“Why’d You Record Them If You Can’t Sing Them” – Carrie Underwood On Losing Respect For Artists Who Don’t Sound Good Live

Carrie Underwood country music
Jeff Johnson

I think if any current country artist can speak to the importance of vocal quality and live performance, it’s Carrie Underwood.

She’s arguably (maybe not even all that arguably) the best pure vocalists we’ve seen over the last 15 years in country music. And perhaps even one of the best ever. In a feature with Rolling Stone, she talked a little bit about why that aspect of music is so important to her.

She recalls being sad at some concerts she went to growing up, when the artist didn’t sound very good live and she would leave very disappointed.

Carrie called it “so deflating,” and she would “lose respect for them” when she realized they were just hiding behind autotune and essentially pulling a fast one on fans:

“I love to sing, and I’ve always taken pride in the work I’ve put in on my vocals. I do want to sound good.

Growing up and going to concerts or seeing my favorite artists on TV, if they didn’t sound like they were supposed to sound, it was always so deflating. I’d lose respect for them.

Or when I’d go to a concert and hear them drop keys, I was like, ‘You can’t hit the notes! Why’d you record them if you can’t sing them?’ That stuff is important to me.”

Amen to that, Carrie… that’s gotta be one of the most frustrating and disappointing thing that can happen for any music fan seeing an artist they really like live in person for the first time.

I’ve never seen Carrie live in concert before, either, but I’ve always heard nothing but good things about how great she sounds live.

I mean, I don’t know how you could fake those insane vocals, and if you need evidence of just how incredible a singer she really is, just listen to her rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” It gets me every single time.

They also talked about how she has performed with Gun ‘n Roses a handful of times in the past couple years, and she added that she’s always been fascinated by frontman Axl Rose’s voice, and tried for years to get on stage with him so they could actually sing together:

“It was many years in the making. I’ve been covering Guns N’ Roses my whole life, pretty much, and definitely onstage for the past 15 years at least. I had asked before if he would ever come sing, or if I could come to him somewhere.

We had a couple almost maybes, where it almost maybe would have happened but for various reasons it wasn’t the right time. But [for Stagecoach] I asked. I sent him an email and said, ‘We’re so close to you,’ and explained the why and what he meant to me.

The way I learned how to sing was I would pick really hard vocalists to try to emulate, and his voice always mesmerized me. I was like, ‘How is he doing the things that he’s doing?’ So I told him all that…and he came!

We had rehearsals and everything went very smoothly. It was easy for all of us to be around each other. Hopefully, he had a good time.”

And when it did finally happen, they crushed it.

Here’s their rockin’ performance of “Sweet Child Of Mine” at Stagecoach:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock