With four of her country smash hits crossing over to the Billboard Top 100, two ACM Awards and an international arena tour, Kelsea Ballerini has had a good couple of years, but she’s not done yet.
Ballerini’s new record, Unapologetically, out Nov. 3, is set to top the country charts and make waves on pop radio.
Career-wise, Ballerini has done everything right. She signed with an independent Nashville label, Black River Entertainment, giving her the freedom to write her own stuff. She put out The First Time in 2015, packing it with pop country gold for radio and softer ballads for fans of the storytelling aspect of country music.
The First Time peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums List. “Peter Pan," a ballad about an estranged lover who couldn’t grow up, (which I may or may not have blasted with my windows down during my own breakup), was Ballerini’s first track to reach No. 1 on the country charts.
Ballerini knows how to play to her strengths, she knows what’s going to sell and she’s proven that she’s more than just another pretty blonde.
Unapologetically has all the signs of a long-lasting No. 1 country record.
“Legends” was the first single Ballerini chose to share, and it’s the perfect modern country song. Nostalgic, piano-based and catchy, it’s sure to see some airplay.
Next came the title track, an unmistakable, genuine love song for her fiancé and fellow country singer Morgan Evans. “They’re gonna say I fell too fast/They’re gonna say it will never last” Ballerini sings, “Nothing under the surface/he’s just looking for a pretty face ... They say they just don’t see it, but I saw it at first sight/And I’m unapologetically in love.”
Finally, she put out one of those pull-at-your-heart-strings ballads that made me a fan in the first place. “High School” shares the same thematic elements as “Peter Pan,” but it’s strikingly different at the same time.
The subject of the song is stuck in his glory days because he hasn’t made much of his time since then. The “peaked-in-high-school” narrative may seem a bit cliché, but the truth is it’s a common occurrence.
When you get out in the real world and no one knows your name or cares who you’re dating or how many yards you ran when you were 17, it’s a harsh adjustment, and some people don’t quite make the leap.
The combination of Ballerini’s ability to write ballads and upbeat radio hits along with the America’s sweetheart persona she easily embodies is why I say that she is the next Taylor Swift. I think that she is going to build to a pop crossover and do it just as strategically as Swift did.
Mark my words, if you don’t know Kelsea Ballerini’s name yet, you soon will.
Halle Weber is a sophomore studying journalism with a focus in news and information at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Have you heard of Kelsea Ballerini? Let Halle know by tweeting at her @HalleWeber13.