Then came "Need You Now," which launched the band's career into the stratosphere. That song had a super-fast climb to #1 on the country music charts, as well as the longest run at #1 on that chart in over three years. It then went into Serial Escalation, also topping both of the Billboard AC charts and reaching #2 on the Hot 100, in addition to reaching Top 20 (or close to it) in nearly every country that has a single chart. In short, it was one of the biggest country crossover hits ever. Third album Own the Night has also launched a rather big pop crossover in "Just a Kiss", but the album was criticized for its over-emphasis on midtempos, and its later singles fared poorly.
Golden, their fourth album, brought the group their fastest-rising chart-topper in "Downtown". After its second single "Goodbye Town" flopped, the group re-released the album with bonus tracks, including "Compass", produced by Nathan Chapman. Chapman also stayed on board for their New Sound Album, 747, in 2014, which produced another chart-topper in "Bartender" but also had diminishing returns otherwise. After its last single ended its run, Kelley announced that he would do a Solo Side Project, while Scott cut a gospel album with her parents and sister. The group reunited in 2017 for another New Sound Album, Heart Break. In 2018, they departed Capitol Records in favor of Big Machine Records.
The group officially renamed to Lady A in 2020 in order to distance themselves from the word "Antebellum", which can be perceived as having racist connotations to the Civil War south. However, this move quickly resulted in legal entanglements with an African American blues singer from Seattle who also performs under the name "Lady A".
- Lady Antebellum (2008)
- Need You Now (2010)
- Own The Night (2011)
- On This Winter's Night (2012)
- Golden (2013)
- 747 (2014)
- Heart Break (2017)
- Ocean (2019)
Tropes present in their work:
- Bizarre Instrument: The main riff of "Long Stretch of Love" is played on a Woodrow, a string instrument manufactured only in Asheville, North Carolina which is said to have a sound like a cross between a dulcimer and a banjo.
- Bowdlerise: "Lookin' for a Good Time," a song that's about two people meeting in a club and hooking up. The last line of the second verse was originally "Would you get the wrong impression if I called us a cab right now"; the radio edit ends with "if I asked you to dance right now" and, to prevent "dance" from showing up twice so closely, "you shouldn't dance like that" in an earlier line becomes "you shouldn't move like that". However, the rest of the song (which includes such lines as "Go ahead and lie to me and pull me close/tell me that you love me even if you don't") is left alone, implying a Mating Dance.
- Call-and-Response Song: Many of their songs are set as dialogue between Hillary and Charles, most notably "Need You Now". Hillary sings the first verse and chorus; Charles sings the second verse; they sing the second chorus together; then alternate on the last chorus.Hillary: ♪It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now♪Charles: ♪And I said I wouldn't call, but I'm a little drunk and I need you now♪Both: ♪And I don't know how I can do without, I just need you now♪
- Drowning My Sorrows: "Bartender" is about a woman doing this with her friends.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Before their debut single, they sang on Jim Brickman's "Never Alone".
- Early Installment Weirdness: Their first album had a lot more of a rock edge, and far less emphasis on string sections, compared to their later work. Their work from "Compass" onward seems to be suggesting a move further back to a more uptempo sound.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Need You Now" romanticizes booty calls.
- New Sound Album: 747 was intended to be this.
- Non-Indicative Name
- Ode to Intoxication: "Bartender".
- Record Producer: Session guitarist Paul Worley, doing by far the most pop-sounding production he's ever done. Little-known singer-songwriter Victoria Shaw helped him on the first album. Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift) took over from "Compass" onward until Heart Break, for which busbee took over.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Hillary is clearly singing most of her own harmonies on "Heart Break", with Charles and Dave barely factoring into the song at all.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: "Nothin' Like the First Time".
- Signature Style: Grandiose, sweeping, orchestral country-pop with big vocals, although 747 seems to be moving them away from this.
- Solo Side Project: Charles Kelley released a solo album in late 2015, and Hillary Scott put out a Christian album with her family in summer 2016.
- Vocal Tag Team: Most of their singles are duets between Charles and Hillary. "Love Don't Live Here", "Hello World", "We Owned the Night", and "Freestyle" are Charles only; "American Honey", "Downtown", "Bartender", and "Heart Break" are Hillary only; and "Goodbye Town" is all Charles, except for one line from Hillary near the end.