Future Stars: Kelsea Ballerini (Black River/Sony)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

Now that Taylor Swift is firmly on the pop side of the country-pop line, the industry needs a new country-pop princess. While Lauren Alaina would be my top pick, Kelsea Ballerini is clearly first in line for the role. The 23-year-old has earned three country chart no.1s and an ACM Award, but has also hosted an ABC TV series, been nominated for Best New Artist at The Grammys, and performed in last month’s Radio Disney Music Awards tribute to Britney Spears. Impressively, she’s managed all this while signed to a small indie label in Nashville, Black River, though in the UK she’s with Sony. She’s never released a single here (her first will be album track XO, rather than US hit Peter Pan) but her first UK headline gig sold out in under an hour, thanks to the super-keen British country fanbase. I was able to attend the show, and while her debut album is nice enough, I was more impressed by the songs she played from her upcoming second album. Roses sounds musically inspired by Taylor, while High School features similar subject matter to Fearless and Speak Now. The standout of the whole night was another new song inspired by her fiancée, the sweet and funny I Hate Love Songs. I suspect, much like Taylor herself, the second album is where Kelsea will really start to shine.

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