Former Hey Monday rocker Cassadee Pope, who wooed her way into our hearts on the third season of “The Voice,” recently released her pop-tinged debut country album. Appropriately titled “Frame by Frame,” the 11-track set boasts groovy hooks, anthemic choruses and more than a few sensational vocal performances. She sings about the good times, the bad times, the crying times and the laughing times, often sampling her contemporaries Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, in particular (see: “Wasting All These Tears,” “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart”). Steeped in rock sensibilities — the singer cites Avril Lavigne as a huge influence — the well-rounded project has an easy-listening, accessible sound that the budding talent brilliantly explored on NBC’s hit singing competition.
Following her breathtaking cover of Miranda Lambert’s “Over You,” a swooping, emotional ode co-written by Lambert and husband Blake Shelton, Pope skyrocketed to the top of the leader board during her run, eventually snagging the crown. She utilized her storytelling skills in her earthy, believable performances that proved that she was more than just a pretty face with a big voice. She had depth, range and wasn’t afraid to take on risky, quality material. She was able to turn a truly country song into something more mainstream, changing the competition in a major way.
This was only the beginning.
The 23-year-old charted an impressive trajectory that resulted in groundbreaking sales. To-date, Pope has sold well over one million downloads (including her debut single), owed in huge part to her other covers of Keith Urban (“Stupid Boy”) and Faith Hill (“Cry”). These recordings would eventually propel the starlet to the top spot on the iTunes singles chart on multiple occasions, and her “The Voice: The Complete Season 3 Collection” owned #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. By delving into the genre’s deeper (yet optimistically late-90s, early-2000s) catalog, she was able to add a dash of nostalgia and cultivate a loyal family-focused following that stretched further than punk-rock fans. This became the turning point for the show.
What exactly does this mean?
Well, it’s quite simple. As country music is more popular than ever, fans and audiences around the world are looking for something easily accessible and unoffensive, yet meaningful. Pop music hinges on rhythms, beats and infectious melodies with little attention to detail. Country music, on the other hand, is built around crafting stories from real life, that are both hook-focused, lyrically true and vividly memorable. Pope was able to find that balance. As a result of her win, numerous other aspiring country singers have tried out for the show, including season 4 champ Danielle Bradbery and adorable duo The Swon Brothers (who recently signed a major label record deal with Arista Nashville, home to Underwood). Pope’s win and landmark sales have sparked a reinvention of the wheel, so to speak. It’s a country music revolution in Hollywood. As the market attempts to find new ways to sell records and develop new artists, Pope has become the standard, perhaps fueling more mainstream appeal in Nashville.
Could Pope’s genre-bending music be the dawn of a new era? We think so.
Images: Country Music Association