbers of new Country fans by the tens of thousands. Yet she can sing San Antonio Rose or Stand By Your Man as traditionally as anyone out there. Carrie’s Gospel voice is second to none. Her induction into The Opry is not simply a marketing ploy although it does make sense from that perspective as well. IMHO, Carrie Underwood respects those that have gone before and I’m proud she chose Country as her genre.

    So there you have it. Another opinion! Heh! You can take mine or leave as you see fit! I am well aware y’all will never change your minds and that is fine as well. You are entitled to your own council.

  7. I still believe she is too high, in my opinion at this point and time in her career, she should have been placed in the 80’s or 70’s — as you just listed about all of her awards start in 2006 – it is now 2008 — that is only two years — look at Gretchen Wilson — she was the same way, winning award after award and look where she is now.

    I understand that Carrie has her die hard fans, and that they believe in her wholeheartedly, and for that, that is wonderful. But I have been listening to country music for going on 20 years and I think we will just have to wait and see where her career goes.

    As you said, this is my opinion, but it is also an opinion shared by many people, so I cannot be completely wrong.

  8. She’s placed a little high, but I can see why Kevin placed her here. I would have had her in the upper 60’s but her induction into the Opry is enough of a reason to put her this high on the list.

  9. Mark this down, after 20 years have passed by, we’ll all be wondering why Carrie was placed so low on this scale. She’ll end up in the top 10. Write it down.

  10. Carrie should have been WAY higher on the list! She has broken like every record- and blows away most of the ladies on the list in terms of vocal performance.

    Carrie deserves to be in the top 20 at least…..but maybe she will be in a few years. She has the best voice to come to ANY genre in YEARS!

    I just hope you didn’t put taylor swift on that list- uh! She should be on the worst 100 list of any genre, in terms of vocal ability. Taylor Swift would wake patsy clyne from the dead in horror. lol

  11. jason, get a grip, she hasn’t even come close to breaking the biggest records held by the biggest of alltime, Shania.
    Carrie fans are quite delusional. Bottom line is she won a talent contest and got huge promotion and hype by American Idol and Nashville, even I could do well like that.
    Carrie Underwood is controlled by Nashville, they write all her songs and produce all her albums.
    Look now, Taylor Swift is the flavor of the moment.
    To truly become big and having an impact you have to do your own thing and on you own path like truly big icons like Shania. Shania went against Nashville,created her own music and became a global icon who has the money and power to do as she wants.

    Lets get realistic, Underwoods songs are forgettable and only reached #1 on the country singles chart because Nashille song writers had a hand in all of them.

  12. oh potter, how I’ve missed you! lol

    Thanks for the great writeup about Carrie. I, as most of her fans, thought she would be higher but she is in the beginning of her career and has much room to grow as an artist. I can’t see were she takes us next!!

  13. I don’t know, I actually thought this was right about where she’d fall on the list. Her impact has been impressive and she certainly doesn’t appear to be losing momentum (which is especially telling given that Carnival Ride, by many accounts, really isn’t as strong as her debut). I think she needs to stretch herself artistically on her third album to silence her detractors and prove her potential. CMT’s “40 Greatest Women…” feature from a few years ago put Faith Hill at something like #19 (it wasn’t a terribly fair list, but that’s not the point), and Carrie’s already begun to eclipse some of Faith’s accomplishments. Or perhaps she’s just become this decade’s answer to Faith. However you want to put it. Time will tell, but I don’t think she’s going anywhere anytime soon.

  14. Dan,

    On the CMT list. Dixie Chicks were #13 after two albums (before “Home”) and Shania Twain was #7 after two hit albums (“The Woman in Me” and “Come On Over.”) When watching it, I was most surprised by Lee Ann Womack, who was #17, above not just Hill, but Martina McBride, who’d been around quite a bit longer, too.

    This isn’t to say that it wasn’t a good list. It was interesting and the interviews/footage were fantastic. They used a ballot to create it and mine is based solely on my own research and conclusions, so there are bound to be a lot of differences (and there are.) But I have a feeling if they did 40 Greatest Women this year, Underwood would not only be on the list, but be in the top thirty, at the very least. Maybe she’d be even higher, given the fact that according to their new 100 Greatest Videos special, most of the best videos in country music history came out in this decade.

