On This Day: Carrie Underwood Releases 15th No. 1 Single ‘Church Bells’ in 2016

by Madison Miller

Five years ago today, fans of country music star Carrie Underwood first “could hear those church bells ringing, ringing.”

On April 11, 2016, Underwood released her No.1 hit “Church Bells.” The song tells an intense story of mystery, murder, and good church-goers. It’s a deadly sweet revenge story.

A woman’s husband keeps hitting her and she then has to hide behind glasses and makeup at church. Eventually, she ends up slipping something in his drink “no law-man was ever gonna find” and he dies a sudden and mysterious death. However, now he “hit a woman for the very last time.”

“Church Bells” is reminiscent of other Underwood songs like “Before He Cheats” or “Two Black Cadillacs” that tell an intense story about murder or an abusive relationship. So what’s the story behind the song?

Meaning Behind ‘Church Bells’

Zach Crowell, Brett James, and Hillary Lindsey wrote the song.

According to a 2016 interview with The Boot, the song first started with the title by Crowell. After that, the three writers began to craft the story with Carrie Underwood in mind. James said, “our initial thoughts were to have a Western theme…we fell in the spirit of that.”

The songwriters found inspiration in the Western ideas of revenge and death. They each were just blown away that they ended up murdering this character. Underwood was a big fan of the song, however.

“I was drawn to it because I love story songs, obviously, but I also love [songs that] empower women. I wouldn’t ever want any woman to feel like she’d have to go and shoot her husband — that should go without saying, but I’ll go ahead and say it … feel like, in a lot of songs, or a lot of movies or stories or whatever, people have to be pushed to their limits to act and to find that inner strength,” Underwood said.

“Church Bells” follows the classic country music strategy of telling a really outlandish story. The genre continues to excel in its storytelling capability.

Ongoing Success of Carrie Underwood Song

The song was a massive success too. It appeared on her fifth studio album, “Storyteller.” It topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart. The song was her 15th time leading the chart and established Underwood as the female artist with the most No.1 hits in the history of that specific chart.

On top of that, the song was also nominated for a Best Country Solo Performance at the Grammys.

The song has seen a bit of a comeback this year as well. A viral TikTok dance trend sparked showing users on the site dance to an intense version of the song.

In fact, Underwood even has a TikTok account of her own that she posts regularly on as well.