Luke Bryan's had so many Number One hits these days — four, to be exact — that he had to consolidate the customary celebration into a single party on Thursday in Nashville, stuffed to the brim with ebullient speeches, fawning accolades and an array of canapés.
"I do regret doing it this way, but we got two parties behind," Bryan said about the congratulatory schmooze-fest that comes with reaching the top of the charts, after bounding into the room with his tanned arms pumping the air, clad in a pair of signature shellacked-on Diesel jeans and black cowboy boots. And, despite a late night out at the CMT Awards, he looked pretty chipper. "We’ll try to not let it happen this way again," he added.
All the success didn’t keep Bryan's friends from taking a few jabs at the hip-shaking singer.
"Have you told them about your new stage?" asked Dallas Davidson, clad in a Rolling Stones shirt, one of six songwriters who joined Bryan for a press conference at the event. "With the guard rails on it?"
Bryan's recent unintentional stage dive is about the only tumble he's taken of late – in addition to the Number One hits ("Crash My Party," "That's My Kind of Night," "Drink a Beer" and "Play it Again"), it was announced Thursday that his album, Crash My Party, had just been certified double platinum, with those four songs selling a collective nine million tracks. He also anointed the ballad "Roller Coaster" as his next single, which will be released in July. "Another Number One, I hope," Bryan said.
Having only contributed writing credits to one track, "I See You," on Crash My Party, Bryan certainly owes a lot to his team of songwriters. In his mind, tapping into Nashville's hit-factory is key to staying successful in the game of modern country music. "That's what you have to morph into," he told reporters. "Stay a writer, and stay true to your writing, but lean on these guys."
The group, including Davidson ("That's My Kind of Night" and "Play It Again"), Chris Stapelton, Jim Beavers (both on "Drink a Beer"), Rodney Clawson ("Crash My Party"), Chris DeStefano ("That's My Kind of Night"), and Ashley Gorley ("That's My Kind of Night," "Crash My Party" and "Play it Again") comprise some of the most powerful and prolific names in Nashville songwriting, with over 50 Number One hits under their belts (and, presumably, over 50 Number One Parties – something reflected in the glazed-over look in their eyes). Byran originally moved to Tennessee as a writer himself, penning hits for the likes of Travis Tritt and Billy Currington. Now it's clear he has no desire (or perhaps just no time) to reprise those days in the workroom. If it ain't broke, why fix it?
Bryan will be bringing those Number One hits to Brooklyn, a booking that left the star a little flabbergasted. "It says a lot about how they're pushing the envelope," he said, gesturing to his six-man squad. "The music these guys are writing, it stays country, but it gets a little not-country from time to time. It brings more people in. Country people are happy, and new fans are coming in."
Later Thursday night, he played to thousands of them at CMA Music Fest, ushering in the multi-day festival by following Alabama, which he called "the greatest band to ever walk the face of the earth."
Stadiums, hits, parties: it's not all lost on Bryan, even with a schedule so packed it commands a four-in-one. Right now he's just focused on enjoying the moment, so, when country's moved on to its next king, he'll be ready. "I want to be able to process that the right way, and not be depressed," he said. "I want to look a the guy coming up and be like, 'Ahh! He's having fun.'"
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