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JUN
30
4 WKS

Carrie Underwood Talks Live TV, 'Sunday Night Football,' New Album: 'It Feels Different'

The "American Idol" season-four winner opens up about her musical "progression," whether she'd jump on another classic musical and what to expect on game day.

Carrie Underwood football P 2010
Associated Press

Every fall, millions of viewers huddle around their television sets, indulge in chicken wings and popcorn, and tune into Sunday Night Football. Carrie Underwood is one of them.

After performing a sassy rendition of "Waiting All Day for Sunday Night" to open last year's show, Underwood is back to kick off the 2014 season of NBC's Sunday Night Football and, she tells The Hollywood Reporter, it promises to be one giant party.

"This year, they were going for a roaming party-concert — lots of lights and they wanted it to feel really high-energy," she explained. And though the song will be the same, this latest version is a bit fresher. "I got to go back into the studio and make a few tweaks," says Underwood, who taped the opening performance on June 25 in Los Angeles. "I love football. I'm honored they asked me to kick it off. Hopefully when people hear the song, they'll just feel ready for the big game!"

Underwood won't be the only star ushering in the kickoff. NFL favorites such as Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Terrell Suggs and J.J. Watt are also set to appear, along with Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Colin Kaepernick and DeMarcus Ware. Sunday Night Football coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli promises fans more of an interactive dynamic between Underwood and the players this year, as well as a sea of screaming fans. "It will be like a major block party in any city in America."

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In addition to prepping America for TV's most popular show, Underwood will be opening this year's Super Bowl. Gaudelli explains the Super Bowl XLIX kickoff video will feature "high-end digital graphics, the Lombardi trophy replicated larger than life and the traditional Super Bowl Roman numerals taking various shapes across the screen."

"I feel the glamour a bit more in that one," says Underwood. "It's a game like no other, so they wanted to make it have an opening like no other."

An avid football fan herself (though married to a hockey player) the country songstress was tight-lipped on who exactly she'll be rooting for this season. "I'm actually a free agent," she jokes. "I've been to a few Titans games. I was a huge Cowboys fan growing up, but I don't live close to them anymore." She did, however, admit that she and her Packers-obsessed friends do get together on occasion to watch football, and it's usually Green Bay that she ends up cheering for.

As far as what's next, Underwood tells THR that she'll soon be heading into the studio to work on her new album. "I've been writing a lot. It feels really good," she says. The American Idol season-four winner deems her latest endeavor as "a new version" of herself. As Underwood explains: "It's just a progression, a different sound without losing myself in it. I'm not taking some crazy musical departure from what I've done, but it definitely feels different. It will feel different, look different, sound different."

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Underwood also touched on her recent collaboration with Miranda Lambert, adding that while she has no immediate plans to feature Lambert on her upcoming album, she isn't ruling out collaborating with her again in the future. " 'Something Bad' was just the right song, the right time. All the stars lined up, and we got to do it. I guarantee that won't be the last time we sing together, but it just hasn't happened for this next album."

Live television, meanwhile, seems to be Underwood's strong suit, from her early days on Idol to multiple hosting stints on the CMA Awards to her starring role in 2013's production of The Sound of Music Live, which aired on NBC. The experience was fun, she says, but not necessarily something she'll tackle again. "It was hard work! I have such an appreciation for live theater, especially after doing that."

But the long hours were worth it, as Underwood's portrayal of Maria opened her up to a new audience of would-be fans. Says Underwood: "I run into people with kids, and they seem to be so appreciative that we had a family-friendly event on TV. I didn't realize how many families would be getting together to watch it, but they are like, 'Oh my gosh. We popped popcorn and got in front of the TV.' It was something that parents could do with their kids. And I thought that was pretty cool and something that's rare these days."

Twitter: @Idol_Worship