(PHOTO, AT THE IDOL AUDITION: ''They said around 100,000 people tried out. For me to think that I'm one in 100,000 was ludicrous'')
EW: Do you like being famous?
CU: I love being able to perform in front of people. I like potentially making a difference in somebody's day or somebody's life. Sometimes things can get kind of scary. Like, I was in Victoria's Secret the other day, which I went to for the first time last year, 'cause, I don't know, I have a weird thing about that. I have problems going into a store like that. I'm a private person, and I don't want people knowing what kind of underwear I like. It's creepy! But these girls followed me the whole time, and I'm like, ''Man, they see every single pair of underwear I'm putting in my little shopping bag!'' Just say something. Say hey, I'll say hey, it'll be good, and then we can both continue shopping.
EW: So what do you want us to know about you?
CU: Not that much. I'm funny but I'm not, like, too funny. I'd rather go bowling than go to a club. A lot of people think I don't like them just because I'm pretty quiet. But there are certain things people don't necessarily need to know. There's got to be some things for me.
EW: Both of your older sisters have kids. How old were they when they got married?
CU: I think Shanna was 17, and I think Stephanie was 19. I'm about the only person in my family that's made it to 24 without being married. That's the way it works where I'm from. Most people, if you find someone to marry in high school, you do that, and if you don't find that, then you find someone in college. The End. I couldn't imagine myself being married [now].
"I am accepted as I need to be," she says. "I feel good. Country radio has been good to me and a lot of people have been great to me. It's like any other job or thing you do; there are going to be people at the office who are great to you and there are going to be people who aren't so great to you and cause drama."
Now secure with her place in the industry, she has no interest in convincing anyone that she belongs.
"If somebody likes me or likes the way I sing or the way I am onstage, awesome," she says. "I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I've realized that people who don't like you for any reason are never going to like you, most likely. You can't win most people over. I remember being in high school and someone saying, 'My favorite singer is blah blah.' I would be like, 'Ugh, you like that person? I hate them.' Somebody is saying that about me. That's just the way it is."
Sony/BMG (RLG) Chief Joe Galante, who predicts Underwood's new album will go multiplatinum in a market declining 30 percent in sales, says he shudders to think about country's market share without Underwood's 6 million in sales.