Idols/Voice Gone Country – 2014 Look Back & 2015 Look Ahead! (Part Two)

It’s your Idols/Voice Gone Country 2014 Look Back & 2015 Preview. Here in Part Two, check out 2014 recaps, video, sales info and 2015 new music updates (including new cowrites!) for Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, the Swon Brothers and Carrie Underwood!

Cassadee Pope began the year with “Wasting All These Tears” peaking at #10 on both the Billboard Country Airplay and Aircheck/Mediabase chart in late January. About a month later, Cassadee was the sole woman among the 5 acts to perform at Country Radio Seminar’s New Faces show, which spotlights 5 up & coming new acts as voted on by country radio people (see video of her performance of “Wasting All These Tears” here). “Wasting All These Tears” would go platinum in early March. Shortly after, Cassadee released the official video for her next single to country radio, “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart” (cowritten by Jon Green, Ashley Monroe and Gordie Sampson), and the song officially went for adds on march 17.

In June, Cassadee followed her 1st ever nominations for a CMT Music Award with a win for Breakthrough Video Of The Year, an award that was presented to her by her Voice coach Blake Shelton. Cassadee followed that win with “live” video (really, studio audio dubbed over a live performance) for “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart.” But the single ran into country radio’s wall against solo women and peaked at #32 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and #31 on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart.

Still, Cassadee soldiered on with an active slate of live performances. She was the secondary support act on country superstar Tim McGraw’s summer Sundown Heaven Town tour, during which McGraw would bring her out for harmonies on 1 of the best tracks on his new album, “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools” (Barry Dean / Luke Laird / Jonathan Singleton)

She also opened a few dates on the Dierks Bentley Riser tour, where she joined primary support act Randy Houser and the headliner on stage for the closing song (“Sideways,” cowritten by Jim Beavers / Dierks Bentley):

Cassadee also joined fellow pop/rock to country crossover Darius Rucker for a few shows, where he brought her out to perform “Jackson, the Jerry Leiber / Billy Wheeler tune performed by Johnny and June Carter Cash, among others:

She also debuted a new song of her own called “Like There’s No Tomorrow,” though it was one that she had cowritten with Chris DeStefano and David Hodges for Frame By Frame.

Last-known sales
Frame By Frame: 181k as of August 10, 2014 (source via Roughstock)
“Wasting All These Tears” (single): 1.013 million through March 29, 2014 (source)

Looking ahead: Cassadee has booked a a bunch of festival dates for the year and is working on new music. She recently confirmed she had cowritten around 30 songs for the project. Check out some of the titles and songwriters here:

“Break Up Song” (Jon Green / Cassadee Pope / Laura Veltz)
“Call Waiting” (Natalie Hemby / Luke Laird / Cassadee Pope)
“Go To Girl” (Shane McAnally / Josh Osborne / Cassadee Pope)
“If I Had Your Heart” (Shane McAnally / Josh Osborne / Cassadee Pope)
“Let Me Go” (Tina Parol / Cassadee Pope / Kevin Rudolf)
“Right Back Home” (Nathan Chapman / Charles Kelley / Cassadee Pope)

RaeLynn finally saw the reward for over 2 years of artist development and songwriting when her debut single “God Made Girls” was released in June. After 16 weeks on the radio, where the single seemed to stall in the 30s, RaeLynn was selected as a Clear Channel iheartradio On The Verge act, the 1st female country act to be fasttracked by country radio into the t20. Now 27 weeks old (including 2 weeks of holiday slowdown), the polarizing tune, which has come under a lot of criticism for lyrics many find sexist, sits at #19 on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart and #18 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. But it continues to sell ahead of airplay, and has been ranked in the t10 of Itunes country tracks for several weeks now. RaeLynn has promoted her single with many radio dates, an official music video, and a 12/1/2014 performance on The Voice.

Last Known Sales:
“God Made Girls” (single): 272k as of December 14, 2014 (sales are probably between 330-340k now, so “God Made Girls” is well on its way to attaining a gold-level sales).

