Carrie Underwood, “Home Sweet Home”

carrie-underwood-home-sweet-homeOkay, I have an idea. Carrie Underwood should take another year or two to look for strong new material for her next proper studio album. In the meantime, she can release a 2-CD set of cover songs.

The first disc: country hits of days gone by, in the same vein as “I Told You So.” The second disc: pop/rock power ballads.  I’m not going to front. I’d probably listen to the second disc more.

I don’t know what it is about American Idol that leads Underwood down this road so many times, but good Lord, it works. Every. Single. Time.  “Alone” made her the front-runner when she was still on the show. “I’ll Stand By You” and “Praying For Time” were better than her current radio singles when they were released. And now, Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.”

She sings material like this so naturally that it’s easy to forget that she’s a solid country singer, too. I’ve made countless comparisons of Underwood’s vocal gifts to Trisha Yearwood’s, but I have to say that I’m starting to think of Underwood as more of a modern-day Ronstadt. She doesn’t have Yearwood’s impeccable taste in material, but she certainly has Ronstadt’s fearless song choice.

And just like with Ronstadt, when it works, it works. “Home Sweet Home” works. I’m sure that fans of the Motley Crue original may wince at the rough edges that have been sanded down, but what do you expect? Underwood’s a pure vocalist, not a rock singer. I prefer the former over the latter, so this is yet another Idol exclusive of Underwood’s that will be in my heavy rotation.

Written by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, and Nikki Sixx

Grade: B+

Listen: Home Sweet Home

Buy: Home Sweet Home (iTunes Exclusive)


  1. Great review! I love her version too. Though I am a big country fan, I admit to being a closeted 80’s heavy metal fan… lol So I do love the original Motley Crue version as well… But Carrie didn’t try to beat Crue here… She gave a different spin on it, a softer, more girly interpretation…and it worked for her. Had she been a male, trying to copy them, it would have been a flop. But because this is a feminine take on the song, her softer, pure vocals blend beautifully to the song.

    I also agree with you about Trisha and Carrie both having such beautiful, pure voices. They are two of my favorite female country singers.

  2. she needs to release a recorded version of her acoustic take on “Alone”. I hope she gets around to doing so at some point, I can’t get enough of that YouTube clip from 2007. it’d be nice to have it on my iPod.

  3. as for this song itself, I’m enjoying it as well. she’s a very versatile vocalist and I like your 2 disc covers album suggestion.

  4. First it was Alone and then Appetite for Destruction & Use Your Illusion became a staple at her shows (Patience, Sweet Child O Mine, Paradise City, November Rain), then on to Skid Row (I Remember You) and a duet with Vince Neil at the Wildhorse (Kickstart My Heart), and now we have another Crue classic in Home Sweet Home. Somebody get this girl some spandex shorts, a bandana and a couple dozen cans of Aquanet because she missed her era. Ain’t nobody, and I mean nobody, in pop or country music has her upper chest register wail — Sebastian couldn’t even hit those notes in his heyday. In terms of range and power, she has no peer.

    Bring on a double disk set of Carrie Underwood Sings Hair Metal because I want to hear Wasted Time and Welcome to the Jungle.

  5. Oh, and Joe, I agree with you about that Fan Club version of Alone. Note after roof scraping note that version is flawless. Too bad it’s been taken down off of YouTube.

  6. I love this song! When it comes to covers, Carrie knows how to pick some of the best! Her acoustic verison of “Alone” is one of my favorites along with her cover of “Patience” and “Sweet Child of Mine.” But this is by far her second best (behind “Alone” of course) and I can’t stop listening to it! I have to admit that I’ve never heard the original, but Carrie’s is amazing!

  7. I had read that she actually recorded this for last years AI Gives Back then decided to do “Praying For Time”, had recorded it for this purpose I think it may have been a little heavier, but I like it the way it is. I think Carrie and covers go hand in hand not only because of her experience on Idol but because of her versitile taste in music. I know she has two sister’s who are alot older than her 13+ years and she grew up listening to many different era’s of music. It is obvious the affect the late 80’s early 90’s had on her. I think she could probably sing anything that was thrown her way, although she has rightfully chosen a country career she could easily put her spin on almost any genre.

    With a little research she could have easily fit in this era here are just a few examples of her versitility

    I’ve posted this before and I believe it is her best cover if not one of the best I’ve heard by any artist.


    She gives Axle a run for his money!





  8. @ Kevin:

    I;d be just a little bit wary of making comparisons between Carrie and Linda, even when it comes to cover songs (and as I mentioned in my Favorite Songs spotlight of her, Linda is too often wrongly pegged as someone who’s done nothing BUT cover songs). However, I don’t doubt Carrie’s vocal capacity.

  9. I think a catalog of covers would be a mistake. There are three hits to Carrie’s credibility- she never paid her dues, she’s not ‘real’ country (i.e. pop country), and she’s a graduate of a karaoke contest. Cover CD’s, with one being hair band rock, would serve only to reinforce these preceptions.

