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Since winning 'Nashville Star' in the spring, country artist Chris Young has had plenty of excitement

  • Since-winning-Nashville-Star-in-the-spring-country-artist-Chris-Young-has-had-plenty-of-excitement-2

    Two weeks ago, Chris Young became the highest debuting male country artist of the year after his self-titled record arrived in stores and sold 37,000 copies the first week. That total landed him third on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

  • Since-winning-Nashville-Star-in-the-spring-country-artist-Chris-Young-has-had-plenty-of-excitement

    Chris Young was named the winner of the fourth season of Nashville Star, USA Network's country music talent contest.

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Since-winning-Nashville-Star-in-the-spring-country-artist-Chris-Young-has-had-plenty-of-excitement

Chris Young was named the winner of the fourth season of Nashville Star, USA Network's country music talent contest.

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Country music's hottest bachelor, according to a recent poll in Country Weekly anyway, is home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., hacking away with a nasty cough and popping antibiotics for the strep throat that's kept him lying in bed for two days.

"That's just my fans being good to me," Chris Young says of the Country Weekly recognition. "I look at everything that's written about me - the good and the bad. The good is exciting to me, and the bad makes me work harder. But to be up there with guys like Kenny Chesney and Gary Allan, that's cool."

But has being named country's "hottest bachelor" been a boon for his dating life?

"My dating life is pretty much nonexistent," he says with a laugh - then a cough. "I'm never home."

Six months ago, Young's life changed. That was when he was named the winner of the fourth season of Nashville Star, USA Network's country music talent contest. With the victory, came a deal with RCA Records. Two weeks ago, he became the highest debuting male country artist of the year after his self-titled record arrived in stores and sold 37,000 copies the first week. That total landed him third on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

Since-winning-Nashville-Star-in-the-spring-country-artist-Chris-Young-has-had-plenty-of-excitement-2

Two weeks ago, Chris Young became the highest debuting male country artist of the year after his self-titled record arrived in stores and sold 37,000 copies the first week. That total landed him third on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

Enlarge

"That put me under Alan Jackson and George Strait. I'll take that every time," he says. "But I haven't proven myself yet. Not until it's at least at gold [500,000 copies]. There's a lot of work ahead of me. What I really want people to know about me is that I love what I'm doing, and I want them to know how much I respect country music."

Despite winning Nashville Star, it hasn't meant instant success for Young, 21. His first single, "Drinkin' Me Lonely," had been languishing on the charts around No. 50 or No. 51 for several weeks until it caught some momentum this week and jumped to No. 45 on the Radio and Records chart. It also gained a spot on the playlist for Dallas' largest country music station.

"Every new artist has to deal with trying to get music played. I'm really lucky that my label really believes in the song. I believe it's a hit song. They're just as fired up about it as I am," he says. "I'm just happy to have a song on the charts, you know?"

"Drinkin' Me Lonely" is the song that won over the Nashville Star judges and more than likely clinched the competition for Young, but it's not the strongest cut on his album. It's possible the album could see four singles released from it because of its depth.

"Everything we did on this album, we did for a reason. I really had a vision of what I wanted to do - and I know that sounds crazy that this new guy has a vision of how he wants his album to be. I wanted to make an album that had nothing but great songs. I want people to put the CD in and listen all the way through, not skip over any songs, and I wanted them all to sound a little different. I don't want people saying 'Wow, I heard that on track one.'•"

Don't be surprised if Young's second single is "Beer or Gasoline." It's got a great hook and a funny story about a guy running out of gas and having just enough money for a little gas or a six pack of beer.

"I heard that song and said, 'Good lord, that's half my college friends,'•" Young says, chuckling.

"You're Gonna Love Me" is one of Young's favorites. He'd been listening to songs all day while in Nashville, just looking for one song he could put on the album. He loved the lyrics, but it made the cut for his album when the second verse mentioned his hero Keith Whitley.

"I said, 'That's it, I'm cutting it.' He's one of the artists who's had an impact on who I am as an artist."

As far as tear-jerkers, Young's got one of those too. "Flowers" tells the story of a love lost in a drunken-driving accident. It was written and recorded in the early '90s on an independent album by his friend Billy Yates.

"I told [Billy] that if I ever got a deal on a major label that I was going to record it. He said he was really excited about what I had done with it. That was real important to me - that he approved of how I recorded it."

All in all, it's been a pretty incredible six months for Young. He'd dreamed of playing the Grand Ole Opry. Coming up soon, he'll be playing it for the sixth time. "I remember walking on the stage and walking off, nothing while on it," he says of the first time he appeared at the Opry. "I was just telling myself not to freak out."

He also had another dream come true earlier this month when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

"Man, that was exciting. I'd watched him growing up. Jay was great. He called my mom [Becky] up at work and said, 'Hi, this is Jay Leno.' He made us feel so at home."

Exciting is a word that Young uses over and over about the start to his recording career.

"It's really exciting, that's all I can say, really," he chuckles. "Everything you do has its ups and downs, but I'm still pinching myself."

Contact Brian Dugger at: bdugger@theblade.com or 419-724-4110.

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