OFFSTAGE: Carrie Underwood Likes Steven Tyler More Than She Thought

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Obviously, the year Carrie Underwood won American Idol was the show’s best season. For country fans, anyway. But now, six years later, Underwood still watches. And even without Simon Cowell, who was a big supporter of Underwood from the minute he heard her audition, she says she loves the show and the judges. “I know Simon was always such a huge part of the show, but if I had just started watching now, I wouldn’t miss it, you know what I mean?” she told MTV. As for J.Lo, Underwood said, “Of course, we always knew that J.Lo is sweet and beautiful, and she’s just confirming all of our previous thoughts about her by being on the show.” Then there’s Steven Tyler. Underwood admitted she has always liked the rock star, but seeing him on the show has shown her his charming, warm, friendly and encouraging side. “I actually got the chance to talk to Steven Tyler, and I was like, ’I’m finding out that I like you more than I thought I did,’ ” she said. She wouldn’t name any favorite contestants, but in an interview with New York magazine, Cowell said the only contestant he remembers is Scotty McCreery, the country singer. If Cowell finds McCreery memorable, maybe history will repeat itself, and we’ll have another country Idol on our hands.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.