  15. dan, with all due respect Underwood is more like a Lean Rimes. And Faith was more like a Shania wannabe.
    Shania took country music worldwide and other tried to copy but failed.
    As far as losing momentum fo Underwood.
    LIke I said true impact is doing your own thing and creating your own music like icons like Shania,Dolly and Johnny Cash.
    Country music have had tons of blonde singers who all sound alike, like Lean rimes,Underwood,Trisha Yearwood,Taylor Swift and Faith Hill.
    And what was Faith really? She never had an identity and is more of a duet team with her husband.
    Faith said,” Shania kicked and blew down the doors for woman to take risks and have success”
    American Idol manufactures stars now.
    There are no realy true stars like Shania,Dolly and Johnny Cash who are unique and do their own thing and call all the shots.
    All you have nowadays are Nashville puppets who Nashville writes and produces their dull music.

  16. Kevin, you have to look at real impact.
    Impact means artists doing their own thing and creating their own sound and music and changed the genre.
    When I look at the greatest impact female of all I think of only 2. That would be Dolly and Shania. Both became an industry all by themselves and both did their own thing and showed woman could take control of their career.
    I don’t know how you are making your list but when you go around the world only 3 country artists come up all the time and that is Shania,Dolly and Johnny Cash. And that is how you should make your list but the woman who have had the biggest impact by doing their own thing. That is what you call greatest.

  17. Jarheaded–

    “I know you have never been a fan, as evidenced by your viewpoint that Carrie’s “All American Girl” was a huge feminist joke,”

    Actually, my opinion would be more in line with the song being anti-feminist, as it forces the woman into a pre-defined genre role.

    “…but it still boggles the mind that you can deny her popularity. Frankly I don’t get that. There are quite a few women on this list that I really don’t care for but I would never begrudge them their places. They did the same as Ms. Underwood – they EARNED their spots!”

    First of all, I have often defended the Idol stars, even Underwood. I have outright SAID the she has earned her chances, so if you’re going to purport to know my views on something, make sure you’ve done the research first.

    Second, I don’t deny her popularity. But to imply that she’s the 59th greatest woman in the history of country music seems simply absurd to me, and I can’t help but wonder if the placement is influenced by the author’s personal tastes.

    There’s nothing wrong with that–it’s Kevin’s blog. But if you were to ask me whether or not she’s earned the right to appear so high here, I would resoundingly say no.

  18. As I’ve written on other threads in this series, I try to stay out of the “defend their placement on my list” game, but since Jim put this on the table: “I can’t help but wonder if the placement is influenced by the author’s personal tastes”, I’ll bite. My personal tastes would have Underwood, along with Carlene Carter and Suzy Bogguss, quite a bit higher and some of the other women I’ve listed quite a bit lower. Actually, putting Carter and Bogguss below Underwood irked me, but they just haven’t had the impact that Underwood has already achieved in four years.

    As I wrote on another thread, if you’re looking for the influence of my personal tastes, it’s not in the rankings. It’s in the writing.

  19. Kevin,come on. At least Carlen Carter and Suzy were not manufactured. They didn’t have american idol exposure or advantage.
    You keep talking about impact. Nothing Underwood has done is unique or different. She won a talent contest and was highly promoted by American Idol and Nashville.
    None of her songs or singles are anything special.
    I see that your list is not going to be fair by the fact you actually put an American Idol contest winner so high on the list.
    She was the flavor the last couple of years and Taylor Swift is the new flavor.
    To really have impact you have to take control of your own career and create your own music and do your own thing. If Nashville didn’t have a hand in writing all her songs then Underwood wouldn’t even have 1 number one song.

    We need the really big stars like Shania to comeback and share new songs with the world again. Shania realized a long time ago that Nashville is a very small part of the big music world and Shania took her music worldwide and became a global icon who Nashville hates.