    Covers= Karaoke
    Hair band = not country
    AI association due to the above= no dues

  10. I don’t buy that no dues, it is getting so old, people have been saying that about her since day one. Guess what I can bet if half of the country artist out there went through the AI process they would not win, and would break under pressure of being inexperienced. If they were to make most would not have been able to handle the greulling schedule that her first six months had included, then to take off the way she did and still keep her cool and stay true to her self it takes a special person to do that. She more than paid her dues. Please try and find an original excuse to not like her!

  11. Do we know whether Carrie herself came up with the ideas for all these AI-exclusive covers? I’d be impressed if she did, but it seems more like something the show’s producers would concoct.

    This one doesn’t do much for me, although I don’t much care for the song to begin with, so I dunno. Of all her Idol-related covers thus far, I think “Praying For Time” is heads-and-shoulders above the rest.

  12. ARW,

    It’s pretty laughable to say that she hasn’t paid her dues. Ask any artist and they will tell you that what happens during the show is like going to boot camp. Simply put, the people on that show are put through a rigorous routine that only serves to make them better artists/singers once they’re out of it. It’s like ‘paying dues’ in a 12 week period instead of a 2-5 year period but it is dues paying all the same.

  13. “Do we know whether Carrie herself came up with the ideas for all these AI-exclusive covers? I’d be impressed if she did, but it seems more like something the show’s producers would concoct.”

    Do you mean the AI-exclusive aspect of it? I doubt that was Carrie’s doing. The Idol Gives Back event resulted in iTunes exclusive offerings of the songs performed on that show for two years running, in support of charity. Idol Gives Back isn’t happening this year, but according to Joe Galante in a Music Row interview linked below, the idea for Carrie to sing this year’s exit song “presented itself” late in 2008. That’s annoyingly vague as to who approached whom, but I would guess the idea came from 19 Management, seeing as 19 Entertainment runs the show and seems to like keeping things in-house. That IGB isn’t happening this year opened up the opportunity to donate some of the proceeds of the exit song’s sales to charity.

    In any case, here’s the interview referenced above:

    Now if you’re talking about Carrie now having released three covers under the Idol umbrella, I think that is driven by the show’s desire to keep Carrie showcased as a success story and, of course, Carrie benefiting from ongoing contact with the AI audience (and giving her fanbase something more to buy as it awaits her next studio release). Again, that would be driven by the folks at 19, I would think. Incidentally, I’m very pleased that the same synergistic decision-making has facilitated the Opry and Randy Travis getting a showcase on the country’s most watched TV show this week.

    Anyway, getting back to another possible interpretation of your question…if you’re talking about song selection, then, the fact that Carrie has long-professed her George Michael and hair metal fandom suggests to me that she was the one making the song choices, though they probably had to get cleared. I’m still surprised/impressed that the Idol producers cleared “Praying for Time,” which is a challenging song about the tragedy of ignorance/indifference that includes the rebuking line “And charity is a coat you wear twice a year.” I admire Carrie a lot for wanting to sing that one, as it is one of my all-time favorite songs.

    As for “Home Sweet Home,” I’m with Dan and LeeAnn in not being too big on the original. The lyrics aren’t bad, but it’s just not very melodic and for that reason, I thought it wouldn’t play to Carrie’s strengths. That said, I’m pleasantly surprised by what Carrie has done with it. The pop production and the reverb and other sweetening of Carrie’s vocals, not so much (by which I mean, I really, really dislike that aspect of the recording). But I think Carrie does a good job of bringing character to the lyrics without over-stylizing the way Vince Neil did. She is typically faithful to the melody, but I like that her phrasing is largely her own. Carrie also does a nice job of making her sometimes sweet, sometimes gravelly vocal work to build the lyrics, and of controlling the energy of her belting so that it seems right. It isn’t the kind of song I most like to hear from Carrie and I do hope Carrie’s original fare is more melodic (and with way less intrusive production). Yet I still like it.

  14. This piece of the quote from the interview, “She demoed “Home Sweet Home,” everyone loved it, and it wound up being the song for the “going home” segment.” makes me think she had more to do with the song choice than originally thought. It implies it, anyway.

  15. Going through the ‘Idol’ grinder is a different kind of dues-paying. Few developing artists have to prove their mettle by being suddenly thrust in front of millions of TV viewers to be ruthlessly judged.

  16. This is kind of interesting from a Rolling Stone article.

    Last two paragraphs read.

    After briefly intimating that the band has been approached about a possible Mötley Crüe-themed Guitar Hero, Sixx waxed poetic about American Idol alumn Carrie Underwood, and her recent take on their track “Home, Sweet Home,” which is this season of Idol’s official parting montage tune. Sixx said he’s hoping to work with Underwood in the not-so-distant future.

    “I spoke to Carrie a while ago and she wanted to cover the song, and I was actually going to fly down to Nashville and play bass on it, but it was during the holidays, and I was just spending time with my family,” he explains. “After she cut it we spoke, and she was excited about it. In the end, the thing is, I think we both want to write songs together. She writes pop songs and I think I’m a pop songwriter, however the songs are performed.”

