Well, this is either a big surprise or not a surprise at all. It just depends on how much you listen to John Mayer.
The megastar’s new song, “In the Blood,” makes its way to country radio soon. Mayer just released his record, The Search for Everything, last month. And in a surprise twist, some country radio stations started playing “In the Blood” without solicitation.
So now Mayer’s label decided, what the heck, its worth throwing a few hundred thousand dollars to see if this thing sticks. And they have smaller market radio stations to thank.
First of all, just listen to the track. Mayer didn’t do anything different from what he’s been doing for years. And really, his 2012 album Born and Raised dabbled in heavier country overtones than this new one.
No, John Mayer isn’t going country. Country is going John Mayer.
Which, if you ask me, is a good thing — at least lyrically. “In the Blood” is a contemplative, slightly dark song examining if Mayer can escape becoming his parents. Will his love, for instance, be “insane to some degree” like his mother’s? Will he take after his father and “dim the lights inside” just to satisfy someone else?
Honestly, Mayer is writing the kind of serious, broken truths country radio used to get its jollies off of decades ago. And still does, sometimes. So what if its wrapped in a catchy hook with some hand claps? Sometimes that’s the best way to deliver a somber dive into your subconscious.
John Henseler at Sheboygan, Wisconsin’s B93.7 radio station penned an informative note about the process of how something like this happens. Because radio stations definitely pay attention to each other.
“I’ll admit, when I saw ‘John Mayer’ on the Country Top 60 this week, I audibly gasped,” Henseler writes. But they downloaded the tune from the server and played a clip on the radio. Then, they put it to a vote, asking if they should continue playing it.
“The yay’s outnumbered the nay’s about 55% to 45%,” he says. “But then something curious happened, we played the full version and got a TON of positive reaction. And in some cases we got positive response’s from the same numbers that told me to do undesirable things with the album before we played it.”
The people have spoken.
Henseler notes that, objectively nothing about the song is particularly “country.” Or “country enough.” But, he adds with a wink, he types that as the obviously “not country’ Keith Urban/Carrie Underwood duet “The Fighter” thumps in the background.
Just embrace it, folks. The country umbrella is wide open. At this point, it’s either all country, or none of it is. John Mayer’s massive, arena-filling appeal helps his case in this instance.