Kenneth Eric Church (born May 3, 1977) is a Country Music singer and songwriter. Originally known as the guy whose errors gave Taylor Swift her big break - he couldn't shorten his set as the opening act on a Rascal Flatts tour - Church has subsequently exploded as a live act in his own right, mixing his story-songs with a hard rocking style owing to Black Sabbath as much as Waylon Jennings.
He first got his foot in the door in late 2004-early 2005 as a co-writer on Terri Clark's "The World Needs a Drink". Although it took him until his third album to score a major hit, Church kept plugging away, building a fanbase and touring frequently. Radio finally granted him a first #1 in early 2012 with "Drink in My Hand", then followed that up with the summertime smash "Springsteen". His fourth album, The Outsiders, followed in 2014, and it has generated further hits in "Give Me Back My Hometown" and "Talladega". From Mr. Misunderstood came "Record Year" and "Round Here Buzz".
- Sinners Like Me (2006)
- Carolina (2009)
- Chief (2011)
- Caught In The Act: Live (2013)
- The Outsiders (2014)
- Mr. Misunderstood (2015)
- Desperate Man (2018)
- Adrenaline Time: All over the place in the "Homeboy" video.
- Advertised Extra: Averted with "Kill a Word". The album credits backing vocalists Andrea Davidson and Rhiannon Giddens, but the single edit credits only Giddens, and re-arranges the song so that she sings half of a verse by herself.
- Bittersweet 17: "Springsteen", as in the trope's page quote, reminisces upon memories of being "so alive, never been more free" at a concert age 17 brought on by hearing Springsteen again later in life.
- Bowdlerise: Two of his singles have had drug references removed:
- "Smoke a Little Smoke" changed "Dig down deep, find my stash / Light it up " to "Dig down deep, find my glass / Fill it up " the first time, and "Dig down deep, find my match" the second time. This is done to mask the fact that what he's smoking isn't tobacco.
- "Creepin'" changed "Your cocaine kiss and caffeine love" to "Your caffeine kiss and nicotine love".
- Cool Shades: He is rarely seen without aviator sunglasses.
- Early-Bird Cameo: As mentioned, he co-wrote Terri Clark's 2004 single "The World Needs a Drink".
- Epic Rocking: Though his lengthy set got him in early-career trouble, none of the studio versions qualified until the multi-part suite "Devil, Devil", clocking in at 8:03, appeared on The Outsiders.
- Fake Shemp: When Church performs "Kill a Word" live, Rhiannon Giddens' part is sung by Joanna Cotten, a vocalist in his road band.
- Fortune Teller: One lyric in "Desperate Man" references visiting a fortune teller who tells the narrator that he's "got no future at all". He chooses to ignore her observation.
- Genre Roulette: The Outsiders spans power balladry, pop-country, scraps of Progressive Metal, occasional hip-hop beats, and what critics call "a song seemingly written for Haim by a ping pong ball" under the banner of Country Music.
- Intercourse with You: "Like a Wrecking Ball":I'm gonna find out what that house is made of
Been too many nights since it's felt us make love
I wanna rock some sheet rock
Knock some pictures off the wall
Love you baby like a wrecking ball
- List Song: "Love Your Love the Most" is basically a list of stuff that he likes, capped off with "But I love your love the most".
- Love Nostalgia Song: "Springsteen" and "Give Me Back My Hometown".
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: "The Outsiders" shows that he can easily go into 6-7 range.
- Ode to Youth: "Springsteen"
- Pep-Talk Song: "Mr. Misunderstood" is a song of motivation to an outcast teenager, using stories from Church's real life as encouragement.
- Progressive Rock: Parts of The Outsiders, especially "Devil, Devil" and the ending of the title track.
- Rebellious Rebel: Church definitely plays to this image - why else dedicate an album to "the outsiders"? - given further credence by a more rock-oriented sound than most contemporary country artists.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Give Me Back My Hometown" rhymes "hometown" with "hometown" on the chorus.
- "Like Jesus Does" has two. The song is book-ended by the line "I'm a long-gone Waylon song on vinyl", and the first verse contains the line "I'm a good ol' boy drinkin' whiskey and rye on the levee".
- "Record Year" is full of name-drops ranging from George Jones to New Grass Revival to George Thorogood to Ray Wylie Hubbard (with whom he would later write "Desperate Man").
- Signature Style: Many of his songs have strong rhythm sections and loud guitars, often coming across as a mix of Southern rock and funk. There's also Jay Joyce's love of studio trickery and/or non-standard instrumentation, such as the harps on "Homeboy" or vocal filters on "Creepin'".
- Song Style Shift: "Cold One" does this twice. The first verse is slow and twangy before the more mid-tempo, rocking chorus. Then after the second chorus, the song breaks into a blisteringly fast guitar solo before returning to the moderate tempo.
- "Mr. Misunderstood" has a barrage of tempo changes akin to "American Pie".
- Surprise Pregnancy: Averted in "Two Pink Lines". The young couple in the song is worried because the woman is two weeks late. At the end of the song, the test comes up negative, and she leaves.