Country California

Country music. Seriously.

The Problem with Caitlin & Will

Caitlin Lynn and Will Snyder recently won a Sony record deal on CMT’s Can You Duet. Their debut single “Even Now” is at radio now. Is this the beginning of the “next great country duo” (as CMT bills them) or just another failed launch of a new act?

My money is on the latter.

Not because I’m bitter. Although I was rooting for Joey and Rory, the most traditional duo on the show, I never really thought the judges would let them win. I figured they would just keep them in until the finale to keep traditional-minded viewers watching, then give the prize to someone else. And that’s exactly how it ended up playing out. Still, even I have to admit that Joey and Rory’s performance on the finale was uncharacteristically mediocre. Coupled with Caitlin & Will’s upward swing in the last couple episodes, I thought the outcome was fair and even somewhat inevitable. I was happy for the winning duo.

Nor does my prediction have anything to do with image. While I have heard some harping on the “plus-size” of Caitlin & Will, I’m not convinced that it matters. I think the country music audience will readily embrace stars who look a little more like themselves if all the other pieces are in place. [Again, if all the other pieces are in place. Some heavier singers blame their lack of success on the audience's weight bias, conveniently overlooking their own conspicuous lack of talent.]

In fact, the reason I think it will be an uphill climb for this new duo has nothing to do with them, per se. It has to do with poor timing.

A gritty-voiced male singer sharing vocal duties with a powerhouse female singer. Sounds like a novel idea, right? Something we haven’t heard in a while? It would… if not for Lady Antebellum.

Now, I don’t pretend to understand all the Lady Antebellum hype. But here’s what I do know: They formed in 2006, were signed in 2007, released their first single in October of that same year, debuted atop the Billboard country album chart six months later (April), won the ACM for best new group or duo the following month (May), and took their debut single all the way to #3 earlier this month (June). The industry buzz about them has been enormous.

I understand all that. I just don’t understand why. I mean, they’re good. Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott are capable singers, and the group seems to have emerged fully-formed and radio-ready. But they aren’t Jesus or anything. Why the meteoric rise to fame? I don’t get it.

In any case, for Caitlin & Will, what should matter most about Lady Antebellum is that they recently released their second single. “Lookin’ for a Good Time” is different than “Love Don’t Live Here” in that it prominently features the voices of both of the group’s lead singers. This means that Lady Antebellum is effectively making their radio debut as a male-female duo at the same time as Caitlin & Will… with the curious advantage of already being an established (if new) country act coming off of a highly successful debut single.

If radio stations, with their ever-shrinking playlists (thanks, Clear Channel!), are going to make room for one male-female duet by a new act, it’s going to be the one by the group with all the momentum behind them. #1 album, #3 debut single, ACM award, etc., trumps winners of obscure CMT singing competition.

But radio could play both of them, right? Could, yes. Will, probably not.

If the example of Chris Young and Jason Michael Carroll (alluded to in an earlier post) shows us anything, it’s that when two similar acts appear around the same time, one wins and one fades into obscurity. Both Young and Carroll released debut singles in the second half of 2006. Their voices were almost spookily similar. For my money, Young was the better singer with the more marketable (more conventionally masculine) image. But he’s not the one who now has two top ten singles under his belt. Chalk it up to timing, dumb luck, the right song, whatever.

When two similar acts arrive on the scene around the same time, they are effectively competing for the same slot on the radio. One wins and one loses. In the case of LA versus C&W, the deck is already stacked.

Sorry, Caitlin & Will. I still like you.

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  1. Interesting post Sir…Very well written in my opinion! Thanks for the comparison. I LOVE Lady A and if thats what people are comparing us too I am flattered.

    Our single is NOT YET released to radio…I am told it will be in the fall. BUT you can get it on itunes, Amazon and/or Rhapsody…and if you want to listen to it before you buy it, its on our myspace along with Love Is (the song we did on the finale).

    I hope we prove your theories to be inaccurate…all we can do is pray, be ourselves and hope people accept it!!!!

    Thanks for still liking up :)
    xoxo Caitlin Lynn

    • I just love your songs- keep up the wonderful work- i justlost my Husband, Bill, on 1/16/09 and this song has helped me more than I can say and that alone will always make me a fan of yours…. My daughter, Anna knows the words and sings along- I just wish you guys got the same exposure as the rest- you deserve it… i don;t want fluff and hype – i want good solid music… god bless … Brenda

    • I am sadden to hear you guys split up. I would have loved to hear more music coming from you guys, but it wasn’t in the plan I guess.

  2. Ah ha, so it’s not a single yet. I assumed the wide digital release following on the heels of the final show meant that it was at radio already. My mistake. That throws off the whole timing angle of my argument a bit, doesn’t it?

    Thanks for coming by and for taking this unfavorable prediction in stride. Your level-headed reply reflects well on you. I hope that you and Will are able to prove me wrong!

