In just two years, Thomas Rhett has established himself as one of country music’s most successful – and divisive – new artists. The son of country star Rhett Akins, who had a string of hits in the mid-1990s (including the No 1 hit Don’t Get Me Started) and now writes smashes for the likes of Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett grew up surrounded by industry powerhouses – and has thus dealt with accusations of nepotism since his arrival to the Nashville mainstream. But the singer has lately carved out a career of his own.
Rhett began scoring songwriting cuts in 2010, when Jason Aldean recorded I Ain’t Ready to Quit, and has since written songs for the likes of Florida Georgia Line (Round Here) and Lee Brice (Parking Lot Party). In October 2013, Rhett released his debut album, It Goes Like This, which spawned three No 1 singles, including the especially unfortunate track Get Me Some of That, whose refrain begins: “You’re shaking that moneymaker.” If you’re getting a distinctly bro-ish vibe from Rhett’s musical output and his frequent collaborators, that’s unsurprising. He’s been a figurehead of the much-discussed “bro-country” movement that has dominated the sound of country radio, transforming it into a macho hook-up soundtrack, in recent years.
Recently, Rhett has made a special point of communicating his desire to incorporate pop and R&B influences. He called his last single, Make Me Wanna, a kind of “countrified Bee Gees” and he attempted to emulate Justin Timberlake’s suit-and-tie dance moves in its video. Rhett has also been a vocal supporter of Bruno Mars. He cut his own version of Mars’s hit When I Was Your Man, he performed Uptown Funk in concert, and on his newest single, Crash and Burn, Rhett takes his admiration of the well-coiffed crooner to another level.
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