By Amanda Wicks
With Lady Gaga’s recent announcement that her next album Joanne would be a more honest musical exploration, it seems like the pop/country divide could be edging in a new direction.
Previously, country artists who wanted to sell more albums tended to crossover to pop in order to reach wider audiences, but it seems as though in recent years there’s been equal interest from pop stars who want to explore their country side.
Here are five pop stars who should definitely go country and keep this trend going.
Before you throw your hands up in the air, hear us out. Styles has yet to release his solo debut album, but if he really wanted to differentiate himself from past pop stars who started out in boy bands, he’d walk an entirely different path. If an Englishman singing country tunes seems like a stretch consider England’s long history with folk music, which contemporary bands like Mumford and Sons have continued. While country is a stretch from folk, it’d be interesting to see Styles take things in his ex Taylor Swift’s old direction and release a country-inspired album.
Grande’s grandfather always wanted her to sing country music, and we must admit that we agree. When she released her debut studio album Yours Truly in 2013, she elicited comparisons to Mariah Carey for her vocal register and range. So what better way to distinguish herself from her pop and R&B predecessors by exploring something with a bit more twang? Grande could definitely take up the mantle of Shania Twain and have some fun with that particular country-pop sound.
If Perry’s supposed rival Taylor Swift can move from country to pop than why can’t Perry move from pop to country? Between her big, colorful costumes and her imaginative, cartoon-ish approach to music and visuals, we think Perry would bring a refreshing take on country to the world. Her raspy-ish voice would be ideal for some of country’s more melancholy ballads, and she could throw a unique spin on the good ol’ party songs that have defined the genre since the early aughts. Plus she’s already dueted with Dolly Parton.
Of all the names on this list, Timberlake makes the most sense. In fact, he’s already explored country with his song “Drink You Away” off his 2013 album The 20/20 Experience. If that wasn’t enough to convince fans then his duet with Chris Stapleton at the CMA Awards in 2015 should’ve sealed the deal. Timberlake’s longtime collaborator and producer Timbaland even said he’d be down to make a country album, so it’s about time this happened. Timberlake could bring some of the Memphis brassy funk to country and wow listeners everywhere.
After she included the country-leaning song “Daddy Lessons” on her latest album Lemonade, many were blown away by Beyoncé’s country turn. There were some detractors, of course, but Blake Shelton defended her choice to explore new sounds, and we second his position. Given what a badass song “Daddy Lessons” turned out to be and how Beyoncé matched the swagger and strut of any top performing country artist, we would love to see more from her in this genre. Plus, given her Houston origins, she could really play with the idea of “country” and explore the genre’s crossover with blues, roots and more.