Country radio is certainly a more open-minded place than it was just a few years ago, thanks to the less conventional sounds of artists like Kacey Musgraves, Sam Hunt, and Chris Stapleton. But there’s less conventional, and then there’s reviving a 2004 hit by R&B singer Mario, and giving it a country twist — which was a no-brainer according to North Carolina native Chris Lane, who covers “Let Me Love You” on upcoming album Girl Problems (Aug. 5, Big Loud Records). “I’ve been playing that song in my set for several years, and I’ve always wanted to record it,” says Lane, who uses the tune to show off his falsetto. “I didn’t think that could actually happen, but I’m so happy with the way it turned out.”
Lane, 31, has plenty to smile about these days, as his chart debut “Fix” goes top 10 on Hot Country Songs and hits No. 65 on the Hot 100. The singer hopped on the phone with Billboard to discuss the irresistible anthem and how he gets his TV fix (hint: it’s not with Breaking Bad).
What’s it been like having such chart success with your first single?
It had a little bit of a different sound that most people are used to hearing on country radio, and that’s what I loved about it. Maybe, when people hear it on the radio, they’re like, “Oh wow, this sounds cool.” At least, hopefully that’s what happens! [laughs] That hopefully puts me in my own lane. It’s so exciting to see people showing up to the shows and singing their hearts out to the song — I’ve never had that before so it’s really cool.
Selena Gomez is a fan too, right?
I’m just a small town guy from Kernersville, N.C., and I’m such a big fan of hers — the fact that she said that blew me away. It was a really cool shout-out for me. I got to meet her when she came to town to play a show in Nashville — now we’re friends.
With the Mario cover and your penchant for singing in a falsetto, are you an R&B fan?
I certainly am — heck, I grew up on George Strait and Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. You name it, I was listening to it. But I did love Usher and Justin Timberlake and Backstreet Boys, just to name a few. I still love R&B — I kind of literally listen to everything.
“Fix” references a “Walter White high” — are you a Breaking Bad fan?
I’ve seen plenty of episodes now — but at that point [when recording the song], though I knew who Walter White was, I hadn’t really seen the show. I wasn’t into the storyline and all that stuff. I am a big Walking Dead fan though — that’s my jam.
I heard rumors that you’re into the Bachelor franchise as well. Who’s coming out on top?
I’m very much into The Bachelor, that is for sure. Recently, JoJo [the current Bachelorette] was on her Snapchat singing “Fix,” so that was pretty cool — people tweeted at me about it. I think Chad is going to win [laughs]. Maybe Chad’s already won. I kind of hope nobody ends up with her [laughs]. There was an article that was released recently and it said, “If JoJo ends up single after The Bachelorette, Chris Lane is gonna make a run for her” — that was the headline. I was like, “Oh my god.” I’m sure she’s seen it too — there’s no doubt in my mind.
How do you feel about where country music is today?
I think it’s in a great spot, to be honest with you. The genre has expanded so much — there’s a little bit of room for everything. You have really country stuff on the radio that works really well, and then you have very progressive stuff. I think the average country music fan grew up the same exact way that all the artists did, listening to hip-hop and country and R&B and pop and whatever it may be. The lines are definitely blurred a lot more than they used to be, but in a good way. It’s bringing so many more people to the genre. I love it.
How would you describe your new album to someone who’s never heard your music?
A lot of the songs still have that falsetto — I even have two songs with all-falsetto choruses, which was really cool recording. The whole record, the reason I called it Girl Problems, was because it had a certain theme. It seemed like every single song was about some type of girl problem, whether it was a good one or a bad one. The ups and downs in relationships. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but hopefully I’ve done it in a cool way, and sang it in a fresh way. When I named it Girl Problems, I knew I would be inviting some interesting questions and some funny questions, but that was the cool part about it — I wanted that. The day I released the album title, there was already some funny feedback and tweets and whatnot, and I was like, “Yes, this is what I wanted!” I’m inviting it.
You’re on the road with Rascal Flatts this summer. How is that going?
It’s amazing — it wasn’t that long ago I was buying tickets to go see Rascal Flatts. To be sharing the same stage as them is a dream come true. Plus those guys love golf as much as I do — we play every day. I’m loving it.