Dustin Lynch’s new single, “Stars Like Confetti,” could have long-term consequences for his bottom line.
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On one hand, if it succeeds, it could keep fans buying tickets to see Lynch sing it live for years. On the other hand, if “Confetti” becomes a signature song, it pretty much requires he blast celebratory bits of paper and mylar into his concert audiences nightly. And that comes with a cost.
“If this song becomes a hit, I guarantee you we’re going to need more trucks [to get] confetti blowers behind the stage every night,” he says.
That’s just one of the extra expenses. “Not only do you have to get it there, you’ve got to have people to operate it,” he adds. “And then with something like confetti, you have to have a cleanup crew. All those things go into the equation.”
“Stars Like Confetti” actually has its roots in Thomas Rhett’s concert productions — and in a family vacation. He and his wife, Lauren Akins, took their kids to Montana, and the state lived up to its Big Sky Country nickname, impressing one of his daughters. “In Montana, you see stars for years,” Rhett notes. “The light pollution in Montana is like zero, and so we were looking up at the stars, and Willa Gray said something like ‘Hey, that looks like the confetti from your show.’ ”
The comment became a teachable moment. “We just started to have a conversation about how God made the stars and how some of those stars are really old,” he says. “And sometimes those stars aren’t there anymore, but we’re just now seeing the light from the star. I’m not a scientist, but I was trying to tell her the scientific facts about stars, as well as I knew.”
Naturally, Rhett logged “Stars Like Confetti” as a possible song title, and he popped it out early in the pandemic during a Zoom songwriting session with Zach Crowell (“Body Like a Back Road,” “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset”) and Josh Thompson (“I’ll Name the Dogs,” “Ain’t Always the Cowboy”) on April 17, 2020. It was Crowell’s first experience writing via the video hookup, and he remembers it being awkward. But the nuts and bolts of the process — attempting to match words and music in a way that sticks with listeners — was pretty much the same.
“What in the world do we rhyme ‘confetti’ with?” asks Crowell rhetorically. “Do we say ‘Yeti’ in there? I’m surprised we didn’t.”
“Stars Like Confetti” suggests a cheery topic, though the narrative needed to fit the sound of the words and the down-to-earth mentality of the typical country plotline. “‘Confetti’,” Crowell says, “is a softer word, so we needed to kind of probably tell the story of a guy and a girl kind of thing.”
So they embraced a narrative about a young couple enjoying the same sky Rhett’s family saw in Montana. “I love that picture of looking at the star-filled skies and feeling like God was literally just taking a handful of confetti, just throwing it out over the universe,” says Rhett. “It turned into this love song about an epic night on a back road.”
They stuffed a bundle of images into the verses, providing enough background to get a sense of the couple and the setting: drinking beers in a rusty, cherry-red pickup on a dirt road, with perfume and physical connection encouraging passion. The pre-chorus used an ascendant melody to provide a sense that the mood and images were leading the listener somewhere. “It’s kind of a tension creator,” Crowell says. “Get ready for the chorus.”
In classic form, that chorus has a singalong quality, rolling optimistically toward its hooky payoff: “Stars like confetti — ah, ah.” The tag cinches the commercial effect, the two “ahs” giving it a punchy finality, with a scooped note in the middle providing an ideal “ah” separation. It was a T-Rhett move.
“During 2020, I was on a big kick of trying to find songs that what you thought was the hook actually wasn’t the hook,” he recalls. “When I listen to ‘Uptown Funk,’ Bruno Mars, ‘Uptown Funk’ is not the hook. The hook is [the horn riff]. That’s the part that you remember. And like, ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ — ‘Whoa-oh-oh, we were livin’ it up’ — you remember the ‘whoas’ way more than you remember ‘on a barefoot blue jean night.’ ”
When they finished writing, Rhett recorded a vocal over acoustic guitar. Crowell started layering instrumental parts over that work tape to build the demo, calling on multi-instrumentalist Devin Malone for an assist. They created most of the final production in the process, and they fully expected Rhett to record it. But he never did.
“I don’t know why I didn’t cut it, to be honest,” says Rhett. “I don’t even recall why that wasn’t in the running. Sometimes I do think that God will just kind of put you off something because it wasn’t for you, because it was for somebody else.”
Once it was clear that Rhett was passing on “Confetti,” Crowell sent a copy of it to Lynch, who was partying with friends on his boat when it arrived on his phone. The group gave him immediate feedback.
“Thomas Rhett was actually singing the demo whenever we heard it for the first time, and everybody loved it,” Lynch remembers. “The best gauge you can have is whenever people that hear a song want to hear it again later in the day, and that was the case with ‘Stars Like Confetti.’ It was a great sign and a great starting point.”
Crowell and Malone used the demo as a foundation for the master recording, keeping an estimated 95% of it in place. Crowell brought in live drums and a handful of other instrumental parts, and the end product included appropriate spare touches — short bursts of guitars and steel that darted in and out of the verses behind the melody, creating a sonic stars-like-confetti effect. Lynch delivered his lead vocal with relative ease.
Broken Bow was bullish on “Stars Like Confetti” from first listen and finally released it to country radio via PlayMPE on Dec. 16, 2022. It rises to No. 45 in its fifth week on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart. As it moves upward, it seems likely that “Confetti” — bolstered by real-life production and airborne paper bits — could be suitable for American holiday celebrations and parades as 2023 unfolds.
“I’m sure those opportunities are going to present themselves,” says Lynch. “It does sit very well for wonderful TV moments, you know. With all it lends itself to, we can really spice things up with the performance. I’m hoping it connects and we’re offered those opportunities.”
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