Lady Antebellum Sits Poised for Greatness
The party was for celebrating the success of Lady Antebellum. Singer Charles Kelley was thinking the stream of praise and plaques would never end.
Kelley joked while getting ready to pose for yet another photograph that it was starting to get embarrassing.
He needs to get used to this. The band of this moment is Lady Antebellum.
Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley have proven they are worthy of the buzz with their platinum debut album. There are extremely high expectations for the band’s second album, which will be released on Tuesday, following the success of the first single already out “Need You Now” and it’s run at the No. 1 spot on the charts.
Kelley said, what “Need You Now” did was open things up for us to a larger audience overall in country music as well as other musical genres. We definitely recognize that. This year we have been making a conscious effort to create bigger shows and capitalize on the momentum to take things to the next level.
Rarefied air is the next level. However Lady Antebellum does appear to have that special something that is needed for getting there. After all, bands don’t often get this hot this fast.
Seven months ago “I Run to You,” the single from their debut self-titled album made it to the top of the country charts. Ever since life has been in fast forward. Lady Antebellum won two Country Music Association Awards for best single and best vocal group, upsetting Rascall Flatts, the six time winner. The band’s debut album is still close to the top of country music’s charts.
The trio also has been nominated for two Grammys: best country song and best country performance by a duo or group with vocals. Lady Antebellum will also be performing at the Grammys.
“Need You Now” seems to have Lady Antebellum poised for even greater things.
According to Billboard, it was the only song by a group in 2009 to be in the No. 1 spot for five weeks on country music’s charts, as well as being only the third song this century to reach that level, joining “I’m Already There” by Lonestar which in 2001 was No. 1 for a period of six weeks, and “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascall Flatts which in 2005 was No.1 for five weeks.
The hit single also has shown crossover appeal. It reached Billboard’s Hot 100 top 10, an all-genre chart, with very little promotion done outside of country radio. Although Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift have been successful, it’s still tough for country acts to break through in the world of pop music. However Paul Worley, producer, thinks that Lady Antebellum does have the juice to do it.
Worley, who has two Grammy awards from being The Dixie Chicks producer said, in terms of their rise as well as viral popularity of the band, I compare them to that of the Dixie Chicks. Back then there was a kind of very enthusiastic and quick acceptance of their music. Watching them explore gives me the same type of feeling I had back then for The Dixie Chicks.
Being popular does lead to pressure. Members of the band are well aware that everybody’s watching them.
In practically every interview, and lately they’ve had dozens, they heard about the “sophomore slump.” When they are asked about expectations they tend to try to make light of things.
Kelley asked, why is everyone asking about that?
Scott said, don’t remind us. But everyone does keep reminding us.
Haywood added, everything has come very fast. We do feel quite blessed. It feels like we are coming on a moment, especially with our sophomore record. At this point it’s either sink or swim. We feel we needed to do the best we could to pour our hearts out into this record. We put all we have out on the line with this album.
According to Worley often bands do have a reason for worrying over their second album. However he thinks that between releases Lady Antebellum just got stronger. They either co-wrote or wrote 8 out of 11 songs appearing on the album and relied as well on good material coming from the outside songwriters. Worley also said that they made a concerted effort to explore different possibilities that the group has, featuring musical arrangements by Haywood and Scott and Kelley trading vocals.
Worley said, second albums usually are quite problematic. It’s hard doing something that is better than what you did on your first album, particularly now when artists are a lot busier than ever and their lives much more fragmented. I really am able to say the second album is truly better than their first. Just that alone is a huge success. Second when you listen to the singing, they have become better singers. They are focusing more on their songs’ cohesiveness.
Lady Antebellum also wrote songs that would improve their live shows. Early on they noticed that in order to play for large crowd, like the kinds they saw while touring with Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney, that they would need to beef their sound up to fill the arenas wide open spaces.
Scott pointed to the song “Stars Tonight,” written along with Monty Powell, that pays tribute to the band’s fans. It will be featured later this year when they go out on the road to tour with Tim McGraw.
Scott said, basically what it’s saying is this show belongs to you more than it does to us. If you just show up to do your part, then we will do our part too. Kick back and enjoy yourselves, stand up.