Pop stars gone country


In case you haven’t heard, Jessica Simpson has a country album due out in September. Yes, you read that right.

As an admitted fan of country music, I have mixed feelings about the move. Simpson doesn’t have the best track record as an artist, so I haven’t been too convinced that a change in genre will do her much good. But, the release of her first country single is changing lots of minds.

I’m still not entirely sure what to think, but I do have to admit that “Come on Over” is a bit catchy. (You can hear it on Simpson’s MySpace page.) Her voice is still too airy for my taste, but since I have already been caught singing along to the song, I can’t hate on it too much. It’s still too early to tell whether Simpson’s genre-jumping will pay off or not, but let’s look at some others who have successfully made the leap.

Michelle Branch began her career in the pop arena with her albums The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper, but made the crossover to country in 2004 when she and pal Jessica Harp formed The Wreckers. They released their first album, Stand Still, Look Pretty, two years later, and the first single, “Leave the Pieces,” reached the top of the Billboard country charts.

Norah Jones also formed a country group, The Little Willies, back in 2003. After serving primarily as a cover band for years, the group released a self-titled album in 2006 that not only covered some old country classics, but added in several original songs as well.

In the solo world of music, Jewel recently started a country career that she has, apparently, wanted for her whole career. Nashville Star’s host-turned-judge told Entertainment Weekly, “Pop has become so urban. They’re not into singer-songwriters anymore. A whole disenfranchised fan base may start coming to country.”

As Jessica Simpson might say, “Come on over!” There’s always room for more of you out here in the country.

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