Riding a wave of momentum that stems from hitting Number One with her debut single (“Love Me Like You Mean It”) and a high-profile guest appearance on Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour in Nashville, Kelsea Ballerini made her first late-night TV appearance Wednesday on Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing her sassy follow-up single, “Dibs.”
Wearing a white top and sequined skirt embroidered with puckered lips and the word “kiss,” the 21-year-old singer-songwriter was backed by her full band and played to a packed house inside Kimmel’s studio. Much like “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs” is lighthearted but built on themes of female empowerment and not being afraid to speak up for yourself. Ballerini’s strutting performance on Kimmel backed that up.
“I really wanted to solidify that (confidence) now,” she told Rolling Stone Country earlier this summer, just after releasing “Dibs” to country radio. “‘Love Me’ was such a different, left-of-center sound and I really wanted to hone in on that. ‘Dibs’ was the closest to that, and it’s that same confident, empowering thing. It’s like, I’m still gonna be flirty and fun and youthful, but I’m confident enough to call dibs on you.”
With a big smile on her face and a playful vocal delivery, Ballerini certainly seems at home with the message behind “Dibs” onstage, but she says it’s a different story once she’s done singing.
“As a fan, I connect with realness,” she says. “Even in songs like ‘Dibs’ and ‘Love Me,’ you still see the fun side. I’m so weird and quirky and painfully awkward sometimes. And I tell people, ‘I sing these songs not because I’m confident, but because I have to remind myself to be.’ So when I sing songs like these, it’s not like I’m saying, ‘Look how confident I am.’ It’s me reminding myself, ‘Be confident. Value yourself.’ That’s why it’s cool for me to sing them, because it’s not like a preaching thing — I have to remind me. So I hope other girls are like, ‘Love me like you mean it, boy!'”
“Dibs” is currently at Number 22 and still rising on Billboard’s country airplay chart after getting started 13 weeks ago. On October 8th, Ballerini hits the road with Dan + Shay for the Just the Right Kind of Crazy tour in Philadelphia, visiting eight cities before wrapping October 24th.