Carrie Underwood on 'New Year's Rockin' Eve': Why this makes sense

Carrie Underwood has performed on 'Year' before and her popularity as a singer and the current ubiquity of her genre, country music, makes the selection of her as a headlining performer a no-brainer. 

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Carrie Underwood performs on NBC's 'Today' show at Rockefeller Plaza.

Singer Carrie Underwood will be the headline performer for this year’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” 

Taylor Swift was the headliner for last year’s ABC broadcast, which used to be hosted by Dick Clark and is now headed up by Ryan Seacrest of “American Idol” and "American Top 40."

The back-to-back New Year's Eve appearances of country stars may be seen as another indicator that America has "gone country." 

Ms. Underwood recently released a new album, “Storyteller,” which has received mostly positive reviews from critics. She originally rose to prominence after appearing as a contestant on “Idol” and has become one of the show’s most successful graduates. Underwood recently became the performer to have received the most awards in the history of the CMT Music Awards.

While Swift announced before the release of her newest album, “1989,” that the album was a work in the pop genre, she started out as a country singer. Underwood performed on the New Year's Eve show in 2008, but other than that, many of the other performers originally skewed more to straight pop. Past acts on the show have included Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, the Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Lopez, and Mariah Carey. 

While pop acts are still present on the New Year's Eve show, in recent years, performers such as the country group Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, and The Band Perry have joined the lineup. 

Why this swing to country singers? For one, these are all stars by any measure. Swift is one of the biggest names in music at the moment and Underwood has proven herself to be a steadily successful performer.

And these performers being invited to sing during “New Year” reflects popularity of country music in general. When Lady Antebellum performed on the 2014 broadcast, the group was in Nashville – the ABC-TV show featured celebrations in the country music hub for the first time that year. 

The definition of country music itself is broadening, along with its stars, and that broadens the fan base. Singer Miranda Lambert, whose duet with Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad,” performed well on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (not just the country chart), said in an interview, “We're more popular than we've ever been as a genre because there's something for everybody.” During 2014, the company Live Nation said that tickets sold for their country music events increased 50 percent the previous year. 

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