Kacey Musgraves is dressed up like an elegant, ’60s beauty queen on the cover of her new album, Pageant Material, and that look captures the feel of the album, too. While a few tracks maintain the stripped-down arrangements she used on her debut, Same Trailer Different Park, you’ll hear a lot more strings and lush arrangements backing up Kacey on the new project.
“I just was really kind of going for more of a concise, just classic feel this time,” Kacey explains. “You know, like all the records that I really love, like Glen Campbell and Willie [Nelson]. I think of Bobbie Gentry or whatever, they had a sound like that, that you knew this was this record, this was this time period, this was this chapter, and yeah, I wanted to capture that.”
Don’t worry that Kacey has put aside the straight-talking lyrical style that put her on the map, though. Since she made such a splash with “Merry Go Round” and the CMA Song of the Year, “Follow Your Arrow,” Kacey chose to stay the course when it comes to speaking her mind on Pageant Material.
She says, “It would be easy to feel a lot of pressure second time around, but because the first one was received really well, and because I just got to be myself and do my thing on it, it made me feel like, ‘Well, just do that again, and hopefully people will like it.'”
Given the recent success of Kacey’s label mates Little Big Town and their throwback hit, “Girl Crush,” it would seem Kacey’s sound might find a home at country radio. She’s not exactly sure why the lead single from Pageant Material, “Biscuits,” failed to make a dent on the country chart. Even though Kacey’s music sells better than some #1 country radio hits, she hasn’t fared well when it comes to the research numbers radio stations use to program their music.
Says Kacey, “I get that there’s data that radio stations use to make decisions, but music isn’t about data, and I think they’re wrong in a lot of ways. Sometimes in radio, a song could be selling, like, its a** off on iTunes, but it’s not researching well, and I don’t know what that means, you know?”
Part of Kacey’s difficulty getting on country radio could stem from the format’s long-held belief that playing female acts isn’t good for ratings. While Kacey says she isn’t educated enough on the workings of that system to comment on it, she adds, “I can say, however, though, that if I hear a female that makes great music, there’s nothing that’s gonna stop me from listening to her, besides probably a radio station. I don’t know.”
If Kacey’s new music never makes it to the top of the country radio charts, she’s not going to lose any sleep over it. Her outlook on the whole situation can be summed up in a line from Pageant Material’s title track: “I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t.”
Look for Kacey to promote Pageant Material with performances on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday and The View on Wednesday.
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