Should Your Children Be Listening to Lady Antebellum? Singer Charles Kelley’s Punk Rock, Leather Biker Antics Raise Concerns
Country music sensation Lady Antebellum is being heralded by adult fans across the nation. This Grammy Award winning act has long been appreciated by families for the refreshing way they celebrate the American heartland with soulful tunes and a clean-cut image. It is a touching counterpoint to the inner city rappers and oversexualized female stars who normally dominate the industry. Along the way, this Southern group has crossed over from the country charts to the pop world, giving heartland decency a broad appeal in our havoc-strewn multicultural environment.
As a result of this newfound popularity, many parents are now taking a closer look at Lady Antebellum and wondering if their message is appropriate for today’s teens. Of particular concern is singer Charles Kelley. The other members of this trio are delightful and impressively edifying as role models for children. Beautiful lead singer Hillary Scott is perky and wholesome, as should be expected of a woman from Tennessee. Her voice soars to inspiring heights one moment and then lulls us to depths of introspection the next. In their videos, Hillary is outfitted in delicately-printed cotton dresses that billow between her legs as she reclines into bales of hay, the sun stroking her expanses of innocent, smooth skin. Keyboardist Dave Haywood, surely the moral compass of this group, is always close by like a playful, younger sibling. He is the handsome, all-American boy with his plaid shirts and adorable vests. Seeing him on that piano bench is just truly heartwarming. There is a yearning innocence to his eyes. One imagines him walking down a farm road in his Levi jeans with the fresh country air tickling the nape of his neck, as he smiles that full-lipped smile that betrays the remarkable virility that makes him saunter so.
Yet vocalist Charles Kelley seems singularly intent on ruining all that good will. This man’s on screen persona and offstage antics unfortunately undermine this otherwise impressive music group. He has pridefully taken up the role of Lady Antebellum’s “bad boy,” prancing about in extremely tight leather jackets and Italian shirts he is unwilling to keep properly buttoned. He hogs the spotlight in Lady Antebellum’s videos, as his two bandmates attempt to hide their shock and disappointment behind him. On stage, he is the flamboyant showman, gyrating his pelvis with urgent hormonal needs. In “Need You Now,” he sings of alcoholism and late night sexual “hookups” with creepy intensity. With “Hello World,” another of the band’s smash hits, he takes music to a dark place by performing on a murky urban street more appropriate for a Law & Order episode than a country music ballad. His poorly-trimmed beard and overly gelled hair are simply not welcome for a star of his caliber, particularly visible in “I Run to You” where the man dominates the screen with his salaciously-revealing v-neck shirt, giving his fellow performers little room to exhibit their talents.
In his personal life, Mr. Kelley has displayed an equally disturbing lack of judgment. Not only does he list punk rock groups like Led Zeppelin and others as his greatest inspirations, he is also a member of a motorcycle gang. Motorcycle gangs have long terrorized America’s small communities. When one thinks of the drug dealing and violent crime associated with the worst of these groups, the Hell’s Angels, Mr. Kelley’s decision seems all the more ill-chosen. These types of violent hoodlums ride into small towns and wreak havoc, smashing shop windows and luring young women to ride on the back of their Harley “Hogs.” They terrorize hardworking families with Main Street showdowns and late night drag races. They drink their beers openly and shout their drunken obscenities into the early morning. Once they have fully undermined the delicate fabric of small town morality, these gangs of Charles Kelley-look-alikes ride off into the sunset seeking the next enclave of innocence to destroy.
One is led to wonder if Dave Haywood or even Hillary Scott have addressed Mr. Kelley’s propensity for scandal. It will be the destruction of this band if he is allowed to continue down this wretched path. They need to purge that one blister or else the infection will spread. Country music fans everywhere are waiting for a resolution to this crisis with baited breath. For parents, it is clear that now is not the time to allow your children to tune in to Lady Antebellum. Despite their success, popularity is no excuse for exposing your children to a life of gang membership and punk rock lifestyles.