“Kevin Andrews – Highlights (Artist Movement Workshop)”
[Nashville, TN] – A steadily increasing amount of country music today is gearing more towards a “pop-country” sound. Chart toppers such as Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood and many more fall into this category critics often label “Pop-Country”. A growing majority of the music on country radio is a far cry from the traditional country music roots of Hank Williams or Johnny Cash. The idea of making their music appeal to a broader audience by making it more “pop-like” has reached great success. These artists have reached their goal in making it into “Top 40” radio on a consistent basis. So why are these artists failing to compete with major “pop” stars like Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry when it comes to performing head to head?
MOVEMENT… DANCE … FLARE
Watch any awards show where both pop and country are represented. The next day when the reviews hit and the top 5 performances are announced from critics across the world, country acts are not being hailed in those reviews. Last year at the American Music Awards, Jennifer Lopez had the top performance of the night (according to most of the reviews), and she sang in Spanish! She won over the audience, viewers, and critics as the top performance because her movement, dance, and overall stage presentation was incredibly compelling. At the 2013 Billboard awards (according to their online poll), Florida Georgia Line got the lowest number of votes (out of 18 performers) and Luke Bryan got the third least (slightly above Robin Thicke). On the bright side for them, the highest decibel level at the amazing 2014 CMT Awards was when they all started dancing in unison with Jason Derulo!
The Top 4 ways country music CAN compete with pop music performances…
1. Hire a choreographer/movement specialist to help with the stage show. A country artist will spend 4 -18+ months recording and perfecting an album, but most of them will spend virtually no time working on the “show” they will put on for their tours! So let’s get this straight… An album costs $10-$20 to purchase (which took 4 -18+ months to make) and you’re going to wing it on stage and charge $50-$1000 to see your movement rehearsal? No thanks.
2. Be open to filling the movement arsenal with more than a few moves. Most country artists have less than 10 “dance moves” that they use when performing which makes every song look the same to viewers. If two different songs sound different, shouldn’t they look different?
3. Quit relying on the lighting crew to make the show “high-energy”. It doesn’t help when an act literally hires their lighting guy to stage the artist movement. The lighting should merely enhance the actual movement of the artist and the band. Is the audience paying $50-$1000 to see a light show or to see the artist actually perform their music in a fun and entertaining way?
4. Country artists need to embrace backup dancers to help tell their story. News Flash: Country fans dance to country music every day across the world, and believe it or not, country dancing is extremely popular, especially overseas! Country music (whether traditional or “pop”) should incorporate dancing as much as any other genre of music.
Everything you see on stage in pop music is planned, choreographed, and rehearsed over and over. Even wardrobe malfunctions are practiced in pop music! If country music artists want to legitimately compete with the pop artists, they need to incorporate better movement, dance, and all the “pizazz” pop artists utilize so well.
About Kevin Andrews:
Kevin Andrews is a Nashville based stage director and choreographer with 16 years of performance experience. Andrews is also the author of “Artist Movement: Perfecting Showmanship & Stage Presence” and has worked with such artists as LeAnn Rimes, Big & Rich, and Alan Jackson to name a few. Follow Kevin Andrews on twitter: @GoKevinA