Selena Gomez, Carrie Underwood set to perform at 2015 American Music Awards

24 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Carrie Underwood Calls American Idol the “Most Horrifying Thing”.

“Idol was probably the most horrifying thing, because I had never been away from my hometown like that before,” she told Parade magazine in a new interview. “I was in L.A., of all places, by myself, putting myself out there, which is a scary thing for anybody to do.

It’s that voice that makes her the only truly unfadeable American Idol success story: a country-pop-rock superpower that sweeps in like the sanctified cyclone of her 2012 hit “Blown Away,” laying waste to drunken-lout fathers, abusive partners and cowboy casanovas before settling back into a honeysuckle breeze. My first plane ride was when I was going out to L.A. alone.” And even though the Storyteller singer now has seven Grammys under her belt and album sales of 56 million worldwide — making her one of the most successful and enduring Idol winners, alongside season one champ Kelly Clarkson — she admitted that she was bracing to walk away from the competition with a good experience and little else. “I always kept in my head, ‘If nothing else ever comes of this, I got to do the coolest thing ever and I won American Idol,’” she told the mag. “I was like, ‘Okay, I will just have fun with this and save up as much money as I can and finish school and get a real job.’ Because I am always a practical thinker and would never allow myself to think it would turn out okay all the time.” The “Before He Cheats” singer, who is mom to Isaiah, 7 months, with husband Mike Fisher, added that despite her superstardom, she still gets nervous during performances. “I still haven’t figured out how to talk to the audience,” she said. “I just want to sing. Most of the 13 tracks center on the country star’s familiar themes: tight-knit working-class communities, trust in faith, and intense struggle, whether personal or social. The album’s first single, “Smoke Break,” manages to incorporate all three in profiling a small-town, hard-working woman who scuffles to feed four children. When you’re doing all the giving, the lyrics explain, “It’s hard to be a good wife, good mother and a good Christian.” No wonder the beleaguered, tee-totaling mom of the song sometimes needs “a stiff drink,” she confesses.

But with Smoke Break are we hearing a touch of rebellion? “She was like, “I’ve been listening to The Morning [from his first mixtape House of Balloons, released in 2011] for years – it’s one of my favorite songs ever!” We’re all human and we all make mistakes”. Furthermore, “I know it might sound bad, but sometimes I need a smoke break.” Underwood, 32, is a seven-time Grammy Award winner who has recorded 21 No. 1 singles and sold 58 million records worldwide.

But it smartly tips its crossover mix towards the rootsier feel of her first album, connecting with the narrative-driven creative renaissance currently being spearheaded by Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves. She has never shied away from underscoring her faith and religious beliefs and lays them out for all to see. “It’s how I was raised,” she once told this writer. “I honestly believe there is something, somewhere, watching over me, whether it’s angels or God himself pointing me in the directions I need to go.

In September of 2015, she began her third season as the voice of primetime television’s No. 1 program, “Sunday Night Football”, and on November 4, she’ll return for an eighth consecutive year as co-host of the Country Music Association Awards. With its sharply-drawn teetotalers pushed to their limits, “Smoke Break” becomes a memorable 420 anthem without actually inhaling. “Church Bells” describes a Dallas-like scenario of an oil-man and his sweetheart, sitting in the back pew “all bruises covered in makeup, dark sunglasses,” at the tipping point in the most epic domestic-violence-revenge-murder ballad in years, splitting the difference between Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” and the Dixie Chicks “Goodbye, Earl,” but without the latter’s safety-valve of humor. She insists “I wanna feel it like a kick drum” on “Heartbeat,” a head-turningly sexy four-by-four R&B jam that might impress Trey Songz. “Relapse” is a power ballad that kneels to Queen Bey. In 2013, she starred as Maria von Trapp in NBC’s three-hour holiday blockbuster, the Emmy®-winning The Sound of Music Live!, whose airings attracted 44 million viewers. And “Choctaw County Affair” is a juicy slice of Seventies country-funk that nods to Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” and the news mama heard from Choctaw Ridge.

Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller album cover [Image via Carrie Underwood on Facebook]The album’s lead single, “Smoke Break”, was released on August 21 and has already sold a quarter-of-a-million copies and garnered over five million views on YouTube. “Like I feel like it all worked”. “Penny, I don’t think she’s really afraid of anything”. “I’ve always needed them – I just didn’t know it”. Otherwise, Underwood’s main songwriting wingman remains Music City A-lister Hillary Lindsey, who has been riding shotgun since Underwood’s first mega-hit, 2005’s “Jesus Take The Wheel.” She’s got nine co-writes here out of 13. This performance made it clear that Underwood was no longer content to tame her inner tiger, and she unleashed it with a ferocity that she hadn’t really shown before. “I’m only ever a layer away from a look that can transition from a street to sweat session”, she smiled, sharing her favourite type of exercise at the moment. “He definitely likes things that are more spiritual and serious – you know, the things that people can hear and be inspired or encouraged by”, she said. “The girl-next-door quality she exudes isn’t an image”, confirmed Randy Lewis, who has covered country music for the Los Angeles Times since 1981. “And I was like, ‘Eh, no.’ I do not want to write an album of mushy baby songs”. “It’s an everyman song”, she says.

As with much high-gloss, high-compression pop, the heavy-handed production gets fatiguing after a while, even when Underwood transcends it (see the corny yet undeniable letter to Daddy “The Girl You Think I Am”). By the time she’s wailing about facing “25 to life” on the lam in “Mexico” in the wake of an unnamed crime that could be anything from coke-smuggling to hedge fund hustling, you have half a mind to snitch. But in the end, I’m a country artist, and we wanted people to know that right off the bat.” “I think that she is probably the best female vocalist to come out of Nashville, maybe ever,” said her friend Miranda Lambert, the CMA’s five-time Female Vocalist of the Year. “The mystery about her is that she does have this girl-next-door image, but then she comes out in fishnets. Eleven hours is long enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco with two stops along the way to watch a movie and a football game in their entirety.

And over the course of 11 hours of hectoring, insinuation and questions that started out redundant and turned into echolalia, Hillary Clinton never lost her cool. She’s not fake at all.” Since winning “American Idol” in 2005, Underwood has made a career of celebrating the old-fashioned values she grew up near the tiny rural town of Checotah, Okla. The population hovers at just under 3,500, and the “beauty shop” is nestled in the town hardware store. “The people in Oklahoma are not like any other people anywhere else,” she told me. “I know there are good people everywhere, but it seemed like there were more good, happy people in Oklahoma. To begin with, it’s now the longest sitting special committee in American history, having surpassed the investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal and the historic Church Committee, which investigated not only Watergate but abuses by the CIA, FBI and NSA.

That this committee has lumbered over the political landscape like some idiot golem willed into existence from a pile of trash only highlights the insignificance of its focus. The Underwoods resided in the same house for more than 30 years, raised a few cattle (“We’re not the croppin’ kind,” Carrie explained), and the singer’s grandfather lived five blocks down the street. If that weren’t bad enough, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy went and gave the game away, admitting the truth that anyone with two brain cells to rub together knew all along: that the committee’s signature accomplishment had been driving down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers, which was the only reason for its existence in the first place.

In high school, Underwood was a well-rounded student, the salutatorian of her graduating class who balanced athleticism and cheerleading with her studies. With that in mind, Trey Gowdy, Congress’ own version of Matthew Lillard lengthened by a machine press accident, had Hillary sworn in, in private, foregoing the political dynamite of an image of her once again standing with her hand raised and swearing to tell the truth.

At college at Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, where she studied broadcasting, she joined a sorority, volunteered for hospice care, and participated in beauty pageants and talent shows. Despite being billed as a hard-nosed prosecutor, Gowdy let the proceedings wander all over the place, to the point where it’s impossible to tell what the Republicans even wanted to know, let alone what they thought they could charge Hillary with. Throughout history, from Roy Acuff to Dolly Parton, country music culled its biggest stars from its own brethren — people who grew up working the land or blue-collar jobs and sang about hard times. No matter how much money they made doing it (and Underwood is reported to be the biggest “American Idol” earner of all time, with a total career net worth of more than $110 million), country stars were symbolic ordinary people who never “got above their raising,” or forgot their roots.

But her genuineness quickly won over Music City and made her legions of new fans who had never seen her on the television show. “The adolescent girls and college-age women who fell in love with her a decade ago on ‘American Idol’ are now entering college, or starting careers, or getting married and raising families,” Dickinson said. “But Carrie is still a relatable figure to a lot of them. It’s easy to imagine her laughing and eating pizza with her gal pals or playing softball at the church picnic.” In 2010, Underwood married Mike Fisher, then a hockey player for the Ottawa Senators, now with the Nashville Predators.

