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At age 14, Kelsea Ballerini made her first trip to Nashville, Tennessee, in hopes of gaining recognition for her vocal talents. In 2014, she signed with Black River Entertainment, and she released her debut album, The First Time, the following year. Her lead single, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” peaked at number one on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Her following two singles, “Dibs” and “Peter Pan,” also hit number one, making her the first solo female to have her first three singles go number one since Wynonna Judd in 1992.

Following her first album, she released Unapologetically (2017), Kelsea (2020), and Ballerini (2020). Ballerini faced major adversity with the release of Kelsea in March 2020, which coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, thus reducing the rate of success the album should have had. As a long-time fan of Ballerini, I streamed the album repeatedly during my time at home, falling in love with songs like “homecoming queen?”, “the other girl (with Halsey),” “hole in the bottle,” and “la.” She came out of the experience with new emotions and gratitude, and in September 2020, she released Ballerini, the stripped-down counterpart of Kelsea. The two sister albums showcased Ballerini’s stunning, crooning voice at its very best.

In contrast to her former albums, Kelsea’s new work brings about a new era for her, both musically and personally. Released September 23rd, 2022, SUBJECT TO CHANGE is her most sonically diverse to date, and her lyricism is crisp and cutting. On August 29th, Ballerini announced she was in the process of divorcing her husband of almost 5 years, country star Morgan Evans. In the wake of this emotional time in her life, the country-pop princess has given us what is perhaps her best album yet. In an interview with Apple Music, Ballerini says that “the theme was change and evolution and growing up, and a lot of contrast within that and juxtaposition within that.” SUBJECT TO CHANGE  begins with its title track, a pumped-up track about acceptance and the future. “IF YOU GO DOWN (I’M GOIN’ DOWN TOO)” has hints of Taylor Swift’s “no body no crime” and The Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” as she sings, “‘cause dirt on you is dirt on me/and we both know our hands ain’t clean/if it all blows up and we end up on the news/if you go down, I’m goin’ down too.” In an ode to her country roots, Ballerini references El Dorado and John Wayne in “LOVE IS A COWBOY.” “UNIVERSE” is a hopeful, beautiful song about the magic of the unknown in life. “DOIN’ MY BEST” shocked listeners with its openly candid lyrics about Ballerini’s divorce, “ain’t the homecoming queen, but better believe I cried/and therapy for one turned/into therapy for two/when you get married that young, you got a lotta shit you gotta get through.” Despite all of the stunning solo pieces on the album, the standout song on SUBJECT TO CHANGE has to be Ballerini’s collaboration with Kelly Clarkson and Carly Pearce on “YOU’RE DRUNK, GO HOME,” a honky-tonk bop that fans are hoping to see live at the CMAs. 

Cate Cannon

Tulane '26

Hi there! I'm Cate Cannon, a freshman at Tulane University majoring in Finance and International Relations and minoring in Spanish. I love to read, podcast, dive into my faith, and keep up with pop culture. Also, if there's a concert happening, I'm grabbing tickets.
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