  20. I think Kevin has her properly placed. She has made a huge immediate impact; now we will see if she keeps it up.

    Someone quoted awards won, but that isn’t a very good standard to judge acts from the past as the number of awards available to be won was far less in the past. The CMA award started in 1966 , the ACMs a few years later and other awards later still plus the Grammys have increased the number of awards they give over the course of time. If the CMAs and ACMs had existed back in the 1950s, Kitty Wells might have had a decade long sweep – who knows

  21. Nashville hates Shania?! I am pretty sure Nashville is anxiously awaiting a new Shania record. I am pretty sure they hope it’s the best damn thing ever and sells 30,000,000 units.

    And George, don’t you contradict yourself on the Underwood/Swift comparison? Taylor DOES makes her own songs. She makes them all herself. Probably in a glittery Hello Kitty journal but that’s beside the point–she’s still kick ass (at least for a seventeen year old girl).

  22. Good point Paul. Most of the awards Ms. Underwood has won weren’t around for a lot of the older female artists so I guess that is a faulty comparison from me. If you extrapolate it though then the same said could be said about album sales or ticket sales since there is a much larger population today. Guess there isn’t a clear cut way to compare which is why it is so subjective I reckon.

    George? You finally find a site that hasn’t banned you? Congratulations!

    OK Jim, I’m going to try and take some time to go back and research your reviews and stories. I have read you a lot and the whole anti-feminism post just really twisted my boxers. I personally felt it was unfair and over the top but I’ll defend your right to say it to the death! ;-)

    Actually, that was the first thing I had read that you have written that annoyed me to that extent. And quite frankly you are wrong. Ah yes, another opinion eh? Most of your stuff I like, even the ones that tick me off a bit. They make me think. And we all know how dangerous that can be! But fair enough, I’ll do the research.

    Wasn’t it you that posted that about All American Girl and then turned around and told me there was no social significance to Stupid Boy? Or do I have that confused as well?

  23. I think Carrie is appropriately placed here. Taking a quick look at the list that precedes this entry, I don’t see anyone on it who has been jilted by Carie’s placement.

    I don’t think the Gretchen comparison is quite fair because their accomplishments aren’t exactly comparable.

    As far as Shenia Twain goes, George, would you rather that she be placed at #59 instead of Carrie? Or, as I suspect will happen, wouldn’t you prefer that she is placed higher than this spot that infuriates you so much?

  24. George,
    Not sure if you noticed this, but Shania Twain and Dolly Parton haven’t appeared on the list yet. I didn’t rank Carrie Underwood higher than them.

    I don’t see Underwood as a manufactured artist. I think she had even pursued a Nashville deal before trying out for Idol, but even if I’m wrong on that, she had a clear idea of the kind of music she wanted to make before the show made her a star. If it was that easy to manufacture a superstar through the Idol machine, Underwood’s success wouldn’t tower above the other Idols as much as it does (with the exception of Kelly Clarkson, who did quite well with her second album.)

    Jim, I don’t think anyone in Nashville other than Luke Lewis is anxiously awaiting another Shania album. She doesn’t line the pockets of anyone in town but her record label.

    I sure wish she’d come out with something new, though. I thought the five-year stretch between Come On Over and Up! was long, and now it’s been six years and counting between studio albums.

    I have to say that you were the first thing that popped into my head when I woke up this morning and saw how long the comment thread already was. Think there’s a chance that Jan Howard will provoke so much discussion? :)

  25. Paul, you weren’t the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning:), but you did pop into my head because I’ve noticed that the comments have picked up a bit since your comment on the Chesney thread….including my own.

  26. What’s good for the genre is good for the genre. A big Shania record is just as important as a big Carrie record.

    Jarhheaded–I love “Stupid Boy.” I think it’s a great song…so that wasn’t me.
    I do appreciate the kind words in your last post.

  27. George –

    I’m fine with the fact that you don’t share my assessments of Underwood and the validity of her talent, impact, similarity to Faith Hill, whatever measure you prefer. What confuses me is that you seem to be using this thread (and others that you’ve commented on) more to lift up Shania Twain than to fairly discuss the artist in question (Underwood, in this case). I agree with you that Twain has achieved uinque and remarkable things in this genre of music (and others) and we’ll all want to celebrate those achivements when her time comes on this list, but until that point I don’t see the relevance of pointing it out so frequently.

