Who is the most consistently successful band at rock radio over the past dozen years? Say hello to Shinedown.
Music fans that know the Florida quartet (singer Brent Smith, guitarist Zack Myers, bassist/pianist Eric Bass and drummer Barry Kerch) primarily from their pair of left field crossover hits in 2008 and 2009 might be surprised that Shinedown has an unbroken string of 19 top five hits at Mainstream Rock radio. That streak started with “Fly from the Inside,” a #5 hit in 2003 and stretches to this year’s “Cut the Cord,” the group’s ninth Mainstream Rock #1 single.
During that same span, two of Shinedown’s first four studio albums went platinum in the U.S. Two more studio releases and a live album all went gold. The band’s fifth studio collection, Threat to Survival, was released recently and opened at #6 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
In an environment where many acts are performing to diminishing returns, Shinedown’s consistently strong performance at rock radio and on the sales charts makes them a rare and valuable breed. Which is even more remarkable when you consider that the general Pop audience barely is aware that the band exists.
Shinedown emerged from the early 2000s “post-grunge/nu metal” scene, though those labels always seemed too narrow for them. Many of their singles do deliver the kind of driving “guitar-and-drum” hard rock that’s become the staple of Mainstream Rock radio. It’s pulsing and energetic, highlighted by Smith’s surprising range and a tight rhythm section. But the Southern Rock influence of the band’s home state can be detected in their DNA and it pops up at well-chosen moments.
Moreover, crossover hits “If You Only Knew” and “Second Chance,” as well as songs like “I Dare You” and “Simple Man,” demonstrate a classic AOR sensibility that smoothly marries rock rhythms to a strong melodic sense. That’s helped Shinedown get healthy play on the classics-oriented Heritage Rock format and even on Adult Alternative. The band’s embrace of a crisp, contemporary production aesthetic and some good crossover instincts have landed them a regular spot on Alternative radio playlists, where “Second Chance” went to #1. Five other singles landed in the Alternative top ten and another four worked into the Alternative top twenty.
That sonic diversity and populist, foursquare approach to rock has been key to Shinedown’s success. They’re one of the rare bands who have a diverse enough sound and offer sufficient variety in their singles to make them equally at home across different rock formats.
What really sets Shinedown apart, though, might be lyrical content. Some of their harder rocking cuts work the kind of thematic darkness that’s always a winner for Mainstream Rock radio. But by and large the band’s songs eschew trendy nihilism, and some even display a surprising optimism. Some songs are downright inspirational. Shinedown also almost completely avoids misogyny and crude sexual content. Those qualities have landed a few Shinedown cuts significant play on Contemporary Christian radio, even though the group isn’t a Christian Rock band. That lyrical approach demonstrates that rock radio can embrace a band with a more positive message.
Shinedown is proof that a band can not only succeed in the turbulent modern music landscape, it can thrive.
Even if your mom has no idea who they are.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on October 13, 2015.