We often hold our emotions inside, putting on a brave face to hide any pain and insecurity. This song is about letting that go, which can be a catharsis. You can pretty much fake it for a while, but when it's time to cry, you can't cry pretty.
On November 10, 2017, Carrie Underwood fell on the steps outside of her home and suffered various injuries including a broken wrist and multiple cuts and abrasions. Her treatment at the hospital included receiving 40-50 stitches on her face. The accident altered Underwood's appearance and affected her self-confidence. This song finds the singer reflecting on her insecurities.
Oh no, you can't dress it up in lace or rhinestones
It don't matter if you're in a crowd or home all alone
Yeah, it's all the same when you're looking in the mirror
A picture of pain, so let it flow like a river
Underwood explained the "Cry Pretty" title refers to when emotions take over and you just can't hold them back.
"It really speaks to a lot of things that have happened in the past year, and I hope when you hear it, you can relate those feelings to those times in your life," she said. "It's emotional. It's real. And it ROCKS!"
The lead single from Carrie Underwood's sixth studio album, "Cry Pretty" was released on April 11, 2018. The record was the country star's first since she dropped Storyteller in 2015.
Carrie Underwood debuted the song on April 15, 2018 during the 2018 ACM Awards at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The emotional performance was the country star's first public appearance since the accident; she received a standing ovation from the crowd after her performance.
Carrie Underwood wrote the song with singer-songwriter Lori McKenna
, longtime collaborator Hillary Lindsey, and Liz Rose, who co-penned many of Taylor Swift's early hits. When writing together, Lindsey, Rose and McKenna call themselves the Love Junkies; they also wrote Little Big Town's hit "Girl Crush
Carrie Underwood recalled the story of the song. "Hillary came in with the title and a few lines and we all just loved it," she said. "I mean we're all women in different places in our lives and kind of have all lived different lives and from different places, but we all love music and we all love sharing our heart in our music. Off we went."
"I left that day so excited and feeling so good about and couldn't wait to get my hands on it, as an artist and also as a producer," Underwood added. "So, it's come a long way since the day we wrote it, but it's something I'm very proud of."
The song was produced by David Garcia (Kip Moore's "More Girls Like You
", Bebe Rexha's "Meant To Be
"), whom Underwood met in 2017. The country star said that she also co-produced the track along with the rest of the album.
"We hit it off in a big way," Underwood said. "I've always been lucky to have a voice in the writing and recording process, but this is the first time I am this involved in the production of my music. It's been challenging and incredibly rewarding to be involved in every aspect from start to finish. David has been an amazing teacher and partner, and I'm so proud of what we have created."
The video was directed by Randee St. Nicholas, who also did Underwood's "Blown Away
" and "Smoke Break
." The metaphor for crying pretty is embodied by the glitter that forms the tracks of her tears in the clip. It was shot in Nashville at the Noelle Hotel and the Municipal Auditorium.
Carrie Underwood's hope for the song is that people will be drawn into it on an emotional level from the get-go. She explained: "The first words of it are 'I'm Sorry,' and I feel like those are words that are powerful; they're two little words, but they kind of suck you in and I want people to be like, 'Well, why are you sorry?' and then kind of follow the rest of the musical journey that we go on. I want them to relate to it. I want them to be like, 'Oh my gosh! This is me. Whatever I'm going through, I can relate to this.'"
"By the end of it, I want people to feel, I want them to feel that release," Underwood continued. "The song just keeps getting bigger and bigger and it's pretty rocking by the end. So, I want people to listen to it and by the end, just feel like they've kind of gotten a little bit of an emotional release just by listening to the song."
The song's co-writer Lori McKenna told Entertainment Weekly she was very impressed with how Underwood was willing to embrace this very emotional song. "For her to be that vulnerable and talk about not having your s--t together all the time, I thought, was so brave. The makeup and the visual they put with it was so great, and gave everyone a glimpse of her being vulnerable. When you don't feel like you can lose your s--t for a minute, you can and then you'll be OK again."
Underwood's accident wasn't the only personal experience that served as inspiration for the song. The country superstar revealed to the US breakfast show CBS Sunday Morning that she suffered three miscarriages within the course of a year. Having given birth to her first son, Isaiah, in February of 2015, Underwood was delighted to find herself pregnant again early in 2017, but she lost the baby. "And that was the thing in the beginning," the singer recalled to CBS. "It was like, 'Okay, God, we know this just wasn't your timing, and that is alright. We will bounce back and figure out a way through it."
Underwood became pregnant again a few months later, but again, it didn't work out. When she suffered a third miscarriage early in 2018, it was overwhelming.
Throughout the whole trauma, Underwood was writing for the Cry Pretty album, which helped her deal with the pain. "Right after I'd found out I'd lose a baby, I'd have a writing session," she explained. "I'd be like, 'Let's go,' you know? I can't just sit around thinking about this. I wanna work. I wanna do this. Because I would literally have these horrible things going on in my life, and then have to go smile and do some interviews, or do a photo shoot, or something. So it was just kind of therapeutic, I guess."
Underwood admitted she was afraid to be angry about the triple tragedies, because she has such a blessed life. "My son Isaiah is the sweetest thing, and he's the best thing in the world," she said. "And I'm like, 'If we can never have any other kids, that's okay because he's amazing, and I have this amazing life.' Really, what can I can complain about? I can't. I have an incredible husband, incredible friends, an incredible job, an incredible kid. Can I be mad? No. And I got mad."
The Cry Pretty album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. This made Carrie Underwood the first woman to bring four country albums to the top of the all-genre chart. Blown Away (2012), Play On (2009) and Carnival Ride (2007) all previously reached the top.
The song's visual won Video of the Year at the 2019 CMT Music Awards. At the ceremony, Underwood also picked up the trophy for Female Video of the Year.