    I agree that winning American Idol gave Carrie a monstrous advantage over other aspiring artists, but that’s show business. She wouldn’t have advanced as far as she did on the show nor been as wildly successful afterward if she didn’t have talent. The same goes for Lee Ann Womack, Patsy Cline, Miranda Lambert, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, and dozens of other well-regarded artists who rose to prominence in part because they did well in talent contests or appeared on popular television shows. I agree that she’d be nowhere without the commercial material her handlers helped her procure. But hey, Shania Twain would be nowhere if Mutt Lange hadn’t sought her out to produce The Woman in Me and helped craft her unique sound. So Underwood hasn’t created a whole lot of revolutionary music yet; as you continually point out, few artists have, and as history shows us, almost no artist is able to do so right out of the gate (Shania, again, is no exception here). Give Underwood some time to mature before you blithely dismiss her potential.

    Kevin –

    I actually loved watching all of CMT’s countdowns and in-depth specials, even though they did all have that bias in favor of the contemporary (which I suppose was probably to help the young’uns like me stay engaged). The interviews were always really cool, and I think I’d like them even more now because I’d be familiar with a lot more of the interviewees than I would have been back then. But the last time I checked CMT pretty much just shows re-runs of “The Dukes of Hazzard” and crap like “Gone Country” now. What a shame.

  28. I agree that a Shania record is as good for the genre, and possibly better, than a Carrie record. You referred to Nashville, though. Shania doesn’t record there like Carrie does, and she doesn’t co-write with Nashville writers and cut songs from Nashville publishing houses. There’s simply a lot more money to be made on a Carrie record than a Shania record for everyone but the label.

  29. Carrie Underwood has had a HUGE impact, and I can’t overstate that enough, a huge impact–in a commercial sense, but what is her impact on the genre? Who has she influenced, what barries has she broken down? Can it even be measured yet. I don’t think think she’s been on the scene long enough to accurately judge that and that’s why I feel she’s placed too high.

    Carrie has undeniable talent, but at the same time, we can’t deny the impact that American Idol had on her career. The male side of the genre is more competitive and quite honestly, they don’t have Carrie’s talent or the talent their competition that’s already in the genre, and that’s why they haven’t done as well. As far as women on American Idol, how many that chose country music have actually won it like Carrie, so it’s difficult to make a direct comparison when the genres are different and the artist didn’t garner as much exposure.

    Is she supremely more talented than other women in the genre today and are her songs that much better? I don’t think she stands head and shoulders above everyone else in the talent department or that her songs are any better, but for whatever reason, radio is enamored by her and without radio giving hardly any women air time, who are the awards going to go to? And just as awards haven’t been around for as long as women have been blazing trails, TV shows exposing artists to 30 million people every week haven’t been around, either. Hell, Taylor Swift was nominated over Trisha Yearwood in the Female Vocalist category at the ACMs. That’s gotta say something about popularity and the awards.

    So other than sales and awards, which Gretchen Wilson did garner in the beginning, what is her impact on the genre? If her career were to end today, would she rank this highly in a few years time?

    I don’t have an agenda one way or the other in regards to Carrie, it’s just my opinion that she’s placed a little high. Keep up the good work, though, Kevin, and good job on the thorough research. You’ve turned me on to some stuff I’ve overlooked in the process.

  30. I just wanted to clear up that the reason that I don’t feel Carrie and Gretchen are on the same level is because Carrie has one twice as many awards and has sold a few more albums. No matter what, I don’t think her name will be forgotten any time soon.

  31. “I don’t see Underwood as a manufactured artist. I think she had even pursued a Nashville deal before trying out for Idol, but even if I’m wrong on that, she had a clear idea of the kind of music she wanted to make before the show made her a star. If it was that easy to manufacture a superstar through the Idol machine, Underwood’s success wouldn’t tower above the other Idols as much as it does”

    Yes Kevin, Carrie pursued a deal when she was 14 through Capitol records I believe. Something happened with her management and the deal fell through. People think she is manufactured because she took an unconventional way to the top but she has proven that she has talent and star quality beyond the idol machine. You are right on about AI. There has only really been 2 really successful people to come off the show and Carrie is one of them. Idol helps some but you have to work your ass off to continue to be successful…

