Thomas Rhett Accepts The Abuse From Traditionalists, Admits He “Gravitates Towards Pop”

I loved a lot of Thomas Rhett’s music early on (“In A Minute”), especially the songs he wrote (like Jason Aldean’s “I Ain’t Ready To Quit”).

Rhett’s pop-heavy sound the last couple years definitely produced some songs you can’t help but call catchy. But, are they country? That’s a debate we’ve been involved in with numerous people, and it’s way passed beating a dead horse. That horse is eviscerated by now. What you really want is honesty, and to TR’s credit, he is honest about his music.

In a recent interview with GQ, Thomas Rhett said the following:

So for “Craving You” we went with this guy named Serban [Ghenea] who is well known in the pop world for mixing songs. I definitely gravitate in a pop direction, but at the end of the day there is no changing this voice that God gave me. It’s Southern by the grace of God. And I’m not sure I could make it sound any more pop than this song right here. I’m just a country singer, man. And if my songs happen to fit one day in a pop space, and it happens to make sense on Top 40 radio, that’d be great. The ultimate goal is for your music to be heard by as many people as humanly possible.

There’s a lot to dissect in his long interview, and the above paragraph. For me, however, there is a takeaway of honesty. He’s right. He does have a southern drawl. He’s also right about the music being way more pop now. I even consider his music more pop than Sam Hunt’s, but that’s just me.

Rhett also admitted some of the hateful tweets he gets now does bother him. Fans snipe him with comments like “thanks for ruining country music” and after doing a quick Twitter search of his name, the comments get even worse at times. However, the majority of the comments are positive, and the majority of comments come from younger women. That’s not surprising. Rhett’s best chance at true superstardom is crossing over and having fans in both the pop and country worlds (ie Taylor Swift, also on Big Machine Label Group).

It’s a matter of time before Thomas Rhett is a familiar name with every 22-year-old pop music fan. I’ll admit I am bummed we won’t hear any songs from Rhett like I mention in the opening sentence, but I respect the guy for admitting where he is looking to take his career – and not sugarcoating it. As long as he’s making music he wants to make, more power to him. The worst thing about the industry is when artists are built, almost in a lab, to make music they don’t want to make, to fit a sound and image, and to become a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred. This rarely works out on a large scale. However, in Rhett’s case, I think the team behind him knows they likely have a thoroughbred that’s going to sell a lot of tickets, and I believe Rhett is making the music he wants to make.

So, if you listen to his music and tweet hate, remember that he’s pretty damn transparent about his influences, sound, and goals. Respect the honesty.

Whiskey Riff is the most entertaining country site…ever.