Kane Brown has quickly become all the buzz in country music recently. Being labeled the “Justin Beiber” of the country music scene, he’s what many consider to be an overnight sensation. One day he’s posting YouTube videos of himself covering songs by artists like Chris Young and Lee Brice, and the next he’s headlining his own show at Joe’s Live in Rosemont, completely skipping playing Joe’s on Weed Street, which most country artists who come to Chicago consider to be a sort of stepping stone and staple to play in. In fact, Brown has already landed himself on what is sure to be one of summer’s hottest tours this year, opening for Florida Georgia Line along with Cole Swindell. Most up and coming artists like Kane can pay their dues for years before getting the chance to open for an act as big as Florida Georgia Line. No doubt this is only one of many reasons Brown is creating such a hype in country music right now.
If you consider yourself any kind of country fan at all, you really should know who Kane Brown is. His name is one that has been blowing up social media news feeds for months and he is all country music fans can seem to talk about lately. But if you still don’t recognize the name I’ll clue you in. The 22 year old Georgia native released his second EP entitled Chapter 1 in March of this year, with his single, “Used to Love You Sober” premiering at #82 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #37 on Country Airplay, and #15 on Hot Country Songs. The five song EP peaked at #2 on the American iTunes charts on its release date, and truthfully does not feature a bad song on it. Brown’s fans must agree because they were seen singing along to every song he performed live, according to videos posted by the singer on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Like many of our favorite singing Georgians, Kane already won the hearts of female country fans everywhere. While many are swooning over his good looks and jamming to his catchy tunes, there are just as many who seem to love to hate Brown. Much of the backlash against the new singer seems to be in regards to his style of music, classifying it as too pop and hip hop, even going as far as accusing Brown of not making “real” country music and calling what he’s created “garbage.” In Brown’s defense, though, he has handled himself rather well, not appearing too concerned with his “haters.” He’s only fired back on occasion, setting the social media pariahs straight in where he grew up, pointing out that he did in fact grow up “country.” As far as “not sounding country enough”, what Kane may lack in twang, he makes up for with a voice as deep and thick as any true country artist that’s come before him, and as smooth as Thomas Rhett’s dance moves. Though Brown grew up listening to Tim McGraw, he, like many, says he fell into the R&B and hip hop genres his friends were listening to in middle school. It’s easy to hear what influences the young star once you listen to his music. Like many in country music today, Kane has found a way to infuse pop and hip hop into his music.
When you’re blessed with a voice as rich as Kane Brown’s you could literally make singing the phone book sound like velvety goodness and he proves this every time he opens his mouth. During his show at Joe’s Live in Rosemont, he covered a handful of his own songs, as well as various covers from different genres, including “Krpytonite” (3 Doors Down), “Ignition Remix” (R Kelly), “House Party” (Sam Hunt), “Love Yourself” (Justin Bieber) and “Check Yes or No” (George Strait). Despite Brown’s effortless deliver of these songs, they never really plateaued. They never reached that vocal height that really wows a crowd and takes the song to the next level. However, it was really Brown’s lack of stage presence that stuck out to me. There are certain songs (in this case four out of the five cover songs) that should be performed with a specific kind of energy and attitude, rather than just plainly sung. Rather than deliver the songs in the way they deserved, Kane just paced the stage back and forth, singing with an expression that was far from what it should have been given the sold out show. Though Brown did continuously sign autographs for fans throughout his performance (rather than waiting until the end of the show), the overall performance was more unsatisfying than anything else.
It’s possible Brown is just more of an introvert than his social media posts would like us to believe, or perhaps he let his nerves get the best of him. Regardless, when you’ve become the spotlight star that he has, and have performed to as many sold out crowds as he has in his short amount of time as a performer, you would think he’d have cured those issues by now. Personally speaking, I don’t think Brown’s performance lived up to the hype that had been built up on social media. I think there are other up and coming country singers who do a much better job, both musically and performance wise. However, that’s not to say Kane Brown isn’t talented. The 22 year old has a voice that is certainly unique and stands out, especially against other current up and coming country singers trying to make a name for themselves. Based on his concerts and social media accounts, that seems to be enough for many of the fans following the Georgia singer.
Sadly, though, unless your name is George Strait or Alan Jackson, just standing (or even walking back and forth), and singing will only do so much for you when on stage. Performers are called performers for a reason, and it’s not because they just sing into a microphone. There has to be a stage presence or fans, no matter how much they like you and your music, will eventually grow bored. Artists who lack a stage presence risk fizzling out over time because no one wants to see the same performance over and over, especially if it’s as uneventful as someone who barely even looks excited to be on stage to begin with. For the type of music Kane Brown makes, there is so much more someone like him can do with their stage show. Take for example, the artists who are consistently nominated for Entertainer of the Year at every awards show. They know how to not only interact with and engage their audience, but they also know how to keep everyone entertained in a way that leaves them always wanting more.
Each artist has their own way of performing that works for them. Some are great at it, and others tend to fall a little flat. There are few, though, who are outstanding performers, and it’s because they have that extra special charm that appeals to fans who pay to see them time and time again. Kane Brown has the potential to be one of these performers that continue to amaze their fans at every single show because he has the talent as well as a massive amount of followers showing their support. Unfortunately, like with any profession, it’ll take time and more experience before Kane reaches that level that so many country artists seem to reach naturally.