Play On (Carrie Underwood album)

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Play On
Studio album by Carrie Underwood
Released November 2, 2009 (2009-11-02)
Recorded 2008–09; Starstruck Studios (Nashville)
Maratone Studios
(Stockholm)
Germano Studios
(New York City)
Genre Country, country pop
Length 48:28
Label Arista Nashville, 19
Producer Mark Bright, Max Martin, Shellback
Carrie Underwood chronology
Carnival Ride
(2007)
Play On
(2009)
Blown Away
(2012)
Singles from Play On
  1. "Cowboy Casanova"
    Released: September 14, 2009
  2. "Temporary Home"
    Released: December 14, 2009
  3. "Undo It"
    Released: May 24, 2010
  4. "Mama's Song"
    Released: September 13, 2010

Play On is the third studio album by American country singer Carrie Underwood. It was released in the United States on November 3, 2009.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 318,000 copies; and rated as the highest first week sales for a female artist in 2009, before being overtaken by Susan Boyle a few weeks later.[1] It is her second album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, and her third to debut atop the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.

As of April 2013, the album has sold 2,196,000 copies in the United States,[2] making it Underwood's third album to top the two million mark. It has been certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA, Platinum by the CRIA and Gold by the ARIA.[3][4]

The album has spawned three consecutive number one singles. The first single, "Cowboy Casanova", was released to country radio on September 14, 2009,[5] and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.[6] The second single, "Temporary Home", was released to country radio on December 14, 2009,[7] and has been certified Gold.[6] The third single, "Undo It", was released to radio on May 24, 2010,[8] and has been certified Platinum.[6] The fourth single, "Mama's Song", was officially released to radio on September 13, 2010.[9]

Play On was nominated for Album of the Year at both the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards.

Background[edit]

The album was originally to have included some songs that Underwood wrote with Ne-Yo.[10] One of the tracks entitled "Look At Me" was previously recorded by country singer, Alan Jackson, on the Billy: The Early Years soundtrack. Vince Gill sang background vocals on the track.[11] "Mama's Song" sold more than 31,000 copies in its debut week.[12]

On October 16, 2009, Underwood made a promotional stop in Singapore to promote her upcoming album to the Asian media. The album was released on November 2 in Singapore and various parts of Asia, followed by a November 3 release in the United States.[13] Underwood performed on The Late Show with David Letterman on November 2, and performed a special outdoor concert at Lincoln Center on Good Morning America on album release day, and rounded out her week with a visit to Live with Regis and Kelly on November 5.[14]

Underwood also performed another outdoor concert for Good Morning America at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee on November 11, 2009, with Brad Paisley.

On the November 16, 2009 episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Underwood performed "Temporary Home", which is the second official single from Play On.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (54/100)[16]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[17]
Entertainment Weekly B[18]
Los Angeles Times 2/4 stars[19]
The New York Times (mixed)[20]
Paste (5.7/10)[21]
PopMatters 2/10 stars[22]
Roughstock (mixed)[23]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[24]
St. Petersburg Times 3/5 stars[25]
USA Today 3/4 stars[26]

The album had a score of 54 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "mixed or average reviews" from music critics.[16] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic gave the album 2.5 out of 5 stars. He argues that "Carrie is still nominally a country artist and sometimes will sing supported by fiddles and steel guitar, but this is crossover pop pure and simple, whether it's the thundering rhythms on the Shania-styled strut "Cowboy Casanova" or the succession of maudlin melodies on the preponderance of power ballads."[17] In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating ((dud)).[27] Leah Greenblatt rated it B in Entertainment Weekly, saying "If it seems vaguely insulting to call the smashingly successful Idol alum’s material formulaic, know at least that it is, three albums in, one of the most well-honed formulas in the business."[18]

