I will admit that before last Wednesday’s CMA Awards, I had not listened to a whole lot of Chris Stapleton. I heard the track ‘Traveller’ a handful of times and maybe a couple other tracks, but never the Traveller album as a whole. I made myself change that the very next day.
I immediately regret not doing so earlier.
The rumblings have made it here to the upper Midwest that the industry loved Chris Stapleton and he was compelling to me, but I just simply never got around to listening. Even with the word that the industry loved him, I doubted he’d win a single CMA Award nonetheless sweep the three awards (new artist, album and male vocalist) he was up for.
Now it’s history that it was Stapleton’s night. Between the three big wins and the amazing performance of ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ and ‘Drink You Away’ with Justin Timberlake, Stapleton is the main thing the music world has been talking about for the past week.
His sudden national stardom is showing, too. Stapleton got to number one on the Billboard 200 this past week, selling over 153,000 copies of Traveller. Plus, Stapleton’s new single, ‘Nobody to Blame’, was the second most added song on country radio according to Country Aircheck, only behind Eric Church’s ‘Mr. Misunderstood’.
This is all great, but it’s only great if this stardom lasts.
Stapleton’s wins have spurred up the conversation that he might save country music, but to that I have multiple rebuttals.
Jamey Johnson had the same phenomenon happen to a lesser extent when ‘In Color’ won Single of the Year at the CMAs and ACMs in 2009. That has rolled into five singles from Johnson since ‘Color’ with the highest charting at number 34.
It happened with Kacey Musgraves in 2013 after she won the Grammy for Best Country Song for ‘Merry Go ‘Round’ and the Grammy for Best Country Album for ‘Same Trailer Different Park’. Musgraves’ success there has resulted in only one more top ten single despite producing some of the best country music in the last handful of years.
Stapleton is really good and he’s made a fan of me, but I don’t want this to all equal out to nothing again. The music that Stapleton is making is what country music should be and a lot of people agree with that, but yet people don’t demand that and that’s what has been putting a limit to radio success of him and Kacey Musgraves before him.
If you truly think that Stapleton’s beautiful country music should be what is actually heard on country radio, make sure the radio station you listen to knows. Request the heck out of Stapleton, and Musgraves while you’re at it, and let the music directors know that changes need to be made.
Country radio is paying attention to Chris Stapleton, but they’ll only pay attention for so long. Listeners need to make sure that Stapleton doesn’t turn into the flavor of the month… or the flavor for only the next two weeks.