These days the lines between country and pop music are pretty blurry.
Of course you have country stars who decide to leave country music altogether and focus on making pop music, like Taylor Swift and Maren Morris.
But there are also a lot of artists who claim to be country who have a lot of pop in their sound. Artists like Dan + Shay, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini, Shania Twain…
And honestly, as much as I may not be a fan of the music, it serves a lot of artists well. They’re able to win over fans from outside of country music, get their hits on pop radio, and find success where they probably wouldn’t have if they limited themselves to just country. It may not be for me, but it’s clearly for somebody.
Luke sat down with Dan Rather a while back, who asked him whether he would ever consider venturing outside of country music and leaning more into the pop sound.
And Luke’s reaction said it all, laughing as he answered:
“How long before I go on that path? I don’t know, probably never.
There are two parts of me when I hear that question. One part is, man, those people, they went and did their thing, and if that’s what they wanted to do, I’m all about people doing what they want to do and what makes them happy.
So my counterargument to that would be, the thing that makes me happy is country music. And country music is good enough for me.
That’s where I want to be, that’s what I came here to do, that’s what I signed up for, that’s what I loved.
That doesn’t mean that I’m going to keep myself in a certain bubble just for the sake of doing that, but being a pop artist or going in that direction is something that is just not meant for me.”
Luke also joked about not having the look of a typical pop star:
“I mean, look at this. Does this look like a pop star to you?”
And he also pointed out that he’s built up his fanbase on country music – not because he has fans who want him to sing pop:
“I’ve got almost a million people in my fan club. And there’s probably not one person in my fan club that’s in there because they want to hear me sing pop songs.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s what people want to do then they should do that. But it’s just not for me.”
When pressed by Rather on whether he’d go more in the country-pop direction of artists like Garth Brooks, Luke said he would actually rather go in the opposite direction, more towards traditional country music:
“I think I’m as far in that direction as I would want to go. If anything I would probably pull myself in the other direction…
As I get older the songs that I write are changing. I’m not 21 anymore. If you listen to a song I wrote when I was 21 and a song I wrote a week or two ago they would be starkly different songs. And I think that they’re both country in their own aspects.
One may be a little bit more younger sounding, and one may be a little more focused on where my life is.
I really do feel this thing inside of me that pulls me to write about the things that I’m kind of feeling or dealing with or struggling with.
That’s not to say I don’t like writing a good beer drinking song. Because I like drinking beer a lot too.”
Of course, this interview was conducted before Luke had massive success on the pop charts with his cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” which was a #1 hit on the Billboard Adult Top 40 and peaked at #2 on the all-genre Hot 100 chart.
And Luke has also done some collaborations with Ed Sheeran, who is one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
But Luke says that country music is where his heart is, and that’s what he wants to make:
“I would definitely find myself leaning more traditional as time goes on, just because that’s where I am. It’s what I love.”