Yet another rock-star has “gone country,” but will it work?
In case you haven’t heard, rocker front-man Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, recently inked a deal to release his first ever solo project. If that weren’t shocking enough, the album, scheduled for late 2015, is said to be — wait for it — country?
That’s right, whether it’s the loyal fan-base or the propensity to tell stories with just three chords and the truth, country music has lured yet another big-time artist from their “home-genre.” For some, the move has been a success. For others — not so much.
Here’s a list of some of the best and worst to try their hand at country music since 2000:
1. Darius Rucker
Hootie who? Darius Rucker, who made the switch to country in 2008, was the first African-American to chart a solo number one on the Hot Country Songs chart since Charley Pride. As a country artist — besides his current album Southern Style (which is sure to join them) — all of his releases have gone “Gold,” with Learn to Live, reaching “Platinum” status. With six number ones under his belt, including the smash cover “Wagon Wheel,” it’s safe to say that Hootie —or Darius rather — has made it.
2. Kelly Clarkson
It’s hard to say if Kelly Clarkson will ever fully commit to country music, but she has certainly been dabbling with it for some time now. Her big introduction to the country audience came in 2007 with the release of her duet version of “Because of You,” (No. 2) with Reba McEntire. Her other country singles “Mr. Know it All,” “Don’t Rush,” and “Tie it Up,” reached No. 21, 23, and 33 respectively. Clarkson recently announced that she is working on both a pop and country record at the same time, explaining, “I’m both people…I have everything on my iPad…” Country fans are undoubtedly eager for her full conversion.
3. Kid Rock
Although, he will not likely be changing his name to “Kid Country” anytime soon, Kid Rock has claimed his fair share of the country music pie. His duet “Picture,” with Sheryl Crow in 2002 was a big crossover success and went to No. 21 on the Billboard Country Chart. His next big country hit, “All Summer Long,” which samples “Sweet Home Alabama,” came in 2008 and landed him “Platinum” status. He followed that up with Born Free, a country album, which also went as platinum as Pam Anderson.
4. Sheryl Crow
Like Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow first came into the country music “picture” with their 2002 duet. In 2010, she caught the bug and joined Loretta Lynn and Miranda Lambert on a reboot of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Then, in 2013, she released her country debut Feels Like Home which produced the singles “Easy,” (No. 21) and “Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely,” (No. 37). A Nashville resident since 2006, it’s safe to say that country is beginning to feel like home for Crow. Hey, if it makes you happy.
5. Michelle Branch
Known primarily for her singer-songwriter hits “Everywhere” and “All You Wanted,” — which garnered heavy rotation on MTV in the early 2000’s — Michelle Branch partnered with friend and fellow musician Jessica Harp, to form the country duo The Wreckers in 2005. The pair hit the ground running with their number one single “Leave the Pieces,” but failed to keep the momentum going and disbanded in 2007 to pursue solo projects. Perhaps if they had won their 2006 CMA nomination for “Vocal Duo of the Year,” they would still be wrecking it today.
6. Jon Bon Jovi
Famous for selling millions of records and having awesome hair, another rocker makes the list at number six. Like Kid Rock, Bon Jovi made his 2006 country radio debut in the form of a duet, only his partner was Jennifer Nettles — half of popular country duo Sugarland. The single, which was originally intended to be sung with Keith Urban, landed Bon Jovi his first and only Hot Country Songs No. 1 hit. He followed that up with the release of a country-influenced album Lost Highway, which did well despite the singles’ lack of success on the country charts. Maybe one day, Bon Jovi will take another crack at country. After all, it’s his life.
7. Uncle Kracker
The “Follow Me” singer and former Kid Rock DJ, was featured on country star Kenny Chesney’s 2004 summer jam “When the Sun Goes Down.” Then, in 2009, Uncle Kracker broke into the US Hot Country Songs Top 10 once again with his crossover tune “Smile.” His next four country singles failed to break the top 40.
Jewel, who started yodeling and writing songs at 16, and is known for her folk-pop song, “You Were Meant for Me,” co-hosted the reality show Nashville Star in 2007. In 2008, Jewel crossed over into country music with her album Perfectly Clear, which debuted atop Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and produced the No. 13 hit, “Stronger Woman.” Her next two country singles trailed off, but in 2013 she released a Greatest Hits album featuring duets with Kelly Clarkson and the Pistol Annies.
9. Aaron Lewis
More easily recognized by voice than name, the lead singer of the rock group Staind released a solo country single titled “Country Boy,” in 2011. The song — which was a collaboration with old school country studs George Jones and Charlie Daniels — failed to make an impression on fans and stalled before reaching the top 50. Then, in 2012, Lewis released the solo country project The Road. The album sold well, reaching No. 7 on the US Country charts, but again failed to make a splash on country radio.
10. Jessica Simpson
Lastly, we have Jessica Simpson, who made her crossover attempt in 2008 with the release of Do You Know. The album did well in its initial release — as did the single “Come On Over” — but the success was short-lived. Not too long after she began touring with country acts, videos of her being booed and forgetting lyrics seemed all too frequent. With the harsh album reviews and a string of listless performances, her stint as a country artist was about as short as the cut-offs she wore in her portrayal of Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazard remake.
Honorable Mention — Bubba Sparxxx
Once featured on Justin Timberlake’s Justified, the rapper recently laid down a verse for former Steel Magnolia member and Voice hopeful Meghan Linsey. The song “Try Harder Than That,” is currently a “highway find” on Sirius XM’s country station, The Highway. Needless to say, this is likely the first and last time Bubba Sparxxx will be under Jessica Simpson.
Whether Steven Tyler will sink like Simpson or join the ranks of Rucker remains to be seen, but his country crossover will certainly be entertaining to watch.