From CultureMap Houston...
Damn that Carrie Underwood and her ever-blossoming career.
If it wasn't for Underwood (with all due respect to Kelly Clarkson, but we all can see the bloom is off that rose), and a country music career that continues to spiral forward, my quest to rid the pop culture landscape of the artificial talent hatchery known as American Idol would be scooting along with greater alacrity.
Without Underwood what would Idol really have to show for itself?
Justin Guarini: Hello.... Hello Hello Hello..... (That was me screaming into the bottomless well his pop career fell into and only getting an empty echo in return).
Ruben Studdard: He might find work in an Atlantic City piano bar, but the soul and gospel he's selling doesn't play to the kids.
Clay Aiken: A second-rate Barry Manilow.
Fantasia Barrino: A bad year that seems to be a massive cry for help.
Bo Bice: Cool Kid Rock hair, but had the bad luck of being on the same year as Underwood and thus ... forgettable.
Taylor Hicks: Looked older than my father when he won four years ago and he hasn't found the fountain of youth yet.
Chris Daughtery: I cry fluke success because he was easy on the eyes. I disqualify him from this discussion for not making it to the final three Idol showdown.
And then, of course, Adam Lambert: At the risk of having a mob of "Glamberts" chase me down Houston alleyways, I will refuse comment.
Frankly, the "Glamberts" scare me.
But Underwood .... she is the exception.
At age 27, she is starlet-beautiful, graceful, scandal-free and has truly found her niche as an artist in the pop-country world. Her first album, Some Hearts, was the best-selling debut by a female country artist in history. Her last two albums, including last year's Play On, both shot straight to No. 1 on the country chart and mainstream Billboard 200 albums chart.
Along the way Underwood has had piled up No. 1 country hits like most Ex-Idols pile up rejection letters: "Cowboy Casanova," Temporary Home," 'All American Girl," Jesus, Take the Wheel," "Inside Your Heaven."
Nestled somewhere between the long, elegant career of Faith Hill and the budding fame of Taylor Swift, I get the feeling Underwood would have found stardom with or without, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul anointing her to the throne.
Too bad they got to ride Underwood's coattails to some much needed credibility.