Blake Shelton may be known to the masses as a coach on NBC’s hit “The Voice” and the guy dating Gwen Stefani, but he’s still a power player in country music.
However, one of his greatest Nashville achievements took a hit this week – for the first time in about seven years, one of his singles failed to go to No. 1 on country radio.
Starting with “Hillbilly Bone” (2009) and up until his most recent album’s debut single, “Came Here to Forget” (2016), Shelton hit the top of the country radio charts with every track. That’s 17 No. 1 songs in a row (he has 22 total), including hits like the Grammy-nominated “God Gave Me You” (2011) and “Boys Round Here” (2013), which featured his now ex-wife Miranda Lambert’s band, the Pistol Annies.
The song that didn’t make the No. 1 cut was “She’s Got a Way With Words,” released in June; it peaked at No. 7 on the radio in mid-September and fell off the chart this week. It’s the second single from his 10th studio album, “I’ll Be Honest,” which is the best-selling country album released this year with approximately 460,000 copies sold.
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“She’s Got a Way With Words” is also the the most controversial track on the record. Written by Andy Albert, Marc Beeson and Wyatt Earp, the song doesn’t hold back while describing a nasty ex: “She put the ‘x’ in sex, she put the ‘low’ in blow/She put a big ‘F-U’ in my future,” Shelton sings. The second verse gets more explicit: “Little words like ‘I’ and ‘do’; ‘lying,’ ‘cheating,’ ‘screwed’/Yeah, all the words I thought I knew, they got a brand new meaning now.”
Considering his much-publicized divorce from country superstar Miranda Lambert last year, those lyrics raised eyebrows with some listeners, though Shelton would clearly never confirm if it was autobiographical. “There’s just a hint of sarcasm in this one,” he told People magazine.
The lyrics were risky enough that before Shelton, country star Jake Owen passed on recording the track. Given that Owen was also going through a divorce, he explained that he “(didn’t) want my ex to perceive I did that to her,” in case listeners took the song literally.
Meanwhile, co-writer Albert told Taste of Country that Shelton put the song on hold to record in early 2015, several months before he and Lambert announced their split in July after being married for four years.
“Then, unfortunately, he went through all of his personal stuff, the divorce and all of that, and I think the song sort of rang true to him in all that was going on in his life,” Albert said, later adding, “In this case there’s so much press around Blake and Miranda and their breakup. It was so public that for him to put out a big breakup song, it’s not a long shot to connect those dots.”