16 Years Ago: Carrie Underwood Wins ‘American Idol’ Season 4
These days, Carrie Underwood is a country superstar, but in 2005, her journey to the top of the genre was just beginning. It was May 25, 2005 — 16 years ago — that Underwood won the fourth season of American Idol.
A Checotah, Okla., native, Underwood had been singing in church, at school and at local event since she was a kid. After high school, though, she gave up singing in an effort to be "practical" and find a more likely future career path. To that end, Underwood was in college at Oklahoma's Northeastern State University, studying mass communication with a focus on journalism, when she auditioned for American Idol in 2004.
Underwood's audition happened in St. Louis that August. She sang Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" for judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson and earned a "golden ticket" to the show's Hollywood Round. Slowly but surely, she progressed through the competition: into the Top 24, then the Top 20 and so on.
Throughout the elimination rounds, Underwood was never once among the bottom three contestants. In the end, she and Bo Bice were the two remaining Idol hopefuls.
During the American Idol Season 4 finale, Underwood performed Martina McBride's "Independence Day," Guy Sebastian's "Angels Brought Me Here" and "Inside Your Heaven" — that season's original "coronation song," which she reprised after being announced as the winner.
When host Ryan Seacrest announced her name as the season's winner, the now-country-star became visibly emotional, but kept a smile on her face. Her family was in the audience, and a legion of supporters were watching along elsewhere, too. Watch the big moment above.
"Inside Your Heaven" went to No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, but only peaked at No. 52 on the country singles chart. Her second single, "Jesus, Take the Wheel" — the first from Underwood's debut album, 2005's Some Hearts — was her first country chart-topper. The album dropped in November of 2005.