Sean Daly from the St. Petersburg Times argues that Play On is Underwood's "weakest album to date," but predicts that the album will "sell like gangbusters." Daly says that "Cowboy Casanova", "co-written by 50 Cent buddy Mike Elizondo, brazenly bites from both 'Before He Cheats' and 'Last Name'." Daly highlights the song "Someday When I Stop Loving You". He says that it "is so good. It has a vague '70s feel, reminiscent of all those great old Chicago songs."[25]

Blake Boldt of Engine 145 (Country Music) graded the album 3 out of 5 stars. He states "Underwood’s third disc, Play On, starts promisingly, with “Cowboy Casanova”, an ode to a hard-to-keep lothario, plows along to a grungy electric guitar laced with a curling pedal steel line. At her best, Underwood excels at handling the finest storytelling that Nashville has to offer. The album’s strongest track is “Someday When I Stop Loving You”, a brooding tune framed beautifully by her delicate performance, while “What Can I Say”, a collaboration with sibling trio Sons of Sylvia, is a simple, elegant declaration of longing. He added that the remaining 45 minutes, though, are more Hallmark than honky tonk. Play On is a tastefully-done pop pleasure, with little of the pretentious production that gutted much of her first two discs. Play On, though saddled with its share of loose songwriting, is a convincing reminder of a blonde, budding talent."[28]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Result
45th Academy of Country Music Awards Album of the Year Nominated
1st American Country Awards Album of the Year Won
2010 Teen Choice Awards Choice Album - Country Nominated
44th Country Music Association Awards Album of the Year Nominated
2010 American Music Awards Favorite Country Album Won

Singles[edit]

"Cowboy Casanova" served as the lead single for the album. It was released on September 14, 2009, two months before the album's official release and debuted on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs at number 26, the fifth highest debut by a female artist on the chart. It eventually held the number one spot for the week of November 21, 2009. It also peaked at number eleven on U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It has become the fastest-climbing single of Underwood's career; it is also the fastest-climbing single of 2009 in the country music genre.[29] The song received a nomination for Song of the Year at the 45th ACM Awards. Underwood was nominated as an artist and a composer. The music video for the song was released in October 2009. It's been certified 2x platinum.

"Temporary Home", the second single, was released to country radio starting the week of December 14, 2009.[30] The song has received multiple forms of promotion, including performances on the Late Show with David Letterman, the television special "A Home For the Holidays", Underwood's personal CMT Invitation Only performance, Underwood's Christmas variety show entitled "Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special", at the 45th ACM Awards, and on her tour. The song has hit at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs becoming her ninth Number One song in the process. It has also hit number 41 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The music video for the song was released in February 2010. For her performance of the song in her personal CMT Invitation Only, Carrie won the CMT award for Best Live Performance at the 2010 CMT Awards.

The third single, "Undo It", was released on May 24, 2010.[31] Underwood performed the song on the season finale of American Idol and at the 2010 CMT Music Awards. The song's peak on the Hot 100 is at number 23, giving Underwood her eleventh Top 40 single. "Undo It" was nominated for the 2010 Teen Choice Award for 'Choice Country Song'.

The fourth single, "Mama's Song", was officially released to radio on September 13, 2010.[32] Underwood announced this in an interview after her performance on the Today Show on NBC on July 30. The video for the song premiered on VEVO on September 24, 2010.[33] This song reached the number two position on the country charts.

Year Song Peak chart positions
US Country US CAN
2009 "Cowboy Casanova" 1 11 16
"Temporary Home" 1 41 65
2010 "Undo It" 1 23 43
"Mama's Song" 2 56 68

Promotional singles[edit]

Prior to the release of the album, three promotional singles were released exclusively on Apple's iTunes Store. These promotional singles should not be confused with ordinary singles.

"Mama's Song" was the first promotional single and was released on October 12, 2009. It was released to radio as the fourth official single off the album on September 13, 2010.[32] "Temporary Home" was the second promotional single and was released on October 20, 2009. It was released to radio as the second official single off the album on December 14, 2009. "Undo It" was the final promotional single and was released on October 27, 2009. It was released to radio as the third official single off the album on May 24, 2010.

