However here in Britain which is not flooded with country like our American counterparts it is perhaps worth remembering that some cross over pop country hits have given an awareness to people who would never normally listen.
Examples over the years would include The Bellamy Brothers, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, DonWilliams, Glen Campbell, Crystal Gayle all gaining British Chart success and latterly Shania Twain, The Mavericks, Leanne Rimes and at present Carrie Underwood.
Bearing that in mind I find myself asking the question ‘Why’ having had a listen to the latest release from pop superstar Lionel Richie.
Five weeks after its initial release Stateside it was certified platinum selling over one million copies and has claimed the number one spot on the Billboard Top 200 and number one on the Billboard Country Albums Charts for a full month.
With the weeks sales of 114,110 his album entitled ‘Tuskegee’ (the place where he was born) is the best selling country album of 2012.
The American moguls are classing the release as his first ever country album and albeit that he is joined by thirteen country artists (a different guest on each track) he sings his own hit songs.
Put another way ..calibre country artists accompany and duet with Richie singing his timeless previous hits.
Songs featured include ‘All Night Long’ (Jimmy Buffett), ‘Deep River Woman’ (Little Big Town),’Endless Love’ (Shania Twain),’Lady’ (Kenny Rogers), ‘Easy’ (Willie Nelson) along with other vocal contributions from Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney, Rascall Flatts, Tim McGraw and a host of others.
It’s beautifully produced and the songs do have a modern contemporary country feel to them but I would have thought an artist of Richie’s calibre would at least have recorded some new country songs with such a formidable line-up of guests rather than allow them to sings his hits.
You can perhaps get a feel for the structure of my comments by joining me from Saturday on the American Connection Country Music Show on www.euvue.co.uk when I’ll be featuring three tracks in the Album Of The Week slot.
Crossover country pop or pop country crossover…perhaps there’s a bandwagon nearby for all concerned….or have I just missed the point.
Lionel Richie Tuskegee Universal Music Nashville