Looking Ahead: Looking ahead: RaeLynn is set to be the secondary opener on 12 dates of Miranda Lambert’s soon-to-begin (and aspirationally titled) Certified Platinum tour and also has additional radio dates scheduled. Considering GMG’s sales, expect RaeLynn’s label Valory Records (part of Big Machine Label Group) to continue promoting it at radio to at least a t10 peak. Big Machine is notorious for waiting on album releases until a second single has made a mark, so it may be late spring/summer 2015 before RaeLynn’s debut album is out. RaeLynn has done a lot of songwriting leading up to her debut album. Here’s as full a list of her known cowrites and cuts as I have:

* “Always Sing” (Nicolle Galyon / Jimmy Robbins / RaeLynn) – likely cut
“Better Do It” (Barry Dean / Luke Laird / RaeLynn) – a confirmed cut
“Careless” (Lindy Robbins / Kara DioGuardi / Jon Nite / Rae Lynn Woodward) – a confirmed cut
“Confetti Heart” (Cary Barlowe / Hillary Lindsey / RaeLynn)
“Country Swag” (Tofer Brown / RaeLynn)
“Dirty Word” (Nicolle Galyon / Jimmy Robbins / RaeLynn) – a confirmed cut
“Double Dog Dare” (Nicolle Galyon / Caitlyn Smith / RaeLynn)
* “For A Boy” (Laura Veltz / RaeLynn) – confirmed 2nd single
“Gullible Heart” (Dave Barnes / Jack Mooring / RaeLynn) – a confirmed cut
“I Need It Bad” (Hillary Lindsey / Lori McKenna / Liz Rose / RaeLynn)
“Kissin’ Frogs” (Shane McAnally / Jimmy Robbins / RaeLynn) – a confirmed cut
“Lonely Call” (Nicolle Galyon / Rob Hawkins / RaeLynn)
“Love Triangle” (Nicolle Galyon / Jimmy Robbins / RaeLynn) – a confirmed cut
“Prayin For Rain” (Nicolle Galyon / Leeland Mooring / RaeLynn)
“Pretty Black Sheep” (Tofer Brown / Hillary Lindsey / RaeLynn)
“Rewind Girl” (Nathan Barlowe / Cary Barlowe / RaeLynn)
“Rock This Town” (Sarah Buxton / Nathan Chapman / Blair Daly / RaeLynn)
“Texas” (busbee / Nathan Chapman / RaeLynn)
“This Is Me” (Nathan Chapman / Eric Paslay / RaeLynn)
“Uh Oh Boy” (Nathan Chapman / Tina Parol / RaeLynn)
“What Would Dolly Do” (Tofer Brown / RaeLynn)
“Wild Horse” (Blair Daly / Hillary Lindsey / RaeLynn)
“Young” (Nicolle Galyon / Leeland Mooring / RaeLynn)
“Your Heart” (Nicolle Galyon / Jimmy Robbins / RaeLynn)

See this post for video of RaeLynn performing “Love Triangle,” “Kissin’ Frogs,” “Careless,” and “Young.”

* signifies titles added 3/2/2015.

The Swon Brothers scored the highest first week adds total for debut single in Country Aircheck history when “Later On” (cowritten by Ryan Hurd / Joey Hyde / Justin Wilson) picked up 81 adds total by its 3/3/2014 impact date. They promoted “Later On” with an official video and heavy radio touring, and it went on to become a t15 hit. “Later On”‘s airplay success set up the 10/14/2014 release of The Swon Brothers’s self-titled debut major label album via Arista Nashville, which they co-produced with Mark Bright. In addiiton to the 1st 2 singles, the album features a Swon Brothers cowrite with Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum (“Songs That Said It All”) and background vocals from Carrie Underwood on the closing track, “This Side Of Heaven.”The Swon Brothers promoted the release of their album with a performance of their 2nd single, “Pray For You” on the Today Show. “Pray For You” sits at #45 on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart in its 10th week out (including 2 weeks of holiday/year-end programming shifts), and sat at #47 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in its 9th week out.

The Swon Brothers also started to make their presence known on the country awards circuit in September. In early September, the Swon Brothers became the 1st Voice contestant alumni to be nominated for a major industry awards when they were nominated for Vocal Duo Of The Year at the CMA Awards. Sure, they were helped by a thin field of duos, but still. About a week later, they spoke and performed a well-received medley of “Wasted” and “See You Again” in honor of Carrie Underwood, Zach’s old college friend, for the ACM Honors. See a clip of their performance and speech here.

Last known total sales:
The Swon Brothers (album, released 10/14/2014): 24.3k through 12/14/2014 (thanks girlygirl in comments)
“Later On” (single): 227k through 10/19/2014 (via Soundscan)

Looking ahead: The Swon Brothers are currently promoting their second single, “Pray For You,” which is cowritten by Jessi Alexander, Tommy James, and EMI Nashville singer/songwriter Eric Paslay. They are also set as the secondary openers for Brad Paisley on the winter leg of Country Nation tour.

