Okay…first, watch the video below. We’ll discuss it on the other side:
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about Hunter Hayes, whose above-viewed “Storm Warning” recently hit the Top 20 of the Billboard Country Songs chart with a bullet. The angle that many music journalists are taking to discuss Hayes is to talk about how, at only twenty years of age, he has co-written every song, played every instrument, and sang every note on every song of his album. Great achievement, and definitely worth mentioning. However, if it’s on Pop Music Notes, you know we’re going to talk about the pop quotient.
Back in the 1990s, there was a country singer named Bryan White who played country music with a pop sensibility and scored a few number one records. While the ladies of country music were scaling the pop charts, Bryan got left behind, and eventually the country hits dried up. His one claim to pop music fame was singing the male part on Shania Twain’s 1998 smash “From This Moment On,” but he was edited out of the pop edits of the song. No respect! Check out “Love is the Right Place” from 1997 and hopefully you’ll hear the same similarities with “Storm Warning” that I do:
Just about the time that Bryan’s career was winding down, a group called Rascal Flatts got going in a big way. Their debut self-titled disc came out in 2000 as I was preparing for my move to Colorado, and “I’m Moving On” saw me off as I drove out of Atlanta on my way to Denver the following year. Rascal Flatts have had some crossover success (“Life is a Highway,” “What Hurts the Most,” “Bless the Broken Road”), but for the most part they are still considered a country group. However, recent collaborations with Justin Bieber and Natasha Bedingfield haven’t helped the perception among some country fans that they are just a pop band with a fiddle and a steel guitar in the back of the closet.
So back to Hunter Hayes, who released his self-titled major-label debut in November 2011 and is preparing to hit the road in 2012 opening for Rascal Flatts. The album is a solid effort, although it is a bit generic in spots. For me, the big concern is that I don’t see or hear an individual voice emerging. Then again, the guy is only 20, and has plenty of time to grow into his own perspective. There’s a strong foundation on this album, and hopefully it does well enough to afford him the opportunity to record a follow-up that lets Hunter show through instead of his influences.