When it comes to country music, icons like Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood come to mind.
These performers captivate audiences with their sweet, singing voices, supported by this unmistakable western twang, beautifully packaged to wave lighters in the air as fans sing along.
And these icons have always been the most recognized figures in the industry, signing sponsorship deals – as Keith did with Ford Motor Company – and winning the majority of country music awards.
But something not-so-expected happened at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday: a group took home the song of the year award.
This group is the Eli Young Band, and the song is called “Crazy Girl”. It is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and named Billboard’s Most Popular Country Song in 2011.
That’s a pretty impressive feat for a country band considering that of the top 20 songs on the same chart, 16 of them came from solo artists.
So far, country singers have dominated the genre, differing greatly from the perception of the rock genre in which people think of “rock bands”.
There is collectivism in rock music and a tendency for singularity in country music. But now bands like Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, and Eli Young Band have burst onto the scene and changed the name of the game.
These groups have made quite a mark and have indicated that the genre may no longer be just for solo superstar performers.
But the Eli Young Band in particular provides an intriguing glimpse into the recent trend.
Formed in 2000, the group is made up of Mike Eli (vocals / guitar), James Young (guitar), Jon Jones (bass) and Chris Thompson (drums). The band spent over 10 years making music before finally making their big break with “Crazy Girl”.
Prior to this success, Eli and Young were college roommates looking to turn a passion into a career. Their last outing, Life at its best, released on August 16, 2011, is their fourth album.
It took several years, however, for the group to begin to establish a presence in the industry. Following the release of their second studio album, Level, in 2005, the Eli Young Band secured a No. 1 touring spot with Miranda Lambert.
At this point, the band were just starting to follow along, which meant there was a lot of waiting for their third studio release, Jet black and jealous In 2008.
This moderate success story led to his ACM nomination for Best New Vocal Group or Duo in 2010. They ended up losing to the Zac Brown Band and then had their perhaps most embarrassing moment.
Having had the opportunity to perform the national anthem at a Kansas City Chiefs home football game in December of that year, Mike Eli missed the song’s lyrics twice and was quickly booed. by the crowd.
But the group would bounce back from that point as they reaffirmed their importance with Life at its best.
The story of Eli Young Band shows that the members worked hard and together as one cohesive unit through the ups and downs of attempts to break into the industry. Eli never gave up on his bandmates for the desire to become a solo artist and the band continued to write until they created their best material.
It’s a very rock’n’roll story – one band pays their dues and finally enjoys the time in the limelight. And people are noticing it as more and more bands start to become as well-liked as the established icons.
Fans note that there is an undeniable chemistry between these band members and a palpable friendship that goes beyond music. It’s special to see them create and play music together, especially since each is an integral part of the writing process.
For solo artists, however, these elements are lacking. You don’t have to pick your favorite member or worry about who to watch on stage while the band performs. Of course, these solo artists have backup bands, but the focus is on the star.
In a band, everyone becomes the star, and this trend is firmly established in the country sphere. New bands like Tumbledown are starting to surge onto the scene, and the long-standing relevance of established bands like Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry proves that many of the future contenders for country music notoriety will be bands rather than artists. solo.
Since the ACM’s Song of the Year’s inception in 1967, only seven groups have won the title. And four of those seven titles have taken place in the past six years.
The time for country bands to achieve superstar status has only just begun.
Nick Mindicino is a second year student specializing in print and digital journalism. Its “Industry Ballads” column airs on Fridays.