The Evolution of Blake Shelton’s Career

Two Saturdays ago, Blake Shelton was the host and musical guest of Saturday Night Live. He wore wigs, sang songs, and made fun of The Bachelor and himself. It marked, what I believe, to be the completion of the evolution of Blake Shelton’s public persona. And I’m not just talking about the evolution of Shelton’s hairstyles (naturally Buzzfeed is all over that) Obviously, I am not friends with Blake Shelton (or sadly any celebrities) so I can not attest to an actual character evolution, but from my perspective, as a consumer of music and popular culture, Shelton has undergone a lot of change in recent years.

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There’s no question about it, Shelton has been a giant (and I’m not just talking about his height) on the country music scene since his introduction in the early 2000s. He has had hits, massive tours, and got countless award nominations including Male Vocalist of the Year. He’s even married to one of the biggest female country stars of the day, Miranda Lambert. But in 2011, Shelton made an interesting career move. He signed on to be a judge for “The Voice.” And then, at least to me, I actually learned real things about Shelton. His humor about women, alcohol, and making fun of Adam Levine, while maybe not that surprising or out of character, catapulted Shelton into a more prominent place in popular culture. People tune into “The Voice” for a lot of reasons, most likely to watch people sing, but they also tune into to watch Blake Shelton and Adam Levine jab at each other with one-liners what many Americans have dubbed a “bromance.”

Since joining “The Voice”, Shelton has not left country behind. In fact, he is just as country as ever, in his boots and jeans, and spewing words with a “twang.” Hollywood success hasn’t changed Shelton at all. If anything, Shelton has displayed that anyone can make it big in this scene if they are likeable. Shelton certainly is. His staying true to his roots mentality is a perfect encapsulation of what a lot of country music is based on- simplicity and loyalty. Country music is a well-defined clique, with their own award shows and cities that are all theirs. They love their own and love to stay true to those people. Almost as much as they don’t love when people leave them. (Just count how many Miley Cyrus jokes were made at the CMA’s a couple of years ago.) And while Shelton may be on covers of People magazine and giving opening monologues on SNL, he is still, at the core, a country guy, no matter how many twitter followers he now has.


Filed under Movies and TV, Reflection

3 Responses to The Evolution of Blake Shelton’s Career

  1. Erin McAtee

    I think you make a really interesting point in that Blake Shelton sticks to his roots, even though some could perceive him as “selling out” by becoming a judge on The Voice. While I agree that he’s continued to dress and talk in the stereotypical country way, his music has changed dramatically over his 14 year career. His music since the end of the ’00s has seemed to sound just like the “bro-country” so many country fans are hesitant to like, with songs like “Hillbilly Bone” and “Boys ‘Round Here”. But when you look back at his first song (and my personal favorite) “Austin”, he sounds like a completely different singer. Is he really still a country guy at his core, or is he going to pull a T. Swift and hop over to a different, more popular genre? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

  2. I think it’s interesting to compare Taylor Swift’s and Blake Shelton’s popularity with non-country artists. Taylor has pretty much abandoned country music altogether. Listening to 1989 (which I have done a lot of), you wouldn’t even guess that she got her start singing about Tim McGraw. Blake, on the other hand, plays up his redneck image, and even though his music integrates a lot of modern sounds, it is still way more country than pop. I think Blake’s pop listeners would abandon him altogether if he sang “Blank Space.”

  3. Abby Shamis

    Going off of what Dusty said, I remembering hearing (over the summer maybe) while I was listening to the radio an interview with Blake about his newest album and the change in his “sound.” The dialogue was just a short tidbit but he did mention that he has made some adjustments to his music in order to bring something a little new, but still being uniquely him. I think it just goes to show that while he isn’t necessarily changing, his fan base is (especially in terms of growth due to The Voice) and he is broadening his range of music because of that. Some of his “bro-country” type songs are an example of that, but I think that he is still true to his self and his music even though there have been some shifts in his musical style. I think you said it really nicely, that even though he has fame and fortune, he is still just a simple guy, and I think that is why so many people like him.

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