During American Idol's fourth season, Simon Cowell raised eyebrows when he predicted that Carrie Underwood would outsell any of the show's previous winners. And, lo and behold, the Oklahoma native has done just that, selling nearly 10 million albums thanks to her country-pop crossover appeal. Come November 12, she'll face her next great challenges — sweating out two nominations, performing live and soldiering her way through awkward banter — when she cohosts the Country Music Awards with Brad Paisley. The 25-year-old superstar, who's currently on a national tour, talked to us about how she's prepping for the big day. — Nisha Gopalan
TV Guide: Have you done any pre-hosting research?
Carrie Underwood: Growing up I saw tons of awards shows, so I'm pretty familiar with the blunders and mishaps. Um, I'm not worried yet [Laughs]. But I may be at a later date.
TV Guide: You've toured with Brad Paisley before, and he's known for his pranks. How do you know he won't try to pull a fast one with you on the air?
Underwood: Before I went on tour with him, I did a lot of interviews and was like, "If he does anything to me, I'll cryyyyy." I think maybe that got him.
TV Guide: You're on tour now — do you watch any TV on the bus?
Underwood: Honestly, I have a hard time watching shows. The background noise is my favorite. I watch a lot of ESPN. Anything I don't really have to follow. All year I wait for football season. This year I'm supporting the Jets, 'cause I really want Brett Favre to do well. And I really like the Titans, 'cause I live in Tennessee now — [injured quarterback] Vince Young had it rough recently. And when American Idol is on, I always make time to watch it.
TV Guide: Are there plans for you to appear on Idol when it returns?
Underwood: No plans thus far. But I'll go back as long as they want me back. I love to hang out with all the people on the show. It's nice to go back and say, "This is what you're working toward."
TV Guide: A lot of former Idols, like Fantasia and Clay Aiken, have dabbled in acting. Do you have similar ambitions?
Underwood: Um...no. If something came up and it sounded like fun, I'd be all about it. But a lot of people try to cross over from singing to acting, and from acting into singing — and most of the time they're not very good. My major in college was broadcast journalism. That's probably why I'm pretty good in front of the cameras for commercials, and hopefully it will make me more prepared for the CMAs.
TV Guide: Speaking of commercials, can you explain your wacky "horse whisperer" Vitamin Water ad?
Underwood: That's what I love about them — none of their commercials really make sense. Like, you've got Shaquille O'Neal on a pony trying to win a horse race. They're so great.... The greatest thing about having endorsement deals is, you're like, "Hey, I'm out of Vitamin Water. I need some more." And they'll send some over. And if I need more games for the Nintendo DS [which she also endorses], they'll send some over.
TV Guide: Your love life has made headlines [Underwood has previously been linked to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and Gossip Girl star Chace Crawford]. Have you considered adopting a civilians-only dating rule?
Underwood: I don't know if I could think like that. It's all about the person. I think people in the business tend to understand what I do more. But they're just as busy as I am. So that's tough, too. It's very hard to find time to spend with each other. But I've learned my lesson. I don't talk about it anymore.
TV Guide: Are you single?
Underwood: Um...I'm not even going there. I'm happy, and that's as far as I'll go. [Underwood is reportedly dating The Bachelor: Paris' Dr. Travis Stork.]
TV Guide: Do you at least talk to your girlfriends about boys?
Underwood: Kellie Pickler and I definitely do. We're a bit closer in age — and we've been done wrong. So it's nice to get together and talk to her. And also Lindsey Cardinale, who was on Idol with me. She's a really good friend and that's all we talk about!
TV Guide: Did you support a candidate in the presidential race?
Underwood: I [didn't ] support publicly. I lose all respect for celebrities when they back a candidate.
TV Guide: Why is that?
Underwood: It's saying that the American public isn't smart enough to make their own decisions. I think everybody needs to go check out what the candidates are all about and make an informed decision on their own. I would never want anybody to vote for anything or anybody just because I told them to. Music is where you go to get away from all the BS. Whether it's from politics or just the world around you, music should be an escape.