Simon Cowell has just compared a contestant on America’s Got Talent to one of the most successful artists he’s ever come across on a talent show: Carrie Underwood. Let’s learn whom the legendary and notoriously picky judge was talking about.
A Carrie Underwood Refresher
Cast your mind to 2005. The Boston Red Sox were still riding the high from their historic World Series win the year before, and American Idol was more popular than the NFL.
The talent competition was a phenomenon that had already made household names out of Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, and Jennifer Hudson. It was a legitimate star-making vehicle the likes of which we haven’t seen before or since.
Underwood was 21 when she auditioned for season four of the show in St. Louis. She immediately stuck out from the crowd, and handily won the competition. When it was down to the top 11, Underwood sang a cover of Heart’s hit Alone. Cowell offered her immense praise after her performance.
“You’re not just the girl to beat, you’re the person to beat. I will make a prediction: Not only will you win this show, but you will also sell more records than any other previous Idol winner.” Underwood was taken aback, asking Ryan Seacrest to pinch her. Cowell was right: Underwood has sold approximately a million more records than any other Idol contestant.
Cowell famously left American Idol in 2010 to be a judge on The X Factor. It too was a hit, and he started working on America’s Got Talent in 2015. Season 17 is underway, and saxophone player Avery Dixon is starting to stick out.
The 21-year-old from Atlanta, the same age Underwood was when she won, earned a standing ovation with his cover of “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder. He also earned the first Golden Buzzer of the season during his audition, guaranteeing a trip to the live finals.
The biggest praise came not with the buzzer, but from Cowell. He invoked Underwood herself to predict how successful Dixon will be: “I’m going to predict something. I said this about Carrie Underwood years and years and years ago on another show, which is…you’re going to be a superstar.”
It doesn’t get more successful than Underwood, so this is the steepest praise Cowell could offer. Even achieving half of what Underwood has done would make Dixon the most successful contestant in the history of America’s Got Talent. If he’s going to follow her path, first he has to win the whole show. We’ll find out in September what America has to say.