The singer talks about being a reluctant sex symbol

By Brian Orloff
Updated October 27, 2007 03:00 PM
Credit: Marc Andrew Deley/FilmMagic

Carrie Underwood may sing about letting go of all the small stuff on her new single “So Small” – but she’s not always able to do that herself.

Underwood, 24, also plays it cool when it comes Chace Crawford, the guy she’s been hanging close to recently. “He’s a nice guy,” she says, when pressed, with a laugh. (She does tune into his show, Gossip Girl. “I love the drama,” she says.) But Underwood has plenty to say about stepping up as a songwriter on her new album, Carnival Ride, as she speaks to PEOPLE on the phone from Nashville about her new music – and, okay, boys too.

You had a hit with ‘Before He Cheats.’ Do you still keep in touch with your exes?
Not really because most of my exes are pre-Idol, so, yeah, I don’t really. [It’s like,] “Well, you wish you would have stayed with me, huh?” [Laughs]

Do you listen to talk about your looks or consider yourself a sex symbol?
No. If I didn’t do what I do, nobody would ever look twice at me. I’m a blender – and the only reason anybody, if they do think of me in that way, it’s just because I do what I do. I’m okay. But I’m not, like, anything special.

You’re very humble.
I just tell it like I see it. [Laughs]

What motivated you to write some songs on your new album?
It’s definitely a plus when you can write your own stuff. It’s coming from a personal place – and it’s just more to be proud of. I just wanted to see if I had the talent and just try. It wasn’t a huge deal like, “every song on the album must be mine,” because there are so many talented writers.

As a songwriter, do you think you’ll get more respect in the Nashville community?
I’m sure it just comes with the territory. People know I have more to do with my songs. I think some people think everybody makes all the decisions for me and I don’t really get to have a say in anything. And that’s completely not true.