Kenneth Arnold "Kenny" Chesney (born March 26, 1968) began performing in his teenage years, before working at clubs before signing a deal with Capricorn Records in 1993. Capricorn had no experience in the country music field, however; the album received minimal promotion, its singles tanked, and the label closed its Nashville branch.
He then got picked up by BNA Records, a country music division of RCA Records, and issued his breakthrough album All I Need to Know in 1995. Although it wasn't until 1997 that he finally scored a Number One hit, most of his BNA singles in this timespan reached Top 10 or better. Kicking his career into high gear, he scored a six-week #1 in 1999 with "Don't Happen Twice." A Greatest Hits Album in 2000 produced one of his Signature Songs, "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy."
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems and When the Sun Goes Down, in 2002 and 2004 respectively, marked a shift in Chesney's sound more towards a combination of eighties rock influences and acoustic songs, quite often about the beach. Along the way, he had the biggest country hit of 2002 with "The Good Stuff," a seven-week chart-topper. This sound, and continued commercial success, followed through the next albums in the batch: The Road and the Radio in 2005 and Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates in 2007. Lucky Old Sun, strangely, produced only two hits, although one was later released as a single from his second Greatest Hits package. His next album, Hemingway's Whiskey, was released late in 2010.
For the first stretch of his career up to the Turn of the Millennium, Chesney was of a decidedly more "mainstream" bent, delivering slick, twangy honky-tonk country. Starting with No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems in 2002, he dialed back on the twang somewhat and began recording a blend of arena rock, upbeat "beachy" tunes clearly inspired from Jimmy Buffett, and soft introspective ballads. His albums since this point have drawn from a mix of acclaimed yet largely obscure sources, including Mac McAnally, Matraca Berg, Charlie Robison, and Mindy Smith. He has also drawn many non-country names into his material, such as The Wailers, Dave Matthews, Grace Potter (of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals), Ziggy Marley, and P!nk.
Chesney was briefly a tabloid target in 2005 after his short-lived marriage to actress Renée Zellweger.
- In My Wildest Dreams (1994)
- All I Need to Know (1995)
- Me And You (1996)
- I Will Stand (1997)
- Everywhere We Go (1999)
- Greatest Hits (2000)
- No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems (2002)
- All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan (2003)
- When the Sun Goes Down (2004)
- The Road and the Radio (2005)
- Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair) (2005)
- Live: Live Those Songs Again (2006)
- Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (2007)
- Lucky Old Sun (2008)
- Greatest Hits II (2009)
- Hemingway's Whiskey (2010)
- Welcome to the Fishbowl (2012)
- Life on a Rock (2013)
- The Big Revival (2014)
- Cosmic Hallelujah (2016)
- Songs for the Saints (2018)
- Here and Now (2020)
- Advertised Extra:
- The Wailers on "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" — their part is cut out of the radio edit, but they still got chart credit (from the second week at #1 onward, at least).
- Grace Potter was credited for her backing vocals on both "You and Tequila" and "Wild Child", but not on "El Cerrito Place" in between.
- Averted with P!nk's credit on "Settin' the World on Fire", as she mostly just sings backing vocals, but does get a few lines to herself.
- Album Title Drop: "Better as a Memory" title-drops Just Who I Am, the album it appears on.
- The Artifact: "How Forever Feels" and "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" predate his established blend of beachy country-pop and arena-rock, but have remained staples of his setlist due to their popularity.
- "Reality" changed the line "Yeah, some days it's a bitch, it's a bummer" to "…it's just bad, it's a bummer" for the radio edit.
- For the radio edit of "All the Pretty Girls", "All the lost boys say 'I wanna get laid'" becomes "All the lost boys wanna stay out late".
- Break-Up Song: "Save It for a Rainy Day" — the weather's too nice for the narrator to be moping around about his recent breakup, so he decides to enjoy the day and save the sadness for gloomier times.Cause the sun's too bright, the sky's too blue,
Beer's too cold to be thinkin' 'bout you
Gonna take this heartbreak and tuck it away,
Save it for a rainy day.
- Broken Win/Loss Streak:
- Kenny charted at least #1 country hit for every calendar year since 2001... until 2013, when his only two single releases that year peaked at #3 and #14.
- Cosmic Hallelujah is his first album since his 1994 debut not to be certified by the RIAA.
- 2018's "Better Boat" broke an uninterrupted string of 51 top 20 singles dating all the way back to 1998.
- Christmas Songs: All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan mixes original songs, traditional covers such as "Silent Night" (featuring his mom and aunt), and country music standards such as "Pretty Paper," "Christmas in Dixie", and "Thank God for Kids".
- Doo-Wop Progression: The verses of "The Tin Man".
