Blake Shelton, Superstar?

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March 7, 2011

He’s a good singer. He’s put out a few good songs here and there. I’m partial to “Goodbye Time” myself.

But is he really this good?

Country singer Blake Shelton has been cast as the final judge/coach on Mark Burnett’s upcoming singing competition series. Shelton joins Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Adam Levine on the panel.

“We couldn’t have a panel that represented the hottest American music without a strong country presence, and Blake is at the top of his game right now,” said NBC’s reality chief Paul Telegdy. “Not only is he incredibly charismatic, but his passion for collaborating with and bringing the best out of other talented artists makes him the perfect choice to round out this ‘Dream Team’ of musician coaches.”

I don’t want to overstate the significance of being on this panel, because the show might not even be successful.  But isn’t it a bit odd that  our reigning Male Vocalist – “at the top of his game”, no less – hasn’t put out a new studio album in three years?  That after four gold albums, the last one didn’t even reach that sales height, which isn’t terribly lofty? That even his budget EP’s aren’t selling that hot, despite featuring #1 radio hits?

He’s a charming guy, and as I said before, a good singer. It’s hard not to wish him to be a big success. But he isn’t one yet, and they really seem to be forcing the issue here, making him out to be a bigger star than he really is.  I don’t get it.

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  1. No offense to Shelton, but right now I’d say he’s a big fish in an awfully small pond.

  2. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Blake is definitely a superstar if you award that distinction mainly on the basis of how much radio airplay one gets. But I wouldn’t be so quick to say that he’s “at the top of his game.” (It might also be worth noting that he’s released a few weak singles in the past couple years) Maybe when his album sales pick up. He’s definitely doing well on the charts, but I think there’s a good chance of him eventually building further on his current success level. Extra points for being an Opry member though.

  3. BillyNo Gravatar says:

    I would have chosen his fiance over him for a judging panel. Blake is a personable person, from what he’s like in interviews and such, but I prefer Miranda’s personality. Blake is one of the biggest stars in country right now, but I wouldn’t call him a superstar.

    To me, the superstars in country at this moment are:

    Taylor
    Carrie
    Lady A
    Kenny
    Tim
    Zac Brown Band

    I might be forgetting someone there. I’d say that Blake and Miranda are on the tier right below the superstar status. Should they continue their upward career projection, they’ll reach superstar status by the end of the year.

  4. joyceNo Gravatar says:

    Blake radio success has outperform every other aspect of his career, cds sold, and even concerts. I have thought he should be a bigger star than he has been but I would like to see a little more out of him other than radio play for him to be all the sudden one of the “greatest country star” be handed to him.

  5. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    Blake is a superstar in so many ways. He’s in the good graces of country radio and the industry is starting to take notice of him. The Male Vocalist award at the CMAs last fall wasn’t a fluke.

    There was a week last August when his concert special premiered on GAC that Blake was everywhere. He finally big enough that the ACMs want him to co-host their award show. Not just anybody can do that. And he’ll hold his own with Reba, too.

    Blake’s biggest problem is that he isn’t consistent with his music. His latest single, “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” is a fantastic song (I’ve come around from previously calling it bland), but “Hillbilly Bone” was atrocious and “All About Tonight” was a happy medium between the two but still not great. And if he releases “Kiss My Country Ass” to radio next, it’ll be a big hit, but will do nothing for his musical credibility. That song may even be worse than “Bone.”

    I loved “Goodbye Time” and even his cover of “Home.” But my favorite song of his is “Some Beach” because it showcases his humor (even though he didn’t write it) but is still country. He did a great job early on with “Austin” and I have to admit I still like “The Baby.”

    And Dan Miliken pointing this out, but his frat boy image really is a turn off. I’m not into party music, so that might have something to do with it. But it works for the demographic buying the music and country radio is eating it up. It isn’t going away anytime soon and heck, it brought him to this level.

    But there’s no denying he’s becoming a force to be reckoned with. I just don’t see him ever getting to the Carrie, Taylor, Lady A, or Zac Brown Band level. He has the talent, but I don’t think he’s quite in their league. I don’t seem transcending genre boundaries as successfully as they have. He may be king of Twitter, but he isn’t meant to rule the pop charts. He’s a country boy and should stick in his lane.

    I do agree with Billy, though, based on artistic credibility alone, I would much rather have Miranda on a judging table then him, but his humor is most likely what won him the spot. If anything, his candor will make for some fantastic television.

