By Vernell Hackett
NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Carrie Underwood says she's glad she took some time off from country music following her marriage to hockey star Mike Fisher in 2010.
After storming the country music scene since her 2005 "American Idol" win, her almost two-year break from recording and touring helped her find "real things to sing about", and write what she calls her fun, rocking new single "Good Girl."
"I feel like so many people get stuck. They write, they get songs together, they make an album, they go on tour. Then they do it all over again. I just wanted to change things up. I can't have stuff to write about if I don't have a life," Underwood told Reuters.
The singer says taking that time off allowed her to remember what it's like to be normal.
"So much happens when you're just in your celebrity bubble, and I don't want to be in that bubble. It's fun sometimes, but for your heart and for you as a person, you need to step away and be real so you'll have real things to write about and real things to sing about," she said.
Underwood, 29, will be performing the single - the first from her upcoming album "Blown Away" - at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday. She also is nominated for best female vocalist and best vocal event for her duet "Remind Me" with Brad Paisley.
"I'm excited to be singing ‘Good Girl,'" she said, adding with a conspiratorial smile, "We're planning some really fun tricks for the performance."
When pressed for more information, Underwood would only say, "We're having something made for the performance and it will be pretty rockin'."
"Good Girl," and its edgy music video, see Underwood showing off her rock chick side in a departure from the pop country that marked earlier hits like "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and "Cowboy Casanova."
She said it's not a change of direction but an indication of the variety that will mark "Blown Away" - her follow-up to 2009's "Play On".
"Good Girl" was the last song that Underwood co-wrote for the album. She was in Los Angeles and called frequent co-writer Ashley Gorley to see if he had time to write with her.
"I wanted to write a fun song for the album. We wrote it so fast and it was so much fun to write," Underwood recalled.
She said the album is an indication of the different musical influences in her life.
"I love singing all kinds of music, which is why I can do the Steven Tyler thing and the next week turn around and sing on the Grammys with Tony Bennett. Those are polar opposites, but I feel comfortable in both places.
"My album is a lot like that. It's a big ol' puzzle and everything has its own place. There's ‘Good Girl' and there's some more traditional stuff than I've ever done before," she said.
Underwood said it was cool to be nominated for awards, especially when she has been away for some time.
"It's really amazing to still be remembered in the female vocalist category even though the industry and my fans haven't necessarily heard me on the radio (or seen) me all over the place," she said.
The 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast from Las Vegas on Sunday on CBS television.
(Reporting by Vernell Hackett; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte)