This may not come as much of a surprise, but Kid Rock isn’t exactly the biggest fan of following the rules.
So when it came time to release the third single off his Rock N Roll Jesus album, he decided to forego conventional wisdom, ignoring the most popular singles medium out there — a little thing called “digital” — and opting instead to simply push the tune to radio stations. And just why did he choose to do this? Well, because he’s Kid Rock, that’s why.
“I’ve always had a problem with people telling me, ’Oh, you have to do this because you have to do it,’ ” laughed Rock, who was just announced as a performer at this year’s VMAs . “So when everyone was telling me that I had to release my single on iTunes because they own the market and that’s just what you’ve gotta do these days, I decided that I wasn’t going to do it. My whole career, I’ve done that. Whenever everyone’s headed in the same direction, I turn around and run the other way.”
Essentially, by saying no to iTunes, Rock made it impossible for fans to download “All Summer Long.” He was instead betting on the fact that most people would be willing to shell out $15 for a copy of his album in order to own the song. It was a risky move, but in the end, it paid off. Jesus, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart back in October but had all but disappeared from the top 200, rocketed back into the top 10, and has sold more than 1.3 million copies so far. And “All Summer Long” continues to be a beast on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, thanks mainly to its near-constant radio play. And while most artists would spend every waking minute trumpeting successes like these, Rock is doing quite the opposite.
“This whole thing wasn’t some attempt to change the way the industry works or some sh– like that. It was basically me knowing I had a good song, one that people would love when they heard it,” he explained. “I mean, people say iTunes is popular because it’s convenient, but so is McDonald’s — that don’t mean people aren’t still making reservations to go eat at fancy restaurants too.
“I knew the track was solid — it’s got two of the best songs of all time mashed up together [Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ’Sweet Home Alabama’ and Warren Zevon’s ’Werewolves of London’], it’s got great melodies, so really, my work was done,” he continued. “I knew people would hear it and know I wrote it. They’d know it was real, and there’d be that connection. And that’s what’s missing in music today. I think people don’t believe half the sh– they hear some rapper or some pop girl singing about … but with me, they do. And that’s why people have reacted the way they have to the song.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the song is a totally killer summer anthem — a nostalgic celebration of sun-drenched days and beery evenings that just so happens to sound great on sun-drenched days and beery evenings — or that Rock is promoting the tune the old-fashioned way; by touring the bejeezus out of it alongside one of its progenitors, the almighty Skynyrd. It’s an old-school formula for success — one that the notably old-school Rock finds remarkably refreshing, given the times in which we live.
“I think today everyone’s worried about looking cool, about over-thinking everything, about all this bullsh–. If Jesus Christ were to come back tomorrow and forgive our sins, I feel like the first blogger who wrote about it would say something like, ’Oh, Jesus Christ is a douche bag,’ ” he laughed. “I just think that’s a waste of time, and I think a lot of other people do too. I just want to have fun, enjoy life and have a good time. And I think there’s a lot of people out there who are just like me.”
And while he’s sticking with that line of reasoning, if prodded, Rock will finally admit to enjoying the success of “Summer,” if only because it stands as one giant middle finger to an industry that counted him out and called him crazy. And why does he feel this way? Because he’s Kid Rock, that’s why.
“I keep saying I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. I just knew I had a great song that flew in the face of everything you hear on the radio or in pop music. Basically, all pop music is now just bad rap songs, or like, Mariah Carey or girl pop, so this song is really a breath of fresh air,” he said. “People wanted to tell me how to release it, or that I was making a huge mistake by choosing to ignore iTunes and all that, but I’ve always known I can say ’F— you’ to the best of ’em, and I have done just that, many times before. And I’m sure I’ll do it many times again.”