Please Explain: Kenny Chesney

When it comes to country music, I’m not a hater. While my tastes generally go for artists that aren’t played on the radio like Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakum, and K.D. Lang, I do have a weakness for a lot of popular female country artists like The Dixie Chicks, Miranda Lambert, and even some songs from Sara Evans. While they don’t do it for me, I understand why Rascal Flatts are so popular, as they know how to write really hooky songs, with just a hint of a twang. What I have no understanding of is the massive popularity of Kenneth Chesney.

While most non-country fans have little knowledge of the guy, the argument could be made that Chesney is currently the most popular musical artist in the US. During 2007, only The Police sold more concert tickets than him. Every one of these shows was a sell-out. His records not only dominate the country charts, but they wind up in the Top 10 on the pop charts, as well. It is all one big mystery to me.

If you are not familiar with his work, Chesney conveys this Jimmy Buffet-type vibe…if it was recorded by Nashville session players. This doesn’t sound too promising, does it? Well, it isn’t. The music is dismal, the lyrics are hackneyed. The same can be said for Buffet, but I kind of understand some of his success, as there is a sense of humor in most of what he does. Chesney has a lot of that weird Garth Brooks-like intensity on-stage that comes off very unnatural. (Let me note that Brooks has written a dozen songs better than the best of Chesney’s, so I understood most of his appeal.)

Another guy that I have little understanding of his music’s popularity, Tim McGraw, at least has a great backstory, as being the love child of former baseball star (Tug) and being married to a gorgeous country music star (Faith Hill) definitely helps the marketing of his career. On the other hand, Chesney is a small in stature man, with a mysterious dating history and a predilection for wearing puca shell necklaces. Not the list of factors that you would think would make you a Country music sex symbol. Don’t tell this to his female fans, though, as they swoon for the guy. Not for a second do I have any idea why Renee Zellweger would bounce from one of the great musical artists on the scene today (Jack White of the White Stripes) to marrying Chesney. Not surprisingly, the marriage was anulled after a few months, as the bride and groom must be first class loons to have gotten hitched after knowing each other for less than 4 months.

Honestly, I just don’t get the career of Kenny Chesney. His most famous song is titled, She Thinks My Tractors Sexy. Here is a guy that has won the American Country Music Entertainer of the Year Award for the past 4 years. Sure most of what is played on country radio is crap, but how is it that a guy whose best quality is that he looks good in a sleeveless t-shirt can own this award? If having a good tan was the key to success in life, don’t you think George Hamilton would have been in all of The Godfather movies, instead of just 3rd one?

Please Explain Kenny Chesney.

17 thoughts on “Please Explain: Kenny Chesney

  1. 1.  i think the problem is that what comes across as “hackneyed” to people like you and me sounds “real” and “down-to-earth” and simply relatable to joe (and jane) commercial country music listener.

  2. 2.  I’m a Parrothead, and I’ve heard some Kenny Chesney. I don’t see the similarities between Buffett and Chesney… sure, every so often, it appears, but more often than not, Chesney’s stuff is lame. Buffett’s stuff is at least fun, and his ballads blow most other musicians out of the water. Basically, I don’t get Chesney either.

  3. 3.  (from the hospital)

    I would have guessed that I had never heard a Kenny C song, but I’ve heard that tractor ditty. I kind of thought it was a ‘joke’ song a la Randy Newman’s ‘Short People’ or Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m too sexy’. Must have pissed off Weird Al though—hard to parody a parody.

  4. 4.  Buffett would be a good “please explain.” Or maybe just the “parrotheads.” I mean, besides the 50- and 60-somethings who were either too clean-cut or too busy to have gotten into the whole Grateful Dead thing, what’s the point? “Hey, look at me! I’m wearing a wacky hat and a lei!” The whole thing strikes me as people trying waaaaay too hard.

    You can tell a lot about a man by his Buffett collection and how much it means to him.

    (Sorry for being OT.)

  5. 5.  Chesney can be explained by his progenitors: Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. They emerged at approx. the same time (Brooks 2 years earlier) in the early 90’s and were hugely successful.

    Recall Long: In ’93 Dwight sold an impressive 2 million with his “This Time” CD. Brooks’s + Twain’s first releases?: 20+ million CDs sold.

    Country Music being a business, the profitable move is to refine Brooks and Twain and get better looking successors (Chesney, Faith Hill, et al– women buy music) to do the same thing.

    The dixie chicks were kind of a female Diamond Rio…good country/pop songwriters and that short chick can definitely sing.

    Until they made the single worst marketing move since New Coke.

  6. 6.  I’m off to teach so I’m rushed. Please excuse that I haven’t read the whole post and I haven’t read the comments.

