When news came that Carrie Underwood wouldn’t be releasing a fifth single off of Storyteller despite announcing she was ‘taking a break’ to be with her family, fans were surprised as the performance of “Choctaw County Affair” during Storyteller Tour was always a highlight of the powerful show. Some of the same fans were a bit upset that her song with Keith Urban (“The Fighter”) was killing any chance that a fifth Storyteller single would come out. But now we know the REAL reason there wasn’t going to be a fifth single. Carrie Underwood was working on leaving the only record label she ever has known.
Why leave now after twelve years with six Platinum and Multi-Platinum album releases and every radio single peaking at #1 or #2 (outside of the #3 slot for “Something In The Water”)? To make a clean, fresh break? To completely shake American Idol? Was there some sort of contract agreement that would’ve tied her to 19 Entertainment (the label she was actually signed to) if she remained with Arista Nashville and Sony Music? Those are all interesting questions and it’s pretty clear that working with some of her earliest supporters was also strong (UMG’s President Cindy Made was at Sony Nashville when Carrie made her first album Some Hearts in 2005).
Carrie Underwood was ready to break out and to have a bit more control over the songs she records and releases (While still working with label partners and management). She has to have seen how country’s top stars of her era have all become owners of their careers and music. It was time for the clean break, to work with earliest supporters, to break free of the massive American Idol 360 deal she was still in through Storyteller. Capital is also the label she was originally trying to sign with when she was 14 around 1996. The pull to sign with UMG, the music businesses largest label group, also home to her friend Keith Urban, was strong. It’s a label with deeper country roots than Arista and Sony Nashville and as a fan of country music’s history and being a massive part of current history, Carrie Underwood is breaking free.
What does this mean? Will Carrie Underwood finally get the support that fans think she never got with Arista/Sony? Well, she always had the support. Nobody is going to win awards every year and despite perception that the label is behind another artist more so than Carrie, that’s just not true. The industry votes for that other artist in award shows and moving labels will not guarantee that anything changes on that front. What will likely change, though, is the kind of songs Carrie Underwood records. There will be a chance she records and releases (to radio) stuff that is more risky or more ‘country’ than her previous songs. Signing a worldwide record deal with Capitol and UMG will allow her more opportunities to breakout worldwide too.
While we wait for the first Carrie Underwood album to arrive — don’t expect a studio album until 2018 — we’re likely to get a single or two, just like Keith Urban had prior to the release of his latest album Ripcord. Also, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Carrie Underwood issues a Christmas album with Capitol. In fact, I’d bet even money that a Carrie Underwood Christmas album will be the first or second Capitol Records release she sends out.
What say you? What do you think. Will Carrie Underwood’s career break higher than it already has? Will her Billboard #2s become Billboard #1s? (though Mediabase Radio chart hits of the same songs are often #1s) Will Carrie become an international icon in pop music dominated countries?