  6. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    I think Carrie or Reba would be a far more suitable replacement for Shelton (or even Keith Urban). And I think Beyonce would better represent Cee Lo Green’s position at the table, considering her experience with Destiny’s Child & her solo career, not to mention she’s been a mainstay for over a decade.

  7. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    “Hillbilly Bone” is terrible but “Some Beach” shows off his comedic side? What an odd combination of words there.

    I actually think that Blake has built himself a pretty solid little piece of the country music landscape ever since he released Barn & Grill. Until that point he had released 7 singles and only had 2 chart in the top 10- with both going to #1.

    Since that album was out he has released 11 songs with 9 going top 10. Six of those were #1 hits. Contrary to what people have said, I think he has gotten more consistent with his stuff. However, there isn’t a huge difference between the stuff on his first albums and his most recent ones. I think the main difference is that he is getting better at releasing the stuff that radio will play as singles.

    Additionally, he was a commentator on Nashville Star and Clash of the Choirs so he knows how to critique these types of competitions. Also, he has appeared on NBC morning shows quite a bit and that probably helped.

  8. Paul DennisNo Gravatar says:

    Blake is getting very close to superstar status (whatever that means). It’s getting a litle harder to determine just what the term means anyway. Sales are down, and it is going to be difficult for any artist to run off huge strings of consecutive #1 records like Buck Owens, Sonny James, Charley Pride and Alabama did in past years

  9. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    First off, I am an unabashed, obsessive Blake Shelton super-fan. So my opinions are clearly biased, but who’s aren’t, right?

    I think Blake is a superstar within the country genre. He doesn’t have the profile to really draw attention outside of Country, but I think that’s the way he’d like it to be. And to be fair, his co-panelists aren’t exactly “Superstars” themselves (except maybe Aguilera, public intoxication, national anthem screw up, and all). He’s also had experience doing shows like this before with Clash of the Choirs, and I think he performed competently there. I think he fits in fine for this show.

    What gives Blake the qualifications to be a superstar? I don’t think there’s any denying he’s consistently good. Some would argue the material that’s lifted him to notoriety lately hasn’t been that strong, but relative to the rest of the pack, I think it’s solid. Personally, I liked far more of his music Pure BS and earlier, but everything since then has still been good to me. He’s definitely riding this surge of popularity and has that “can do no wrong” kind of status right now. I hope he uses that platform to get back to releasing strong, unique songs that he’s capable of (and often seem to wind up as album cuts).

    You also can’t deny his personality has come alive and helped him. Even if your sense of humor doesn’t align with his, people still appreciate honesty and authenticity, something he’s definitely offered. He stands out from the crowd and that’s elevated his profile, for sure.

    Oh, and even though it’s unrelated, I hate that Blake keeps getting this “frat boy country” label. Do you know what frat boys are like and stand for? That’s so contrary to who Blake is and what he stands for. If you want to say that he has a drunken, party element to his music and personality, then that’s fair (even though only a handful of songs that fit that bill come to mind…), but let’s not create some stereotype that’s unrepresentative of him as an artist and person.

    Anyways….I hope he does well at satisfying that country superstar role, whether everyone thinks he can fill it or not. As I mentioned, I just hope he uses this increased profile of his to get back to his musical roots and influences that he speaks so highly of and continue to make good music. That’s far more important to me than how he fares in his roll on this show.

  10. He reminds me, music-wise, of Tracy Byrd, only I found T-Byrd’s music to have been generally better written. It’s a lot easier to imagine Shelton being dropped into obscurity than recognized as a “superstar” had he been active in nearly any other era of country music.

  11. MikeNo Gravatar says:

    I believe Blake Shelton was a judge on Nashville Star for one of the seasons (an NBC Universal produced show), so maybe there was a positive impression that was left by Shelton on someone at NBC Universal.

    I don’t think that he is a cross-genre superstar, nor a country superstar for that matter. Shelton’s music doesn’t cross genres that well; if you played songs like Austin, Goodbye Time and Hillbilly Bone it would have little effect on someone not already interested in country music in my opinion.

    A superstar within the genre to me is someone who record when released can bust up the charts rapidly towards #1, someone who can do that will almost any track they release and repeat it on multiple occasions. Their albums likewise can do the same and their concert tours sellout in large-scale with them as the leading act. Shelton isn’t too that point yet and he certainly hasn’t crossed over with any success on pop-charts. Shelton’s a big name and a bit of a draw money-wise, but he just hasn’t done enough to be moved up one extra notch.