  17. “Going through the ‘Idol’ grinder is a different kind of dues-paying. Few developing artists have to prove their mettle by being suddenly thrust in front of millions of TV viewers to be ruthlessly judged.”
    that’s one thing,and it does take guts, but doing it is also a guarantee of fame at the very least. Its been proved that some contestants on AI are only looking for their 15 minutes and are not interested in good music at all. Its but I think a better point would be that AFTER all that, the ones with talent and marketability practically don’t have to do a thing to make it in music. they then become part of the mega-publicized, over-managed Sony family and have a great career. I think people who are looking for “due paying” really want to know if an artist can or can’t make it on their own. I would also say that all developing artists are thrust before ruthlessly judging people, and just because the people are less in number and its not on TV doesn’t make it any easier. It would actually make it harder; less people means having to do it more.

    I think if Carrie’s Duel Disk idea is going to work, she’ll need to rough it up a bit. I go for the rock singers over the vocalists and in order to make the covers work i think she’d have to be somewhere in between. Even Ann Wilson has some edge.

  18. Matt and vp,
    I didn’t write that I agreed with the criticsms (I almost certainly do not!) But the critics are out there and I was just listing their most frequent meme’s.

  19. Since the AI duet was not a topic but this song is on the show I thought I would say that I thought they did very well and complimented eachother. I thought I would put up a quote that that might be igniting for some.

    Brad Paisley talks about Carrie to Ryan Seacrest after his performance;

    Brad Paisley performed his new country hit “Then”. He told Ryan, Carrie Underwood has been the greatest addition to country music in the past ten years.…1-results-show

  20. I disagree with Kevin about Carria not being a rock singer. Her cover of Paradise City on youtube is amazing! She does GnR better than anyone. I would love to see her record a live album with covers.

  21. Regarding the dues paying debate, I just would like to interject on the side of those who argue the the Idol experience is in fact dues paying, but not equivelent dues paying to coming up the traditional way.

    Without singling out Carrie, (who, thanks to VP and JHD, I have learned brings previous Country experience to AI,) I have to say that there is a huge advantage that comes with even finishing in the top 10 of AI, in that there is a ready made fan base of millions of fans ready to follow their favorites into whatever genre they select. And these legions of fans vote online and via text in many popularity polls, but more importantly, they vote with their spending money. They contribute to album sales in numbers far too large for awards orginizations and program directors to ignore.

    Yeah, AI competition is grueling, no doubt, and the odds are stacked against any one contestant finishing in the finals, but the rewards for doing so are usually far greater and more immediate than for those who have come up singing in clubs and coffehouses,etc…

    Also, going the AI way there is no guarentee of a strong connection with the roots ahd traditons of their chosen genre…anyone with a great voice and the will to work hard and compete could conceivably, even at the last minute, select what type of music they untimately end up in. And this even happens sometimes on the advice of the judges. One could become a “last minute” country singer by going this route.

    Conversly, someone who wants to sing Country, and comes up playing the roadhouses and honky tonks is virtually gauranteed a Country music education based on experience, and consequently a deep connection to the roots and heritage of the genre. This hard earned connection is not easily duplicated by comptetion in any reality show, and is therefore of far greater artistic value and significance.

    I guess I would sum it up by saying that shows like AI are great experience for performing, and for instilling the discipline needed for the hard work of a career as a recording artist, but it is not (in itself) adequate for immersion into the heritage and traditons for a given genre. It takes more than participation in one “Country week” to become a real Country singer.

  22. I see where Steve is coming from. I think American Idol is definitely dues-paying in its own way, but it’s best-suited to performers who have already played around and gotten a sense of who they are as artists, particularly if the performer doesn’t write his/her own music. Playing in bars as a country singer means lots of covers; you have to learn all sorts of country songs. American Idol is inherently about mass-appeal material; it’s not where you go to develop an artistic identity.

  23. That’s the phrase Dan, “artistic identity”. And despite all the other benefits of reality shows like Idol, artistic identity is not some trophy that can be bestowed on the winner. If you don’t have it going in, you won’t get it going out…But I think it is something that can be developed over time, pre or post Idol.

  24. I came seeking who was it that was singing a cover of one of my favorite songs of all time, I am a die-hard Motley Crue fan and have been since before my parents would even let me listen to ‘Heavy Metal’.
    I heard it playing in the grocery store and it made me actually very happy that a song SO loved by so many was now being introduced or re-introduced to a generation of people and through a more ‘radio friendly’ genre. It pays respect to the original, I feel, in a much better way than the remake of Sweet Child O’Mine by Sheryl Crow.
    Kudos to Underwood! Though I don’t listen to country music (except for good old stuff I grew up listening to) I respect you for your respect of a different genre and something likely before your time as well;)
    Thank you again and I would listen to other music you put out because of this.
    I respect you as an artist.
    And to the Author of this review – very good refernce to Ronstadt, hit the nail on the head my friend.

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