At 36, Kid Rock is generating big buzz, big sales

Brian McCollum
Detroit Free Press (MCT)

DETROIT -- It's hard to write a hit, says Kid Rock. Really hard to write two or three.

But when you're 36, well into a career that isn't always kind to longevity, and you've crafted one of the biggest smashes of your career, well ... you may have pulled off something else altogether.

With his new album making a No. 1 national debut -- the first chart-topper of his career -- it's a good time to ask: How did Kid Rock suddenly become bigger than ever?

One decade into his tenure with Atlantic Records, the 36-year-old Detroit star seems to be hitting new peaks. The buzz around "Rock N Roll Jesus," which topped the latest Billboard chart issued Wednesday, has been massive. Rock has been everywhere: Larry King. Letterman. Jimmy Kimmel. Howard Stern. The cover of Rolling Stone. Partying with Paris Hilton.

It's not that Rock had fallen off the map. But the latest round of attention marks a decisive upswing for a guy whose previous album failed to crack the Top 10.

"It seems like he's a bigger part of the pop-culture conversation than he was before," says Billboard senior analyst Geoff Mayfield.

Rock appears to have benefited from a timely confluence of circumstances: A lull in the national release schedule. Ongoing celeb-column coverage of his offstage life. A beefed-up promotional campaign by his label and management staff. And, maybe more than anything, an album that's been touted as his best work since the breakout record "Devil Without a Cause."

"Everybody has pulled together, on every level," says Rock.

His team, sensing they had a hit on their hands, decided months ago to go all-out with the new record. Manager Punch Andrews says the campaign was a complex, concerted effort that rivals anything from his lengthy career handling Rock and Bob Seger.

It was "probably the toughest fight of our life, planning everything to come down to the week of release," says Andrews (who, Billboard reported Wednesday, has decided to step down as Rock's manager now that the new album is out). "It was a nail-biter that paid off huge."

For his part, Kid Rock says he simply employed lessons learned in his early days: If you want to sell something, you've got to sell it yourself.

"I know a lot of people aren't willing to do that work. But I really believe in this product I have right now, this record. So I told them I'd do whatever it takes," he says.

"I had meetings in Malibu, twice a week -- with the editor of Entertainment Weekly, Penthouse, the American Music Awards. I'd have them over, eat dinner, drink some wine, play my record, show them my vision. That's been the best thing. There's nothing better than word of mouth."

Billboard's Mayfield says Rock has benefited from a unique brand of fan loyalty, akin many country stars. And like those Nashville acts, he's blessed with an audience that still gets its music the old-fashioned way.

"One of the dividing lines now is: Does the music appeal to a demographic that still buys albums?" he says. "Kid Rock is ideal for that."





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.