The melding of pop and country music is no new phenomenon.
The marriage of the two genres has brought the latter into the mainstream and thoroughly incensed the purists of the former for decades now. Country radio today has embraced the change wholeheartedly, yet few artists are willing to admit that their work truly blends the two. Chris Lane is not one of those artists. The North Carolina native behind the omnipresent single “Fix” is unashamed about his love for pop music and the role it’s played in his life, mentioning names like Usher and Justin Timberlake among his influences. Talking about his upcoming full-length record, Girl Problems, Lane even mentions some of the boy band godfathers themselves.
“[The next radio single] might be a song called “For Her.” I call it my ‘Backstreet Boys moment’ on the record,” he says, laughing. “Lyrically, it kind of has that ring to it. It’s just a feel-good, make-you-want-to-roll-your-windows-down kind of jam, but I wanted a song for the girls who come to the shows. ”
Given the success of “Fix,” it’s hard not to imagine that “For Her” might become as wildly popular. Lane’s course into music wasn’t the product of a prodigious childhood or high-school years spent playing in honky-tonks. He didn’t even pick up a guitar until well after his college graduation. Yes, there was an American Idol audition with his twin brother, Cory, and a cover band that he’s quick to note was never indicative of his musical ability, but Chris Lane the artist, as we know him now, is of a different cloth entirely. The growth he’s experienced since the days of the Chris Lane Band has been exponential, in terms of both education and success.
“I wrote 12 songs back when I was in North Carolina, and didn’t have a clue what was going on, but I had a buddy record them and I put them out. They’re not that great of songs,” he explains. “Once I got to Nashville and got signed, my publishing company started putting me in the room with writers who’ve had multiple number-one hits. That was one of the most helpful things. I’m not saying I have it figured out, but I’ve certainly learned a lot.”
Lane’s alternative story isn’t as rare as one might think. Take for instance Chase Bryant, who had one Nashville incarnation under his birth name, Chase Yaklin, before his string of Top 10 hits. There’s also Dustin Lynch, who forewent a career in medicine to chase his dreams of country music, and the gamble paid off immensely. A former tourmate and a close friend of Lane’s, he credits Lynch with some of his initial shine.
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“I feel like I’ve worked my hind end off to get to where I’m at, and I know he’s the same way. He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve met,” Lane says. “I’m super thankful for him taking me out on tour, and that was my first tour with music [that people knew]. I love Dustin, man, he’s a great guy and I see a lot of myself in him.”
Unlike other country acts, the effect of “Fix” as a single has made massive waves in the industry. The song’s strength was so palpable to longtime iHeartMedia Executive Vice President of Programming Clay Hunnicutt that he left his position at the media giant to head up Big Loud Records, whose only artist at the moment is Lane. There’s a lot riding on Girl Problems, but Lane’s confident that his infusion of pop and country will help propel far him past the single that’s made his name.
“There’s room for a little bit of everything in country music, and I feel like that’s the beautiful part,” he says. “For me, I’m kind of in the middle of the pop and country sides, but at heart I’m always going to be country. That’s my thing, that’s what I’ve always wanted, and that’s where I’ll stay.”