Duana sent me a note this morning: “You really have to give it up for American Idol though, right? Early on?”
Kelly Clarkson is SO good. Jennifer Hudson too. And Carrie Underwood is a star. She can’t dress for sh-t but she is a star. (Do the male Idol winners have a harder time) And she used to be the biggest star, didn’t she? When Faith Hill may or may not have lost her sh-t after she lost Female Vocalist to Carrie a few years ago...?
That was in 2006. And now, 6 years later, Carrie’s wasn’t a meltdown moment or anything but at the same time, there’s no question whether or not it was a joke either. Watch her face as the nominees for Female Vocalist were announced last night. She wanted it so bad she couldn’t even pretend or fake her way through it. And when Miranda’s name was called, come on, you can see her choking it back - start at the 33 second mark:
I talked to a few Nashville sources last night. My question: is Carrie Underwood solidly #3 now in country behind Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift? Answer: yes. Carrie is stuck. And I wonder if she’s stuck because she’s right in the middle, totally medium, and therefore...a little boring?
Miranda’s the messy one, never pretended to be perfect, doesn’t want to be perfect, and that’s either an appealing kind of vulnerability or it puts you off -- but the point is she inspires a reaction, any reaction, and even better if it’s polarising.
On the other end of the spectrum there’s the sugar, all sugar, Taylor Swift. She is wholesome to Miranda’s brash, she’s the sweetest lamb, the perfect child. Carrie can’t out-sugar-sweet Taylor Swift. And she’s too afraid to out-bitch Miranda Lambert. And that leaves her treading water, almost forgettable. It’s an interesting career case study for the Faculty Of Celebrity Studies. Carrie Underwood is only 29 years old. By all accounts, her last album was solid, so if it’s not about the material, it has to be - at least partly - about the selling.
Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that it’s never been who she is? You can sustain a fake image only for so long. It will only take you so long before you tire of it and, eventually, the audience too. The Carrie Underwood that’s been presented to you is very different from the real Country B. What if, finally, they unchained the Country B and let her run free?
Because #3 is still profitable.
Fine. But #1 is only getting farther away.