    I don’t want to be this guy, especially as nascent country music fan. But I have to ask…

    Who the hell is Kenny Chesney?

  7. 7.  Yeah I can explain it.

    To understand why Chesney is so successful you have to understand how many if not most women think (because they make up the vast majority of his fans).

    What women very often love in a guy is a kind of lost puppy dog quality that would be able to entertain them with a song and a beer and do all kinds of sappy stuff like walk on a beach with them and non-threatening things like share experiences but not depress them with anything that’s too “dark.”

    Chesney represents a happy colorful little puppy that wants at all costs to win your approval.

    And this works until the girl gets bored with it and then wants the dark, brooding, dangerous “bad boy” like Johnny Depp.

  8. 8.  Toaster ate my post (probably human error on my part). I didn’t have any profound insights so I’ll just pass along the research I compiled while Googling ‘Kenny Chesney’ – from UrbanDictionary.com.

    Kenny Chesney, proper noun –

    1. Mr. Chesney is an adult-contemporary singer disguised as a country singer… a fact that most people miss because 1) he wears a cowboy hat (to hide his bald head) and 2) Nashville sucks. Oh, and for all you clueless girls who find him hot, truth be told he really looks like a middle-aged turtle on steriods.

    2. Proof that God loves us and wants us all to be happy.

    3. The best country singer!! Loves to sing about vacationing on the beach and getting away.

    4. A popular country singer among trailer-trash women, who are on average more then double his weight. He’s rumored to be gay and probably is.

    That’s about the range of opinion on Kenny Chesney.

  9. 9.  Country music has been a corporate machine since at least the 1950s. Basically Kenny Chesney is just one more in a long line of semi-talented musicians who had the “right look” or “right sound” for whatever the corporate executives felt would sell at the moment.

    See also Spears, Britney — different demographic, but same idea.

  10. 10.  As I wrote earlier, I’m not a fan, but I get the rascal flatts, tim mcgraws, and the like. I understand toby keith, as he is filling the whole bocephus thing.

    Chesney is different from any country star in the past, as outside of the hat, he is not macho and sings about being on vacation all the time. It does speak to the changing demo of country, which is the new AC/soft rock format.

    While I can understand this filling a certain fan base, it doesn’t explain how the guy is the biggest concert solo act of 2007 and one of the top 5 selling artists of the past 5 years.

    I know the guy is under the radar for many of us, but he is one of the most popular entertainers of the past decade.
    .

  11. 11.  As I wrote earlier, I’m not a fan, but I get the rascal flatts, tim mcgraws, and the like. I understand toby keith, as he is filling the whole bocephus thing.

    Chesney is different from any country star in the past, as outside of the hat, he is not macho and sings about being on vacation all the time. It does speak to the changing demo of country, which is the new AC/soft rock format.

    While I can understand this filling a certain fan base, it doesn’t explain how the guy is the biggest concert solo act of 2007 and one of the top 5 selling artists of the past 5 years.

    I know the guy is under the radar for many of us, but he is one of the most popular entertainers of the past decade.
    .

  12. 12.  For me, Chesney, Rascal Flatts, and Trace Adkins (he of “HonkyTonk Badonkadonk” fame; which, if considered country music, is the most mis-labelled song in pop history) are at the same level of insipidity. Just utterly bland shameless pandering.

    I guess I “get” these artists, I just despise them. Hank Williams would turn in his grave if he knew this is what “country music” became. It’s really just generic Top 40 with slide guitars, and accents. How is a cover of “Life is a Highway” a country music hit???

  13. 15.  Off topic, but I doubt Kenny C would mind: yesterday at 1:27 pm I welcomed baseball’s newest fan into the world: Carlyann Sophia in Illinois.

    Mom and babe are doing very well. She checked in at a healthy 8 lbs and 3 oz and was 21 inches long—bigger than her three older siblings, all of whom are currently off the charts (in regards to height anyway).

    It struck me after a week of Rockies-Diamondback conversation that the genesis of the Rockie franchise to her would be like the Dodgers moving west was to me: firmly in the past. If the Rockies continue with their ‘never lose’ strategy and win the World Series we’d have the common experience of having a recent expansion team win the Series the year we were born (69 Mets).

    Let’s hope for an interesting series, but for now just pretend that I’m handing out a virtual cigar to each of you out there—special thanks to Scott for providing a forum in which I can share my happy news.

    Note to TFD: I brought Gilead to the hospital and I’ll have it finished by the end of the week…very compelling so far…

  14. 16.  Congrads Chris in Illinois.

    I’m waiting until the Astros win the series before I have any offspring.

    That could be a while. Oh well, never really wanted kids.

    But congrads to you again and thanks for the cigar.

    I hear playing Mozart to the little one might help more than that tune about a tractor.

    Just a thought.

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