Kellie Pickler: “I Don’t Need To Be Manufactured”

July 15, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  25 Comments

Think what you want about former American Idol contestant Kellie Picker’s latest album 100 Proof and its striking traditionalist approach, but what may be even more interesting and inspiring than the album itself is the story behind it. After recently parting with her label Sony Music Nashville, Kellie’s narrative is becoming similar to the one of Waylon Jennings, the country music Outlaw that Kellie cites as a primary influence.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kellie spoke about the arduous process she went through to release 100 Proof through Sony.

“Well, it wasn’t promoted. When my album came out, I didn’t even have a song out on the radio. Nobody does that. [The label was] spread thin…Recording this album, to be honest — and I don’t mind saying this — the process was hell. [Sony and I] couldn’t agree on songs. The thing is, my life is a country song. I don’t need to be manufactured, and I don’t need anyone to tell me what to say or what to sing.

Kellie, who says her influences for 100 Proof and music in general are folks like Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Kitty Wells, says this album was the first time she was being herself, and spoke about the pressures young artists are put under to abide by music label’s interpretations of what they should be as an artist.

“Since American Idol, it’s been like a blur. I’ve been pulled in a hundred different directions by a hundred different people. You know, signing contracts that I couldn’t read, but I was 19 and green and it was, “Sign this contract or go back to working in fast food,” and I didn’t want to do that. When this album came out, the people that know me, my friends, went, “There’s Kellie. There you are.”…It’s the only album that I’ve ever had that the critics have embraced. You know why? Because it’s me.”

Though 100 Proof has been a critic’s favorite (including this one), it has been a commercial disappointment compared to most major label releases, selling only 74,000 copies since its release in January. Kellie says she has no desire for crossover pop success. “I wanted to make a hardcore country album…I don’t give a damn about being on any other format’s station…I am a diehard country music fan.” And Kellie hints that an independent label may be her next move.

I’ve thought about the major labels versus the more independent ones. The ones that actually can probably do more for you. They have more to prove. [You want] to sign with someone that is about the music and gets you.

Who would have ever thought that American Idol’s Kellie Pickler would be one carrying the country music Outlaw mantra into the modern-day context? And for folks wondering if Kellie’s stint into the traditional side of country was a short-term phase, it appears her experience has only steeled her resolve to be herself. The next shoe to fall is to see if she can find people to believe in her as much as she believes in herself, and if she can enjoy the same commercial success the original Outlaws did back in the mid 70’s when they shook loose their major label chains.

25 Comments to “Kellie Pickler: “I Don’t Need To Be Manufactured””

  • Lee Ann Womack seems to be able to play traditional country and still have moderate success. Hopefully Kellie can get herself some good songs and continue to get played on the radio even if she goes to an independent record label.


  • That’s not the type of country music that I enjoy the most. But you gotta give credits to that girl to stand-up against her label even to let money on the table to express who she is and what she want to do.


  • So, at the root, Sony’s problem may not have been with “traditional country” but rather with the fact that someone dare stand for something. Mainstream Country’s job seems to be to promote negative stereotypes as a rallying cry or point of pride. Kellie Pickler is expected to be the ditzy blonde hillbilly that will do anything for the fame and attention. I won’t buy any argument stating that there’s “no market” for traditional country. Americans buy the Chia Pet, you can’t tell me they won’t buy certain music.


    • Supply creates its own demand.

      However, there is already a demand for traditional country music. The question is, how do we get folks that are used to getting it spoonfed to them through terrestrial radio off their butts and motivated to start looking on the web?


      • I’m not sure how to compete with terrestrial radio directly. If people ONLY spoonfed by radio, they won’t be much help anyway. What we need to do is intercept people logging on to find more that crap.

        Example: If an artists post a traditional style country song on YouTube, they tag the video with names of similar, more well known artists, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn etc. To that they could add Tim McGraw, jason Aldean, Taylor Swift B.O.B., Ludacris, whatever makes the video get “suggested” by Google. This won’t change anyone’s outlook on life or anything but it could increase the chance of sprouting a seed.


