NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Carrie Underwood has taken the handoff from Faith Hill to perform the musical introduction for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” but don’t expect the two country superstars to sing it the same way.
Hill performed the song for the last five seasons before Underwood took over this year. The singer says she wanted to put her own style on “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night,” the theme song based on Joan Jett’s rock ‘n’ roll anthem “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” Underwood’s version debuts Sunday before the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants.
“We were definitely mindful — she had put her mark on it for so many years,” Underwood said in a phone interview. “We definitely wanted to go in and make sure we switched gears a little bit and made it sound more like me. And changed up the look and the feel just so it wasn’t, you know, the same song with a different blondie up there singing it.”
Besides the football theme song, the former “American Idol” champion spoke with the AP about expanding her acting experience by starring as Maria in NBC’s live holiday production of “The Sound of Music,” and also returning with Brad Paisley as co-hosts for the 47th annual Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 6 on ABC.
AP: Did you aim to make the theme song sound more country than the original?
Underwood: I used my producer so there are going to be some elements that sound like me, of course, that’s what we wanted. But we weren’t like, “Hey, let’s use some fiddle,” or, “Hey, let’s use some steel guitar.” ... We just wanted to make it me and make it fit the situation.
AP: Are you nervous about learning lines for “Sound Of Music"?
Underwood: I am. I have definitely been doing my part before we all get together. I figure if I at least have the lines memorized by the time I get there we can slowly concentrate on delivering them. I definitely think I am going to be surrounded by some really amazing people, so I know they’ll be able to help me with that. On the flip side, I will be surrounded by people who might not be used to singing as much. Maybe I can return the favor and help them. But it will be good. I feel like I am a hard worker and we’re going to go in and we’re going to do it so many times by THE night, it’s going to feel like another rehearsal.
AP: One of the songs, “The Lonely Goatherd,” involves yodeling. Do you have to practice at that?
Underwood: That’s the one thing I don’t have to practice. I actually have some yodeling experience. I can yodel. I don’t think you can necessarily learn it. I can just do it. I didn’t have to learn it. I am one of the blessed few.
AP: You’re returning to host the CMAs with Brad Paisley for the sixth year. Do you even have to rehearse anymore?
Underwood: We definitely need to rehearse. We have fun rehearsing. ... All the people that work on it are friends. So we just go in there and do our thing and have fun and a few hours later we have some material. You never know what’s going to happen. Last year, there was so much stuff that was going down right before the show and this part was being taken out and they had this big ad campaign in there they had to take out and we were like, do we fill that time? What’s going to happen? Like an hour before the show, we are sitting in the production office going through everything. We didn’t know if we were over or under or how much time we had for anything or how long our bits were going to be. It was kind of madness. That was a reality check last year. And I am glad it happened on Year 5, and not Year 1.
AP: Do you like that aspect of live television when things don’t go to script and you have to improvise?
Underwood: No, I don’t like it at all! I’m a planner. In the end, when you’re like, “Oh wow, you never would have known when you were watching.” It’s almost something you feel proud of and can look back and laugh, but I really like for things to go the way they are supposed to go.