Southern rockers taking over America

By Kirk Manion
November 21, 2008

The Kings of Leon are a rock ‘n’ roll band from Nashville, Tenn. that is finally getting noticed in the U.S. after years of tremendous popularity in the rest of the world. This band started out as a band more likely to fit into the era of ’70s rock ‘n’ roll. Since then, they have become a band with enough talent to make music for stadium filled crowds.

For those who don’t indulge into the rock ‘n’ roll world, the Kings of Leon are a family band made up of two guitarists, a drummer and a bassist. The band includes three brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared and also a cousin named Matthew.

The band started in 2003 and quickly made a lasting impression in Europe, where they were vastly popular and followed everywhere by paparazzi. They toured all over Europe but couldn’t find much of a fan base back home.

Their first two albums, “Youth and Young Manhood” and “Aha Shake Heartbreak,” both sold well enough to crack the top 10 in the British charts. These albums were full of southern rock boogie woogie and catchy southern drawl lyrics.

“The Times” was released in 2007 and went straight to No. 1 in Great Britain. This record was also the first of theirs to be well received in the U.S. It went to No. 25 and was given praise by most critics.

This was the record that started their turn from classic rock- and-roll grooves to stadium rock sound. Their first single from this album was called “On Call” and held regular airplay throughout Europe.

A good American band that was getting comparisons to The Strokes, Lynard Skynard and The Rolling Stones still couldn’t find the popularity that came so easily across the pond.

The band built up a strong mix of good rock ‘n’ roll over the three albums. Songs like “Red Morning Light,” “Four Kicks” and “Slow Night So Long” showed their roots in country and R&B. They also have a country side with songs like “King of the Rodeo” and “Happy Alone.”

The band’s unique blend of country, classic rock ‘n’ roll, and garage rock is top off perfectly by Caleb’s voice.

What has made The Kings popular is how catchy their songs are. The music fits perfect with southern draw and muffled words of the lead singer.

Their latest album came out only a couple months ago. “Only By the Night” was released on Sept. 28 and went to No. 5 on the U.S. charts.

The Kings of Leon’s fourth CD is their most successful to date as it also went to No. 1 in Great Britain. The band went from a sound that could be described as four young guys living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to a live act that can make a whole stadium or festival groove to their wonderful melodies.

The first single from “Only By the Night” is the perfect metaphor for where the band is at now. The song has gotten constant airplay on national radio and locally on stations like 104.5 FM and 93.3 FM. The fact that the American radio is playing their songs proves that the word is out on the Followhill four throughout American music scene.

“Sex on Fire” is a song that describes exactly what the title says. The band became successful because they were honest in their storytelling even if the stories describe the lives of four southern musicians who enjoyed the rock ‘n’ roll scene.

The Kings of Leon are on the brink of becoming the next great American band just in time for U.S. music fans to catch up.

So don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of this rock ‘n’ roll family before, but realize there is no better time to start listening to them.

As pop music in this era continues to lean towards Disney teen pop and catchy one-hit wonderhip hop songs, it is refreshing to see a band become successful in their country with an honest appreciation for the roots of American music and the talent of a world-class band.

Adding to that sentiment, Eric DiSantis, senior English major, concluded with, “The Kings of Leon got successful the right way. They made songs with rocking instruments and an old-school sound. They felt like they came right out of the era were rock ‘n’ roll was at it’s peak and I was directly drawn to that.”

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Kirk Manion

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