  12. This is publicity for a TV show. Of course it’s exaggerated.

  13. claudiaNo Gravatar says:

    I think Blake is very good at what he does, and is building a nice career for himself. He and Miranda can certainly work the “next Tim & Faith” angle. In this age of downloads and twitter, I’m not sure sales will be the determining factor in success anymore. Other elements will come more into play. Never underestimate the power of “connections”. It’s not always what you do, but who you know. Blake has Starstruck Entertainment managing him. Narvel & Reba are well respected, and well connected. Lots of doors can be opened that way.(see “ACM co-hosting duties”)

  14. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    Like most everybody else, I like Blake Shelton a lot – his vocals are often better than his material, I agree.

    That said, I can’t help but attribute this, and other high-profile gigs like Blake Shelton co-hosting the ACM Awards, to his management team. It’s no big coincidence that a fellow Starstruck client is going to share the stage with Reba in Las Vegas this year.

    And Occasional Hope is correct that press releases promoting a new TV show are bound to be exaggerated, and over-flattering, to their subject.

  15. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    And to be fair, his co-panelists aren’t exactly “Superstars” themselves (except maybe Aguilera, public intoxication, national anthem screw up, and all). -Devin

    I do agree on the part that Aguilera is probably the only real superstar on the panel, but she has made a name for herself before all the ‘bad’ publicity, winning the BNA award at the Grammys (beating out highly sensationalized Britney Spears) and earning multiple chart hits with different kinds of music.

    And I third Occasional Hope’s comments about over-exaggerating the subject in press-releases.

  16. Matt BNo Gravatar says:

    We cannot overlook how singles sales with iTunes have changed thigns and that his single sales are very strong and if we were to add the sales of the two EPs together, then we would have a Gold 12 track album. So in reality he’s doing what he’s always done in sales terms and when you consider that nobody in rock genres sells gold if they weren’t around a decade ago. Seriously, tell me the last true rock band that scored a platinum album that wasn’t around a decade ago (Kings of Leon was around, as were Linkin Park, etc.).

    Blake Shelton is a star with a profile that’s growing stronger every month. Twitter has helped expand his profile to a non-country audience while his singles have now placed him in the ‘instant add’ category at radio.

  17. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I tend to agree with Ocasional Hope’s explanation. He’s a star, but I think he’s got some good publicity behind him these days that makes a star look like a superstar.

  18. AaronNo Gravatar says:

    This is a rather iffy title to give to Blake. Yes he’s had great success at country radio with three consecutive number one singles, but his sales have yet to back up the success, which is rather weird. I would think that if you’re a mainstay at country radio, your sales would be skyrocketing. However, his sales aren’t impressive. I think his win at the CMA’s last fall was a direct result of his radio success rather than his sales.

    If I was going to call anyone a superstar who has been around for a while, it would be Jason Aldean. Jason has the radio success and the sales to back up that success. I think he’s the perfect example of a male artist who just find of flew under the radar for most of his career until now when he’s finally broken through. Now he’s nominated for the ACM Entertainer of the Year and is no doubt about to become country’s next superstar (even though I would say he’s already reached that level).

    I’m sure Blake will get there eventually but I wouldn’t say he’s ready for that label just yet.

  19. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Jason Aldean being a superstar sure has snuck up on me.

  20. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …wake me up to tweet to the world that blake shelton is a superstar, when he finally can come up with full size albums that top the billboard 200 charts upon release date.

    nevertheless, he’s been developing nicely lately – kinda john-michael montgomery class in the nineties.

  21. Matt BNo Gravatar says:

    Leeann,

    That happened to me too. My moment of recognition was last summer when he garnered thousands of people wanting to just take his picture at a booth at CMA Music Fest (which was right next to my booth and not on an end of the aisle where the crowd could be accommodated better.

  22. Martin in NYNo Gravatar says:

    I think he is on the verge of becoming a superstar. I know that my folks back home have been singing his praises since his debut album. He seems to have a grassroots fan base, which has been building for quite some time. I also think that his humor and charisma work very well on TV. We need more country stars like him. It’s good to have people like him representing country music. Also, there are other entertaining people like (and I know people don’t love her music) Kellie Pickler. She has a great sense of humor and reminds me of the old Opry and television country stars. Blake reminds me of those old stars too. The music may not always be great. But it is somewhat earnest and fun and has a lot of heart. It’s okay to have such people have a strong presence. It doesn’t only have to be Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley and Reba all the time. I think Shelton is great.

  23. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    on second thought, Dolly Parton would be a more suitable recommendation than Reba.

  24. inahNo Gravatar says:

    the first time i heard blake shelton’s song ( here i am ) i really am amazed of his voice .. it made me listen on to it again and again .. never tired of listening again and again … made me fall in love

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