With His First No. 1 Hit, Breland Wants to Prove the People Who Believed in Him Right
One of the things that makes "Beers on Me" so special is that it's a blend of three very different kinds of country music artistry. The Dierks Bentley-helmed No. 1 hit brings together verses from two relatively new stars, Breland and Hardy, each of whom come from different musical backgrounds and have two very different entry points into the genre.
"It's fun collaborating on this song because everyone brings something so special to the table, and everyone here...has a totally unique thing," Bentley reflected in a virtual press event celebrating the song's chart-topping success, surrounded by his collaborators and co-writers.
For Breland, the song came at a crucial point in his career. Though he'd had success with his breakout hit "My Truck" — plus a remixed version of the song with Sam Hunt — Breland was still fresh to the country music scene when Bentley invited him to write and sing a verse for "Beers on Me."
"It's cool to see where a song can literally take you. I didn't get a chance to play any shows before the pandemic hit, and literally the third show I ever played as an artist was up in New York with Dierks, in front of thousands," Breland remembers.
"And one of those [shows] was playing your high school, right?" Bentley chimes in.
"Yeah!" Breland affirms. "One of them was playing my high school, the other one was a Whiskey Jam here in [Nashville.] So it was so, so fresh."
Though Breland wasn't road-tested when Bentley asked him for a collaboration, the older star could see the raw talent in front him. That's something that Breland doesn't take lightly: As he recounted to radio DJ Bobby Bones in early May, he spent a portion of his early career in Atlanta, working with a producer who told him that he would never be able to pursue a career as a performer.
"He said, 'You're not an artist. You don't have what it takes to be an artist. You're just a songwriter," Breland recounted. "And over time I realized, he really just wanted to be able to control what it was that I was doing. And if I was able to tap into my artistry, it would become something that he wasn't able to control as easily."
Fortunately, Breland was able to make it out of that situation and take control of his own artistic career, rising quickly through the ranks of country music without ever sacrificing his own musical identity. Now, he says, he tries not to focus on the people who didn't believe in him — instead, he's directing his attention toward more positive forces in his life.
"I would say that everything I do, I do it more so to prove the people who believe in me right than to prove the people who didn't wrong," Breland says. "Dierks is somebody that has believed in me from the beginning. Me being on this song is indicative of that. And to be able to share this moment with all these guys definitely lets me know that the people who believe in me and have believed in me this whole time are right."
He also points out that he learns something new from being in the room with every single person involved on "Beers on Me" — and not just the artists who sing on the track, either. Ashley Gorley, the most prolific hitmaking songwriter currently in Nashville, is celebrating his 59th No. 1 with the song. Luke Dick and Ross Copperman, two more co-writers, are titans of both songwriting and production, and have put out their own material to boot. Though everyone has a different specialty, Breland says that there's a lot to be gained from being in the room with so many people who have different skill sets than he does.
"I'll say this, man; Hardy has one of my favorite voices in music, and I think it's just 'cause it's so different than mine," he points out. "As a singer, you always wanna be able to do stuff [that's different than what comes naturally to you]. I've been listening to [Hardy's newest single] 'Sold Out' like it's nobody's business. I've put people onto that song that you wouldn't expect."
For his part, Hardy says the verse of "Beers on Me" that Breland wrote was so good that it made him second-guess his own writing.
"If I'm not mistaken, Breland did his verse before I came in to sing," Hardy offers. "And I remember, when I heard it, I was like, 'Damn, that's really good.' ...It was just such a perfect blend of a cool country lyric, but with a very R&B thing to it. It just worked perfectly with the song and made me jealous. When I heard it, I was like, 'Man, can I re-write my verse?'"
All three artists have strong histories of collaborating with other performers — Breland recently teamed up with Thomas Rhett for a new song called "Praise the Lord," Bentley just put out a new duet with Elle King called "Worth a Shot," and Hardy has put out two full Hixtape collaborations projects — and it's no coincidence that they're all finding duet work so fruitful, Bentley adds.
"I think collaborations are great," says Bentley. "That's why they're so popular in pop music. You have a song that tells a story, and moves the song along. What better way to move the song along than to bring in a new voice in the second verse? It just makes it so much more compelling to the listener. So I would expect to see more of that in country music, for sure."
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