  32. Kevin, yes, that was my point about Nashville hating Shania.
    Shania doesn’t share any money with them except her labelShania writes all her own music and her husband produces it and her management is out of New York and Europe.
    But I am sure they are looking forward to a new Shania record because the bigger the star, the bigger the spotlight on the industry. And Shania is a globally known megastar who would draw huge spotlight again on country music worldwide when she returns with new music.
    Thats why the country music awards have been almost a total wasted land for Shania over the last decade. She is a complete outsider who has made hundreds of millions of dollars which she and Mutt keep to themselves.
    Shania doesn’t kiss butt with Nashville and she lives in Switzerland and New Zealand.
    I know Kevin understands how Nashville works but some people posting here don’t have a clue.
    It is all political and butt kissing when it comes to country airplay.
    Some of the biggest and most well known songs from country artists didn’t make #1 but are more well known than the garbage that you hear today.

    As for the list of greatest country females. My top 5 according to impact are
    #1 Shania
    #2 Dolly
    # 3 Patsy Cline
    #4 Reba
    #5 Loretta Lynn and Barbara Mandrell.

    These top 5 are above all others

  33. leanne, what are you talking about?
    Awards have nothing to do with impact or who is better, it is all political.
    The biggest selling country female of alltime and most well known all over the world, Shania, has won hardly any country awards but she has won thousands of awards worldwide for her song writing and singing and performing.
    Nashville and country music are all political.
    As for Shania’s placing on Kevin’s list. I would expect Shania to easily place in the top 5 because nobody made it as big and sold as much and created such an impact and stir in country music.

  34. leeann, you seem to be jealous of Shania’s massive wealth and icon status all over the world.
    Why do you hate Shania so much?

  35. George,

    I actually like Shania. I’m not even negative about her. Likewise, I recognize and applaud her for her accomplishments and, yes, impact. It’s just that I do not believe that she is the #1 woman in country music. I won’t predict where Kevin will place her on this list, but I imagine that it will be fairly placed, nonetheless, and I’m betting it won’t be above Dolly, Loretta or Patsy Cline. I’m sorry if I’m wrong in my prediction, Kevin.

  36. Leann’s Husband,

    You’re right about the Dixie Chicks, I’m sure. But I have a feeling this thread is just a preview of how intense things will get as artists that people are more attached to start being ranked.

    This thread has nothing to do with Shania Twain and quite frankly, the fact that Underwood has appeared before Shania already supports the point you’re trying to make. Why you chose this thread instead of k.d. lang’s or Carlene Carter’s is a mystery to me.


    I’d say the only reason that Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington have been embraced in country is because of Carrie Underwood. It certainly wasn’t Josh Gracin that got that ball rolling. Underwood’s success has had a huge impact on how country music stars are created.

    Then again, I also don’t think #59 is particularly high. There are still some names on the way that aren’t very well known but had more longevity and/or impact on the genre. I’m surprised to see as much controversy over this one, actually. The comment thread is a far more interesting read than the original post!

  37. I’m going to have to go with Brady on this one (big surprise!). Carrie is talented, has a beautiful voice and is radio’s golden girl at the moment, but I really don’t feel like anything she has done – to this point – is going to have much of lasting impact, and hasn’t really added anything rich and interesting to the genre. The greats of country music have always been leaders, not followers, and I just can’t see Carrie as anything but a follower. I think she has the talent to change that, but as long as American Idol producers are guiding her career, it’s not going to be about artistic integrity, it’s going to be about playing it safe and appealing to a mass audience with rather lame country-pop songs. My 2 cents.

  38. I have to say that I was surprised that Carrie wasn’t higher up on the list, but we have to remember that she’s not done as much as a Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, etc. Maybe, in 10 years or so, this list could be revisited and she may be higher. It’ll be interesting to see the rest of the Top 100 and see which ones people argue should be lower that Carrie.

  39. I thought this was around where Carrie Underwood should be, because although she is huge now, and I think she will be in the future, she hasn’t even been around for five years. However, in the time she has been around, she has helped people who think they hate country music gain some respect for it. I know people who say they absolutely hate all country music except for Carrie Underwood. There’s so many different aspects to a career, so it’s hard to say exactly how much impact she has had, but it has been huge.

