Play On is the third album from Carrie Underwood.
Released on November 3, 2009, through Arista Nashville and 19, Play On combines elements of modern country and pop music.
- Cowboy Casanova
- Mama's Song
- Undo It
- Someday When I Stop Loving You
- Songs Like This
- Temporary Home
- This Time
- Look At Me
- What Can I Say
- Play On
"Play On" was originally to have included some songs that Underwood wrote with Ne-Yo.
One of the tracks entitled "Look at Me" was previously recorded by country singer, Alan Jackson, on the "Billy: The Early Years "soundtrack. Vince Gill sang background vocals on the track.
"Play On" debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart, as well as the Billboard 200, with first week sales of 318,000 copies.
It was rated as the highest first week sales for a female artist in 2009, before being overtaken by Susan Boyle a few weeks later.
During its second week, the album slipped to number three with sales of 128,000. It spent nine consecutive weeks at number two in Top Country Albums Chart, and stayed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 for its first eight weeks of release.
By October 2015, the album had sold 2,300,000 copies in the US, and was certified 3x Platinum by the RIAA.
The album debuted at number 114 on the Japan Oricon Albums Chart and number 93 on the UK Albums Chart,becoming Underwood's first entry on both charts. In Canada, the album debuted at number two on the Canadian charts with 15,000 sales.
In Australia, it debuted at number three on the Top 20 Country Albums chart and at number 80 on the National Album Charts ARIA Top 100 despite very little advertising at the time.
In June of 2011, Underwood traveled to Australia for a promotional tour for the deluxe edition of "Play On".
For the chart week following her promotional tour, the album re-entered both the Top 20 Country Albums chart and the National Album Charts ARIA Top 100 at number two and number fourteen, respectively.
The following week, it rose to number one on the Top 20 Country Albums chart, giving Underwood her first number one album in Australia, and remained stable on the National Album Charts ARIA Top 100, at number fifteen. It has reached Gold status in Australia and it is her first album to do so.
The album has since sold over three million copies worldwide.
Play On charted at number seventy three on Billboard 200 and at number 15 on Top Country Albums for the year ending 2009.
In December 2010, the album was placed on Billboard's Year-End Charts, landing at number four for Country Albums, and at number twelve for Billboard 200 Albums. The following year, it charted at number 37 for Country Albums and number 176 for Billboard 200 Albums.
"Play On" received mixed reviews. The album had a score of 54 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "mixed or average reviews" from music critics.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic gave the album 2.5 out of 5 stars, arguing that "Carrie is still nominally a country artist and sometimes will sing supported by fiddles and steel guitar, but this is crossover pop pure and simple, whether it's the thundering rhythms on the Shania-styled strut "Cowboy Casanova" or the succession of maudlin melodies on the preponderance of power ballads."
In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating.
Leah Greenblatt rated it B in Entertainment Weekly, saying "If it seems vaguely insulting to call the smashingly successful Idol alum’s material formulaic, know at least that it is, three albums in, one of the most well-honed formulas in the business."
Sean Daly from the St. Petersburg Times argues that "Play On" is Underwood's "weakest album to date," but predicts that the album will "sell like gangbusters."
Daly says that "Cowboy Casanova", "co-written by 50 Cent buddy Mike Elizondo, brazenly bites from both 'Before He Cheats' and 'Last Name'." He highlights the song "Someday When I Stop Loving You". He says that it "is so good. It has a vague '70s feel, reminiscent of all those great old Chicago songs."
Blake Boldt of Engine 145 (Country Music) graded the album 3 out of 5 stars, stating: "Underwood’s third disc, Play On, starts promisingly, with “Cowboy Casanova”, an ode to a hard-to-keep lothario, plows along to a grungy electric guitar laced with a curling pedal steel line. At her best, Underwood excels at handling the finest storytelling that Nashville has to offer. The album’s strongest track is “Someday When I Stop Loving You”, a brooding tune framed beautifully by her delicate performance, while “What Can I Say”, a collaboration with sibling trio Sons of Sylvia, is a simple, elegant declaration of longing. He added that the remaining 45 minutes, though, are more Hallmark than honky tonk. Play On is a tastefully-done pop pleasure, with little of the pretentious production that gutted much of her first two discs. Play On, though saddled with its share of loose songwriting, is a convincing reminder of a blonde, budding talent."
Prior to the release of Play On, three promotional singles were made available by iTunes: "Mama's Song" released on October 12, 2009 followed by "Temporary Home" which was released on October 20 and "Undo It" released on October 27, 2009. Billboard.com also posted a 60-second clip of each song being released on iTunes.
She debuted several of her singles at the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association Awards.
Underwood also appeared on several shows to promote her album including Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Live With Regis and Kelly, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show on NBC, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, American Music Awards, CNN International, and at the Grand Ole Opry.
Underwood also performed in Singapore on October 16, 2009, making it her first public appearance in an Asian country in line of a series of events for the grand opening of the newest shopping attraction in the heart of the city, ION Orchard.