In the latest issue of Music Week, we welcome US country superstar Carrie Underwood to our cover. And superstar is very much the appropriate word. Since winning American Idol in 2005, across 12 years, five studio albums and one greatest hits collection, Underwood has sold over 64 million records, racked up 26 No.1 singles, attained over 2.6 billion streams worldwide and won over 100 major music awards, including seven Grammys.
Inside our huge feature, the singer spills the beans on her brilliant new album Cry Pretty, her first for Universal, while UMG Nashville’s Cindy Mabe, Virgin EMI’s Ted Cockle and CAA’s Jeff Frasco talk about the global ambitions at the heart of the campaign.
Due for release on September 14, Cry Pretty is an important record for a number of reasons. One is that it is her first release outside of her original American Idol contract with Arista Nashville/Sony Music Nashville (which is explored in-depth in the piece).
“This was the first time in my career that I got to really call the shots,” Underwood told Music Week. “It felt like a good time to switch if I was ever going to switch, and there was just so much creative passion there [at Universal].”
Another reason is that it evidences the maturation of Underwood as an artist: it is the first record she has co-produced, and also features her highest number of co-writes to date.
Speaking about the lyrical content of the record, Underwood told Music Week that Cry Pretty is an album that will shed a lot of light on who she really is as a person.
“I’m not an open book," said Underwood. "With so many celebrities, you know everything about them, but in my past, I have not been known to share a lot. That’s why a lot of my songs previously have been about characters, because it’s easier to get dramatic when you get that distance. But this one I feel like a lot more of it is in first person, a lot more of it is diving deep.”
“Every album has led me deeper and deeper into that area of what I do, every album there’s been more and more co-writes,” she continued. “But I don’t go into it trying to do that. This is Nashville, there are the most amazing songwriters in the world right here. At the end of the day, I want the best album, so when I submit mine, they’re thrown into the pot with everybody else’s. I want the best songs to win.”
A lot of my songs previously have been about characters, because it’s easier to get dramatic when you get that distance. But this on Cry Pretty I feel like a lot more of it is diving deep.
Underwood also detailed her experience co-producing the album with David Garcia, particularly her rigorous approach to recording her own voice for the first time.
“It’s very humbling to comp your own vocals,” she told Music Week. “You think one thing is coming out of your mouth, you sit down listen to it and it’s like, ‘Do I sound like that?’ David would be like, ‘It sounds great! We’ll just fly it over to the next one,’ and I’d be like, ‘No, no, no – I don’t fly things around!’ I would notice if I was sitting listening to an album and the second chorus was the same as the first one."
Subscribers can read the full Carrie Underwood feature here.
Cry Pretty is available on September 14. Carrie Underwood will headline Long Road Festival at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire on September 8 and perform at BBC Radio 2 Live In Hyde Park festival on September 9.
[Photo: Randee St. Nicholas]