    All the best,

  3. caitlin and will, i cant wait for ur cd to come out!! i havent bought a cd in many years, but this is one that i am going to get the day i hear its out!! i think u guys have the potential to be with the great ones-brooks and dunn, montgomery gentry, sugarland!! just be yourselves and your music will sell itself. good luck and god bless, tawn marie

  4. I love you guys so much i think that you guys are the best dueos out there and the best can’t wait till your CD comes out don’t know when it is but i hope its soon

  5. The CD release is still a ways off, seeing as Sony won’t even begin promoting a single at radio until next year (according to a Caitlin & Will Myspace update).

  6. Caitlin & Will have the IT when it comes to pizazz and originality , I'm behind these two all the way and with their natural talent , faith and honesty we should see them for years to come .

  7. Cait & Will are fantastic and if sony don't promote them as such "SHAME ON THEM" i am awaiting the release of their CD so I may add it to my library.

    Love you Cait & Will
    Sev aka [email protected]

  8. I have to admit I was definately rooting for Jeoy and Rory through the whole show but towards the end something happened…. Someone stepped up and outshined everyone else… I am so happy with the outcome of the show (p.s. I NEVER WATCH TV. I don’t even know how to turn it on- not joking, but this show captivated me because of the people).

    I CRIED when I watched Will and Caitlin perform… I cried then and I cry everytime I watch it. THAT HAS TO SAY SOMETHING.

    Caitlin and Will, go for it.. I am still waiting for your CD to come out and SO EXCITED FOR YOU!! YOU determine how high you go. It is all in your minds. You can do it!

    Shari in Pennsylvainia :)

  9. Caitlin and Will were fantastic on Can You Duet. I check back regularly to see what’s happening with their song release, hoping an album is not far away. Guess I’ll just be patient. I really like the personalities they
    present too…both are sweethearts !

    An Old Country Fan in Pennnsylvania

  10. I have to confess I did not know who ” Lady Antebellum” was. So I went and listened. Please the group does not hold anything compared to caitlin and will. And for their plus size appearance…God did not write a commandment “thy shall only like people that look like a green bean”.

  11. On Can You Duet, Caitlin and Will went from – WHAT are the judges doing? – to TOTALLY amazing in five weeks!!! If their very anticipated music does not rise to the top as quickly, it will be a shame.

  12. I just downloaded your new single and can’t wait for the entire cd. You 2 are amazing!! I love your unique style, and hope to hear some of Will’s awsome guitar playing on “Even Now”.

  13. So, are you Caitlin and Will too? These comments that are directed toward them and not to you or other commenters here are starting to make me wonder.

  14. Shoot, you blew my cover.

    Nah, I guess people just see the old comment from Caitlin and get so excited that they have to reply. It’s sort of like spotting your favorite singer at the grocery store, only on the internet and five months later.

  15. For those of you who were wondering what happened to us…WE FINALLY HAVE NEW MUSIC UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Its all up on our myspace page! Come check out what we’ve been working on for the past eight months!!!!!!

    Thank you all for sticking with us!!!!!!!

    xoxo Caitlin

      Separate or together your voices are Amazing but I’m a duet fan and your blend is beyond harmony.
      Seriously what happened did’nt the ‘Can U duet” judges keep their promises to make U stars?
      I NEED to hear you guys, your music is sooooooo calming to the soul.

      luv U guys,

  16. Caitlin, I think you and Will are unlike anything out there. I sure hope yall bring out a cd soon, and I will be waiting. By the way, you’re little Hottie!!!

  17. I just got the press release announcing open casting calls for season 2 of Can You Duet, and it made me wonder what happened to these guys? Is the show really worth all the fuss if the winners aren’t supported, promoted, and given the same resources that other emerging Sony artists would receive?

  18. A watched pot does not boil and it takes time to produce a good vintage. Check the myspace for Caitlin and Will and you will find enlightenment. I think the label is doing better than alright, taking their time to hopefully ensure success for two very talented people.

  19. Joey and Rory were the easy picks in this competition. Which is why i was extremely happy when Caitlin & Will won!! If you heard them when they sang that song by Faith and Tim and still didnt root for them, you were CRAZY!! I cant (although i have for what seems like forever) wait until their CD comes out. I heard the song Address In The Stars about a month after my nephew passed away and it really hit home for me. That song said it perfectly. I like Lady Antebellum as much as the next guy. But if I had my choice it would be Caitlin & Will all the way. Ive been a fan from day one and will continue to be. Keep up the great work!!!


  21. Caitlin & Will

    They are the best, Sonny & Cher were unusual, their sound today is still listened to.

    Caitlin & Will have a lasting sound, The other couple that is given opportunities

    Rory & whatever her name is, are like no comparison to Caitlin & Will.

    Maybe they should go to Redneck recording company Grethen Wilsons Company, Grethen is savvy and maybe could get the great sound of Caitlin & Will out to the world.

    They are great, and we need them in the world of music, they bring me to tears when they sing, I am a grannie, very few new singers have it today,


  1. Review: Caitlin & Will - ‘Even Now’ « My Kind Of Country

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