Carrie Underwood began the year by making pointed comments about country radio’s lack of openness to new female acts, comments that she has reiterated in several interviews since then. She the 1st half of the year without a current single at country radio, which only became more male-dominated without its biggest female star. In June, she returned to country radio via a “bad girl” duet with the only other female country A-lister radio will “automatic”ally play, her pal Miranda Lambert. “Somethin’ Bad” was the 2nd single from Miranda’s 5th solo studio album Platinum, and got a head start when Miranda and Carrie debuted it live at the Billboard Music Awards, where Carrie won the fan-voted Billboard Milestone Award. It went on to sell 105k copies in its 1st week out, and has been certified platinum with help from 24 million+ VEVO views of the official video. Despite strong download sales and streams (which helped SB peak at #1 on the Billboard hybrid Hot Country Songs chart), “Somethin’ Bad” would peter out at #7 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and #8 on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart in mid-October.

“Somethin’ Bad” was 1 of several Carrie musical collaborations in 2014. In addition to guesting on the aforementioned Swon Brothers album, Carrie joined her friend and CMA Awards co-host Brad Paisley on a snarky “High Life” on his current album Moonshine In The Trunk – the song mocks a copyright lawsuit aimed at their double platinum #1 smash “Remind Me.” Carrie also joined popular Christian contemporary act Michael W. Smith for a new version of his popular Christmas hit “All Is Well,” which they performed for CMA Country Christmas (see telecast video: here). Carrie had several live collaborations this year, too, including a cover of Dolly Parton’s “9 To 5” at the Opry with her good friend Jennifer Nettles and a performance of “Let The Sparks Fly” with Christian metal stars Thousand Foot Krutch.

More collaborations came via some of the year’s high profile live events. In April, Carrie joined a dream team of Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Stevie Nicks, and Bonnie Raitt to salute Linda Ronstadt at this year’s Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony, which was broadcast on HBO. And then in November, she was joined by U2‘s lead guitarist The Edge when she performed at a surprise World AIDS Day concert in New York City’s Times Square at Bono’s personal invitation. Carrie further established her place as country music’s ambassador at major social consciousness-raising events when she became the 1st country act to co-headline the annual Global Citizens Festival in New York City, a live concert in Central Park, New York City that was broadcast live on MSNBC and that was highlighted on NBC. She also joined an all-star roster of talent on Veterans Day at The Mall in Washington, D.C. for The Concert For Valor, which honored the sacrifices of those who serve in the military, as well as those of their families.

2014 also saw Carrie collecting honors for her career accomplishments, her risk-taking and her philanthropic work. In February, Carrie received the Country Radio Broadcasters Artist Humanitarian Award (video at the link). In April, Carrie made her 1st appearance on Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential list. As already mentioned, she won the fan-voted Billboard Milestone Award for starting her career with 18 t10 (actually t2) hits, a number that has risen to 20 this year. In June, Carrie won the fan-voted CMT Award for Video Of The Year for “See You Again.” And as mentioned above, she was feted at the ACM Honors with the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award for “unprecedented, unique and outstanding individual achievement in country music.” See video of her speech here:

Carrie continued her commitment to giving back by debuting a charity single called “Keep Us Safe” that she debuted at the ACM All Star Salute To The Troops, which aired on CBS in May. Cowritten by Carrie with Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Shane McAnally, the song was a prayer from the point of view of somebody serving in the military. Proceeds from sales of the song were donated to ACM’s Lifting Lives organization. Carrie subsequently performed “Keep Us Safe” at 1 of her 10 appearances this year at the Grand Ole Opry (the same night she also performed fan favorite “Wine After Whiskey”):

She also served in lower key venues by volunteering at Room In The Inn for Thanksgiving, and helping out at the animal shelter she started and funds back in her hometown of Checotah, Oklahoma.

Carrie also continued and deepened her TV presence in 2014, returning for a 2nd year for the introductory theme song/video for NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and returning for a 7th year to cohost the CMA Awards with Brad Paisley (video of their opening monologue and Carrie’s performance here), a stint they promoted on The View, Late Night With Seth Meyers and Access Hollywood and to country radio And in September came a surprise announcement that Carrie would team with super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Ildy Modrovich, Warner Brothers TV and the FOX Network to develop a limited run series based on Carrie’s platinum-certified #1 hit “Two Black Cadillacs.”

Also expanding in 2014? Carrie’s corporate partnerships. Carrie was named Global Brand Ambassador for Almay in January, in addition to teaming with Nicole by O.P.I. for a line of nail polish lacquers inspired by her. Then, in December, Carrie announced that she would be teaming with Dick’s Sporting Goods for an activewear line called Calia that caters to busy women juggling career, fitness, family and friends. The line will launch on March 5, 2015. Check out a couple of teasers here:

As much as Carrie had going on for the 1st 8 months of 2014, the biggest news of all came on Labor Day when Carrie announced that she and husband Mike Fisher are expecting their 1st child together. They would later confirm that they are expecting a boy, and that Baby Boy Fisher is due in early spring 2015.

