Has country music been uplifted from its roots and foundation? Looking at the country charts and what has been played on countdowns on music television stations, it would make one wonder what has been happening. It is no surprise that artists of other genres or forms of entertainment have tried their hand at country music. Jessica Simpson came on over with one single that soon flipped her back to pop quicker than a Waffle House pancake. John Corbett of tv fame and Kevin Costner tried their hand at being a country star, but failed to gain momentum. Thankfully, both were better known for their acting skills instead of their singing skills. Jack White crossed over to produce one of Kentucky native, Loretta Lynn, albums which was met with praises by the music community.
Those with country music roots from the beginning, such as Shooter Jennings and Hank Williams III, actually took a different path by going opposite of the country spectrum. Some of their tunes are country based, but for the most part, they are rock.
Things have certainly changed on what is seen and heard in country music lately. Nickelback, Train, and Aaron Lewis, all rock influenced, have decided to take a dip at the country music scene. While their dedicated fans will follow them no matter what, it will take a while for country music fans to warm up to them.
Aaron Lewis of Staind recently told Billboard.com that he was looking to record an acoustic based record in Nashville. The lead single, “Country Boy,” actually features George Jones, Hank Williams, Jr, and Charlie Daniels.
Nickelback has been getting heavy rotation on CMT with their single, “This Afternoon,” from their Darkhorse CD. Label representatives have indicated that there are no plans for a country album or even if they plan on pushing the single to country music radio. Thus, it makes little sense as to why they are pushing airplay on a country music video station. Granted, this is the same channel that shows has-been celebrities competing on who has “Gone Country.”
Train has revamped their Top 40 pop hit “Hey, Soul Sister” and re-released it as a country single. Their revamped version includes ading a banjo and fiddle in their attempt to make it country. The Dixie Chicks recently covered the song at a concert, gaining momentum with the song.
Lexington, Kentucky, native, Laura Bell Bundy has met a little bit of success in the country music market after being a Broadway music star. Her single, “Giddy On Up,” came onto the country scene with a bang and the unknown artist would go on to perform at the ACM Awards without any award nominations or accolades. However, with all of the press given to Bundy, her debut single failed to go beyond the Top 30 and her followup single, “Drop On By,” has failed to make a splash with country radio.
One artist that has infiltrated the country scene with success is Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish. His success story includes hitting #1 on the country charts with “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” “It Won’t Be Like This for Long,” and “Alright.” He would go on to be the first solo African-American in country music since Charley Pride to captivate fans and win awards, such as the CMA New Artist of the Year.
It will be interesting to see if any artists from other genres of entertainment will have a foothold in country music like Darius Rucker. Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty first made foothold in rock before dipping into country music. Fans thought they were crazy at the time, but they are now considered legends.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.