The essential Carrie Underwood playlist
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The essential Carrie Underwood playlist

From her incredible run on the fourth season of American Idol to winning armfuls of awards and selling tens of millions of records, Carrie Underwood's trajectory in country music has been the definition of meteoric. 

Now firmly settled into her role as the reigning queen of country-pop, Underwood has experienced a great deal of crossover success, charming fans of both genres. She's also been a heavy-hitter in the world of inspirational music, with covers of religious favorites like "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace." 

From her record-shattering debut album to cult-favorite murder ballads and inspirational anthems, these 21 songs are essential for the perfect Carrie Underwood playlist. 

 
1 of 21

“Jesus Take The Wheel”

“Jesus Take The Wheel”
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The first single from Carrie Underwood’s 2005 debut Some Hearts, “Jesus Take The Wheel” is still one of her most beloved tracks. The hopeful song of faith resonated with fans across multiple genres, as evidenced by its success on Billboard’s adult contemporary and Christian music charts.

 
2 of 21

“Before He Cheats”

“Before He Cheats”
Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

An anthem for scorned women everywhere, “Before He Cheats” is the ultimate revenge track. Yet another crossover success for Underwood, the song has since been certified platinum more than six times.

 
3 of 21

“Church Bells”

“Church Bells”
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Marking Carrie Underwood’s 15th number one single in 2015, “Church Bells” is both a stunning vocal performance and a killer entry in country music’s long lineage of murder ballads involving women who decide to off their abusive husbands.

 
4 of 21

“Cry Pretty”

“Cry Pretty”
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

A deeply personal song that came after Underwood suffered three miscarriages, “Cry Pretty” is relatable for anyone who’s ever felt like they had to put on a brave face during tough times. It’s also one of Underwood’s best vocal performances.

 
5 of 21

"All-American Girl”

"All-American Girl”
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With a title that sort of describes her ascent from small-town girl to American Idol winner to country royalty, “All-American Girl” was co-written by Underwood. A stunning showcase of Underwood’s powerhouse pipes, “All-American Girl” was a #1 hit in 2007. 

 
6 of 21

“Cowboy Casanova”

“Cowboy Casanova”
Frederick Breedon IV/FilmMagic

With its rock-tinged melody and belt-friendly lyrics, “Cowboy Casanova” is one of Carrie Underwood’s most successful hits. A hard-charging tune for anyone who’s been duped by a good-looking “devil in disguise,” it was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards.

 
7 of 21

“Somethin’ Bad”

“Somethin’ Bad”
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There’s nothing better than two country queens teaming up, and that’s especially true with the Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood hit “Somethin’ Bad.” A countrified take on Thelma and Louise, it presents tongue-in-cheek contrast to Underwood’s squeaky-clean, All-American image. 

 
8 of 21

“How Great Thou Art”

“How Great Thou Art”
Kevin Winter/ACMA2011/Getty Images for ACM

An 1885 gospel classic that’s been recorded by too many greats to name “How Great Thou Art” is especially great when performed by as strong a vocalist as Carrie Underwood. In 2017, she performed a seriously spectacular version of the song alongside fellow country star Vince Gill at the Academy of Country Music Awards’ Girls Night Out: Superstar Women of Country special in 2011. 

 
9 of 21

“Choctaw County Affair”

“Choctaw County Affair”
Erika Goldring/Getty Images for CMT

A cheeky cheatin’ song centered around a romance gone wrong in Underwood’s home state of Oklahoma, the salacious storyline in “Choctaw County Affair” is a perfect fit on her 2015 album Storyteller. It’s fun and a little bit heavy, especially when compared to some of her more angelic hits.  

 
10 of 21

“I Ain’t In Checotah Anymore”

“I Ain’t In Checotah Anymore”
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Released on Underwood’s 2005 debut album, “I Ain’t In Checotah Anymore” is a charming, if subdued, prediction of her mega-successful future. Named after her hometown in Oklahoma, it’s almost quaint to look back and think of Carrie Underwood as an up-and-comer instead of the superstar she is today. 

 
11 of 21

“Southbound”

“Southbound”
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A good-time track that’s perfect for, as its lyrics might suggest, enjoying while drinking on a boat, “Southbound” was released in 2019, on Underwood’s album “Cry Pretty.” It may not have the same heavy-hitting subject matter of some of her more inspirational tracks, but it sure is fun to listen to. 

 
12 of 21

"Some Hearts"

"Some Hearts"
James Devaney/WireImage

Originally written by legendary songwriter Diane Warren for Belinda Carlile in the 1980s, “Some Hearts” got fresh life in 2004 when Carrie Underwood chose the song as the title track for her record-smashing 2005 debut. Country music’s best-selling album for three consecutive years after its release, Some Hearts earned Underwood a slew of awards, including 3 Grammys. 

 
13 of 21

“Inside Your Heaven”

“Inside Your Heaven”
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Fans first heard Carrie Underwood sing “Inside Your Heaven” on the fourth season of American Idol, which crowned Carrie its winner. The song debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the top-selling country track of that year. 

 
14 of 21

"Love Wins"

"Love Wins"
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Co-written by Underwood, "Love Wins" is an inspirational ballad released during truly trying times that’s buoyed by her soaring vocals. “We'll never fall if we walk hand in hand,” she sings. “I believe in the end, love wins.”

 
15 of 21

“Two Black Cadillacs”

“Two Black Cadillacs”
Jo Hale/Redferns

Yet another stellar entry in Carrie Underwood’s catalog of revenge anthems, “Two Black Cadillacs” is punchy and dark, exploring the story of two women who figure out that they’re being cheated on by the same man — and decide to kill him. 

 
16 of 21

“Good Girl”

“Good Girl”
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A radio hit for Underwood in 2012, “Good Girl” includes the kind of advice that anyone who’s ever chased after a no-good man needs. It’s also pretty good for reminding yourself after a break-up that your ex is definitely not worth texting. 

 
17 of 21

“Something In The Water”

“Something In The Water”
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Carrie Underwood

A country and Christian music hit for Underwood, “Something In The Water” is an inspirational track about the transformation that occurs for believers during baptism. Even if you aren’t especially religious, don’t be surprised if Underwood’s emotional performance doesn’t inspire chills. 

 
18 of 21

"Undo It"

"Undo It"
Kevin Mazur/Billboard Awards 2014/WireImage

One of Carrie Underwood’s poppiest hits, “Undo It” isn’t exactly a lyrical masterpiece, but its catchy melody and infectious hook make it a playlist essential. 

 
19 of 21

“Dirty Laundry”

“Dirty Laundry”
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Yet another excellent cheatin’ song from Carrie Underwood, “Dirty Laundry” is about finding out about an affair in the worst way possible. Anyone who’s ever wanted to air out their worst ex’s dirtiest secrets will definitely identify with these lyrics. 

 
20 of 21

"Mama’s Song"

"Mama’s Song"
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ACMA

In this sweet, tender ode to the mother-daughter relationship, Carrie Underwood plays it subtle. It’s also clearly a personal track for Underwood, who recruited her husband and former professional hockey player Mike Fisher and mother Carole Underwood for the song’s touching music video. 

 
21 of 21

"Wasted"

"Wasted"
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An anti-addiction anthem that covers more than just substance abuse, “Wasted” is a fan-favorite at Carrie Underwood’s live shows, where fans belt the lyrics that dig deep into alcoholism and bad relationships.

Amy McCarthy is a Texas-based journalist. Follow her on twitter at @aemccarthy

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