Blake Shelton brought country music to Saturday Night Live in a big way as the host and musical guest this past weekend.
In addition to performing his #1 hits “Neon Light” and “Boys Round Here,”, Blake recreated the “Picking and Grinning” segment from the classic country variety show Hee Haw for his monologue. Several SNL cast members, dressed in gingham and overalls, joined Blake onstage for the Hee Haw bit, but his attempts at teaching them about G-rated country humor went south very quickly.
Next up, Blake wore a blonde wig and moustache to look like Alan Jackson for the ’90s-inspired music video, “Wishin’ Boot,” co-starring Aidy Bryant as a version of Wynonna and Kate McKinnon dressed up like Reba. The inspirational song parody told the story of a boot that mysteriously appeared to grant wishes for the down-and-out.
The country theme continued with Blake playing an Iowa farmer looking for love in “Farm Hunk,” a version of ABC’s The Bachelor. He actually played himself in a Celebrity Family Feud sketch with the SNL players in the role of Blake’s fellow coaches from The Voice taking on the American Idol judges. Later, Blake played a singer/songwriter performing a disturbing love song he had to write for his landlord. He closed out the show with turns as a Texas parole board officer and a heckler at a magic show.
Blake joins a short list of country stars to host Saturday Night Live, including Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.
UMG NashvilleWhen tickets go on sale Monday for the Sounds of Summer tour, newcomer Canaan Smith will already have a major bonding moment under his belt with headliner Dierks Bentley – one he calls “the worst experience of my life.” Dierks enlisted his tourmates, including Kip Moore and Maddie & Tae, to take part in his annual Polar Plunge this January.
“It was so freaking cold. The ride out to the middle of the lake on the pontoon was miserable enough, and then when we took our clothes off and jumped in subzero water, that was another thing,” Canaan recalls. “Then riding back against the wind to the shore was the cherry on top,”
He’s looking forward to performing his latest hit, “Love You Like That,” in a warmer climate, when Dierks’ tour kicks off June 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Image Courtesy MCA NashvilleKip Moore recalls how Ronnie Dunn inspired him to keep pursuing his dreams, in the latest installment of the YouTube series Backstage at the Ryman.
“Ronnie Dunn played here, doing a solo acoustic thing one time… It was right when I first moved to town. Ronnie Dunn blew me away in this building, like blew me away, his voice was so magical,” Kip remembers. “That was probably the second year I’d been living here and I’d never had the money the first year to get in, so I remember how hard that hit me in the chest and just being like, ‘Gosh I gotta get on that stage, somehow.’”
Last October, Kip realized his dream, as he delivered his own sold-out show at the Ryman Auditorium. Now that he’s successful, Kip admits you’ll still find him hanging out at the same bar near Music Row as he did when he was struggling.
“When I do come home, I spent so much time in the back room of Losers, playing shuffle board and drinking a few beers, long before we started traveling a lot. It’s always fun to go back in there,” he says. “A lot of the same characters are in there, propped up at the bar, they’re playing a lot of the classic music on the jukebox and stuff. It’s a cool place.”
You should start hearing Kip’s new single, “I’m To Blame,” on country radio next month.
Becky Fluke/Mercury Records NashvilleWith five number ones already under his belt and album cuts by artists as diverse as Adele and Brad Paisley, writer Chris Stapleton is set to release his first album as a solo artist this spring. Though you may not be familiar with his voice, Chris has penned hits like Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More,” “Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan, and George Strait’s “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright.”
Though he’s most often hit the road with his bluegrass band The SteelDrivers, Chris sets out on the Pain Killer Tour with Little Big Town in March, before heading out with Eric Church in May. His album, Traveller, comes out May 5. Fans can preview the record on Vevo now.
Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleHunter Hayes is dying to collaborate with British hitmaker Ed Sheeran, and he’s hoping he might have the chance to bring it up at this year’s Grammys. Sheeran, known for his hits like “Don’t,” is set to sing on the show, while Hunter is up for Best Country Solo Performance for “Invisible.”
