The Unblonding of Carrie Underwood

At first, we thought it was just the lighting on the red carpet. When Carrie Underwood arrived at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday (May 18) night, it was almost hard to recognize her. Where was her signature long blond hair? Her side-swept bangs?

It obviously was her — but with a major transformation. She was a brunette.

Well, OK, maybe more like a blonde but just a darker one.

Underwood looks so phenomenal in anything and everything, she could have black hair one day and be a ginger the next day, and it would be all good. (Remember when she got that long bob hair cut in 2009? It was an instant hit with style-watchers everywhere.) It was a little risky but not like Lady-Gaga-in-a-meat-suit risky.

When People magazine had the chance to ask Underwood about her new hair color, she explained why she was ready for the change. It’s basically because the darker blond might make her stand out a little more in the sea of super bright platinum blondes in country music.

“It’s just a little bit darker. I don’t think I’d want to or could even pull off being a brunette, but it’s just nice sometimes to change it up a bit,” Underwood told People on the red carpet. “I’ve been super-blonde forever, and I feel like there are a lot of super-blond ladies in music, so I thought I’d darken it just a little bit.”

She stood out all right. Not just because of her hair but because of her “Somethin’ Bad” performance with Miranda Lambert, her Milestone Award and her wardrobe for the night, which was a good mix of designers I’ve never heard of (Oriett Domenchi, Spragwerks) and shoes I was dying over (Brian Atwood, Guiseppe Zanotti and YSL).