Kellie Pickler just released the first single off her forthcoming fifth studio album, and powered by a bubbling bassline and her flirty vocal, “Feeling Tonight” is a summer jam of the finest summery-jam sort. But the new album, her first since 2013’s The Woman I Am, is just one of many projects the Idol alum and Dancing With The Stars champion is in the middle of at the moment.
She’s still on tour with concerts and festival booked through early fall, and recently began shooting for her and her husband’s (producer Kyle Jacobs—who co-produced “Feeling Tonight”) upcoming reality show, which will debut this fall on CMT. EW caught up with the singer to discuss her balancing act life, new music, and working with her husband.
Tell us what you liked about “Feeling Tonight.”
I was really excited to have something that’s uptempo and fun for the summertime—kind of roll your windows down and cruise and just feel good. I’m excited about it so hopefully it does well!
This is the first time you’ve worked with your husband on a track, will he be producing the entire upcoming collection?
That’s the goal. We still have a lot of work to do and what-not, but we’ve had so much fun in the studio with musicians. It’s been really interesting!
Heading into your fifth full-length, do you have any specific goals or inspirations?
It’s tricky finding what fits with what’s on radio right now. I think there’s room for it all—a great song is a great song. We just are trying to write songs and find songs that fit with what we’re doing.
I listen to a lot of things. I listen to old country music a lot, that’s what I grew up on. I love Kitty Wells and I love today’s country music. I’m obsessed with Chris Stapleton—that is the best album, hands down. It’s incredible to me. I am just so happy for him, Chris and Morgan [Stapleton’s wife, who sings on his record and performs with him during live shows] are the salt of the earth. I have worn that CD out. He sent me a copy months before it came out and I just couldn’t wait for everyone else to hear what I’m hearing. I’m like a walking billboard for Chris Stapleton, I tell everybody. They get in my car and it’s what I’m listening to.
But there’s a lot of great music out there—everybody likes their coffee different. Just gotta get out there and figure out how you like your coffee, someone makes it.
We’re going to be seeing a lot more of you and your husband soon, your television show debuts this fall. I’m sure since Idol and DWTS you’ve been pitched plenty times, what made you decide now was the right time?
At the time, there was no window to do it—even just blocking the window of time is something we’ve been working on for a long time. We can’t just have every show be me on the road for a concert. [But] we’ve gotten to a place where we want to build our brand. We want to use this as a vehicle to get us in the door to places that matter—we want to help people, we want to make people laugh, make them feel good, make them think.
And our friends! We have amazing friends that are going to be a part of the show, it’s not just Kyle and I and its not just me. This is more of a modern day-type Friends feel. It’s almost I Love Lucy meets Friends. That’s kind of the feel we’re going for. They’re short, 30-minute episodes, we want to have fun and make people laugh.
What’s been the best part of filming?
We’re looking forward to being able to spend more time together. We were looking at the calendar and it’s like, wow, we’re going to see each other more than we ever have. Our jobs create so much distance between us—I can be on one side of the world and he can be on another. We’re pulled in a lot of different directions, so at least now we’ll be in the same place. We’re still touring and we’ve still got things, and I’m sure there will be moments when the show comes on the road.
We’re gonna shoot as much as we can, they won’t be just music but music will play a big role because that’s what we do for a living. So it’s not like we can hide that. But we’re pretty normal people, whatever normal is. So it’ll be little shenanigans that me and my girlfriends and our husbands get into. It’s that type of reality.
You’ve spoken a little bit about the music streaming industry, which is a hot topic in today’s landscape. Do you think there’s a solution or service on the horizon that rewards all parties fairly?
Ultimately, it comes down to who has the power and owns the music—the actual master of a song—them saying whether or not they’re going to allow people to stream it or not.
I think people just don’t understand or know about the army of people who work behind the curtain. They see an artist on stage and all these people looking at him or her. They don’t see that if there weren’t that army of people behind the curtain, that that person wouldn’t be able to do what they’re doing. They don’t see that they’re stealing from all the people behind the curtain. They just think, “She or he can afford it, what’s 99 cents to them?” And we have a lot of people that think that way.
And it’s like yeah, you are taking from the artists but you’re really taking from the people behind the curtain—that’s their only income. Artists are signing endorsement deals and they have other income and merch from touring. They have other avenues to make money, because we’re not making any money from the music either. It is what it is, and there’s bigger problems in the world—there’s people getting their heads cut off—so we just have to be smart and work hard. I guess just play the game until you can change it.