- Dual-Meaning Chorus: Occurs in "There Goes My Life." At first, the young man thinks his life is over; in the second verse, he watches his "life" (his little daughter) walking by; and in the third, he watches her drive off. Also qualifies as an Age-Progression Song.
- Drowning My Sorrows:
- "Beer in Mexico" is a little more upbeat about this topic than most songs that fit this trope.
- "The Good Stuff" is a subversion. The singer is a newlywed who had a fight with his wife, and heads down to the local bar to invoke this trope. He asks the bartender for "the good stuff," and the bartender tells him the "good stuff" can't be found in a bottle, it's all the little things with his wife he can't get back once she's gone.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: His 1990s albums were largely mainstream "neotraditionalist" country, and he fit right in with the "hat act"s of the day. By the late 1990s, he shifted to a slicker country-pop sound that netted two of his biggest hits ("How Forever Feels" and "The Good Stuff") before moving again to his now-iconic combination of laid-back "beachy" country, introspective acoustic material, and arena-rock with No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems. Around Hemingway's Whiskey, the arena-rock started disappearing too.
- The Four Chords of Pop: "Come Over" is a somewhat unusual variation of vi-IV-I-V.
- Genre Shift: From a fairly normal 1990s country singer to a Caribbean-influenced purveyor of songs about island life.
- Love Is a Drug: "You and Tequila".
- Love Nostalgia Song:
- "Anything but Mine" recalls a spring break lover, but unlike most other examples, it's in medias res.
- "Don't Happen Twice" recalls the night the singer fell in love for the first time, after running into his love years later.
- Mixed Metaphor: A verse of "Better as a Memory" starts with "Goodbyes are like a roulette wheel" and ends with "Left holding a losing hand".
- Mocking Sing-Song: The line "Sister's got a boyfriend" in "American Kids" is sung this way.
- Never Bareheaded: He almost always wears either a cowboy hat or a straw hat.
- Ode to Sobriety: "That's Why I'm Here" has a man pleading for another chance at a relationship after going through a recovery program.
- Old Man Conversation Song:
- "The Good Stuff" is a conversation with an old man at a bar.
- "Don't Blink" is the narrator's witness of a conversation between a 102-year-old man and a news anchor.
- The One That Got Away: "Knowing You":But God, we were so alive
I was a kid on a carnival ride
Holdin' my breath 'til the moment
When you were gonna leave me too soon
But I'd do it all over
'Cause damn, it was good knowin' you
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: According to a column in Country Weekly, Kenny had a line in his 2005 hit "Summertime" changed because the original lyrics mentioned snow cones, and Kenny had no idea what they were.
- Prematurely Bald: He began balding at age 19, hence why he's Never Bareheaded. He actually appears hatless in the "Come Over" video.
- Product Placement: "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" slips in the motto for farm equipment company John Deere.
- Re-release the Song:
- Chesney re-recorded his 1994 single "The Tin Man" for his first Greatest Hits Album and released the new version in 2001.
- Also done with "I'm Alive", a duet with Dave Matthews, which originally appeared on the 2008 studio album Lucky Old Sun and charted at number 55 from unsolicited airplay. It carried over to the 2009 compilation album Greatest Hits II, from which it was officially released as a single, peaking at number 6.
- Rhyming with Itself: Subverted in "Me and You," which rhymes "too" and "to."
- Serendipitous Survival: Chesney was originally scheduled to film a video for the 2001 re-release of "The Tin Man" on September 11, 2001 near the World Trade Center, but the filming was canceled only a few days prior due to label executives deciding that the song didn't need a video.
- Shout-Out: "The Woman with You" contains the line "dancing backwards in high heels", a reference to a joke about Ginger Rogers that began in Frank and Ernest.
- Single Mom Stripper: The subject of "Dancin' for the Groceries."
- Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Defied by the title character in "Big Star":She doesn't care anymore that her high school girlfriends cut her downThey only thought she entertain is where they are and where she is nowAll her old neighbors swear they're certain she slept her way to the topShe knows you don't get where you're goingUnless you got something they ain't got...
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: One of his trademarks is his sleeveless shirts.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Come Over".
- Vocal Evolution: In the 1990s, his material was barely discernible from any other young hunk in a cowboy hat, and he had an extremely twangy voice. The twang became gradually less and less evident around I Will Stand, and was almost nonexistant as early as the new songs his first Greatest Hits Album. (Just listen to the re-recordings of "The Tin Man" and "Fall in Love" from the latter in comparison to the originals.) By When the Sun Goes Down, his voice also started getting a little softer.
- Working Class Anthem: "Shift Work" describes shift work as being tiring and difficult — often with sweat, noise, and/or terrible customers — and uses the phrase "shift work" as a bait-and-switch for a swear word:A big ol' pile of shiiiii...ft work