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Thread: Carrie Underwood's 11 Greatest Performances

  1. #1
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    Carrie Underwood's 11 Greatest Performances

    Carrie Underwood's 11 Greatest Performances | Billboard

    Carrie Underwood earned her first-ever entertainer of the year nomination for this year’s landmark 50th CMA Awards, and for many of her fans, the designation was a long time coming. Her 2016 Storyteller Tour has undoubtedly been her most impressive undertaking yet; from the in-the-round setting and dazzling stage lights to the singer’s spirited combination of bombast and intimacy, she's a long way from being that shy Oklahoma girl who clucked like a chicken during her Idol audition a decade ago.

    On Billboard’s mid-year touring update, Underwood commanded the top country spot, with a nearly $30 million gross and over 449,000 fans in attendance. She bested the likes of Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan on the scorecard -- looks like tomatoes might just be more satisfying after all. So far this year, she has performed a total of 47 shows, including last week’s concert at Staples Center in L.A. Underwood is set to make her long-awaited Madison Square Garden debut next month (Oct. 25).

    In the entertainer of the year category, Underwood will face off against country veteran Brooks, commercial giant Bryan, consistent singer/songwriter Keith Urban and soulful troubadour Chris Stapleton for the title. She is also nominated for female vocalist of the year and album of the year (for 2015’s Storyteller record). The singer will be multitasking (hopefully), co-hosting with Brad Paisley for the ninth year running. The show will be broadcast live Nov. 2 from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, airing on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

    To commemorate Underwood’s nomination, it’s time to look at exactly why she poses the biggest threat to her competitors. Read on for 11 times she out-entertained everyone else in country music.

    “Church Bells,” 2016 ACM Awards

    Within the span of two months, Underwood performed this deathly tale on three separate occasions. But unlike a few of her contemporaries, each rendering was significantly different -- from the staging to the costumes to detailed musical choices, the entertainer made sure to give fans something special each and every time. Dressed like a female RoboCop in a steely miniskirt, her electric moment on the CMA Awards sister show proved to be her most memorable. Not only was the stage wrapped in a Southern gothic staircase and eerie cathedral arches, but midway through the performance, Underwood took out her rage on two giant steel drums. She didn’t miss a beat or even a powerhouse note.

    “I Will Always Love You,” 2016 Storyteller Tour (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

    Taking on a Dolly Parton classic (later made famously grand by pop diva Whitney Houston) is a behemoth of a task. Amid her stagey and highly produced tour, Underwood made sure to pay tribute to one of the greatest storytellers of all time with a contrasting delicate and subtle performance; the sheer control she displayed with this romantic ode should be the 8th World Wonder. The tender showstopper is a lovely reprieve from Underwood’s more rock-soaked and high-energy songs, and the sugary sweet melody allows her to dig her voice into nuance unlike anything she’s ever mastered before. Judging by continued social buzz, it is a performance many of her fans look forward to most. Notably, Underwood blends both the Parton and Houston versions into a cool hybrid worthy of the highest honor.

    “Choctaw County Affair,” 2016 CMA Fest: Country’s Night to Rock

    Demonstrating her knack for Delta Blues, the Okie from Checotah rips through this Storyteller standout with sass and class. The drip-drop-drip-drippity-drop of her twangy vocal alone can be a marvel to behold, but put a harmonica in her hands and true magic can happen. She’s been performing this track countless times on her wildly successful Storyteller Tour this year, but her high-profile TV spot gave the story song much-needed exposure. Facing off in a do-or-die harmonica duel with longtime band member Chad Jeffers added an extra level of intensity and charm, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the kind of high-caliber performer Underwood has become.

    “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Keith Urban, American Idol series finale

    Underwood’s voice is as is versatile as a chameleon, able to easily slip into any genre with ease and fervor. Playing the part of Stevie Nicks (to Urban’s Tom Petty), the country staple has never seemed so uninhibited and free onstage; her voice, too, was polished and in tip-top shape, scrubbing the floor with every other Idol finalist who has ever existed. If newbies are looking for a test case of how this entire business works, look no further than Underwood.