“There’s tons of people who want to work with him who are way more capable than I am, so how do you even sell it? Do you bet him? Or bribe him? I might have to bribe him,” he jokes to Yahoo Celebrity.
But it turns out the two have met before.
“It was after the Grammys, the first year that I went because afterwards I went to a Justin Timberlake concert and he was there, so we shook hands and talked a little bit,” he recalls. “Probably the place I talked to him the most was after that, when he joined Taylor Swift on her Red tour. So we know each other and we are acquainted so we will see what happens. Still, there’s no pressure, Ed.”
While Sheeran collaborated with Taylor as she was developing more of a pop following, Hunter says he’s not necessarily looking to cross over.
“I’m absolutely country at heart, and that’s just me,” he says. “It’s not necessarily a choice kind of thing, but it is a home.”
Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleIn his latest single “Young & Crazy,” Frankie Ballard sings about “sit(ting) out on the porch, telling stories ‘bout my glory days.” So with back-to-back number ones with “Sunshine & Whiskey” and “Helluva Life,” does Frankie feel like he’s living his “glory days” now?
“I don’t feel like I’ve had ‘em, yet,” he says. “You know, I feel like I’m in the middle of ‘em now. I definitely have stories I could tell people, but your glory days are your prime, you know, when you’re just at your best when you feel like you can take over the world. That’s what I feel like now. So, I’d have to be way past the way I feel today before I could honestly speak to glory days.”
Ironically, Frankie says the pinnacle of his success thus far happened when he got to meet the artist who had his own hit called “Glory Days.”
“The most, like, high moment I’ve had in my music career was when we were on the Bob Seger tour, and we played Madison Square Garden, and Bob introduced me to Bruce Springsteen backstage,” he recalls. “To me, it’s like, if I keeled over after this meeting, that would be my highlight. Not only to get to meet Bruce Springsteen, but to be introduced to him by Seger at Madison Square Garden. It was like, ‘Where am I? What am I doing here?’ So, that’s probably my highlight so far.”
Warner Music NashvilleBlakeShelton visited NBC’s The Tonight Show Thursday to plug this weekend’s appearance on Saturday Night Live as host and musical guest. He also joined Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon for a new game called “The Whisper Challenge.”
The premise of the game is one person wears headphones with loud music playing that prevents him from hearing the other person say a random phrase. The person wearing the headphones has to guess what the other one is saying by reading lips.
The 38-year-old singer didn’t do well at the game. When he donned headphones and Fallon said “Pumpkin Spice Latte,” Blake thought he said. “My pee pee’s stretched out.”
Blake also couldn’t figure out that Fallon was saying “Cobra Kai” — the name of the gang that continually tormented Ralph Macchio‘s character in The Karate Kid.
When Fallon wore the headphones, he was able to figure out the phrases Blake was saying.
Blake also revealed the two songs he’ll be performing during his SNL appearance: “Neon Light” and “Boys ‘Round Here.”
Image Courtesy Sony Music/Jeremy CowartCarrieUnderwood’s latest single, “Something in the Water,” has passed a milestone. This week, it spends a seventh week atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, giving her the longest run at #1 of her career, besting her debut single. Nine years ago this week, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” was midway through its six-week run on that same chart. But aside from her chart success, Carrie says she has first-hand knowledge of how her hits are affecting the fans.
“I guess they feel like they know me, especially those that have been with me for 10 years. They definitely have a tendency to write me letters or tell me things that are very, very personal. I think it’s really amazing that they can relate to my stuff in that way. It’s not gonna fix their problems. It’s not gonna make their lives magically any better, but it might make them feel better for a little bit. It’s pretty cool,” she reflects.
But Carrie is careful to make sure all her songs aren’t as deep as “Something in the Water” and “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”
“If I wrote and sang, like really heavy songs all the time, like, that would weigh heavily on my heart, you know, giving that every single night song after song after song. So, it’s important to have fun stuff in there, too, every once in a while that’s just for the sake of being fun,” she says.
“Something in the Water” is up for Best Country Solo Performance at this year’s Grammys.