Hot n’ Happenin’
By: Otis Stokes

Country music is no longer simply “another somebody done somebody wrong song,” accompanied by the twang of a guitar and the nuances of a steel guitar and fiddle. No, modern country music is just as “pop” as anything playing on pop radio these days. Just ask Miss Taylor Swift who made such a seamless transition from country to pop, that you barely remember she was ever considered a country artist. So this column is featuring Luke Bryan because of country music’s burgeoning mainstream appeal, and the fact is, “Hot n’ Happenin’” is hot n’ happenin’, no matter what the genre of music is. And Luke Bryan is sizzling hot! Since 2009, Luke has had 14 #1 singles as a solo artist, a staggering statistic.
Thomas Luther Bryan began his career as a songwriter in Nashville and among his first cuts was the title track of Travis Tritt’s 2004 album “My Honky Tonk History.” Bryan co-wrote Billy Currington’s single “Good Directions,” which went to #1 on the Hot Country Songs charts in mid-2007. Bryan’s Capitol Records debut album, “I’ll Stay Me,” yielded his first top ten single, “Country Man.” His second album, “Doin’ My Thing,” contained two hit singles, “Rain Is A Good Thing” and “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” both of which went to #1 on the country charts. Luke’s third LP, “Tailgates & Tanlines,” was released in August 2011. The album peaked at #1 on the Top Country Albums and #2 on the Billboard 200, producing three more number one singles: “I Don’t Want This Night To End,” “Drunk On You” and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” In January 2013, Bryan produced his first compilation album, “Spring Break… Here To Party,” which included 14 songs, 12 coming from his previous “Spring Break” EPs, and two new tracks. It was released on March 5th. The album debuted at #1 on both the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and the Billboard 200, becoming the first record of his career to top the all-powerful popular album chart. Then came Bryan’s career-topping album, “Crash My Party,” and crash his party it did. Spawning six (count ‘em, six) #1 singles: “Crash My Party,” “That’s My Kind Of Night,” “Drink A Beer,” “Play It Again,” “Roller Coaster” and “I See You,” giving Bryan the exclusive distinction of being the only country artist to release an album containing six singles that reached #1 on both the Mediabase Country chart and Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Continuing where he left off, Bryan’s fifth studio album, “Kill The Lights,” was launched in May 2015 and has already generated two more #1 singles including the first single, “Kick The Dust Up” and his most current single, “Strip It Down,” which also reached the top 30 on the Hot 100 chart. “Kill The Lights” sold 345,000 total copies its first week and beat out Dr. Dre’s “Compton” to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200. If you combine Bryan’s 14 #1 singles with his 29 various Academy of Country Music Awards, CMT Awards, CMA Awards, American Music Awards, American Country Awards, Billboard Music Awards and People’s Choice Awards, Luke has created a whole other level of “Hot n’ Happenin.’” And he’s done it all without the Country Singer’s requisite cowboy hat, go figure.

Up n’ Comin’

“Me 4 U”
Ultra Music/Sony Music
Ihave to say, that in this modern day music climate chock full of songs filled with profanity, blatant sexual content and boastful and narcissistic lyrics, it is quite refreshing to hear a song as positive and wholesome as OMI’s number one single, “Cheerleader.” How much more uplifting can a song be than to sing the praises of a cheerleader? After all, cheerleaders represent the very essence of positivity, motivation and support. Yay, OMI!! Omar Samuel Pasley, the Jamaican-born singer, is better known by his stage name OMI, and began his career in Kingston, Jamaica after being signed to Oufah, an independent Jamaican label. His first recorded single was “Standing On All Threes,” released along with a music video. Never putting out an album there, Omi had various local hits in his homeland like “Take It Easy,” “Fireworks” and “Color Of My Lips,” the latter featuring Busy Signal, a well-known Jamaican dancehall, ska, and reggae artist. Aspiring to be a songwriter, OMI had written a song called, “Cheerleader” in 2008, which he eventually recorded and performed, finally releasing it in 2012. It was released in Jamaica along with a low-budget, high-concept video shot in Oregon during OMI’s first trip to the United States. The song was a modest hit in Jamaica and was also popular in Hawaii and in Dubai. In 2014, “Cheerleader” got a second life when Patrick Moxey, the president of Ultra Music, a dance label partly owned by Sony Music, heard the song and liked it so much, he offered to remix the song and relaunch it as a dance track. Felix Jaehn, a 20-year-old German producer, would do the honors and the remixed version became a huge hit in Sweden, eventually certified 5 times platinum. It would become number one in nine other countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, France, Switzerland, The United Kingdom and the United States, where it remained #1 for six weeks earning OMI the coveted Billboard Award for the “#1 Song of the Summer.” With nine platinum certifications around the world and millions in sales, OMI must be cheering all the way to the bank!