"It's just 'cause I didn't go about it the way a lot of people did," said Underwood in Entertainment Weekly's October 26 issue. "Every single person in the music industry knows if they had a chance like [Idol], they'd take it. And I'm sorry -- anybody who says I took a shortcut -- they are insane. We didn't take the easy way; if anything we took a more difficult way. It was just unconventional, therefore it must be wrong."
The Idol fourth-season champ's debut album "Some Hearts" has sold almost 6 million copies, eclipsing original Idol Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" to become the most successful record from any Idol contestant, according to Entertainment Weekly. Underwood's sophomore effort "Carnival Ride" is scheduled to drop tomorrow, and the 24-year-old is ready for the criticism that will come with it.
"It's more annoying than anything. I've learned this, that haters wanna hate. You could sing a song perfectly, you could write the songs perfectly, and some people are absolutely going to hate you," Underwood told Entertainment Weekly. "I heard, like, on live shows, people thought I was lip-synching. Which, I guess, hey, if they think it sounds that good that they think I'm lip-synching, I'll take it. Whatever. I know there's a certain point where I have to just be like, 'Forget it, I don't care.' And I do care."
Underwood also has the tough task of balancing her image as a pop princess with that of a country crooner, drawing criticism from country-music traditionalists.
"Okay, here's my thing: On Top 40 stations, nobody cares that you'll have Fergie next to 50 Cent," she explained to Entertainment Weekly. "They're different. Why can't you have me next to somebody that's more traditional country? You can call me 'not country' until your face is blue, but I sing country music."
She added there are some selections on "Carnival Ride" that could be considered downright country.
"We do have [songs] like 'Flat on the Floor,' and that's the first impression that you get from that album," she explained to Entertainment Weekly. "It's got a jaw harp on it, it's gritty and very country, and that makes a statement. But it still goes with that 'haters hate' policy. If you're going to hate me, that's one of the main things that you're going to be able to say, that I allegedly don't sing country music."
Despite the debate about what musical classification she falls into, Underwood is aware that there's no argument over the fact that she's become a media darling since capturing the Idol crown in May 2005.
Much of the attention has come from her attempts to find Mr. Right -- a position that was thought to be held earlier this year by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo -- who reportedly began dating in late December when he officially confirmed they were together after being seen hugging and laughing on the field at Texas Stadium on Christmas Day before the Cowboys' game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
While the couple apparently split soon after, new reports that they were still romantically involved surfaced in both April and June.
"At one point it seemed like that's where it was headed," Underwood told Entertainment Weekly about being an official item with Romo. "But point blank, he is about football. I don't know if it's that I'm not quite his type or whatever, but I don't think he's at the point in his life where he would be willing to sacrifice football. He hated so much that people thought that he was paying more attention to me and that was causing him to not do well."
At least Underwood has her priorities straight when it comes to her relationship with Romo.
"The Cowboys are still my favorite team, no matter what happens with us," she told Entertainment Weekly.
Unlike some former Idol finalists -- most notably Katharine McPhee, who's gushed about wanting to be pregnant and is reportedly engaged to her boyfriend Nick Cokas -- Underwood said she doesn't see tying the knot in her immediate future.
"I'm about the only person in my family that's made it to 24 without being married," the Checotah, OK-native told Entertainment Weekly. "That's the way it works where I'm from. Most people, if you find someone to marry in high school, you do that, and if you don't find that, then you find someone in college. The End. I couldn't imagine myself being married [now]."
Underwood knows she plays her hand close to her face, as those who aren't close to her know "not that much" about her.
"A lot of people think I don't like them just because I'm pretty quiet," Underwood explained to Entertainment Weekly. "But there are certain things people don't necessarily need to know. There's got to be some things for me."
In addition to her numerous awards and lofty album sales, Idol judge Simon Cowell said it's actually Underwood's private personal demeanor that largely separates her from the show's other finalists.
"She doesn't give anything away," Cowell told Entertainment Weekly. "I know nothing more about her now than I did when I met her. [Idol 3 champ Fantasia Barrino] comes back, she's like a puppy you haven't seen in three years - bounds into the dressing room, screaming, laughing, shouting. Carrie? You can't get to her."