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Thread: Carrie Underwood: We’re not trying to be cool – our music is about life

  1. #1
    Obsessed Carrie Fan Eder Rodrigues's Avatar
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    Carrie Underwood: We’re not trying to be cool – our music is about life

    She has sold more than 15million albums worldwide, won six Grammy Awards and ten American Country Music Awards, and notched up 17 No.1 hits in the US country charts – and she’s the highest-earning American Idol winner ever. So why do British music lovers barely have a flicker of interest in Carrie Underwood? Her record sales in the UK reach a mere 110,000 – a drop in the ocean.

    The purpose of today’s chit-chat is to try to unravel this enigma. Unfortunately, Underwood seems to have given the topic scant scrutiny. ‘I always go to new places with no expectations, so I’m awesomely surprised when people turn up,’ she says of the two British shows she did on her recent Blown Away world tour. ‘Everyone in the UK knew all the words, it was cool to hear everyone singing back to us.’

    Perhaps there are two reasons for the muted British response. The first is her success on the 2005 American Idol series. Foreign talent show winners don’t tend to do brilliantly in Britain as we’ve got our own reality show graduates to deal with.

    The second is that country music doesn’t always cross the Atlantic well. Take Underwood’s latest US single release, See You Again. It’s a would-be anthemic caper, accompanied by a schmaltzy video crammed full of soldiers returning home and surprising their dear old mums. Much sobbing ensues. Meanwhile, Underwood emotes prettily, surrounded by net curtains (Carrie used to compete in beauty pageants).

    Her other releases include songs called Jesus, Take The Wheel and Cowboy Casanova, which would have a hard time getting playlisted in Britain on their titles alone. But, Stetsons off, at least she’s trying to export her music. Many country stars don’t bother.

    ‘I love country music and I think everyone else should too,’ she laughs. ‘Other artists, such as Brad Paisley, are playing shows outside the US and bringing country to new people. Changes in technology mean people don’t just listen to rock or pop. You hear a song you like on the radio or TV and you download it and discover more of that artist’s music. It’s more about songs and artists than genres these days.’

    So what’s the appeal of country music? ‘It’s very honest,’ says Underwood. ‘Come to one of our award shows and you won’t see people lip-syncing. It’s about singing and the music and I respect that very much. It’s about being honest with your feelings. We’re not trying to be cool. It’s just about life.’

    However, down-to-earth Underwood, who grew up on a cattle farm, has said: ‘I don’t want to listen to everyone’s problems and I doubt anyone wants to listen to mine.’ Isn’t that an impediment when writing soul-baring country ditties? ‘It’s hard for me to really be open about my true feelings all the time, so it’s fun to also be able to tell a story or be a character,’ she says. ‘We went a bit darker than usual on the album,’ she laughs, referring to Two Black Cadillacs, in which a wife and mistress team up to murder their no-good, cheating fella.

    ‘It might take a while for people to know that many of us,’ she says of country stars promoting their music in Britain, ‘but I’m honoured to be in at the ground floor and headlined the C2C Festival at the O2 in March. It went well enough for us to have another crack at it,’ she laughs.

    ‘There are always a few artists who cross over but it takes a while for others…’ she says, perhaps referring to country singer turned global pop star Taylor Swift. Seven years her senior, it’s hard to imagine Underwood, who married ice hockey player Mike Fisher in 2010, becoming a gossip column regular like serial celebrity dater Swift.

    The biggest controversies Underwood, a vegan and animal rights supporter, has been involved in of late consist of a Twitter spat with a Republican politician over meat industry legislation. Her charitable endeavours don’t end there. She donated $1million (£650,000) from ticket sales of her Blown Away tour to the Red Cross shortly after hurricanes devastated her home state of Oklahoma.

    ‘For me, it’s about social responsibility,’ she says. ‘People have been supporting me for a long time and if occasionally something bad happens to them and we (everyone who bought a concert ticket) can help out, then that’s wonderful.’

    Maybe Underwood’s popularity in Britain has already peaked, maybe it hasn’t. Since she’s carved out a place at the pinnacle of the US country music industry, it’s unlikely she’s worrying about breaking the UK market. She’s got other fish to fry – not least of which is starring as Maria in a live TV production of The Sound Of Music, which airs in December.

