– Kane Brown and Khalid perform onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Conservatively looking at more than $12 million in box office from his 22 arena shows, Kane Brown lives in a lot of worlds. But for the average consumer who may only dabble in one or two, Pollstar is pulling together a quick listening guide to the guy who’s “Worldwide Beautiful.”
“Used To Love You Sober”
Just a good lookin’ kid with a classic country baritone for the ages. Like Randy Travis, who ignited a different young country audience 40 years ago, Brown’s original song announced a major presence in terms of hard truth, big presence and a set of roots that was forward.
“What Ifs” with Lauren Alaina
The tension between the former classmates in this rushing tumble of what could go wrong versus right finds Brown’s laidback delivery sparking against Lauren Alaina’s surging power vocals. The seventh most streamed country song of all time, it, too, is 6x platinum.
“Be Like That” with Swae Lee and Khalid
Relationship dynamics get real. With the 808s and the stop/start rhythms, Swae Lee and Khalid bring an easy sweetness to the dissonance between lovers. Yes, you annoy me, but I’m lost without you.
Finger snaps, a sinewy guitar and Brown’s voice melting into a melody that’s both conversational and perhaps as erotic as anything Conway Twitty ever conjured. Six-times platinum, it’s the third most streamed country song of all time.
“One Right Thing” with Marshmello
If not country, its sloping rhythm pulls country listeners into the EDM set-up. A cautionary tale of running a little wild, it comes down on the – obviously – one thing Brown got right. With the Late Night, FireBeatz and Koni remix, it takes country where it’s rarely gone.
– Kane Brown & Marshmello share a moment during the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 21, 2019. Photo by Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for iHeartMedia
“Famous Friends” with Chris Young
The notion of being known wherever you go, the way small towns make stars out of local heroes, gives this throwback ‘90s feeling country an easy sweep with straight-up country artist Chris Young.
“Good As You”
From Experiment, his second album, Brown works against a banjo, tambourine and high hat drum roll for a gospel undertow to his kicked back country. An homage to the women he’ll never live up to.
“American Bad Dream”
Also from Experiment, it’s a real snapshot from a kid who lived through a world of school shootings, racism, driving while Black and industrial strength bullying. A terse, almost industrial rock frame, it’s a reckoning.
“Cool Again” with Nelly
The brawny stroll through wanting to get back in sync, there’s a processed dobro, triple-time rhythm and just enough feel-good to evoke summer. When Nelly jumps on the remix, it’s a euphoria that country rarely achieves.
Fiddles, a train beat and a swoosh that is pure road house, “BFE” shows Brown not only has a sense of humor, he knows his country living. A little Joe Diffie, a little bit Alabama, his country roots are showing.
“Never Be The Same” by Camila Cabello
It’s her record: whisper thin, stark, tumbling. When Brown comes in, he’s the quiet storm who’s worth falling for. In a world of addicitions, this could be the best one of all.
“Last Time I Say I’m Sorry” with John Legend
The cascading piano ballad is John Legend’s strong suit, and he shines here. But Brown’s vulnerability levels the playing field as two men weigh the way they failed their lovers and resolve to be better men.
“Memory” with blackbear
A little more hushed, a little more emo, “Memory” is a plea to figure out how to cope with the pressures of life, peers, drugs and whatever else this world seems to extract. Hypnotic, almost trance country.
“For My Daughter”
Perhaps his most traditional country ballad, the molasses sweet pledge to his little girl weighs the things he’s going to do against the father he never had – and to be all the things he wanted. An album cut, but a must hear for any parent anywhere.
“Black churches, white churches/Different people, same hearses… At every show, I see my people/ They ain’t the same but they’re equal/You’re missing every color if you’re only seeing black and white…”
The slow amble is Brown’s throw-it-to-the-world anthem. Embrace each other, find the common ground and work in love, not rancor. Like “I Hope You Dance,” it’s a quiet song that packs a wallop.