  40. bobby, You obviously don’t know how music works. The novelty is over, she reached her peak a year ago. New Flavors of the moment come along all the time.
    To have a lasting impact you have to be totally different and go and do your own music like a Shania or a Johnny Cash.
    I laugh at the people who say she has made any kind of lasting impact. nashville writes her music and produces her songs. She is a product of American Idol and Nashville.

  41. george..
    while there are those who agree with you, there are also those who DON’T.. get over it. You simply repeat over and over that Shania is the greatest. Ok. We get it. That’s YOUR opinion. I love Shania and I love Carrie. I’m glad I’ve got so many talented people, men and women, to listen to. I love the variety that they bring to country music. I give BOTH women their due. They are that ones working their butts off. So why don’t you just have a billboard made and move on.

  42. Obviously, whoever predicted the top 5 as #1 Shania #2 Dolly # 3 Patsy Cline #4 Reba #5 Loretta Lynn and Barbara Mandrell, is letting fan fervor over-rule historical significance. My alltime favorite is Linda Ronstadt, but I have enough sense to know that she does not belong in front of Loretta, Dolly, Patsy in terms of her importance in country music history.

  43. she has been successful but again another one that I just dont enjoy her material. But it seems to fit her personality

  44. i dont think she is a product, yes she won american idol you have to have talent for that besides as someone said before american idol its just a push in the music career you have to be reaaly good to have success like kelly clarkson and carrie,

  45. Carrie is a great singer, but is she Country? That is debatable. I guess she is as Country as any of the current crop of Country-Pop singers dominating the charts nowadays. But I do think her talent and sheer vocal ability far exceeds that of may of today’s “pop-tarts” (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    Here is an interesting quote:

    ..”as soon as fresh-faced Oklahoma blonde Carrie Underwood showed up in the audition rounds, the judges -alright, specifically Simon Cowell- pigeonholed her as a country singer, even if there was nothing specifically country about her sweet, friendly voice”

    -Stephen Thomas Erlewine, one of the editors of allmusic guide

    Seems to me, if Simon had said “pop” Carrie would have been marketed to Pop audiences,and she would be known today as a Pop singer. I think Carrie could have as easily succeeded as a Pop artist, and perhaps that would be a better fit.

    My issues with Carrie have more to do with Carriemania, (and also her part in diluting country music with pop) than with Carrie herself personally, or with her talent or skill as a vocalist. She does have room to grow, (although the average Carriemaniac would say that she is already perfect) I think Carrie herself would admit that she has room for improvement, and is working to develop more artistic maturity.

    I think Carrie should have won all those New Female artist awards, etc…But not vocalist of the year, or Grammys…not yet. (I’m with Faith Hill, lol, and Leeann Rimes on this one) I just think that Carrie’s acclaim has outpaced her artistry, as considerable as her talent is.

    I think her #59 ranking is appropriate…I would have liked to have seen Carlene Carter, Suzy Boggus and Rhonda Vincent place higher than Carrie though.

    I’m glad there are many RATIONAL Carrie fans at this site, as opposed to those under the spell of delusional Carriemania. They would have had Carrie at #1, and this would have been dogma, beyond question and debate and any who may have questioned that placement would have been subject to name calling or rhetorical burning at the stake for their heresy.

    Good call Kevin, with Carrie at #59

    -Steve from Boston

  46. Steve I decided to take up the offer to continue the debate started in the CMA thread…!

    Just on that quote about Carrie and her first AI audition. As far as I am aware, American Idol hopefuls have at least one ‘pre audition’ audition…and I think Carrie sang Independance day for this…also I would imagine they have to fill out a type of fact file about themselves…their influences etc…so I believe that Carrie possibly stated her preference for country music at that stage.

    And there is no doubting that country music has been her preference since before AI. Any of the demos she recorded before going on the show were all country.

    I do agree that there has been a huge amount of hype surrounding Carie and that she rocketed to the top very quickly. But I think that, in time, she will justify all that hype because she is a very talented lady.

    She is in the position right now where she could release a pure country single and it would be guaranteed airplay. It might not go to number 1 but then again it might! So I do agree with you Steve that Carrie does have the power to have some form of an influence on mainstream radio. But we all know how fickle mainstream radio is and how quickly they will drop an artist that’s not ‘behaving how they should behave’…so in this regard maybe Carrie is playing it a bit safe. But I don’t really blame her because she is relatively new to the scene…only time will tell what her effect will be.

