Carrie Underwood is one of country music’s biggest stars, but it’s no secret that she is a huge fan of rock n’ roll and never misses an opportunity to belt out a rock classic.
From her early days on American Idol to her recent gig as the opening act for Guns N’ Roses, Carrie Underwood has covered numerous rock songs throughout her near-20-year career. She’s collaborated with the likes of Axl Rose and Joan Jett and straddled the line between metalhead and country queen, a testament to her versatility as an artist.
Carrie told Rolling Stone in 2022 that she learned to sing by listening to Axl Rose and emulating his unique sound.
“The way I learned how to sing was I would pick really hard vocalists to try to emulate, and his voice always mesmerized me,” Underwood told Rolling Stone in 2022. “I was like, ‘How is he doing the things that he’s doing?'”
We’ve ranked 12 of our favorite Carrie Underwood rock covers from 2006 to present day below.
12. “Welcome To The Jungle” (Guns N’ Roses)
Released in 1987 as a single from Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite For Destruction, “Welcome To The Jungle” became one of the band’s most iconic songs. In 2009, “Welcome to the Jungle” was named the greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1 and was named to Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.
During the Los Angeles stop of her Denim & Rhinestones Tour, Carrie Underwood surprised the crowd by welcoming GNR frontman Axl Rose to the stage to sing “Welcome To The Jungle.” The collab was a followup to their surprise duet of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” at Stagecoach earlier in the year.
11. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (Pat Benatar)
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” was released in 1980 as the second single from Pat Benatar’s best-selling second album, Crimes of Passion. While it is arguably one of Benatar’s most recognizable songs, the singer stopped singing it in recent years in protest of “gun violence.”
“(The title) is tongue-in-cheek, but you have to draw the line. I can’t say those words out loud with a smile on my face, I just can’t,” Benatar said in 2022. “I’m not going to go on stage and soapbox – I go to my legislators – but that’s my small contribution to protesting. I’m not going to sing it.”
Carrie Underwood picked up where Benatar left off and covered the song as part of her opening set for Guns N’ Roses. Carrie put her own twist on the song by mashing it up with her own “Crazy Angels.”
10. “Alone” (Heart)
“Alone” was a chart-topping hit for American rock band Heart in 1987, and was covered by Celine Dion, John Stamos and more in later years.
Carrie Underwood first performed the song during her American Idol run. The cover is often considered to be the performance that won Carrie the Idol title. But, our favorite video of Carrie singing “Alone” comes from 2007 when the country star joined Heart on stage in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to perform the song.
9. “Ace of Spades” (Motorhead)
British rock band Motorhead released their Ace of Spades album and the title track in the U.S. in 1980. Widely considered “one of the best metal albums by any band, ever,” it’s no wonder “Ace of Spades” (the song) caught Carrie Underwood’s ear, despite it being released before she was born.
“Ace of Spades” was one of several rock covers Carrie delivered during her Guns N’ Roses opening set list in the summer of 2023.
8. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (Guns N’ Roses)
Released five years after Carrie Underwood was born, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” was the third single released from Guns N’ Roses’ debut studio album, Appetite For Destruction. The song is the rock band’s only No. 1 single in the U.S.
Band members Steve Adler, Slash, and Izzy Stradlin came up with the iconic melody while Axl Rose wrote the lyrics. Rose credits Lynyrd Skynyrd for inspiring him “to make sure that we’d got that heartfelt feeling.”
Carrie Underwood has often covered the classic GNR tune, but no performance was more iconic than when frontman Axl Rose joined her at Stagecoach in 2022. The pair rocked covers of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City.”
7. “Love Is A Battlefield” (Pat Benatar)
Pat Benatar released “Love Is A Battlefield” in 1983 and is considered one of the best songs of the 1980s. Despite the lack of depth in the lyrics, listeners found the song relatable. The same applies to the music video for “Love Is A Battlefield.” The video was one of the first to feature dialogue and gain mass recognition for it. It has been called one of the most impactful music videos of all time.
Carrie Underwood performed the song on American Idol during the Top 8 round. Idol judge Randy Jackson didn’t love the cover, saying that he preferred the country Carrie better. Simon Cowell agreed with Randy and said that watching Carrie sing the song was like “watching a kitten trying to be a tiger.” Paula Abdul disagreed and said that Carrie rocked it.
6. “I Remember You” (Skid Row)
Skid Row burst onto the rock scene in 1989 with their self-titled debut album. “I Remember You” was the third single released from the project and never topped any charts. The song found success as a prom tune in the early ’90s, an accomplishment the band was proud of.
Skid Row frontman, Sebastian Bach, said in a 2007 interview, “‘I Remember You’ was the number-one prom song in the United States of America in the year 1990….You talk about making memories! Literally the whole country of America did their prom dance to ‘I Remember You’ one year, and that’s a real heavy memory to beat.”
Carrie covered the song early in her career as evidenced in this video from a 2012 concert in Farwell, Michigan.
5. “Summer of ’69” (Bryan Adams)
“Summer of ’69” was released in 1985 as a single from his fourth studio album, Reckless. The song has been somewhat controversial as listeners have debated what the numbers in the title refer to. The song earned international acclaim and is “the most streamed and most digitally purchased song within Canada amongst songs originally released before the start of the digital download era.”
A 2010 video shows Carrie Underwood covering “Summer of ’69” on the opening night of her Play On Tour in Reading, Pennsylvania.
4. “Rock and Roll” (Led Zeppelin)
“Rock and Roll” is one of the oldest songs on this list, but is definitely worth including due to the fact that it is considered “the most dynamic hard-rock song in the music.”
Released in 1971, “Rock and Roll” has been a mainstay on Led Zeppelin’s setlist ever since. It went from being the band’s opening song to its encore due to crowd reception.
While Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant’s shoes are big ones to fill, Carrie Underwood did the song justice with her cover during her opening set for Guns N’ Roses in Moncton in 2023.
3. “Walk This Way” (Aerosmith)
Written by Aerosmith lead vocalist Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry, “Walk This Way” will go down in history as one of the greatest rock songs of all time. Aerosmith released “Walk This Way” in 1975 and the song is credited for revitalizing the band’s career. It earned double platinum status and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 2011, Steven Tyler made a surprise appearance at the ACM Awards to perform the song with Carrie Underwood. The then-63-year-old Tyler held his own against Carrie, who is considered one of the best voices in the business. The pair covered Carrie’s own hit, “Undo It,” before launching into the Aerosmith classic.
2. “November Rain” (Guns ‘N Roses)
In 2007, 15 years after its release, Carrie Underwood covered “November Rain” during a Michigan tour stop. The Guns N’ Roses tune is best known for its 9-minute run time. The Axl Rose-penned power ballad was the band’s sixth and last Top 10 hit in the U.S.
In 2018, the music videos for “November Rain” became the first video created pre-YouTube to garner one billion views. Five years later, it surpassed two billion views, making it the oldest song to accomplish such a feat.
When Carrie Underwood covered the song in 2007, she condensed it to a modest 3 minutes and combined it with GNR’s “Paradise City.”
1. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (Stevie Nicks)
Recorded by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1981, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” is one of the biggest hits of Nicks’ solo career.
Nicks pursued a solo career while still a member of Fleetwood Mac. Upon the release of her debut album, Bella Donna, and her Tom Petty collaboration, the singer was dubbed “The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll” by Rolling Stone. It’s only fitting that Carrie Underwood, a reigning queen in her own right, would cover the iconic Stevie Nicks tune. But, she didn’t do it alone.
While serving as an opening act for Keith Urban’s 2008 tour, Carrie joined the Aussie country singer on stage to cover “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”