Play On (Carrie Underwood album)
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|Studio album by|
|Released||November 3, 2009|
|Recorded||July, 2008–September 2009; Starstruck Studios (Nashville)|
(New York City)
|Label||Arista Nashville, 19|
|Producer||Mark Bright, Max Martin, Shellback|
|Carrie Underwood chronology|
|Singles from Play On|
The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 318,000 copies, which was rated as the highest first-week sales for a female artist in 2009 upon release. 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.
The album spawned three consecutive Billboard Country Airplay number-one singles — "Cowboy Casanova", "Temporary Home" and "Undo It", all of which certified Multi-Platinum or Platinum by the RIAA. The fourth single, "Mama's Song", reached number two on the chart and received a Gold certification from the RIAA. "Cowboy Casanova" achieved one of the biggest single-week upwards on the Billboard Hot 100 of all time, when it climbed 96-11 in its second week.
"Temporary Home" and "Mama's Song" were both nominated for Grammy Awards, while Play On was nominated for Album of the Year at both the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards, and won Favorite Country Album at the 2010 American Music Awards.
The album was originally to have included some songs that Underwood wrote with Ne-Yo. 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. "Mama's Song" sold more than 31,000 copies in its debut week.
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. 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.
Underwood said later of the song "Someday When I Stop Loving You," "It never became a single, but it's one of my absolute favorites. I heard [co-writer] Hillary Lindsey’s voice on the demo, and I knew I had to have it."
Songwriter Luke Laird said of writing the album's title track, "Carrie had pretty much blocked out three months to write for this album, and she probably wrote over 60 songs during that period. This was the first time Natalie and Carrie had met, and "Play On" was actually the second song we wrote that day. When we finished writing the first song, Carrie went downstairs to get a drink, and I told Natalie, "I'll bet she's going to want to write another song." Because when Carrie comes in to write, she's ready to work all day."
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 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.
"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 jumped from number 96 to number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its second week, one of the biggest single-week upwards on the chart of all time. 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 has sold 2,300,000 copies in the United States and has been certified 2x platinum.
"Temporary Home", the second single, was released to country radio starting the week of December 14, 2009. 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 song received a nomination at the 53rd Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal performance. It has sold 1,093,000 copies and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA.
The third single, "Undo It", was released on May 24, 2010. Underwood performed the song on the season finale of American Idol and at the 2010 CMT Music Awards. The song peaked at number 23 on the Hot 100, giving Underwood her eleventh Top 40 single and reached number one on Hot Country Songs chart. "Undo It" was nominated for the 2010 Teen Choice Award for 'Choice Country Song'. It has sold 1,600,000 copies and has been certified Platinum.
The fourth single, "Mama's Song", was officially released to radio on September 13, 2010. 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. Mama's Song reached the number two position on the country charts. It has been certified Gold and has sold 443,000 copies. At the 54th Grammy Awards, the song was nominated for Best Country Solo Performance.
|Year||Song||Peak chart positions|
"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. "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.
Other charted songs
"Change" was performed by Underwood on 2010s Idol Gives Back, and the song received a 2,001% gain in sales, selling 9,000 to a total of 53,000 digital downloads. "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, and sold 18,000 copies for the week for a total of 80,000 sold.
|2011||"Songs Like This"||38||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
North American Tour
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 19 for the largest North American tours of 2010, and again at number 31 for the largest tours worldwide for the 2010 touring year. The tour made a collective total of $38,300,000  and reached to over one million fans, becoming Underwood's largest tour to date.
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. 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.
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The New York Times||(mixed)|
|St. Petersburg Times|||
Play On received mixed reviews. The album had a score of 54 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "mixed or average reviews" from music critics. 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." In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating (). 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."
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."
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."
|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|
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, and rated as the highest first week sales for a female artist in 2009, before being overtaken by Susan Boyle a few weeks later. In its second week, the album slipped to number three with sales of 128,000. 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. By October 2015, the album had sold 2,300,000 copies in the US, and it was certified 3x Platinum by the RIAA on October 24, 2016 for three million units in sales and streams.
The album debuted at number 114 on the Japan Oricon Albums Chart and number 93 on the UK Albums Chart, becoming Underwood's first entry on both charts. In Canada, the album debuted at number two on the Canadian charts with 15,000 sales. 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. It has reached Gold status in Australia and it is her first album to do so. Play On has since sold over three million copies worldwide.
Play On charted at number seventy three on Billboard 200 and at number 15 on Top Country Albums for the year ending 2009. In December 2010, the album was 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  and number 176 for Billboard 200 Albums.
|1.||"Cowboy Casanova"||Carrie Underwood, Mike Elizondo, Brett James||3:56|
|2.||"Quitter"||Underwood, Max Martin, Shellback, Savan Kotecha||Martin, Mark Bright||3:40|
|3.||"Mama's Song"||Underwood, Kara DioGuardi, Marti Frederiksen, Luke Laird||4:00|
|4.||"Change"||Katrina Elam, Josh Kear, Chris Tompkins||3:13|
|5.||"Undo It"||Underwood, DioGuardi, Frederiksen, Laird||2:58|
|6.||"Someday When I Stop Loving You"||Hillary Lindsey, Steve McEwan, Gordie Sampson||4:03|
|7.||"Songs Like This"||Marty Dodson, Jerry Flowers, Tom Shapiro||2:37|
|8.||"Temporary Home"||Underwood, Laird, Zac Maloy||4:29|
|9.||"This Time"||Lindsey, McEwan, Sampson||3:52|
|10.||"Look at Me" (featuring Vince Gill)||Jim Collins, Paul Overstreet||3:16|
|11.||"Unapologize"||Underwood, Lindsey, Raine Maida, Chantal Kreviazuk||4:38|
|12.||"What Can I Say" (featuring Sons of Sylvia)||Underwood, David Hodges, McEwan||3:57|
|13.||"Play On"||Underwood, Natalie Hemby, Laird||3:41|
|14.||"Don't Forget to Remember Me"||Morgane Hayes, Kelley Lovelace, Gorley||Bright||4:00|
|15.||"Jesus, Take the Wheel"||Brett James, Lindsey, Sampson||Bright||3:46|
|16.||"Before He Cheats"||Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear||Bright||3:19|
|17.||"So Small"||Underwood, Laird, Lindsey||Bright||3:45|
|18.||"Just a Dream"||Steve McEwan, Lindsey. Sampson||Bright||4:44|
|19.||"Last Name"||Underwood, Laird, Lindsey||Bright||4:01|
|20.||"Home Sweet Home"||Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee||Bright||3:38|
- The compact disc version of the Deluxe Edition is a two-disc package.