    What’s next? ‘I’ve done so many things I’d never thought I’d do, like sing with the Rolling Stones and record with Willie Nelson,’ she says. ‘At this stage I’m up for just about anything.’

    Carrie Underwood’s The Blown Away Tour: Live DVD is available from August 12. Keep up to date with Underwood via Twitter @carrieunderwood or www.carrieunderwoodofficial.com

    Carrie Underwood: We?re not trying to be cool ? our music?s about life | Metro News

  • #2
    Insane Carrie Fan carrieguy2's Avatar
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    every Carrie quote is priceless!
    rainbow1 likes this.

  • #3
    Insane Carrie Fan AdrianAustraliaCarrie's Avatar
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    Hurricanes in Oklahoma hey lol heaven forbid...

    This article can be related to mainstream radio in Australia. Thankgod country music is a lot bigger in Australia than the UK...but like Carrie said above, it should about the artists and their music not a genre.

  • #4
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    A disappointing (and I think, rather patronizing) article.

    I'll try to give it some context (though my views are personal, and others might not agree)

    This is published in a free handout newspaper, mainly distributed at places like underground stations, and racks in convenience stores. As its name implies, it has an almost entirely urban (or commuter) circulation, beginning in London and branching out to other big cities. Regardless of whether this is, or isn't, Carrie's most promising target audience - a more important point may be that this probably isn't where she'd be likely to find the most sympathetic journalists. My guess would be that this is where the writing can reflect an element of "urban cool", an element of "them and us" sarcasm about overseas culture, and an element of cynicism about sentiment (reflected in the rather unfriendly tone when mentioning SYA, JTTW and CC).

    That, however, does not mean that Carrie has no prospects here. For example, Associated Newspapers, who own this free paper, also run the Daily Mail (their flagship publication), and this has given Carrie much more positive coverage (including photo spreads). It also has a significantly higher take up among women, and among what it likes to call "Middle England" - and those may be significant potential audiences.

    In fact, Carrie had a very good reception when she headlined C2C at the O2. She got the questions about Simon Cowell's trousers (probably from similar journalists to these), but she also got serious and positive coverage in both England and Ireland, and from regional radio stations - often from people who knew what the music represented.

    Carrie though needs (in my opinion) to be careful how she defines and targets her appeal. "No expectations" is probably right - if by that she means open to realism, and not allowing preconceptions to define a role. I think it's best for fans, too, to put aside thoughts of emulating other artists, and concentrate on Carrie's own strengths - she's not going to be the next Shania Twain, the next Taylor Swift, or the next Hillary Scott - she's the first Carrie Underwood, and if we all accept that, she has a real potential role here. Her strengths include an impressive and beautiful stage presence, a great voice, stylistic variety, a good interview manner, strong story line songs, a sense of authenticity and belief in what she's doing. All those are potential advantages that can be put to good use on their own terms

    Going Pop, for me, is not the answer. I say that not just from personal preference - I'm also taking account of her age, the very crowded local market, her back story in the US and its associated image, the type of songs she predominantly sings, and her own stated preferences. It was significant that her two most extended interviews - with Simon Mayo in London and with the County Down journalist in Ireland - both made the point that they wanted more twang (And Simon specifically said he thought Taylor Swift had gone too far).

    Carrie needs to hold the existing Mainstream Country audience (who really appreciated the revival of a major artist Festival) - and you hold them by being loyal and giving them what Pop radio won't. And she needs to build a wider audience by showing them you can be authentic, interesting and accessible - and that is best done with strong songs that play to the strengths mentioned above (However - I seriously doubt if she can win much traction with either group by going back to songs like "Some Hearts" - and if she continues in that direction, I think it could potentially be a mistake for this market). Carrie can best find a role here by building on the fact that she's different - and she can be different by being herself.
    Gator, rainbow1, CarrieUK and 1 others like this.

  • #5
    Huge Carrie Follower CarrieUK's Avatar
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    Thank you Faraway, I could not agree with you more.


    As much as I hate to say it, when I first heard about Blown Away being released in the UK last year, my first thought was 'Oh gosh, I hope she doesn't promote it as a Country record'. Not that I wanted her to remix any tracks of course, but, as I'm sure you know, as soon as the word 'Country' is attached to music here in the UK, it instantly becomes uncool. I hate to say it, but I honestly feel that if Carrie had come over as a 'pop star' and had not spoken about or promoted Country music the way she did, Blown Away would have done even better over here.


