Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan may play stadiums. But, let’s face it, Blake Shelton is the biggest thing in country music right now. And it’s not just because he’s 6 feet 5. Here are 13 reasons why Shelton has become so gosh darn popular.
1. He’s a big-time TV star. “The Voice” has two seasons each year, which means Shelton is on NBC for six months a year. It’s been that way since 2011. That’s more TV exposure than any country star has ever had — unless you count all those years that Buck Owens and Roy Clark were on “Hee Haw” in syndication. (Millennials, ask your grandparents.) Plus, Shelton’s work on “The Voice” led to him winning the coveted entertainer of the year award from the Country Music Association in 2012.
2. He puts fellow “Voice” coach Adam Levine in his place. Let’s be honest: The voice of Maroon 5 is smug, smart-alecky and full of himself. And Shelton doesn’t much tolerate it. He doesn’t hesitate to shoot down Levine with a pointed but not-mean-spirited quip. Of course, Levine deserves it.
3. He has a great smile and a gleam in his eyes. Need we say more?
4. Dimples. OK, we said more. Those dimples are irresistible, aren’t they, ladies?
5. He has coached more winners than any other coach on “The Voice.” Four members of Team Blake have emerged victorious in the 10 seasons of the talent show (and six have been runners-up). Team Adam has produced three champions.
6. He’s genuinely funny. One of the top tweeters in country music, he used to do a series of unfiltered tweets that started “I’m so drunk … ” They were the kind of comments you took with a grain of salt or a can of beer. He was cheeky. For example, “I’m so drunk right now I just walked into Canadian customs and shouted ‘Why y’all checkin’ me?! Ur the ones with a pot leaf on your flag!!’ ” or “It’s gotta suck for tabloids that I personally have more followers on Twitter than they have buyers.”
Nowadays, he doesn’t push the envelope as much with his 17.9 million Twitter followers. Recently, he tweeted “Missing for 4 days … last seen wandering the streets of Nashville” with a picture of his face on a milk carton.
7. He has oodles of charisma. In 2013, when he headlined at the Xcel Energy Center, he talked about drinking, hunting, fishing, dogs, death (his brother’s), drinking, boobies and more drinking. He came across like your best bro with whom you love to go to the game, the lake and the bar. And the way he laid it on as thick as giblet gravy seasoned with oodles of humor and silliness, you were certain that this dude could sell a case of beer to a teetotaler and convince her to give it away to all his pals. He actually tried to fix up two strangers in the front row.
8. He’s unpretentious. See No. 7 for evidence.
9. He’s handsome. He got rid of that mullet and cowboy hat he was sporting in 2001 when his single “Austin” went to No. 1. Without the hat and long dangling curls, he’s tall, dark and hunky. That full face, with that smile, those eyes and, of course, those dimples. His looks translate on TV and in person.
10. His songs are simple but ring true. Most of them are midtempo or ballads. They are straightforward love songs with easy melodies that don’t turn on cute phrases. They are filled with simple truths and simple lyrics like “little kisses sweeter than sweet tea.” It’s not great poetry, but it connects with the masses.
His recordings are rarely overproduced, save for the pseudo power ballad “Over.” He isn’t much for bro-country, save for 2013’s “Boys ’Round Here,” which was sort of a novelty featuring Pistol Annies (a group starring his then-wife Miranda Lambert). He isn’t much for up-tempo tunes, either, save for “Hillbilly Bone,” his 2009 hit duet with Trace Adkins.
11. Guys want to be him, gals want to be with him. He’s a hunting, fishing, beer-drinking kind of guy. And he’ll make the women swoon with songs like “And God Gave Me You,” “Mine Would Be You” and “My Eyes.”
12. He’s remained loyal to his hometown, Tishomingo, Okla. Despite being a big TV star, he hasn’t gone Hollywood. Home is his hometown. Even Lambert, when she was married to Shelton, opened a bed-and-breakfast there. And now reports of Gwen Stefani, Shelton’s current love interest, being seen in Tishomingo with Shelton are commonplace.
13. The tabloids make him seem likable. OK, he may have dumped his high school sweetheart first wife because he became smitten with Lambert. But the tabloids have us believing that Lambert was the bad girl in Marriage No. 2. And now we believe that Shelton and Stefani make such a winning couple because the grocery-store rags tell us so. So color Shelton as a Bad Boy turned Mr. Nice Guy.