Carrie Underwood is the most successful "American Idol" alum of all time, so you'd think that when she returned this week to perform on the show, after seven years and four hit albums, nerves wouldn't be an issue for her. But speaking to Yahoo!'s Reality Rocks backstage after guesting on "Idol's" top five results show, she readily admitted that whenever she's on "Idol," it feels like Season 4 all over again for her.
"It's always horrifying to come back, I'm not going to lie!" she laughed. "I perform all over the place, on television shows and in front of tens of thousands of people, but coming back here still strikes fear in my heart! I get so nervous! I guess it's just one of those Pavlov's-theory things; it just represents a scary time in my life."
Carrie revealed that watching the contestants squirm in their seats on elimination nights definitely stirs up memories of her own emotional "Idol" run, even though she was never actually in the bottom three herself. "Before the show tonight, I got to meet all of the remaining Idols and talk to them, and Phillip [Phillips] was like, 'You can come sit on the couch with us if you want to.' And I was like, 'No, no, my time on the couch is done! I don't want to be on that couch anymore. I'm good!" she joked.
As for any words of wisdom that she had for this season's crop of aspiring Idols, Carrie quipped, "There's really no advice I can give them at this point that can make their lives better! They've just got to hold on and endure it, and learn as much as they can." But Carrie didn't seem to be too worried about country contestant Skylar Laine, who'd earned comparisons to Carrie this season but ironically was eliminated the same night Carrie performed. "She doesn't need my advice! She's already light-years ahead of where I was when I was on 'Idol.' I think she'll be welcomed into country music with open arms," said Carrie.
Regarding how she has evolved since winning "Idol" in Season 4, Carrie spoke excitedly of her brand-new release, Blown Away, saying: "I feel like we've taken several different directions with this album. That's something I'm pretty proud of. I don't want to have a 'theme.' There is no theme. The theme is imagination and creativity, and just not having a box to be in--getting to push boundaries in every direction. I do sing songs that are a little bit darker, and I sing songs that are more gritty-country than I've ever done before...I'm very proud of the diversity."
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