CJ Solar Has Seen Firsthand How a Hit Song Can Shape Musical Trends
Songwriter CJ Solar scored a major hit when he co-wrote Morgan Wallen's ubiquitous, summer-ready hit "Up Down," which came out in 2017 and climbed to No. 1 at country radio. Before he wrote that track, though, Solar penned "Coming My Way," a country banger that he released as an artist in January.
""Coming My Way" has been in the pile for a while," Solar remarked to The Boot at February's 2020 Country Radio Seminar. A carefree, simple earworm dedicated to kicking back and having fun, the song has a lot in common with "Up Down;" in fact, Solar co-wrote both of the tracks with another songwriter-turned-artist, Hardy.
As someone who's been a working songwriter in Nashville for years, Solar says he's seen a shift in the popularity of more overtly "redneck" tracks. "A couple of years ago, before "Up Down," we had been writing songs -- and I was recording some of them, [and some] were getting put out -- and we were getting from people that they were too redneck, too country," he remembers with a chuckle.
"Even during some of the bro [country] stuff! They were just like, 'Yeah, the language is too redneck,'" Solar goes on to say. "'People aren't singing about fishing right now.'"
Solar is quick to add that, likely, part of that trend was simply the fact that some of the specific artists they were sending songs to were looking for a different kind of lyrical subject matter. Still, it was evident that a larger trend was also partially responsible.
Then, "Up Down" came along. "We definitely got a little bit of, 'Oh, redneck songs aren't in right now.' And then "Up Down" flipped that a little bit, which was really cool," Solar adds, explaining that being part of that song made him realize firsthand how one hit can shape an overarching genre trend.
It isn't that Solar only writes hard-partying, uptempo anthems; rather, he says he's got a huge soft spot for traditional country ballads. "I really like the gritty heartbreak ... Keith Whitley, all the classic stuff. Part of me really just wants to do stuff like that. But then part of me knows that when you go to a club and you play a show on Friday night, you can only do one or two of those," he points out.
"And I've had so many people with "Up Down," and even with "Coming My Way," that are like, 'Dude, we jam this song on the boat,' or, 'We go out in the woods,' or, 'We're having a backyard BBQ,' and say that the song was the soundtrack of that summer, or whatever. Which is really cool," Solar says. "It's cool to have people associate memories with your songs."
"Coming My Way" is the title track of Solar's new EP, set for release on Friday (May 1).