With that happy news came the announcement that Carrie would release Greatest Hits: Decade #1, her 1st greatest hits album marking 10 years since her audition for American Idol. The album was led by a new single, “Something In The Water,” a passionate, uptempo gospel-pop-roots tune in which Carrie and her cowriters Chris DeStefano and Brett James repurpose the phrase in the title to be about baptism. It was and is a song like nothing else on country radio, but resonated immediately out of the gate with 125k downloads sold 1st week and a top-20 debut at country radio. The release of the official video, which was directed by Raj Kapoor features choreography by So You Think You Can Dance alum Travis Wall combined with Carrie’s CMA performance propelled the song to #1 on the Billboard’s hybrid Hot Country Songs chart, a perch it has held for 4 weeks so far. “Something In The Water” finished 2014 as the year’s top-selling single by a solo female act (excluding the Miranda/Carrie duet) and Q4’s most downloaded country song.

Carrie promoted the 12/9/2014 release of her double-disc Greatest Hits: Decade #1 album with performances on the Tonight Show, the Today Show, the inaugural American Country Countdown Awards, as well as an iheartradio album release concert and appearances on The Talk and The Rachel Ray Show (video from all 3 here.). All this led to a strong sales for the set, which became Carrie’s 5th consecutive #1 country album, had the highest 1st week sales for any greatest hits package in 6 1/2 years, and the highest first week sales for a greatest hits set from a female act in nearly 10 years, with 94k in pure album sales (#4 all-genre for the week) and 103k album-equivalent units on the newly hybrid Billboard 200.

Carrie kicked off 2015 with the airing of a Today Show performance of “Two Black Cadillacs”:

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Last known total sales: (via Roughstock unless otherwise indicated)
Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (album, released 12/9/2014): 202k through 12/28/2014 (source: Billboard Country Update 1/5)
“Something In The Water” (single, released 9/29/2014): 668k through 12/28/2014 (source: Billboard Country Update 1/5)
“Little Toy Guns” (album track): 8k through 12/14/2014
“Somethin’ Bad” (duet with Miranda Lambert): 869k through 11/16/2014 (source via Roughstock)
Blown Away (album, released 5/1/2012): 1.693 million through 10/2014 (via Hits Daily Double’s Upcoming Releases list)
“Blown Away” (single) though 12/14/2014: 2.658 million through 12/14/2014
“How Great Thou Art” (Grand Ole Opry performance) through 12/14/2014: 599k
“Before He Cheats” (single) through 12/14/2014: 4.043 million through 12/14/2014
“Jesus Take The Wheel” (single) through 12/14/2014: 2.359 million through 12/14/2014

Looking ahead: Above all else, Carrie has the birth of her baby boy with husband Mike Fisher to look forward to in early spring. Meanwhile, Carrie’s “Something In The Water” is looking to make a charge at #1 on the country airplay charts sometime this month, to match its #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It is likely that “Little Toy Guns,” the other original song on Carrie’s Greatest Hits: Decade #1 album, will follow at country radio. As already noted, the Calia by Carrie Underwood activewear line launches on 3/5/2015. Carrie has booked several fair/festival dates for the summer of 2015. Carrie has also confirmed her intention in multiple interviews (here, here, and here) to continue writing and working on new music in the 1st half of this year, with the intent of going back into the studio this summer and releasing a new album in late 2015.

Here are additional cowrites that have surfaced recently:

ASCAP registrations via Typo at Pulse:
“Get Even” (Luke Laird / Hillary Lindsey / Shane McAnally / Carrie Underwood)
“Hallelujah Hometown” (Brandy Clark / Shane McAnally / Carrie Underwood)
“Is It Just Me?” (Ashley Gorley / Shane McAnally / Carrie Underwood)
“Million Dollar Bonfire” (Brandy Clark / Shane McAnally / Carrie Underwood)
“The Song Plays On” (Luke Laird / Shane McAnally / Carrie Underwood)
“Tomorrow” (Luke Laird / Shane McAnally / Carrie Underwood)
“We’ve All Got One” (Luke Laird / Shane McAnally / Carrie Underwood)

ASCAP registrations via @Frntporchjunki, which show Carrie’s been writing with the 2 guys in Lady Antebellum
“Give It All” (Dave Haywood / Charles Kelley / Carrie Underwood)
“Waiting For” (Dave Haywood / Charles Kelley / Carrie Underwood)

See this post for a list of additional holds, cut & co writes.

About Deb B 432 Articles
Also known as Windmills, I cover country music news and live televised country events, in addition to recapping ABC's 'Nashville.' Additionally, I occasionally do long-form chart analysis that has been cited by Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New Republic, NPR, and more.