  47. You make some good points Helen..others made them also about Carrie earlier Country performances, demos, and pre-contract records. I hope you are right, and that her heart is firmly rooted in Country, and that she takes control and makes some more Traditional albums.

    Erlewine may be somewhat mistaken in that quote I cited, about how Carrie became Country as a result of Simon’s classifying her that way. But the second assertion in that quote, about there being “nothing specifically country in her sweet, friendly voice” kinda supports some of my previous statements as well. But I admit, I am coming from a place where my preference for Mountain Music and Traditional Country influences my hearing. Carrie could just as easily pass for a pure pop singer. Carrie, along with many others nowadays, she simply does not SOUND Country to me. But it would be interesting to see if by taking up more Traditonal material, thtat would bring out any inherent Country inflections, twang and phrasing in her vocalization. I put Carrie in the same league as Martina in this regard. Both powerhouse vocalists who could succeed in several different genres, but neither with a specifically inherent Country sounding voice. Sure they sound Country on those rare occasions they SING Traditional or NeoTraditional Country songs (like Martina with Timeless)…But contrast this with artists like Sara Evans or Patty Loveless, who sound Country even when they sing more Pop flavored songs.

    Addressing a point that Sarah, vp and I were discussing on the other thread. That supposedly Carrie has accomplished more in 2 and a half years that Sara Evans has in her entire career, and for that reason, deserved earlier induction to the Opry than Sara, in their opinion. I cited many reasons that this is not true, in fact just the opposite is true. Only in sales, airplay and awards has Carrie accomplished more than Sara. But by every other measure, Sara has Carrie beat. If this were not so, wouldn’t Kevin and the moderators have placed Carrie much higher than Sara in these 100 Greatest Women rankings? (a point I forgot to mention earlier) But in fact, Sara, and many others, placed higher here with good reason.

    I agree Helen, that one day Carrie may live up to all the hype surrounding her. But I dont think she is there yet, and in fact has a long way to go. But she is undeniably talented. I just hope she makes some really good choices that enable her to grow as an artist.

    And to all the ” Carrie-can-do-no-wrong” crowd, granting that (only for the sake of argument) she may be better than any other female artist out there today, do you really believe she is THAT MUCH BETTER to justify her complete and utter domination on the charts, awards, polls, and publicity?! I doubt even Carrie believes that.

    -Steve from Boston

  48. Steve, you make no sense at all. You are the one giving Underwood publicity by talking about her.
    The last time I checked she is not dominating anything. Others are selling more like Taylor Swift and others draw much more to concerts and others are getting more awards now.
    New flavors come along all the time. The last 2 years it was Underwood, now it is TAylor Swift.
    But when the great icon Shania TWain comes back she will take the spotlight away from everyone. Shania is the one woman who set the bar so high that nobody has even come close to.

  49. Okay, so I agree Carrie Underwood is awesome. I even have the same name as her, so it makes me feel like I have something in common with her. But really, people, does she deserve to be 59 on the list? I would say maybe 98 or something, because she is nothing but country pop, and ven though I like country pop, it really should’ne be counted as country.

  50. “Steve, you make no sense at all. You are theone giving Underwood publicity by talking about her.
    The last time I checked she is not dominating anything. Others are selling more like Taylor Swift and others draw much more to concerts and others are
    getting more awards now.”


    Now, who’s calling the kettle black?

  51. he-he-he! Pot? Meet Kettle?

    Jake’s baaaaack! Where do hide when you’re not bashing Carrie anyhoo Jake? Detroit isn’t it? God, I bet you’ll be seismically orgasmic when Shania finally gets her new album out. Taking an aspirin a day should help you with that!


    Leeann? Did you read my forum post on the “hold” Carrie put on a young songwriter’s track over at The 9513? If not I’ll send you the link. The boy has some good stuff on his MySpace page. Name of Andy Gibson. The first track is the one on hold but he’s got some other killer stuff. I really like the power ballad “Believe in Me” and the country rocker “Drive You Outa’ My Mind”. Check it out!


