Kelsea Ballerini’s “Different Approach” to Songwriting

Being Naive and Green Worked for Her

I feel like Kelsea Ballerini just handed out the secret to country music success.

In the Dec. 17 issue of Billboard, she talks about how she created her debut album, The First Time.

“I made this record with my friends. We were all extremely naive, extremely green,” Ballerini says.

“You would turn the radio on, and there were a lot of guys talking about getting girls. I wanted to be the girl that talks about getting a guy. I felt like that was a different approach to writing,” she adds.

And by “getting a guy,” she doesn’t mean songs about just passively waiting for one to come her way. She means it like, “I’ve had my share of losers, liars, and users/Looking for a heart to break/So if you’re like that/Well, take a step back. And like, I know what I want/And while I’ve got you listening/Come on and show me what I’m missing.”

It worked, obviously.

According to Billboard, Ballerini is the first female artist in the last 25 years to have three No. 1 singles in a row — “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs,” “Peter Pan” — from a debut album. And she’s the only woman who has ever topped Billboard’s country airplay and hot country songs charts at the same time.

Ballerini’s manager, industry veteran Fletcher Foster, admits that this kind of success wasn’t something they saw coming.

“Every odd was against us. I mean, she’s a female on an independent label, with a producer who had never produced a record before, with songwriters who had never had a cut before,” Foster said.

“There was nothing that said this was going to be automatic.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.