Jaron and the Long Road to Love Insists ‘Country Went Pop’
Life is good for the handsome country newcomer climbing the charts as Jaron and the Long Road to Love. His single, 'Pray for You,' is sitting at No. 13 on the charts this week, while the pop-music veteran scored a No. 2 debut with his first country album, 'Getting Dressed in the Dark.' The Georgia native is also currently tagging along with Toby Keith on his American Ride tour.
As longtime fans know, Jaron and his twin brother Evan scored a Top 20 pop hit with 'Crazy for This Girl' over a decade ago. But Jaron is hardly the first artist to navigate the country side of the musical landscape. In fact, the list gets longer each year, with Darius Rucker, Michelle Branch, Jon Bon Jovi, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson and Jewel among those who've explored the genre.
"Bon Jovi and Kid Rock have done really well ... Uncle Kracker's got a Top 10 country song," Jaron tells Music Mix. "It's not what you think. People are still confused by what's happening, but the reality is that if you ask Kid Rock or Darius Rucker, you ask any of these guys, they'll tell you the same thing: country went pop, we didn't go country. I don't think Jewel wakes up in the morning and just goes, 'I want to make a country record.' We set out to make music and find an audience, we just need an audience that appreciates us and connects with us. All those Vertical Horizons, Lisa Loebs and Semisonics, when pop radio became rhythmic and hip-hop they had nowhere to go, and country was the closest thing. If you listen to a Keith Urban or Lady Antebellum song, those are straight-up pop songs. There's that whole wink-wink 'I'll throw a banjo or a mandolin in' thing, but it's pop."
Jaron adds that because country music is traditionally driven by lyrics and storytelling, "lyrically, that puts me in country music. What does my album sound more like, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift or Lady Antebellum, or Jay-Z or whoever? I think there was a redistricting, a rezoning of genres, and country said, 'Hey, we'll take all those listeners.' Country just expanded. They still have traditional, but they have new country, too.
"I watched that series 'Life' on Discovery, that one hosted by Oprah, and when she talks about every species, it's 'evolution for survival, evolution for survival.' That's what this is. Like Shania Twain ... they didn't want to let her in; 'Undo It,' by Carrie Underwood, that could be a Lady Gaga song! And I like it. Michael Buble? He's jazz? Who cares, I love him, I don't care what genre he's supposed to be. People don't care anymore what it's called, they care about engagement. A few don't, but unfortunately we have to evolve for survival and we leave those 10% behind."
Jaron acknowledges that he owes his current success to his country-music fan base, which he embraces wholeheartedly. "I've always heard about country music fans and how great they are, how they support artists like crazy," Jaron told The Boot in May. "But the difference between me and other country artists is that they [the fans] actually made me. I didn't go to a record company or radio stations to get to the fans. I just went there directly. My Facebook and MySpace fans are getting credit for this, for bringing me to the masses. We started this together and are doing this together."