Song Peak chart
positions
Sales
US CAN
"Mama's Song" 56 68 39,000[34]
"Temporary Home" 41 65 31,000[35]
"Undo It" 23 43 28,000[35]

Other charted songs[edit]

"Change" was performed by Underwood on 2010's Idol Gives Back, and the song received a 2,001% gain in sales, selling 9,000 to a total of 53,000 digital downloads.[36] "Look at Me", a cover of a song originally by Alan Jackson, debuted at No. 22 on Country Digital Songs in 2014 after it appeared in a viral video,[37] and sold 18,000 copies for the week for a total of 80,000 sold.[38]

Year Single Peak positions
US Country US
2009 "Change" 109
2011 "Songs Like This" 38
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Promotion[edit]

Prior to the release of Play On, three promotional singles were made available by iTunes. "Mama's Song" released on October 12 followed by "Temporary Home" which was released on October 20 and "Undo It" released on October 27. Billboard.com also posted a 60 second clip of each song being released on iTunes.

She debuted several of her singles at the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association Awards.

She also appeared on several shows to promote her album including Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Live With Regis and Kelly, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show on NBC, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, American Music Awards, CNN International, and at the Grand Ole Opry.

Underwood also performed in Singapore on October 16, 2009; it is her first public appearance in an Asian country in line of a series of events for the grand opening of the newest shopping attraction in the heart of the city, ION Orchard.[39]

North American Tour[edit]

On March 11, 2010, Underwood began the Play On Tour. The tour includes several legs traveling across the globe, with the first and second leg focusing on the United States and Canada. The first began in Reading, Pennsylvania on March 11, and concluded in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Minnesota State Fair on August 31, 2010. The second leg began on September 25, 2010 in Portland, Oregon, and concluded on December 19 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her opening acts/guest performers for the spring tour were Craig Morgan and Sons of Sylvia. The second leg included Sons of Sylvia and country singer Billy Currington.

In July 2010, the tour ranked at number fifteen on the Top 100 Tours for the first half of the year. Within four 4 months of the tour's first leg, it raked in an approximate total of $18,400,000, and has sold more than 375,000 tickets.

In December 2010, the tour ranked at number eighteen for the largest North American tours of 2010,[40] and again at number 31 for the largest tours worldwide[41] for the 2010 touring year. The tour made a collective total of $38,300,000 [40] and reached to over one million fans,[42] becoming Underwood's largest tour to date.

Australian Tour[edit]

On May 16, 2011, Sony Music and Underwood collectively announced that the Country singer would travel to Australia in June 2011 to promote her Play On album. During the tour's duration, Underwood would also release the Play On: Deluxe Edition exclusively to Australia. The album included six previous number one singles of Underwood's, as well as a studio recording of "Home Sweet Home", a recording in which has never been featured on an album before.[43] Underwood participated in numerous televised events, media coverage, talk shows, and other miscellaneous appearances to promote the album. This was Underwood's first time headlining an international tour.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Cowboy Casanova"   Underwood, Mike Elizondo, Brett James Bright 3:56
2. "Quitter"   Underwood, Max Martin, Shellback, Savan Kotecha Martin, Shellback 3:40
3. "Mama's Song"   Underwood, Kara DioGuardi, Marti Frederiksen, Luke Laird Bright 4:00
4. "Change"   Katrina Elam, Josh Kear, Chris Tompkins Bright 3:12
5. "Undo It"   Underwood, DioGuardi, Frederiksen, Laird Bright 2:57
6. "Someday When I Stop Loving You"   Hillary Lindsey, Steve McEwan, Gordie Sampson Bright 4:02
7. "Songs Like This"   Marty Dodson, Jerry Flowers, Tom Shapiro Bright 2:37
8. "Temporary Home"   Underwood, Laird, Zac Maloy Bright 4:28
9. "This Time"   Lindsey, McEwan, Sampson Bright 3:51
10. "Look at Me"   Jim Collins, Paul Overstreet Bright 3:15
11. "Unapologize"   Underwood, Lindsey, Raine Maida, Chantal Kreviazuk Bright 4:36
12. "What Can I Say" (featuring Sons of Sylvia) Underwood, David Hodges, McEwan Bright 3:57
13. "Play On"   Underwood, Natalie Hemby, Laird Bright 3:41
Total length:
48:28

