Underwood's music video for "Before He Cheats" earns her three awards at the CMT Music Awards. In the video, country music's sweetheart wears black leather and smashes her cheating boyfriend's sports car with a baseball bat. In 2008, she wins a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal for the hit single.
Underwood leads a rowdy rendition of the '80s classic "We're Not Gonna Take It" at Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's 27th birthday party. She tells Cosmopolitan that she isn't in a serious relationship and hasn't been in one since she split with college boyfriend Drake Clark in 2005: "I'm not saying I want to get married tomorrow, but I'd like to have someone other than my mom to call when I have good news."
Underwood graces the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine, and is frank about her visible drop in dress size post-Idol. "I gained weight on the show, but I didn't starve myself afterward," she tells the magazine. "I've tried to be healthy and exercise as much as I can. If that made me lose weight, I guess I needed to." But she does admit that women come up to her on the street and tell her to eat something. "The music business is about packaging," she says. "People have to be pleased by what they see on TV or they'll change the channel." A week later, country music's darling makes her first appearance on PEOPLE's Most Beautiful list.
Underwood, 24, takes home Album of the Year, Top Female Vocalist and Video of the Year for "Before He Cheats" at the 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. "I would not be here if it were not for American Idol," she says in her acceptance speech. "Thank you, fans. God bless you." And who was at her side? None other than her main man, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
To promote her sophomore release Carnival Ride, Underwood talks to EW about the end of her and Romo (she's currently linked to Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford) and her battle with Nashville. Of her detractors who criticize her for not singing "real" country music, she says, "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." Carnival Ride sells 527,000 copies in its first week, scoring Underwood her first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
For the second year in a row, Underwood wins two big honors at the 2007 CMA Awards, repeating as Female Vocalist of the Year and nabbing Single of the Year for "Before He Cheats." "God has blessed me with so many wonderful things in my life, and I will spend my entire life trying to figure out why," Underwood says after beating out Reba McEntire and other veterans for the vocalist award. "If you had told me a few years ago I would have been nominated with the people that I have been nominated with, I would have called you absolutely insane."
After going public with her breakup with Crawford – it was over text message! – Underwood (and her former flame) land on PEOPLE's Most Beautiful list. "I feel more beautiful when I see the pictures after," Underwood tells PEOPLE about being nervous at red carpet events. That month, Underwood also takes home the trophy for Top Female Vocalist for the second consecutive year at the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards.
Underwood cohosts the 2008 Country Music Awards with Braid Paisley and nabs her third straight Female Vocalist of the Year award. "Mama, it's real hard to sing when you're in the second row crying," quips Underwood during her acceptance speech, which follows her emotional performance of "Just a Dream."
Underwood beats out LeAnn Rimes, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood for the Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy, with her salacious hit, "Last Name"–which she performs later that night. "So there's no way this could possibly ever on this planet get old!" she says during her acceptance speech, in which she thanks God for "giving me a voice and for giving me a vehicle like American Idol."
Underwood is named the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year. "I've had a lot of good moments in the last four years. This one takes the cake!" she says before raising her trophy and yelling, "Mike, baby, I wish you were here!" in a shout-out to her boyfriend, hockey player Mike Fisher. The following year, Underwood wins the top prize again.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): WENN; Scott Gries/Getty; INF; Rob Hill/FilmMagic; Mark J. Terrill/AP; Mario Anzuoni/Landov