    Yet, I cannot tell you how proud I am now of the fact that Carrie did not sell out, forgetting that she is, first and foremost, a Country music artist when she hopped on the plane. It's a true test of Carrie's character and her love of Country music that she would rather promote the genre than promote herself. Carrie truly is a pioneer for Country music, and I only hope the Country community see exactly how much she is doing for the genre and the people within it that she loves.

    However, back to the article, despite it's condescending (& kind of rude) tone, it did help boost sales of the DVD on Amazon UK (sales jumped over 130%), and as they say, any publicity is good publicity. I work in a big(ish) city & see people reading the Metro everyday (from students, to business men to elderly people) and the fact that her face, name & a list of accolades were plastered across the front page is almost priceless publicity. Even if the majority of people who read about Carrie for the first time were not planning on buying any of Carrie's music, they now know her name.

    eDIT: For anyone who wants to see the scans from the newspaper itself (including the front page), you can here: *EXCLUSIVE* Metro UK - 08/2013 - Carrie-Photos.com | Ultimate source for Carrie Underwood pictures

  • #6
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    Thanks, Carrie UK (I'd also like to say that you do a fantastic and much-appreciated job both in giving the fans a resource, and in giving Carrie publicity, with your galleries and news)

    I think you're right that the article's redeeming feature is that it does give Carrie prominent attention, backed up by links to websites and a trailer for the DVD
    (I just hope enough readers can get past the rather disparaging references to "starlet", "beauty pageants" and "who are you?" - plus the writer's negative attitude to Country Music.)

    The side box, by a different writer, gives a fuller explanation of the types of Country Music that do get a good audience here. It might be thought, at first, that that would be little help to Carrie - as she's primarily neither a revivalist, nor cutting edge alternative - but I believe it can tie in with what I was saying about Carrie having strength in being different. Carrie is more adventurous, less formulaic, and my view, less "schmaltzy" than most of Nashville's contemporary Mainstream. Her first three singles from BA - especially GG and TBC -, have points in common with some of the Alternative sector, and arguably come closer to being "cutting edge cool" than she ever has before. Build on that, and she shouldn't need to sacrifice her stated preferences, or worry about other artists, of whom the second writer can only say "it's worth noting she began her career as a country singer" (something that I believe Carrie never wants said about herself)
    abbeyjones18 and CarrieUK like this.

  • #7
    Huge Carrie Follower CarrieUK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farawayhills View Post
    Thanks, Carrie UK (I'd also like to say that you do a fantastic and much-appreciated job both in giving the fans a resource, and in giving Carrie publicity, with your galleries and news)

    I think you're right that the article's redeeming feature is that it does give Carrie prominent attention, backed up by links to websites and a trailer for the DVD
    (I just hope enough readers can get past the rather disparaging references to "starlet", "beauty pageants" and "who are you?" - plus the writer's negative attitude to Country Music.)

    The side box, by a different writer, gives a fuller explanation of the types of Country Music that do get a good audience here. It might be thought, at first, that that would be little help to Carrie - as she's primarily neither a revivalist, nor cutting edge alternative - but I believe it can tie in with what I was saying about Carrie having strength in being different. Carrie is more adventurous, less formulaic, and my view, less "schmaltzy" than most of Nashville's contemporary Mainstream. Her first three singles from BA - especially GG and TBC -, have points in common with some of the Alternative sector, and arguably come closer to being "cutting edge cool" than she ever has before. Build on that, and she shouldn't need to sacrifice her stated preferences, or worry about other artists, of whom the second writer can only say "it's worth noting she began her career as a country singer" (something that I believe Carrie never wants said about herself)
    Aww, thank you! It's my pleasure!

    I particularly agree with what you said here. You're totally right. Carrie would rather be seen as a Country artist who tried to break the UK, rather than a former Country artist who did.
    Farawayhills likes this.

  • #8
    Carrie Fans Maniac kewlie78189's Avatar
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    ^^ I love that about carrie. So glad she sticks to her roots!
    Farawayhills likes this.


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