Editor’s note: Chris Young serves as CMT’s VJ for a Day on Wednesday (Aug. 15) and will select his favorite music videos from his friends and former tourmates.
In the relatively short time since Chris Young won the Nashville Star talent competition in 2006, he’s managed to achieve a level of success usually reserved for veteran artists. With only three albums to his name, the Tennessee native has managed to rack up five consecutive No. 1 hits with hopes of continuing his streak. In fact, it’s almost as though the silver-tongued baritone has cracked some sort of chart-topping conundrum.
“I do not have a secret,” Young admitted of his continued feat. “I have no idea how we’ve been lucky enough to have five straight.”
“There’s nothing above one but letterhead,” he went on. “When you’re able to get there — not just five times, but five times straight — it’s definitely not something that’s lost on me. It’s really cool and it’s exciting. Hopefully, we can just keep it going.”
Young recently sat down with CMT.com to share his thoughts on his “Neon” video and talk about his time on the road with heavy hitters like Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert. Plus, he reveals a scorching detail regarding his onstage performance.
What was it about “Neon” that made you want to record it?
I’m a go-with-your-gut person. I really feel that way. Whatever that little extra thing is that puts one song over another one for me when I’m getting ready to cut a record, this song had it. “Neon” really jumped out at me, and I loved the way it was written. … It’s just such a cool song, so well-written. It’s different. It was something I didn’t have for this record yet. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song that’s kind of a love song to a bar, basically.
The video for “Neon” looked like a lot of fun. Whose idea was it to have the neon lyrics written all over the bar?
That got pitched to us from the company that actually directed the video. I wanted something different because this song is kind of really classic sounding, and I didn’t want the video to be your everyday same ol’ thing. I wanted it to look different. I wanted it to stand out. When it came on, it was going to have a look that didn’t really match any of the other videos out there. And it doesn’t! (laughs)
Having five No.1 hits, which song gets the biggest reaction during shows? Do any surprise you?
It’s funny. It depends on where we are. Some days, it will be “Tomorrow.” Some days, it’s actually “Gettin’ You Home” still — and that was the first. Some days, it’s “You,” and we’re having more and more shows now that “Neon” is getting up there on the charts where people really kind of freak out over that one. It’s a good feeling.
You spent much of last year out on the road with Jason Aldean on his My Kinda Party tour. He has such a presence onstage. What did you take away from that experience?
Just how different his show is. It’s really modeled exactly how he wanted it. It doesn’t look like anybody else’s show. I take away little things from everybody we go on tour with — going, “OK, one day, hopefully, I’m at this level. What would I love to take as an idea and make my own that he’s doing, and what do I not like? What would I do different?” There’s a whole lot about his show that I would really like — especially his lights. His lights are pretty awesome.
One of the things he did — and I don’t even know if he does this anymore on his shows — he had four different lighting trusses that were on chain hoists basically, and so they could move them up and down or diagonally. So it was really cool because during the course of the show, you’d see those lights move down or come up and they would move in tandem with each other. It’s just a very different look. Very unique.
How does that differ from being on the road with Miranda Lambert as part of her On Fire tour?
Earlier this year when we were out with her, she almost has a kind of really, really open front to her stage, and she and her players run around a lot. They do a lot of things that I haven’t really seen done as much. For one song, they bring a couch out, and she kind of lies down and does this real sultry thing with this older mike and does this whole performance piece off this one song.
It’s a to-each-his-own thing, but it’s also one of those things where these are the people who are the major headliners. So, getting to watch them, I’m almost getting to pick their brain a little bit watching their show … I’m the kind of person where the more I can do production-wise, the more I will do. If they will let me get away with it, I will singe people’s retinas with my lights onstage.
Having more and more experience performing as part of these large tours, what do you think has become your biggest strength onstage?
Probably my band. I really feel like I’ve gotten my guys to a place where when I say that, I mean it. It’s my guys. They all know the songs. They all know me. I can give them a hand motion, and they all know I’m going to branch off and do something different with a song or that I need them to vamp on a turnaround. It’s really easy for me to just give them a look even. We’re all in synch. When you have that onstage, it makes everything a lot more fun because no one’s concentrating on playing anymore. Everybody’s just concentrating on giving the fans the best show.
Anything you wish to improve?
All of it. Everything. I think every show I’m going, “OK, was there a low point? Should we swap these covers out? Should we maybe do a different cover song for this crowd before we go on depending [on if] this one didn’t work so great yesterday? What are we going to do today?” I really just try to find the spots we can improve on and the spots that go great.