- The track numbers on disc 2 are numbered 1-7, which corresponds to numbers 14-20 listed above.
- Carrie Underwood – lead vocals (1-13), backing vocals (2)
- Christopher Stevens – keyboards (1), programming (1, 2)
- Max Martin – keyboards (2)
- Charles Judge – keyboards (3, 4, 5, 7-13), string arrangements and composer (4)
- Gordon Mote – acoustic piano (3, 8)
- Jimmy Nichols – keyboards (4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11), acoustic piano (5, 13)
- Kenny Greenberg – electric guitar (1, 5-8)
- Mike Johnson – steel guitar (1, 3, 6-10, 13)
- Jon Graboff – guitar (2), steel guitar (2)
- Shellback – guitar (2)
- Tom Bukovac – electric guitar (3, 5, 7, 8, 10-13)
- Ilya Toshinsky – acoustic guitar (3-13)
- Jerry McPherson – electric guitar (4, 9)
- Ashley Clark – acoustic guitar (12), lead vocals (12)
- Adam Clark – mandolin (12)
- Austin Clark – lap steel guitar (12)
- Jimmie Lee Sloas – bass guitar (1, 3-9, 12, 13)
- Chris McHugh – drums (1, 5, 7)
- Shannon Forrest – drums (3, 4, 6, 8-13)
- Eric Darken – percussion (3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13)
- Aubrey Haynie – fiddle (1, 5, 10)
- Jonathan Yudkin – cello (3), viola (3), violin (3, 8), string arrangements and composer (3)
- Lee Levine – clarinet (4)
- Sam Levine – flute (4)
- Beth Beeson – French horn (4)
- Jennifer Kummer – French horn (4)
- Carl Gorodetzky – string contractor (4)
- Eberhard Ramm – music copyist (4)
- Cello – Anthony LaMarchina, Carole Rabinowitz and Julie Tanner
- String bass – Jack Jezioro and Craig Nelson
- Viola – Monisa Angell, Bruce Christensen, Jim Grosjean, Betsy Lamb and Kristin Wilkinson
- Violin – David Angell, Janet Darnall, David Davidson, Conni Ellisor, Carl Gorodetzky, Stefan Petrescu, Pamela Sixfin, Alan Umstead, Catherine Umstead, Mary K. Vanosdale, Bruce Wethey and Karen Winkelmann
- Group Vocals (1)
- Chris Ashburn
- Tristin Brock-Jones
- Shawn Daughtery
- Nathan Dickinson
- Kerri P. Edwards
- Josh Fulmer
- Kerrie Hardwick
- Wes Hightower
- Tim Hunze
- Brett James
- Aaron Kasdorf
- Kelly King
- Kristen Wines
- Backing Vocals
- Lisa Cochran (3)
- Perry Coleman (3, 5, 9, 11)
- Lisa Cochran (4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13)
- Wes Hightower (4, 6, 7, 13)
- Hillary Lindsey (6, 8)
- Vince Gill (10)
- Sons of Sylvia (12)
- Mark Bright – producer (1, 3-13)
- Max Martin – producer (2), recording (2)
- Shellback – producer (2), recording (2)
- Derek Bason – recording (1, 3-13), mixing (1, 3-13), additional recording (2)
- Chris Ashburn – assistant recording (1-13), mix assistant (1, 3-13), additional recording (2)
- Tristin Brock-Jones – additional and assistant recording (1, 3-13)
- Shawn Daughtery – additional and assistant recording (1, 3-13)
- Christopher Stevens – additional recording (1, 3-13)
- Todd Tidwell – additional recording (1, 3-13)
- Nathan Dickinson – digital editing
- Adam Ayan – mastering at Gateway Mastering (Portland, Maine)
- Renee Bell – A&R
- Iain Pirie – A&R
- Kristen Wines – production assistant
- Mike "Frog" Griffith – production coordinator
- Tammie Harris Cleek – imaging production
- Judy Forde Blair – creative director, liner notes
- Scott McDaniel – creative director, cover design
- Tracy Baskett Fleaner – packaging
- Matthew Rolston – photography
- Robert Vetica – hair
- Francesca Tolot – make-up
- Julie Matos – styling
- Ann Edelblute – manager
- Simon Fuller – manager
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||80,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||3× Platinum||2,300,000|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
|United Kingdom||November 2, 2009|
|United States||November 3, 2009|
|Australia||November 6, 2009|
|United Arab Emirates||February 3, 2010|
|Japan||May 19, 2010|
|Australia (Deluxe Edition)||June 10, 2011|
|New Zealand (Deluxe Edition)|
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