Category: Carrie Underwood

Album review: Carrie Underwood's 'Blown Away'

Seven years after she won the fourth season of "American Idol," Carrie Underwood has been a top-tier country star for long enough that she can advise a friend to "turn off the static on the TV" (as she does in her new album's pep-talky "Nobody Ever Told You") without sounding like an ingrate. Yet if Underwood has undoubtedly established herself beyond the talent-show realm, she's been less successful embodying a persona more complex than Top-Tier Country Star: When Mitt Romney published a playlist of favorite campaign-trail tunes in March, it made sense that the sometimes-wooden presidential hopeful included Underwood's "All-American Girl."

"Blown Away," the singer's fourth album, has been described as a turn toward darkness from a singer who first topped the country chart with "Jesus, Take the Wheel." And insofar as the moody title track finds her willing death-by-tornado upon an abusive father, that's true. (Elsewhere, "Two Black Cadillacs" offers a bleaker spin on the revenge fantasy in Underwood's 2006 smash "Before He Cheats.") Mostly, though, "Blown Away" finds her using her remarkable voice to deliver feel-good bromides like those in the lightly reggae-inflected "One Way Ticket": "Life is like a ride on a party bus," "It matters where you're going, not where you been," "We're headed to a heaven where the beat don't stop." Who knew the victor's circle would be so dull?

Carrie Underwood
"Blown Away"
19/Arista Nashville
Two stars (Out of four)


Stagecoach 2012: Aaron Lewis talks country makeover

Stagecoach 2012: The wrap-up, stats, random moments

Review: Kelly Clarkson with Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire at Nokia

-- Mikael Wood

Stagecoach 2012: Brad Paisley talks Tupac image, new album


Brad Paisley, the headliner for Sunday’s closing night of the 2012 edition of the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif., has always been an unrepentant techno-geek, so he followed with fascination the worldwide media generated the previous two weekends by the "appearance" of Tupac Shakur during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s reunion performance at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The thing is, Paisley beat them to the punch by two years, having pulled off a duet with a virtual partner at the 2010 Stagecoach Festival, where he surprised and confounded audiences with the materialization onstage of Alison Krauss, his collaborator on 2004’s “Whiskey Lullaby,” which generated multiple Academy of Country Music and Country Music Assn. awards.

“We did that Alison thing for a while, and it was as good as we could get it at the time,” Paisley said aboard his tour bus parked near Stagecoach’s Mane Stage, where a capacity crowd of 55,000 was waiting for him to go on after Sheryl Crow finished her penultimate set. “We’ve since then come up with some more tricks. It was interesting when I heard about the Tupac thing. The thing that was so interesting about that, the thing that was so shocking, of course, is that it was someone who was deceased. It’s insane. You go, ‘Whoa!’ But wait till you see what we’re doing tonight.”

PHOTOS: The scene at Stagecoach 2012

He was teasing the recurring presence of Carrie Underwood on his current Virtual Reality Tour. After Paisley launched into the opening of their hit duet “Remind Me,” audience members gasped and then cheered when a spotlight went on and there appeared the “American Idol” grad, harmonizing her lines and seeming to trade glances with her singing partner.

But it was an illusion -- like the Shakur "appearance," a realistic-looking video projection, not a true hologram. It's something Paisley touched on before that number, when he told fans: “We call this the ‘Virtual Reality Tour’ because reality is what country music is about. But it can sometimes also take you away from reality. So between the beer and our show, you’re well on your way.”

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Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean lead country music awards nominations

Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter are nominated for multiple Academy of Country Music Awards
Kenny Chesney has come roaring back in terms of industry recognition with a field-dominating nine nominations for this year's Academy of Country Music Awards.

The runner-up for most nods was Jason Aldean, who collected six, ahead of Lady Antebellum with five, Brad Paisley with four and Taylor Swift, Toby Keith, Grace Potter and the Eli Young Band with three apiece, academy officials announced Thursday.