Chart performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart, as well as the Billboard 200, with first week sales of 318,000 copies.[1] Play On spent nine consecutive weeks at number two in Top Country Albums Chart, and stayed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 for its first eight weeks of release. As of April 2013, the album has sold 2,196,000 copies in the US.[2] The album debuted at number 114 on the Japan Oricon Albums Chart and number 93 on the UK Albums Chart,[44] becoming Underwood's first entry on both charts. In Canada, the album debuted at number two on the Canadian charts with 15,000 sales.[45] In Australia, it debuted at number three on the Top 20 Country Albums chart and at number 80 on the National Album Charts ARIA Top 100 despite very little advertising at the time. In June 2011, Underwood traveled to Australia for a promotional tour for the deluxe edition of Play On. For the chart week following her promotional tour, the album re-entered both the Top 20 Country Albums chart and the National Album Charts ARIA Top 100 at number two and number fourteen, respectively. The following week, it rose to number one on the Top 20 Country Albums chart, giving Underwood her first number one album in Australia, and remained stable on the National Album Charts ARIA Top 100, at number fifteen. As of May 1, Play On has reached Gold status in Australia and it's her first album to do so.[3]

Play On charted at number nineteen on Billboard's 2009 year-end chart.[46] In December 2010, the album placed on Billboard's Year-End Charts, landing at number four for Country Albums, and at number twelve for Billboard 200 Albums. The following year, it charted at number 37 for Country Albums [47] and number 176 for Billboard 200 Albums.[48]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
position
Canadian Albums Chart[45] 2
Canadian Country Albums Chart[45] 1
Irish Albums Chart[49] 91
Japan Oricon Albums Chart[50] 114
UK Albums Chart[44] 93
UK Country Artist Albums Chart[51] 2
US Billboard 200[52] 1
US Billboard Top Country Albums[52] 1
Chart (2011) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Albums Chart[53] 14
Australian ARIA Country Albums Chart[54] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Position
Australian ARIA Charts Top Country Albums 39[55]
US Billboard 200 12[56]
US Billboard Top Country Albums 4[57]
Chart (2011) Position
Australian ARIA Charts Top Country Albums 10[58]
US Billboard 200 176[59]
US Billboard Top Country Albums 37[60]
Chart (2012) Position
Australian ARIA Charts Top Country Albums 32[61]

Certifications[edit]

Country Certifications
Australia Gold[3]
Canada Platinum[62]
United States 2× Platinum

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
This Is It by Michael Jackson
U.S. Billboard 200 number-one album
November 21, 2009
Succeeded by
The Circle by Bon Jovi
Preceded by
Fearless by Taylor Swift
Top Country Albums number-one album
November 21-December 5, 2009
Succeeded by
Fearless by Taylor Swift

Release history[edit]

Region Date
United Kingdom[63] November 2, 2009 (2009-11-02)
Singapore[64]
Norway
Finland
Sweden
United States[64] November 3, 2009 (2009-11-03)
Canada[65]
Spain
Denmark
South Africa
Luxembourg
Belgium
Netherlands
Austria
New Zealand
France
Switzerland
Portugal
Ireland
Thailand
Germany
Greece
Australia[66] November 6, 2009 (2009-11-06)
United Arab Emirates February 3, 2010 (2010-02-03)
Japan May 19, 2010 (2010-05-19)
Australia (Deluxe Edition) June 10, 2011 (2011-06-10)
New Zealand (Deluxe Edition)

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External links[edit]