    “Smoke Break,” “Heartbeat” and “Before He Cheats,” 2016 New Year’s Rockin’ Eve

    Even with a head cold, Underwood weathered the NYC conditions to offer her fans a cozy, three-song set. Of course, her biggest top 40 hit to date would be the bookend to her performance, which also featured two of her more country offerings from her latest album. Dolled up with glittery eye shadow and an emerald-green blazer, the singer brought a much-needed dose of down-home storytelling to the proceedings. Left in anyone else’s hands, the moment would have fallen flatter than a flapjack.

    "How Great Thou Art," ACM Presents Girls Night Out: Superstar Women of Country (2011)

    "Are you ready?" Underwood inquired of esteemed veteran and mentor Vince Gill moments before she catapulted into the sky with what is, perhaps, her greatest vocal achievement to date. The traditional hymn has been covered countless times over the years, but we'd be willing to bet no one had ever attacked the lyrics with such fervor. And the singer didn't overcook the arrangement or the delivery, instead allowing it to simmer. Gill's tender but riveting guitar playing was a proclamation all its own, but when Underwood shot from the heart in the second half, she held the world in the palm of her hand.

    "Different Drum" (Linda Ronstadt Tribute), 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

    Underwood and living legend Linda Ronstadt have more in common than most people realize. Both have a penchant for blurring genre lines, threading together a colorful tapestry of their influences. The former is decidedly more pop influenced, but her roots run far and wide, nonetheless. When she stepped into this rock standard, it was evident something truly mesmerizing was unfolding, as if she were channeling Ronstadt herself. The rollicking country-rock toe-tapper allowed Underwood to show great restraint and caress the melody, something she doesn't get to do too often.

    "I Told You So" with Randy Travis, American Idol (2009)

    Amid criticism of not being "country" enough, she threw in this curve ball, a cover of the 1987 Randy Travis classic "I Told You So" for her mega-selling 2007 studio album Carnival Ride. Her solo recording is exquisite and tender in its own right, but when she joined the iconic Travis for this Idol moment, all mouths were agape. Travis' scruffier take on the ballad grounds Underwood's more lilting, high-flying verses.

    “Dirty Laundry,” The Ellen Show (2016)

    This murky saloon haunt is one of Underwood’s most accomplished recordings, and it should prove to be a monster to tackle live. The wine-soaked kiss-off may be the fourth single from Storyteller, but it is one of the record’s most musically adventurous pieces. Backed by her trusty ragtag crew of musicians who bolster the song with dusty guitar and heart-throbbing percussion, Underwood is able to entice the daytime talk show into her dark corner of the world.

    Sunday Night Football theme song (2016)

    While not exactly a “live” performance, Underwood poured her heart into revamping America’s game with a new song. Rewriting her Billboard Hot Country Songs No. 1 hit “Somethin’ Bad” (with Miranda Lambert), the country superstar certainly hypes up the crowd with barn-burning foot stomps, bubbly pompoms, fireworks and a salute to the playing teams. Plus, she does all this in knee-high high-heel boots -- credit where credit is due, and all that.

    “Church Bells,” CMT Music Awards

    Sure, one song makes this list twice, but Underwood’s creativity is as sharp as her vocal prowess. Enlisting the assist of a Nashville gospel choir, the performance proved far more sinister and haunting than the rock-directed recording might suggest. The performance opened with a lone banjo, echoing the pain and urgency in Underwood’s own voice. As the story unravels, electric guitar and alarming drums ring out over the production. By the end, Underwood faces off in a vocal battle against the choir before finishing off with an R&B acrobatic routine and one helluva glory note.

  • #2
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    interesting list, not but good interesting.Especially with the inclusion of DL from Ellen and so many performances from this year i suspect it was written by someone who works for Carrie.This comes off as an plea for votes for the CMAs.


    I personally would not include the DL performance,SNF, or NYE or SDMHA from Idol.
    Last edited by maddkat; 09-28-2016 at 07:46 PM.

  • #3
    Junior Carrie Follower ChoctawCountyAffair's Avatar
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    This list is weird. Carrie's performance of Praying For Time is easily in the top 5. And Everybody Hurts too! But i agree with HGTA, ITYS, DD, IWALY and CCA.
    maddkat likes this.