  • Good to see this.. Also be on the lookout for Kathy Mattea’s new album. Not many know this but her last album entitled “Coal” from 2007 is outstanding and I am looking forward to her new album due out in September. I found this EPK pretty interesting.. http://youtu.be/R6DTu3aH2hI


  • Hating working life as much as i do it’s hard to blame someone for, “selling-out”. Nice to see that once some people make their coin they then follow their heart. Still not anything I wanna listen to though.


  • ok….so where is she gonna go? i’m assuming she’s talking independent cause big leagues aren’t knocking down her door to sign her,right? if she wants control over her music like she says she does,maybe she should just start her own label…


    • Independent doesn’t necessarily mean small. Both Curb and Big Machine are independent. 76,000 records may not be a lot for Sony, but for a label like Sugar Hill, that would be huge. And as Kellie said, that was with virtually no promotion. With a serious promotional team behind “100 Proof” it could have really taken off.

      As much as I hate to think about it, Kellie’s ideal label would probably be Valory Music Group, which is Big Machine’s label for slightly smaller artists. Big Machine gives their artists creative independence (for better or worse) but still has a big structure behind them for support. Kellie Pickler is still a very well-recognized name. If she wants to go the indie route, I don’t think she will have trouble finding a home.


  • Hopefully she ends up on a label like Rounder or Sugar Hill that will gladly support her playing traditional country.


    • Sugar Hill was one of the first names I thought of.


  • With Kellie set to appeared in Bucky Covington’s next music video (A duet with Shooter Jennings) I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see her sign with eOne.


  • Tim McGraw should take notes.

    This is what you do when you fight for creative freedom. Kellie is willing to forego big label, mainstream success in favor of remaining true to herself and making music that is honest.

    Tim’s idea of freedom is being free to agree with corporate Nashville.


  • like most of the other folks commenting here her music isn’t something i want to listen to, yet. but i do applaud her desire to do what she wants to record rather than what some suit wants to sell. good for her and maybe one day i’ll become a fan.


  • Waylon would be proud to have influenced and artist to stand up against the Nashville machine. Sugar Hill would indeed be a perfect fit.Not a fan of her stuff but way to go Kellie.


  • Woo Hoo! Go Kellie! I hope she finds a new record label and continues to go in the direction of 100 Proof.


  • “I don’t need to be manufactured.”

    Just an FYI, she’s not talking about her boobs.


  • I didn’t realize that Country is struggling the way it is but so isn’t traditional R&B and Pop/Rock. It’s really sad that genres are being cannibalized by the saturation Electropop, Dubstep and the stanning culture surrounding them.


  • am i the only one who thinks this makes her even hotter?


  • Why on earth are you singing the praises of Kelly Pickler? Is this a joke or something? 100 proof is total crap and you know it. It sounds just like anything that a top 40 country “artist” would put out. Is it because Shooter is getting ready to do a duet with her? Is it time to legitimize Kelly so her and Shooter can trade markets? And how could you possibly compare Kelly Pickler and Waylon Jennings? Are you fucking kidding me?


    • /yawn


    • Shooter is doing a duet with Bucky Covington, the Nickelback of country music. Kellie just appears in the video, unless I missed the latest memo. And if you think I have a music boner for Shooter, you’ve missed the last memo.

      No joke, I think 100 Proof is an honest Album of the Year candidate. So no, I don’t know that it’s total crap. I understand no music is for everyone, and because of the connotations of Kellie’s name, it is going to be difficult for many folks to get into “100 Proof.” The point of this article was not to shove her music down people’s throats once again, but to point out that you can find the story behind the album interesting and inspiring even if the music is not your speed.

      Let me unequivocally state, I think Kellie Pickler’s “100 Proof” is excellent.


  • Fair enough man. My knee-jerk reaction to your article was anger for some reason. Didn’t mean to come across so crass. I’m glad you like the record, but that kind of music has never been my thing. I guess we’ll just have to disagree on this one. And the Shooter thing was way off base on my part. I thought you were trying to sell Kelly Pickler to us to flip markets for both artists. I’m glad I was wrong. Thanks for the reply.


    • That kind of music has never been my kind of thing either. That is why I started this website. I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to Kellie Pickler’s first 2 albums. It may not be for everyone, but “100 Proof” is different from the mainstream schlog.


  • Her quoted comments in your article might have convinced me to buy her 100 proof album. Good article Trigger. I like the short and sweet one’s.


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