Newer-vintage performers such as Miranda Lambert and Zac Brown scored the most nominations last year, but Chesney this year is up for entertainer of the year, male vocalist and song of the year, plus double dips under the ACM's rules recognizing performers who also are producers, for his album "Hemingway’s Whiskey," his hit single (with Grace Potter) "You and Tequila" and vocal event for the same song.

Chesney, Swift, Aldean and Paisley are joined by Blake Shelton vying for the ACM's top trophy, entertainer of the year, which went to Swift last year.

Swift also is in the running again in the female vocalist category, along with repeat nominees Sara Evans, Lambert, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood, while Aldean, Chesney, Paisley, Shelton and Chris Young are up for male vocalist honors.

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CMA Awards: Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Band Perry win top honors

Taylor Swift at the CMAs
Nashville’s Country Music Assn. has a well-deserved reputation for déjà vu, having doled out the same awards to the same performers year after year across much of its nearly half-century history. But this year the CMA apparently decided that it’s time to bring some new blood into its ranks, heaping multiple awards on relative newcomers Jason Aldean and the Band Perry, yet saving its top award for Taylor Swift, naming the 21-year-old singer and songwriter entertainer of the year.

Aldean, country music’s unrequited best man for several years -- he's had just one previous CMA nomination -- finally made it to the altar himself as his “My Kinda Party” was named album of the year Wednesday at the 45th CMA Awards. It was a decisive vote of confidence for the Macon, Ga., singer, who got the nod over Swift and her blockbuster “Speak Now” album, which last fall became the first collection in 5½ years in any genre to sell more than 1 million copies during its first week of release. 

“My Kinda Party,” however, is the top-selling country album of 2011 with sales of more than 2 million copies to date; Swift’s album, which has logged nearly double that figure at 3.8 million, was released at the end of 2010.  Aldean, whose four studio albums have sold more than 5 million copies collectively, also received the trophy for musical event for his duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with the first “American Idol” winner, Kelly Clarkson.

PHOTOS: CMA Awards 2011 | Red carpet arrivals

The Band Perry won for new artist, and its hit single “If I Die Young” picked up single and song of the year honors for its heart-tugging exploration of youths who feel overlooked or taken for granted, something the young sibling trio doesn’t have to worry about now.

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Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood, Sting tapped for iHeartRadio Music Festival

Billed as "the biggest live music event in radio history," the two-day festival, set for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in September, also features Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Clarkson.


Though summer has already had its fair share of big-ticket, multiday festivals, Clear Channel is kicking off fall with what it's billing as "the biggest live music event in radio history."

The radio conglomerate on Monday announced the lineup for the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Festival, and the roster for the two-day festival, set for Sept. 23 and 24 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is quite the who’s who among Top 40.

Night 1 features performances by Coldplay, Alicia Keys, the Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, Carrie Underwood, Bruno Mars and Jane's Addiction. While Night 2 has Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Kenny Chesney, Nicki Minaj, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson, David Guetta, Sublime with Rome and special guest performances by Sting and Usher.

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Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts to headline 2011 Stagecoach Festival

Kenny Chesney Stagecoach Schaben Carrie Underwood live


Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood will headline the fifth Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, slated for April 30 and May 1 on a weekend that also will feature country veterans Loretta Lynn, Rodney Crowell and Ricky Skaggs as well as newcomers including the Secret Sisters, Easton Corbin and Steel Magnolia.

Leon Russell, Darius Rucker, Wanda Jackson, Truth & Salvage Co., Josh Turner and Jack Ingram will help fill out the weekend bill, for which tickets will go on sale Nov. 5. The full lineup and details on camping and other arrangements are posted at the Stagecoach website.  Two-day festival passes will cost $99, and children 10 and under are free. Stagecoach is held on the grounds of the Empire Polo Field.