  • #4
    Carrie Fans Legend teesharky's Avatar
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    Really proud of JAson Scott for making it into Billboard! So happy for him! Nice article too- just in time for CMA voting!
    Gator and rainbow1 like this.

  • #5
    Insane Carrie Fan countrymusicfan15's Avatar
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    Very strange list haha how could the Blown Away medley from the 2014 CMAs be left out?? That is #1 in my books!
    But still a fun list to see! Now I want to go back and watch her Idol finale performances!!! (SDMHA and SITW)

  • #6
    Insane Carrie Fan countrymusicfan15's Avatar
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    Very strange list haha how could the Blown Away medley from the 2014 CMAs be left out?? That is #1 in my books!
    But still a fun list to see! Now I want to go back and watch her Idol finale performances!!! (SDMHA and SITW)

  • #7
    Insane Carrie Fan lizcarlo's Avatar
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    These are so hard to make. She has so many. I would replace

    Dragging My Heart Around with Praying for Time if they want one from AI or Alone from Fan Club Party

    New Years Eve mix of songs with Everybody Hurts

    Dirty Laundry from Ellen with Last Name All For The Hall 2014

    NFL Theme with Blown Away Melody
    countrymusicfan15 likes this.

  • #8
    Junior Carrie Follower ChoctawCountyAffair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by countrymusicfan15 View Post
    Very strange list haha how could the Blown Away medley from the 2014 CMAs be left out?? That is #1 in my books!
    But still a fun list to see! Now I want to go back and watch her Idol finale performances!!! (SDMHA and SITW)
    OMG I forgot about her CMA Medley! That is her best performance ever! Two Black Cadillacs at the CMA Songwriters Series was so good too! She has so many wonderful performances, it's hard just to pick 10

  • #9
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    Reading the article above confirms my opinion of why Carrie Underwood is THE BEST vocalist of today-- "Underwood’s voice is as is versatile as a chameleon, able to easily slip into any genre with ease and fervor".
    rainbow1 likes this.

  • #10
    Obsessed Carrie Fan tgbrinker's Avatar
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    I'm fine with them including Dirty Laundry on the list, even if the Ellen performance is nowhere near her top 11.

    These types of things are nothing but click bait for ad-revenue. With DL included, that will encourage some extra digital sales and streams for the song and Storyteller. Same goes for CB and the NYE Medley that included SB and HB.

    For all we know, this was a Sony paid-for article.
    maddkat likes this.

  • #11
    Carrie Guru carebearcarrie's Avatar
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    Neon Moon should be on this list.

  • #12
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    ^ that was part of my point that this is nothing but a PR piece.Hasn't nothing really to do with her 11 ( why that number?) greatest performances.

  • #13
    Carrie Guru carebearcarrie's Avatar
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    ^ yeah. Like your first post- half of the performances chosen shouldn't be on this list- Great performances, but she has even greater ones.

  • #14
    Carrie Follower lovelyT's Avatar
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    My favorite performances from that list are: "How Great Thou Art" (Who wouldn't include that one?!), and “Choctaw County Affair,” 2016 CMA Fest: Country’s Night to Rock.



    I agree with those who said her Blown Away medley should have been included! definitely a favorite. Another favorite of mine is her CMA festival performance of Guns N' Roses "Paradise City." She was rocking out and I loved it! Even though i'm a fan, I haven't seen alot of her live performances there's just too many obviously, so the ones ya'll say are really good direct them to me please! :-) lol.
    maddkat likes this.

  • #15
    Ultimate Carrie Fan txacar's Avatar
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    Kizmet311 likes this.

  • #16
    Ultimate Carrie Fan txacar's Avatar
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    Jason Scott@JasontheScott 3h3 hours ago
    Still recovering from having my first @billboard byline.

  • #17
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    ^^I see he's trying back out of calling these 11 her greatest,typical
    txacar and DaisyTweets like this.

  • #18
    Ultimate Carrie Fan txacar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddkat View Post
    ^^I see he's trying back out of calling these 11 her greatest,typical
    Yep. He realizes he kinda messed up his first BB byline.
    maddkat likes this.


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