'American Idol' Finale: Carrie Underwood Returns to the Stage With 'Southbound' Performance

Carrie Underwood made an explosive return to the American Idol stage Sunday with a performance of "Southbound" from her ongoing Cry Pretty 360 tour.

Underwood, who won Idol Season 4 in 2005, took to the stage during Sunday's 3-hour Season 17 finale of the singing competition, during which Laine Hardy, Madison VanDenburg and Alejandro Aranda battled it out musically for America's vote.

Seeing her back on stage was electric for longtime Idol fans:

Taking a break from her tour, Underwood made a splash performing the song she told CMT was the perfect party song for the summer.

"It's a party song about being at the lake, having a great time, and people are drinking redneck margaritas," Underwood told the outlet. "I'm not going to be like, 'cutoff jeans,' you know what I mean? There are certain lyrics that it's like guys can get away with, and it's easier. We had to spend a little more time writing this fun song."

It wasn't easy for Underwood writing a drinking song as a woman, she later recalled to her record label in an interview.

"We get in a room, and I had the title," she recalled. "I was like, 'This sounds like fun, I think. We can do something fun with this.' But then you realize how tricky for some reason it is to be a woman and write kind of a drinking party boat song. It's strange. You wouldn't think it would be any different, but for some reason, I feel like a guy could get away with saying this line that we just threw out there, but I can't for some reason."


American Idol Season 18 is expected to return to ABC in January 2020.

Photo credit: Getty / Jeff Kravitz