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Some reasons why Jason Aldean is an unlikely superstar:

He has not been and likely will not be on the cover of Rolling Stone, which in these flea-bitten days of problematic celebrity remains probably the last standing true indication of full-blown stardom. Why hasn’t he? He’s not a classifiable country “type” that the RS crowd can easily understand. RS much prefers its country in classifiable bundles. And it especially likes malleable country stars who can be guided in interviews into saying some things they quickly regret and other things that they will regret in the future.

The last cover-star country artists that RS easily understood and put on the cover were Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks. Brooks was an undeniable multi-genre superstar, and the Chicks were easily labeled as rebellious but harmonious free spirits.

Maybe it’s Aldean’s up-yours unfashionable cowboy hat, which signals he’s not a safe commodity, or his casual give-a-damn attitude. He does not act like he even wants to be a big star. Maybe it’s the fact that his rise has been gradual, building slowly over the years since his chart debut in 2005 with the song “Hicktown.” Maybe it’s the fact he’s on a small label and doesn’t have the kind of high-powered major-label juggernaut machinery that can breach RS’s defenses and get some writers and editors out to actually see and experience an Aldean show for themselves.

He is a Marlboro man at a time when the world thinks it doesn’t need Marlboro men. This has nothing to do with the cigarette. No, it’s that Aldean is a return to the no-nonsense, firm-jawed alpha male in a metrosexual world. Maybe if he wore skinny jeans and a porkpie hat and pointy-toed shoes and a satin vest, he would qualify as hip.

Aldean has embraced hip-hop, which most country fans profess to hate. His collaboration in performing a duet on “Dirt Road Anthem” with Ludacris was sounded as natural as one of these cultural clashes can. Although, in this case, it was not as much of a clash as you might expect. As country singers and hip-hop artists are increasingly pointing out, both musical genres are predominantly storytelling formats.

Read the full Nashville Skyline article +here.