  52. Steve, sorry it took me so long to reply…I wanted to wait until I had the chance to write a proper response.

    I take your point about Carrie not ‘sounding country’. I agree that she doesn’t have the real twang in her voice…but I would consider Alison Krauss 100% a country artist and I don’t think she has a twang in her voice wither. So there can be exceptions… Carrie sang Stand by Your Man at the Opry and it was a brilliant version of it. I think it’s more down to her song choice than her accent that makes people to suggest that she’s not country enough. Again I will repeat that I would like to see Carrie going in a more country direction but I do still like her current music.

    As for her having achieved more than Sara Evans…I don’t think she has achieved more than Sara, and I’m sure Carrie doesn’t either. I don’t believe record sales and number 1 singles are the definition of greatness. I don’t think we should even be comparing Carrie to artists like Sara, Faith, Martina, Shania, Reba or whoever…it doesn’t make sense. They have been in the business longer than Carrie and are very successful and deserve credit for that. If people want to make ‘success’ comparisons they need to be made with artists who have been around for roughly the same amount of time…Miranda, Kellie, Taylor etc. But then, I’m not into comparisons so I wouldn’t bother even doing that!

    In my opinion there is enough room for everyone. There are lots of fans out there who have different tastes so it’s good that there are artists out there to appeal to everyone.

    As for Carriemania. There are a lot of fans out there who believe Carrie can do no wrong and that she is the greatest singer of any era in any genre! But you have to realise that Carrie has a lot of younger fans and I think it is generally these fans who act like this. There are also a lot of reasonable Carrie fans out there!

  53. i’ll agree shania is great cause i’m canadian and yes made it easier for women in country. i love all the women in country they all have their own strenghts, but once in a while like shania someone special comes along with extrordinary talent and yes it should be celebrated and given the credit it deserves and right now that is carrie. and i don’t think that takes anything away from all the women of country, its just her time.

    okay here is a perfect example of her talent.
    this is from other industry artist a band called the lost trailers maybe you heard of them
    this is from their tour journal.

    Well, last week was a really great one here in The Lost Trailers camp; we got to share the stage with the amazing Carrie Underwood in Chicago. We got to warm up the near capacity crowd in the NIU Arena right outside of Chicago.If you’ve never been to one of Carrie’s concerts, you need to do yourself a favor and try to catch one of her shows this summer or fall, it’s one of the best out there, period. The great thing about her is that she is able to sing just as good live as she sings on records, and she does it night after night after night, which is a feat that most performers can’t do, especially with her hectic touring schedule. My favorite parts of the show were when she performed “Remember Me”, singing spot on while she rocked the acoustic guitar, and then “Paradise City” into “Before He Cheats”. The amount of passion and stage charisma that she puts out during that part of the set is just awesome. She sent us a big shout out before she finished her set, and that’s a really cool thing to do, because some headliners don’t shout out to their openers, but she does, and that’s really a testament to why she is where she is…she’s the real deal and she treats people great. We got to hang a little bit after her set but then we were off to Wichita and she was off to Peoria; we will catch up with her outside of Philadelphia in August.

    that should be proof enough of her talent.

    now i wish we could all move on to the other threads, although this is clearly a hot topic.

  54. Excellent post Helen, I agree with pretty much all of what you said…well stated and insightful comments.

    I know Carrie appeals to young and old alike. I guess the over-the-top Carrie fans do tend to be the younger ones..

    And the well-reasoned Carrie fans tend to be older. (there are always exceptions either way) I do appreciate the distinction.

    Helen, if anyone can bring together the two bickering sides of this debate, you can! (Leeann, too, I might add)

    vp, I know Carrie has tons of talent, but that is beside the point I have been trying to make.

    Lost Trailers seem very promising, I love the Holler Back song., The Road Hammers seem promising as well. There may be hope for Country yet, lol!


  55. Thanks Steve. Your points were also very well reasoned…and above all they were fair. I enjoyed the debate…I can see that you are as passionate about your favourite artists as I am about mine…

    You’ll be glad to know that after reading all of your posts I checked out Patty Loveless and I really like her!

    So thanks :)

  56. I don’t mind her, but I think she’s overrated. It’s hard not to find a “country fan” who only listens to Taylor and Carrie -_-

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