Country Throwback: Relive Carrie Underwood’s Road to Victory on American Idol Season 4

by Kayla Zadel

Little did Carrie Underwood know that her life would change at the age of 21. Sit down and buckle up as we take you through this “American Idol’s” journey.

Carrie Underwood Auditions for ‘American Idol’

Carrie walked into the audition room bright-eyed and innocent. She was just a farm girl from Oklahoma with big dreams after all.

Underwood followed the hit talent show on TV and knew that she wanted to audition. However, the closest auditions to her hometown of Checotah, Oklahoma were in St. Louis. After finding out from her mom about the distance to the metropolis, Underwood decided that her dream was just out of reach.

Underwood’s mom kept asking the young college student why she wanted to know about St. Louis. Carrie told her mom that auditions for the biggest talent show at the time were happening in the city. Underwood’s mom said they’ll go, and just like that they made a road trip plan.

The broadcast of the “American Idol” audition starts with a home video of Underwood feeding cattle. She’s talking about her simple life on the farm. She also shockingly states that she had never been on a plane before.

The young singer does her take on Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” a capella.  The judges stop her after a few lines and tell her it was “very good.”

Randy Jackson asks Underwood who her favorite singer is and she replies with Martina McBride. The hard-nosed judge Simon Cowell says, “I was saying to someone the other day, ‘I’m surprised that we haven’t found a good country singer in this competition yet.'” Well, low and behold, ask and you shall receive.

After the three judges give Underwood some pointers, including tips to work on her stage presence, they award her with her “golden ticket” to Hollywood.

Carrie Underwood Takes ‘Idol’ Stage

With the uncertainty of her audition behind her, it was now time for Underwood to focus on performing on the live show. However, getting to Hollywood was a nerve-racking experience for the singer. But she put her fears aside to chase her dream of stardom.

In this montage of Underwood’s performances from “American Idol” season four, you can see her perform a variety of songs with that voice that continues to grow stronger each week. Underwood also seemingly becomes more comfortable on stage.

Simon Cowell seemingly was in Underwood’s corner from the start. During the top 12 girls’ night, she sang “Could’ve Been” by Tiffany. After her performance, Cowell commented that Carrie was one of his favorites to win the competition.

As a matter of fact, he continues to call her out. During the top 11 finalists’ performances, Underwood sang a rendition of the No. 1 1980s rock hit “Alone” by Heart. Cowell looked into his metaphorical crystal ball again. He predicted that Underwood would not only win the competition, but she would also outsell all previous “Idol” winners.

Furthermore, one of the show’s producers later said that she dominated the voting and won just about every week by a long shot. Underwood also gained a fan base that named themselves “Carrie’s Care Bears.”

Winning ‘American Idol’

During the final episode of season four, she sang with Rascal Flatts on “Bless the Broken Road.” Did this faith-riddled song seal Underwood’s fate? Possibly, but it sounds like she secured her spot as “Idol” champion throughout the season on her own.

On May 25, 2005, Underwood was named the season four winner of “American Idol.” In the video above, “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest stands between the two finalists, Underwood and Harold Elwin “Bo” Bice Jr. Seacrest opens the envelope and announces that Underwood has indeed won the contest.

Not only did she get a recording contract worth at least a million dollars, but a private jet was also at her disposal for a year. Plus Underwood got to let her long blonde locks down behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang convertible.

‘Idol’ Was Just the Beginning for Underwood

Now the hard part was out of the way for Underwood, and yes, we mean winning “Idol.” Even though she made that look effortless. And the fact that the show makes the artists sing right after they’ve just been announced as the winner. It was time for the champ to set her sights on something bigger.

The release of Underwood’s first single, “Inside Your Heaven,” that she debuted on the show happened just a few months after winning. The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, with Underwood becoming only the third artist to take the top slot since chart policy changed in 1998. 

She also broke Billboard chart history as the first country music artist ever to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Furthermore, “Inside Your Heaven” became the first song from a country artist to go to No. 1 on the Hot 100 since country group Lonestar‘s “Amazed” did so in 2000.

Not only does Carrie Underwood become one of the most iconic and memorable singers from “Idol,” the season four winner has made as much as the rest of the top five “Idol” earners combined Forbes reports. And on that note, we drop the mic.