(born 1952) is a popular country music
performer, sometimes known by the Fan Nickname
"King George." He holds the record for the most #1 hits by any
artist (44 according to Billboard
; 60 if all trade charts are counted), and all but two of his twenty-six studio albums have sold platinum or higher, putting him second to only Elvis Presley
for the highest-certified male artist in any genre.
Strait is also known for his remarkable consistency: almost all of his albums have generally been released to positive reviews, and since 1992, he has worked with the same producer and largely the same session musicians. He's even been on the same label since 1981.
He would probably be The Ace
of country music if not for his easygoing, everyman demeanor. Since 1981, he has always been a cleancut guy in a cowboy hat and pressed shirt, and has been heralded as one of several musicians who brought country music back to a more traditional sound following the crossover-happiness of the late seventies-early eighties. He certainly has the cred for no-frills, neotraditional country, as before he made it big, he played in various gigs in his native Texas with his Ace in the Hole band.
Strait's music is also known for its relative lack of gimmickry: he almost never records duets, novelties, or sappy love ballads ("I Cross My Heart" notwithstanding). On the flip side, he has almost always relied on outside material, with his 2009 single "Living for the Night" being the first single of his career that he has had a hand in writing. Furthermore, he is known for rarely recording music videos.
In 1992, Strait made a brief foray into acting, starring in the film Pure Country
, in addition to recording its soundtrack. While the soundtrack produced two #1 hits for him and is his best-selling album, the film was not very-well received by critics.
Tropes present in his work:
- Age Progression Song:"The Best Day" follows the son at age 7, 15 and a young adult.
- The Alcoholic: The subject of "Drinkin' Man" is one who obviously wants to change his ways, but keeps falling back.
- Artifact Title: 50 Number Ones (2004) contained all 50 of his #1 hits to date, plus the new song "I Hate Everything" as a 51st track. Said song was released as a single... and it went to #1 as well, thus invalidating the album's title in mere months!
- Arguably, the album title was inaccurate regardless: the count of 50 does not include "Meanwhile", which went to #1 on the RPM country charts in Canada but none of the American charts.
- Auto-Tune: Used in his version of "Stars on the Water".
- Birth-Death Juxtaposition:
- In "The Breath You Take", the narrator's father dies as the narrator's son is born.
- In "She Took The Wind From His Sails", the woman's death coincides with her daughter's birth.
- Blatant Lies: Used in "Ocean Front Property". In the verses, he says that he doesn't love her, but adds, "now if you'll buy that / I've got some ocean front property in Arizona..."
- Broken Streak: As he's a long runner, he's had this happen several times:
- 1989's "Overnight Success" broke an 11-song streak of #1 hits that dated to 1986 and spanned four albums.
- His 1992 cover of Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" was his first single not to make Top 20.
- 2012's "Drinkin' Man" became his first single not to make Top 30…
- …and only a year later, "I Believe" became his first single to miss the top 40 entirely.
- Cool Old Guy: He still has a massive fanbase into his 60s.
- Determinator: MCA was determined, come hell or high water, to make "Give It All We Got Tonight" his 60th #1 while he was still 60. They barely pulled it off, and only on the easier-to-manipulate Mediabase charts.
- Dual Meaning Chorus: Occurs in "Love Without End, Amen," where the chorus' line "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love" applies to three situations: singer's father to singer, singer to his son, and God to the singer.
- Also used in "The Best Day", as seen above.
- The Exile: "All My Ex's Live in Texas", and that's why I hang my hat in Tennessee.
- Follow the Leader: In the 1990s, there was an insurgence of "hat acts" who, like Strait, were just good ol' clean-cut young men (and even a couple women!) in cowboy hats. Over time, "hat act" became a derogatory term due to so many of them flooding the market and becoming indistinguishable.
- Gratuitous Spanish/Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: His cover of José Alfredo Jiménez' mariachi song "El Rey", which he sings entirely en español.
- Heavy Meta: "Twang" is but one example.
- Iconic Outfit: He usually wears a cowboy hat, pressed shirt, belt buckle, jeans, and cowboy boots.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: The Cajun-flavored "Adalida" has this gem: "The way that you're lookin', you got me a-cookin' / And I ain't talkin' 'bout étouffée".
- Long Title: "If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger (There's One Coming Home)".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Cowboys Like Us" is a song about getting out on the road with his buddies and riding their motorcycles to Mexico. You'd expect at least some tempo, but instead it's a slow, soft, gentle waltz.
- Nice Hat: He always wears a cowboy hat.
- Pun: "I have so many ex's and owe (X's and O) so much, I oughta be on Hollywood Squares."
- Record Producer: Ever since the Pure Country soundtrack, George has worked exclusively with producer Tony Brown. He also uses many of the same session musicians from album to album.
- Red Baron: "They call me the Fireman / That's my name / Makin' my rounds all over town / Puttin' out old flames..."
- Rhyming with Itself: "The Chair" rhymes "at all" and "after all".
- Self-Titled Album: Some of his early albums' names were puns on his name, such as Strait from the Heart. He later released a truly self-titled album in 2001, but for some odd reason, it was his worst-selling (it was the first album of his career not to sell platinum or higher) and worst-performing in terms of chart singles.
- Shout-Out: When George Strait asked the writers of "Blue Clear Sky" as to why the title wasn't the more common "Clear Blue Sky", they told him it was a deliberate reference to Forrest Gump.
- Strait is a common name-drop in country songs, including "Ain't Going Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)" by Garth Brooks, "On a Good Night" by Wade Hayes, "Cowboy Love" by John Michael Montgomery, and "Did It for the Girl" by Greg Bates (which goes a step further by also name-dropping his song "Marina del Rey"). The frequent name dropping of Strait has reached a parity only achieved by George Jones and Hank Williams Sr.
- Signature Style: He's always been known for a charming, straightforward, everyman style with few flourishes or gimmicks.
- Something Completely Different: Twang was his first album since his debut that he co-wrote any songs on, and it included a mariachi cover. Here for a Good Time also includes co-writer's credits by George himself, and the atypically dreary "Drinkin' Man" (the lowest-peaking single of his career).
- Love Is Everything continues in the pattern, including the single "I Believe", a tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting released nearly 7 months after the fact.
- Spoonerism: In "The Chair":
Well, thank you, could I drink you a buy
Oh listen to me — What I mean is, can I buy you a drink?
- Title Only Chorus: "Love's Gonna Make It Alright".