Although the willowy Ms. U, on tour with Keith Urban, may have been the most generic American Idol winner to date, she's used this indistinctiveness to her advantage. Underwood initially came across as a blandly pretty warbler with no neck and zero stage presence; she moved her arms stiffly in tandem, as if they were connected by a dowel running through her back. But her blankness played into the hands of Clive Davis's minions, who've done a fine remodeling job, as her hotsy-totsy 2008 Grammy appearance attests. (She belted out "Before He Cheats" wearing a vintage Nancy Sinatra coiffure and hot pants that probably had to be fitted by a gynecologist.) She's just as adaptable, musically, transforming herself to fit the mood of each track on 2007's Carnival Ride, a well-polished, big-selling piece of product with way more personality than she initially seemed to possess. Clearly, when it comes to manufacturing stars, individuality is overrated.
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