It has been a rough few years for music fans. There has been a notable dearth of talent in pop music, as songs like “WAP” and “Pound Town” have set the genre and the industry back decades in terms of talent and creativity. Couple that with the fact that songs like these have to be heavily edited to play on the air, and you basically have electronic beats and noise on the radio. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, as the lyrical content of many of these songs isn’t appropriate for kids or adults.
While so-called pop music has been dominated by hip-hop and electronic music in recent years, leading to the popularity of talent-challenged artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, and Sexxy Red, there are signs of hope in the industry. In 2023, there looked to be a shift in the charts away from foul-mouthed rap back towards the singer-songwriter genre. In fact, country singer/songwriters dominated the Billboard pop charts for the first time in decades.
Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen achieved a feat that hadn’t happened since 1981 when they held the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the pop chart with Wallen’s “Last Night” and Combs cover of the Tracy Chapman classic “Fast Car.” Combs’ cover of the 1988 Chapman song was the fifth biggest song of the year, finishing ahead of Taylor Swift and other pop superstars, launching his career into the stratosphere as a crossover sensation.
The Combs cover topped the charts for four weeks in the Summer, including the adult pop and country formats as well. The cover of Fast Car has been well-received by fans of the original, including Tracy Chapman. The reclusive artist, who has only performed publicly thrice since wrapping up her last tour in 2009, gave her blessing for Combs cover and released a statement after winning “Single of the Year” at the CMA Awards last year.
Chapman said via a statement: “I’m sorry I couldn’t join you all tonight. It’s truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut. Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke and all of the fans of ‘Fast Car.’” Combs could have released the song without Chapman’s blessing, but reached out to her for permission.
Now, the unlikely duo is set to perform together, marking the first time the “Give Me One Reason” singer has been on stage in years. Sunday night, in what is sure to be the biggest moment of the evening, the 33-year-old Combs will be joined onstage by the reclusive Chapman to duet her iconic 1988 hit, sources say. It will mark only the fourth time Chapman has graced a stage since 2009.
In 1988, Chapman’s song peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and hit the fifth spot in the United Kingdom. The song also charted in the U.K. 23 years later in 2011, once again reaching the No. 5 spot. The song is a classic, and Combs stayed true to the original, even leaving in lyrics like “And I work in the market as a checkout girl,” no doubt further endearing the cover to fans of the original.
Ratings for the Grammy’s have suffered in recent years. Parents are afraid to watch it because of objectionable content, and many categories, like rock and roll, are largely ignored. Including a performance by a country superstar like Luke Combs and an icon like Tracy Chapman will certainly draw eyeballs and viewers Sunday night.
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