Dancing in black and white against a simple, stark background is a time-honored musical tradition — Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” anyone? — and now Thomas Rhett is getting in on the action with the video for his song “T-Shirt.” Off his forthcoming second album, Tangled Up, the clip (one of the videos Rhett made for the “instant grat” tracks fans get when preordering the album on iTunes) finds the R&B-influenced country singer showcasing his best fancy footwork with little more than a mic stand and some Eighties-era retro effects.
Written by Ashley Gorley, Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, “T-Shirt” was originally on hold for Tim McGraw — but it sits well in Rhett’s new, playful wheelhouse that blends sticky riffs and Nineties-style sing-talk with ample room for Motown breakdowns and his heavy Georgia twang. Rhett’s been open about his love for soul-tinged pop stars like Bruno Mars, and “T-Shirt” offers plenty of unapologetic fun (it’s a song about making out, after all).
Rhett’s not one for taking himself too seriously. Earlier this week, he released the video for “Vacation,” which features him and his wife skydiving and cliff-jumping in Hawaii. It doesn’t look like hard work, but Rhett insists that the whole process is a lot more than he bargained for.
“I feel like music videos are the hardest part of an artist’s career, because we signed up to be singers,” Rhett tells Rolling Stone Country. “We didn’t sign up to be actors. When you are asked to do something or hold somebody — I haven’t kissed anybody in a music video, because it’s not what I do — it’s very hard, because you don’t really know how to do that. But music videos are very, very important to me.”
As a result, his offerings have been more about relaxed representations of who he is in real life than acting out fantasy scenarios — an ethos that jives well with the creative mish-mash of Tangled Up. It’s an album that shows his fondness for everything from Mars and Justin Timberlake to the Muscle Shoals sound to classic rock vamps pulled straight from the Clash’s “Train in Vain.”
“I’m glad we aren’t making a record out of fear,” Rhett says. “We’re making it out of fun.”