-- Randy Lewis 

Photo of Kenny Chesney at 2009 Stagecoach festival. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Photo of Carrie Underwood at 2008 Grammy Awards. Credit Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

CMT Awards 2010: Country videos plus Jamey Johnson song premiere

Jamey Johnson 
Music award shows such as the Country Music Television cable channel’s CMT Awards at 8 tonight exist chiefly to recognize distinguished works, typically of the recent past — and attract audiences with all the star power they can muster — rather than to provide a forum for the discovery of new music.

But tonight’s ceremony from Nashville highlighting viewers’ favorite country music videos of the past year also is giving a first look and listen to singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson’s ambitious new album “The Guitar Songs,” which doesn’t come out until September.

Johnson, who gained critical accolades and a healthy amount of commercial success for his 2008 album “That Lonesome Song” and its award-laden single “In Color” apparently has been on a writing frenzy. He’s assembled two CDs worth of new material: 25 songs, including “Macon,” the one he’s slated to sing tonight at the CMT event, an atmospheric tale of a Georgia trucker on his way home.

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Reporter's Notebook: Offstage at the Academy of Country Music Awards

Miranda Lambert scored twice at Sunday night's Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, winning album of the year for "Revolution" and being named top female vocalist. If she seemed especially flabbergasted by the vocalist win, it wasn't an act.

When I spoke with her last year just before "Revolution" was released, she spoke with great pride about the strides she'd taken in her songwriting. Yet she had trouble mustering much confidence in talking about her singing -- something that left her boyfriend, singer-songwriter Blake Shelton, shaking his head in disbelief and chiding her for not owning up to that facet of her talent when he joined in on the interview.

But she's starting to get the message. After the show, as she, Shelton and a few close friends and family members celebrated both of their wins -- Shelton took the trophy for vocal event for his "Hillbilly Bone" duet with Trace Adkins -- I commented on the choice of the ballad "The House That Built Me" for her ACM spotlight performance rather than one of her signature upbeat numbers bursting with take-no-prisoners attitude.

"This time, I just wanted to stand there and sing," Lambert said. And sing she did, in what was one of the standout performances among the two dozen songs over the course of the three-hour ceremony.

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Live from Las Vegas: 45th Academy of Country Music Awards

Lady a
Reporting from Las Vegas -- For most people, the 2 a.m. closing-time phone call to an ex- is an act of desperation, but Lady Antebellum turned it into a source of inspiration in their hit “Need You Now,” which brought the Augusta, Ga., trio top awards, including vocal group, single and song of the year Sunday at the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony here.

The ACM’s reigning entertainer of the year, Carrie Underwood, made it two in a row in something of an upset over country-pop princess Taylor Swift, who outsold every other act in pop music in 2009 and otherwise dominated country and pop, also launching her first headlining arena tour with a slate of sold out shows across the country. Swift gave Underwood a hug as the “American Idol” winner took the stage to accept the award, which was voted on by fans during the show and over the last several weeks.

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Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert lead ACM nominations

Lady Antebellum 2

Lady Antebellum continues its ascent in country music circles, nabbing a field-leading seven nominations for the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards, among them album, single, song and top vocal group.

The Georgia trio is the hottest act in all of pop music at the moment, having sold more than 1 million copies of its sophomore album “Need You Now” in the four weeks since it was released in January. Lady Antebellum just edged out Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, who scored six nominations each, and Taylor Swift with five nods. It creates a roster of top award contenders heavy on new blood.

Swift, who upset a slate of country veterans at last fall’s Country Music Assn. Awards in being named that organization’s youngest entertainer of the year winner ever, is in the running for the same trophy at this year’s ACMs. The organization expanded the entertainer category to include eight names this year, up from the usual five: the other nominees are Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band.

Voting for entertainer of the year will be open once again to fans, and audience input also will be factored into the award for best new artist. Awards will be handed out April 18 at a ceremony from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, to be telecast on CBS.

--Randy Lewis

Photo of Lady Antebellum (left to right): Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood. Credit: Miranda Penn Turin


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