Our top 10 Kid’s Rock songs take a vivid look at the American musician’s eventful career. The musician had a pretty rough start in the industry due to his controversial sexualized lyrics. However, he was able to turn the tables and, at one point, was able to sell 35 million records worldwide.
Robert James Ritchie, alias Kid Rock was born in a small rural town north of the Detroit metro area. Before his entourage into the music industry, he worked with his three siblings on their father’s six-acre orchid. Music would soon find a place in his life in the ’80s when he developed an interest in hip hop. When the chance came, Kid Rock went all in by joining a breakdance crew and learning to rap and DJ. Sooner than later, the musician would perform at local parties as a member of The Beast Crew rap group, where he met D-Nice of KRS-Ones’ Boogie Down Productions. Not so long afterward, he was signed by Jive Records thanks to D-Nice, who was also signed with the same label.
Kid Rock seemed quite lucky at first to get a somewhat smooth entry into the music scene, and by 1990 he dropped his debut “Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast,” The album was a complete flop. It was criticized for being insistently generic and he was soon listed as one of the 20 great artists’ with terrible debut albums. That was not all for the album; It led to an FFC fine when an uncensored version of Its “Yi-Da-Lin in the Valley” played on a college radio station. Eventually, Jive records terminated Rock’s contract and released him. Rock went entirely solo and released two more albums- The Polyfuze Method (1993) and Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp (1996) with no radio plays due to the filthy lyrics. As relentless as he was, the musician was able to form a cult following by hitting the road and self-promoting his music. By then, his sound was leaning heavily on country and rock.
Rock formed his band, Twisted Brown Trucker, and later Atlantic Records took a chance on him. His breakthrough came later in 1998, when his fourth album, Devil Without a Cause, got a remarkable reception. The album sold over 14million copies, notably in the wake of the “Bawitdaba” single. From then, It was all glory and a rise to stardom, this time for the right reasons. In 2000, he earned a Grammy nomination as the best new artist. His career has seen a consistent shift of sound, as you will notice in the following songs.
#10 – First Kiss
At number ten, we take a look at “First Kiss. The song saw Kid Rock working with his bandmate Marlon Young on the Lyrics and Dann Huff on the production. On the 6th day of January 2015, he released the song to digital retailers as the lead single of his tenth studio album, First Kiss. The song recalls a man’s first kiss with his high school beau- a kiss that sprouts into love and companionship. Although the song achieved moderate commercial success, It earned him another Billboard Hot 100 after his “All Summer Long” track, seven years before then.
#9- All Summer Long
“All Summer Long” was released in 2008 as the third single of Rock’s Rock and Roll Jesus album. The song samples are from “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Werewolves of London” Warren Zevon. It also draws inspiration from “Night moves” by Bob Seger. Rock promoted the song in several parts of the world, including Europe, the United Kingdom, and Australia. He also performed it at several shows, including the 2009 Grammys Awards. Its tremendous popularity earned It a number one spot in three continents- Australia, Europe, and The UK- and a place in the top 10 country hits list.
# 8- Born Free
Born Free is the first of Kid Rock’s “clean “ music. It is the lead single of his eighth studio album by the same title. Unlike all of his previous albums, this one is the first and only one not featuring a Parental Advisory sticker. The all-country album features several high-profile artists such as Sheryl Crow, Bob Singer, and T.I. Another exception on the album is the absence of members of the Twisted Brown Trucker, with a performance from only one member- Marlon Young. The song and album, in general, is a massive shift from the singer’s style and a true evolution of his sound.
Rock has always been known to be very passionate and not shy to express himself. This song was released in 2007 as the lead single for his seventh album Rock and Roll. It became his best charting rock song with several achievements. Aside from reaching number two on Mainstream Rock Chart, It also got to number 13 on the Modern Rock chart and was listed at number 38 on Rolling Stone’s list of the Best 100 songs in 2007. You may also recognize the song from WrestleMania XXV as It was one of the event’s official theme songs and was performed by Rock in a 5-song medley at the same event.
# 6- Cowboy
“Cowboy” was one of the songs that introduced the world to Kid Rock’s country sound. The song was recorded in 1998 but released in 1999 from the Album Devil Without a Cause. It blended the musician’s country, Southern rock, and hip hop influences resulting in a county rap style and one of the artist’s best works. It has since inspired modern country music as the first country rap song.
# 5- I Am the Bulldog
A tribute to the Monster Magnet band, this song is unique for its diversity. It has been described as rap rock, stoner rock, rap metal, and Southern rock with elements of funk. It was first released in 1993 on the vinyl release of The Polyfuze Method and made a second appearance on Rock’s fourth studio album, Devil Without a Cause, in 1998–this time with a slight change on one line. The second version is the feature song in the EA Sports American Football video game.
#4- Only God Knows Why
You probably did not know that this country-tinged song because it was the first hit that intentionally used auto-tune to create a sound distortion. The song was released in 1998 as a single in the Devil Without a Cause album, just a year after auto-tuning was introduced to help producers correct vocal pitch. Rock instead used the extreme settings that ideally distort voice, imitating the vocoder effects on classic songs. As others were trying to perfect their voices, the artist was doing the complete opposite, as he was entirely alright with not being the most gifted singer.
#3- American Bad A**
This Kid Rock song was the last to feature Joe C before his death. The song was released from his album The History of Rock. It was recorded for quite a long time, first in 1991 and again from 1996-2000. It was then released on the 18th day of April 2000 under Atlantic Records and has managed to peak charts in several countries and has featured in a few shows and promotional material.
Everyone truly has a sensitive side, and we saw Kid Rock’s in this song. The sensational duet with Sheryl Crow was released in 2002 as his fourth single and the ninth track from the Cocky album. However, Rock had to re-record the song for radio with Allison Moorer after a wrangle between Atlantic and Crow’s label over the original song’s rights. The song was therefore credited variously to Kid Rock featuring both artists. Regardless, the song was one of Rock’s huge successes and even earned a nomination at the Country Music Association for the Vocal Event of The Year award in 2003.
Topping our list has to be this song. It is a fundamental part of the singer’s career as he was trying to establish himself in the music world- one of his most outstanding achievements. It played a big part in pushing his fourth album, Devil Without a Cause (1998), to success after a decade of criticism. The track received praises and was Kid’s opening number at concerts for a very long time. With such an overwhelming success, Kid Rock was re-introduced to the world and was no longer a big name in Detroit. With this same song, Kid livened the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show after Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction.’
Kid Rock is a true testament to the phrase; There is light at the end of the tunnel. The most important virtue that has held him through the years is his resilience and the fact that he values his music regardless. The American singer initially refused to sell his music in iTunes until 2012 on claims of extortion and in 2013 took a massive pay cut for his fans to keep the tickets to his show capped. As he enjoys a successful career today, he also continues to grow and stay open to different sounds and find a solid ground in country music, as seen in the list above.
Top 10 Kid Rock Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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