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Being wrong has never turned out so right for Chris Young.
“There’s not a chance anyone would take that seriously!” the singer recalls saying to his “Aw Naw” co-writers, Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley, during their writing session for the song.
Of course, “Aw Naw” not only made it onto Chris’ fourth studio album, A.M., but was also the project’s first radio single—another idea to which he admits initial skepticism. The 28-year-old was determined to take his music to the next, more energetic level with his latest album, but he wasn’t sold on introducing it with what is arguably the most raucous song he’s ever recorded.
“The biggest risk was leading with ‘Aw Naw’ as the first single,” he reflects to Country Weekly. “It’s a weird title, it’s up-tempo, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It’s a party song, whereas most of the singles I’ve released to radio were love songs. This is really different territory, and so far it looks like the right decision.”
The right decision indeed, as the song hit the Top 20 on the country charts and is quite the crowd pleaser at his live shows. And with the release of A.M., those shows will get even more of a turbo boost. Chris is beyond ready to mix things up on the road, so he’s like a kid waiting for Christmas when it comes to the release date of his fourth studio album.
“I won’t play songs in my set until people can go buy it, so I’m ready for it to be out there,” he says.
In fact, his concerts were the main inspiration behind the project’s song selection. While A.M. has its share of sentimental ballads, it also has more party anthems than any of his previous albums. In addition to “Aw Naw,” there’s the similarly rowdy title track, plus a fun-loving drinking song called “Nothin’ but the Cooler Left” and many other feel-good moments on the album.
“The biggest thing I’ve been missing is tempo,” he explains. “We also did some other nerdy studio things, like mix and master things a little differently. But the song choice really makes it different.”
Trying new things has been somewhat of a recent mission for the Tennessee native. Back in January, he made a cameo appearance on the hit ABC show Nashville. It was his debut acting gig . . . but could very well be his last.
“I seriously doubt I was bitten by the acting bug,” he says with a laugh. “We were there for eight hours, but on-screen about 45 seconds. I don’t know that that’s something I envy at all. Plus, it’s hard to do two things at once. I don’t know a lot of people off the top of my head who have a successful music career and act at the same time.”
Besides, music is more up his career alley—even the business side of music. So Chris actually has been doing two jobs at the same time for more than a year now. Back in the spring of 2012, he teamed with his beloved mom, Becky Harris, and lauded songwriter Anthony Smith to open Artist Concepts, a company that helps develop new talent. The singer’s many roles in the company include producing records and serving as a mentor for budding singers.
“I hope I can help somebody skip some of the steps that I had to go through as a new artist,” he says. “I try to get them the right ‘in’ to play for a label, tell them what studio to use, what vocal machine you should sing through . . . It’s another way to work in the music business but not necessarily thinking about me the whole time. It’s a lot of fun to work on a project that is not yours and have someone else’s best interests at heart.”
Hopefully he’s teaching those newcomers how to recognize a good thing when they hear it.
Check out the Sept. 23 issue of Country Weekly, on stands now, for more of our exclusive interview with Chris, which includes additional stories behind the making of A.M., plus insight into the bachelor’s love life.