Over the last decade plus, there have been tons of country singers that have auditioned for shows like American Idol and The Voice. Unfortunately not all of those country singers who had success on those shows, have found continued success in Nashville.
That being said, some of the best singers in the industry originate from these shows, which makes you wonder if we missed out on a Carrie Underwood or Scotty McCreery in the 80s or 90s.
We’ll have a deeper discussion about all things country music as it relates to TV singing competitions on our podcast which we’ll have out Friday. As a tease to that podcast, we are sharing our favorite performances from the country artists who took the stage on these singing competitions.
Chris Young – “Real Good Man.” From 2003-2008, a singing competition specifically for country singers called Nashville Star took place on USA Network. It produced country music stars Chris Young, Miranda Lambert, and Kacey Musgraves. Artists such as Phil Vassar, Randy Owen, John Rich, Jewel, and Blake Shelton appeared as judges over the six seasons of the show, while the likes of LeAnn Rimes, Wynonna, and Billy Ray Cyrus spent time as hosts.
Unfortunately there are barely any videos of performances on YouTube, and the ones that are on there, look like it was filmed in the early days of YouTube. However, watching this Chris Young performance many years later you can see that a star was born on this show. He cover’s Tim McGraw in this performance in a way that we’ve all grown accustomed to with him. He ended up winning Season 4.
The Swon Brothers – “Danny’s Song.” The Swon Brothers made it all the way to the finale in Season 4 of The Voice, where they played third, behind the champion that year – Danielle Bradbery. The Swon Brother’s debut single “Later On” in 2013 reached #13 on the country charts but we haven’t heard much from them since. This performance of the Kenny Loggin’s hit is something else though.
RaeLynn – “If I Die Young.” RaeLynn made it all the way to the quarter finals of Season 2 of The Voice before being eliminated. She has had some recent success so all signs point to her being another star from these singing competitions. Her rendition of “If I Die Young” might sound different from what we’ve heard from her lately, but you can tell she had the chops already.
Kellie Pickler – “Fancy.” Kellie Pickler finished sixth on Season 5 of American Idol. It was a loaded group that included Chris Daughtry, Katherine McPhee, Elliot Yamin, and the winner Taylor Hicks. Pickler found success early on and has turned that early success into a media career that includes a TV talk show. Covering Reba is no easy task and it’s a testament to the loaded group of competitors with her that she only finished sixth.
Lauren Alaina – “I Hope You Dance.” Lauren ended up being the runner up to Scotty McCreery in Season 10 of American Idol. I really encourage you to go back and watch the rest of her performances as it really was the flip of a coin between her and Scotty. After a brief hiatus for a few years, she’s back and is on her way to becoming a country music star after “The Road Less Traveled” reached the top of the country charts. “I Hope You Dance” is one of the all-time great country songs and Lauren absolutely kills it. She was 16 at the time.
Scotty McCreery – “Gone.” Scotty was the winner of Season 10 of American Idol. Most of the season Scotty stayed in his lane, almost playing it safe with traditional country songs that really didn’t push the boundary or get him out of his shell. This performance of Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone” made him the front runner as he had some edge while running around the entire stage. After some initial success following Idol, he was on a brief hiatus but is clearly back after his song “Five More Minutes” reached the top of country charts.
Danielle Bradberry – “Maybe It Was Memphis.” Danielle became the youngest (16) winner of The Voice when she was crowned champion during Season 4. With one of the best, pure voices that we’ve heard in any season, in any of the shows, it was apparent that she was destined to become a star. Similar to others, after some initial success, we didn’t hear from her for a bit, but she has come roaring back with a new album she dropped last fall that is full of potential hits. This classic Pam Tillis song is sung so effortlessly by Danielle, but it’s just proof of how talented she really is.
Lauren Alaina & Scotty McCreery – “I Told You So.” This Randy Travis classic is simply too good, not to share. As is the case with these shows, there are collaborations between the different contestants and this has to be the best one ever. Let’s cross out fingers that we get to hear this live from these two sometime in the near future. Did I mention they were 16 and 17 years old at this time? Simply incredible.
Cassadee Pope – “Over You.” Cassadee was the winner on Season 3 of The Voice. Her pop-country sound resonated with fans during this season as she was heads and shoulders above the rest of the contestants. By selecting Blake Shelton as her coach, she was put on the country track which has been good for her career. After some early successful singles, she’s due to drop her new album in the coming weeks.
This performance is truly special. She covers Miranda Lambert’s song that was written by Miranda and Blake. The song is personal to Blake as it’s about his brother who died when they were teenagers. It takes absolute guts and confidence to sing this song considering the background. It’ll send chills up your body and watching Blake’s emotional reaction to the performance, I think he had chills too.
Carrie Underwood – “Alone.” Carrie has clearly been the biggest star to come out of the singing competition shows. Throughout Season 4 of American Idol, when she was crowned champion, she covered mostly country songs, while not breaking out of her shell. That changed during the Top-11 week. She came out with the big hair and brought some sass while covering Heart. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand and had everyone on their couches rooting for her during this performance. Simon Cowell’s comments are one-hundred percent prophetic. He just knew. He knew. Amazing. Credit to Carrie for proving him correct as she is a bonafide country music legend.