In April 2008, the self-titled debut LP from trio Lady Antebellum debuted at Number One on the Top Country Albums chart, making them the first country group to bow in the top spot with their first album. Three singles into the record, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood finally notched their first Number One country hit with “I Run to You.” The momentum was just right to take the young threesome’s career to even loftier heights, which is exactly what happened next thanks to some passion-inflamed drunk-dialing.
On January 26th, 2010, Lady A’s sophomore project was released. Titled after the first single off the record, Need You Now was preceded by a dazzling performance at the 2009 CMA Awards, where the reigning New Artists of the Year won for Single of the Year for “I Run to You” and took the first of three consecutive Vocal Group of the Year trophies. The performance begins with Scott singing the main lines of the first verse and Kelley handling the second, while Haywood plays piano. Scott gives in to temptation and reaches for her man. As it turns out, she’s not alone in her solitude, as Kelley admits to hitting the bottle and staring at the door waiting for her return. By the song’s bridge, the two singers are face to face, the chill that existed between the characters they’re portraying in the song seems to have fully thawed, and some serious sparks are flying between the two. So what happens next? Snow, of course. OK, it may not make literal sense, but the visual works beautifully.
But “Need You Now” was just heating up. The single logged five weeks at Number One on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, which made it the first since Taylor Swift’s 2007 hit “Our Song” to log more than four weeks at the top — a feat Thomas Rhett just surpassed with his six-week Number One, “Die a Happy Man”. “Need You Now” would soon become one of the most downloaded country songs in history and would cross over to the pop chart where it reached Number Two.
Throughout 2010, the accolades continued with ACM awards for Song and Single Record of the Year and CMA honors for Single of the Year. At year’s end, the group received nominations in six categories at the Grammy Awards, where they went on to take five: Best Country Album, Record, Song, Country Song of the Year and Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. They lost the top prize, Album of the Year, to Arcade Fire.
Since its debut, the group-penned tune (with songwriter Josh Kear) has been covered by Adele (with Darius Rucker), featured on the musical series Glee, and parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic. It was also a worldwide sensation in Canada, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland and Denmark, among others, and even topped the music charts in Israel. To date, “Need You Now” has sold in excess of six million copies, and inspired at least that many more drunken phone calls.