In June, when their dogs accidentally locked themselves in the car with the infant, Underwood didn’t wait for help — she broke a window to free them. Even the most generous interpretation of her questions can’t elide the fact that the disparity in emails could easily have indicated general conversational traffic about Libya that eventually shifted to the official cable system as the maintenance of the Benghazi compound became more urgent. Mike Pompeo of California did show a familiarity with the telephone that then wandered into absurd territory as he tried to show that Hillary was a much worse friend to Ambassador Stevens than she was to people she’s been friends with for decades, like Sidney Blumenthal.

Well, hell, a fax machine, there’s your damning evidence that Hillary Clinton wasn’t willing to be found during an emergency: She didn’t give someone the number to a machine that she’d have to be standing next to, to notice a message churning out. He should have asked why they didn’t have prearranged hills to conduct semaphore chats on, or whether they’d picked out a lake to meet at and really rap about Libya via Aldis lamps. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul dropped a proverbial turd in the Gowdy punchbowl midway through this line of questioning: Heaven knows what the you don’t love your ambassadors like you love Sid Blumenthal feint was supposed to accomplish. While there’s some obvious intrinsic value in dredging up a name from the Lewinsky scandal, the former New Republic writer and long-time Clinton friend has nothing whatsoever to do with Benghazi.

Cummings condemned the committee for selectively releasing portions of Blumenthal’s testimony, which Gowdy has justified under the argument that full transcripts will coach witnesses as to what kind of questions the committee asks, and allow them to prep evasive answers in advance. But of course Thursday’s hearings and the seven previous Benghazi investigations have already given potential witnesses almost all the information they’d need. The selective releasing and leaks only allow Gowdy to work the media with the choicest quotes, out of context, and stoke the Deceitful Clintons narrative again and again.

The unintentional comedy went off the charts when Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia actually said “aye” in response to Cummings’ call for transparency, leading Gowdy to shake his head at him and remind Westmoreland that his opinion was actually different. When Cummings kept pressing back, Gowdy raised his voice and said, “If you think you’ve heard about Sidney Blumenthal, wait for the next round.” Which, great — except, if you’re going to keep asking about someone totally unrelated to Libya, just cut the bullshit and subpoena Monica Lewinsky. When Clinton didn’t say the things they wanted her to, they interrupted her, dismissed her, badgered her with louder questions, made baseless assertions and eventually just started testifying for her. Short of Ted Cruz, Jordan probably set the land speed record with most Americans for going from “guy I’ve never heard of before” to “guy I wish would jump up his own asshole.” His entire schtick seemed to be based on the presumption that bullshit magically turns into less bullshit the faster it comes out. During every round he eventually abandoned the slow pace of his first questions in favor of rapidly testifying at Hillary to produce the statements that neither she nor the factual record were able to provide him. “You picked the video narrative.

So you can’t be square with the American people.” This last bit was of a piece with the testimony from many of the Republican committee members in two ways. By insisting that only one can be true, and that the State Department could only believe one interpretation, irrespective of changing events — instead of both interpretations driving disparate elements outside Benghazi compound — they automatically disingenuously classified half of any statements Clinton made on the issue as deliberate misrepresentation.

At one point, he said, “Secretary Clinton, I think you should have added this,” then began reading a rueful prepared first-person statement admitting guilt and shame, and asked Clinton if she agreed. And at the precise moment when things look good take a victory lap like on all the Sunday shows, three times that year…and then turn your attention to other things.” As is the case with almost all Clinton malfeasance, the definition of something unethical is Hillary doing anything literally every other politician does. Humorlessness was the order of the day, because something this preposterous threatened to shatter into a million little pieces if anyone started laughing at it. She didn’t lose her cool under circumstances that would have sent any of us screaming for the exit or climbing over the dais to try to brain someone with a shoe.

The Republicans on the Benghazi committee just inadvertently put her through an 11-hour stress test of her intelligence, patience and composure as a leader. They just vetted their own opposition, and they did it through such a protracted, disingenuous, confused and obnoxious display that even people who have every right to feel ambivalent about her doubtless felt a twinge of sympathy. At this rate, barring something truly remarkable by Bernie Sanders, it will probably come in the form of her official presidential photo. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

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