To JT, or Not To JT ... That is the Question!
November 13, 2015
"Drink You Away" out to radio this week from Justin Timberlake -- Country music's Next Big Thing? It's certainly not very Country, but that fits in with a whole lotta folks these days.
There are corporate Country stations willing to sell their soul to make JT a hit artist on their stations. The thought of JT coming by or even calling in sends shivers down their spines.
It was almost enough that Steven Tyler is hanging around but JT? It's almost too much.
This type of thing has been going on for the last fifty50 years in Nashville. Folks from other formats, other walks of life, come to town and put out a Country project. Heck, even a Beatle hot off the Saville Row rooftop came here and recorded Beacoups of Blues. Released September 25th, 1970. It reached #35 on the Country album chart. Ringo really did love Country music, but only the critics seemed thrilled about it.
Bob Dylan is the most successful of the pop folks who came to town for a little Country. Nashville Skyline is a classic. Ray Charles Nashville work ... amazing! So the road is paved for anyone to come and get it done.
Is "Drink You Away" a Country song for Country radio? No one has the answer to that. It could be the bogging of a new trend or just be considered a pop song out of the today mainstream. The Chris Stapleton duet choice was a win-win for both artists. Is this the song to get JT a Country career? The audience, not the critics, will decide.
Go study the biggest pop crossover to Nashville successes ... Recently, Lionel Richie comes to mind ... The Eagles, too. I love the Beach Boys' Country album with Country stars singing their hits with the Boys on back-up vocal ....Stars and Stripes Volume 1. If you are a Beach Boys fan with Country connections. you will love it..
The more I write, the more I can think of pop stars coming to town and cooking up some great music. McCartney and Junior's Farm recorded at the SoundShop. Neil Young has found Nashville quite inspiring. Bob Seger, too.
Steven Tyler is still working on that Country album over a year after we first heard of it. If it is to go the way of Dylan and others, it does have to be real with homegrown ingredients. Even then, you have to get past the folks who can only put a square peg in a square hole. Marketing will have to come outside the box and like so many acts such as Taylor Swift, new technology will have to force the traditional folks to take a chance. Taylor Swift's army established beachheads everywhere on the Internet before it took on radio. Elvis and The Beatles used TV to really get radio on board what they were doing on a national scale.
Good luck, JT and Steven Tyler. Just do it real, then get the music exposed outside the traditional.
A dozen days after the CMA Awards, the star of that show has topped the charts and is selling concert tickets. Chris Stapleton is not getting a big radio push yet, but it's still early. He is different and depending on the title kind of real different.
Like Ms. Musgraves and others like Jason Isbell and Strugill Simpson, Radio doesn't know what to do with these folks. Now the JT dilemma. In this streaming, sat radio-driven environment, who really knows what they are supposed to be doing outside the obvious?
These are good days for Chesney, Shelton, Lambert ... they don't require MD/PD/consultant thinking when their music comes in ... even if they are taking a chance.