Lockdown hasn't dulled Kelsea Ballerini's love for music discovery. When NYLON asked the country star to select the songs she'll be spinning all summer, she chose tunes from breakout sensation Conan Gray, rising pop star FLETCHER, and songs she first heard on TikTok (though don't ask her to do the #Savage challenge).
It's not altogether surprising, as Ballerini's own music dances on the frontier line between pop and country. Not only do these tracks, as she explains, "make me feel like I'm at a pool party, even though I'm 100 percent not at a pool party," they're also from the peers that inspire her today.
After the jump, read on to see what Ballerini — who recently put out Kelsea — has to say about each pick. For her, the songs also offer a gift of wide open space. "The freedom of open road, wind in your hair, sun coming down," she says. "All those cliches of summertime."
"This is the first song that I found through TikTok. It would make me sound like such an old fart. I literally just got on TikTok a couple of months ago — because I didn't understand it and I thought I was too old for it — but I finally did. And this was the first song where I was like, I'm obsessed with the song. What is it? And then I found it on like Spotify and Apple and all of that. Now I can't get enough of it."
"I'm just obsessed with Alicia Keys. From the way she speaks, to the way she writes, to the way that she connects. Her music has so much soul and empathy and warmth to it. I think the message of the song, especially right now, is empowering and encouraging and warm."
"When Maren put out her record, this was the one that I wore out, and it's really cool to be able to turn on three different stations and three different genres and hear the song. It's transcending all genres. For a female country singer to be doing that is sick."
"I have to say, and people will come after me for this, but I'm a new Harry fanatic. I liked Harry's first project, but I never was a super, super fan until this album. The whole record is so incredible. This one to me feels very summertime-centric. I am fully a fangirl now. It clicked."
"It's like a good old Southern drinking song, but it's wrapped up in this soulful, almost revival-sounding production. You listen to it and you're like, Ooh, this makes me want to go to the bar and have a whiskey. But also you're like, I also go to church. They're always pushing boundaries and trying new things, and I'm always interested in what they're going to do next."