Even as she returns to Dancing With the Stars for another season and deflects rumors that she’s dating Ryan Seacrest, bright-eyed Julianne Hough is back in the recording studio hard at work on the follow-up to her 2008 country music debut. She admits it will be a bit of a left turn: Hough has enlisted Americana favorite Jim Lauderdale to produce what she calls a “gritty, authentic take” on the Appalachian murder ballad genre.
“People already know me for my perky personality, but there’s also a part of me that loves to have a good cry to a sad song, and I wanted to share that with my fans. As far as which songs, I knew I wanted to cover the standards that I loved as a little girl – Omie Wise, Pretty Polly, Banks of the Ohio,” said Hough, naming a trio of traditional songs in which women are senselessly murdered, “but I also wanted to make it sort of fun and contemporary, which is why I included a song called ‘Look Out, Chuck.'”
Producer Lauderdale pulls double duty, dueting with Hough on “Knoxville Girl,” a song about the merciless beating and discard of a girl with “dark and roving eyes,” the only explanation offered for her murder. The two make quite a pair, Hough wailing plaintively as Lauderdale delivers the cold-blooded lyrics in chillingly matter-of-fact fashion:
I took her by her golden curls
And I drug her ’round and ’round
Throwing her into the river
That flows through Knoxville town
“Granted, it won’t be for everyone,” giggled Hough.
On “Poor Ellen Smith,” pretty Julianne gets some harmony help from 83-year-old Ralph Stanley, a man she calls “a major inspiration” in both her singing and dancing careers. In addition to his trailblazing work solo and with the Stanley Brothers, Dr. Ralph is also the inventor of the Stanley Shuffle Sidestep, an uncomfortable-looking stage move that’s either a form of foxtrot or an unfortunate side effect of the gradual loss of bladder control.
For their part, the higher-ups at Mercury Nashville are skeptical about the commercial prospects of the as-yet-untitled collection, but apparently willing to see if Hough’s name can net her some decent sales figures the second time around. They might even send a single or two to country radio: “We figure what the hell, nothing could flop as hard as ‘My Hallelujah Song’ did,” confided label president Luke Lewis.
Find more satirical articles in the Fake News archive.