Scotty McCreery reflects on ‘American Idol,’ new album en route to Hollywood Casino

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Scotty McCreery at Hollywood Casino (Part 1)

He won Season 10 of “American Idol” before becoming a country music hitmaker.

Scotty McCreery plays Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia on June 11.

“We’re going to have a great time,” McCreery told WTOP. “We’ve been doing this now over 10 years, so I have been fortunate to make four or five albums and have some songs on the radio. We’ll play new stuff, we’ll play old stuff hopefully that folks know and can sing along and dance to and have a big old party. … Come on! It’s going to be a good time.”

His journey to stardom started when he won “American Idol” back in 2011.

“That was such a defining moment and such a core memory for me,” McCreery said. “Even when I’m hopefully 85, Lord willing, I’ll be thinking back to that moment, being on stage for the finale, but even before that, just all the memories and getting to work with people like Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé … to be 17 and doing that was pretty amazing.”

His “Idol” victory catapulted the success of his first album, “Clear as Day” (2011), which featured country music hits like “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls.”

“If I knew what I knew now, there would have been a ton of pressure, but I was so clueless back then,” McCreery said. “I was just going with the flow day by day, ‘Oh, we’re recording an album now.’ We did it in three months. I didn’t know what it took to make an album, write songs, have something to say and put it into a song. … Luckily the first one worked.”

He proved he was no one-hit wonder with his second album, “See You Tonight” (2013), which featured a hit title track “See You Tonight” and another hit single “Feelin’ It.”

“That second album, especially ‘See You Tonight,’ it was my first Top 10 single, it went platinum for us, that was like, ‘Hey, he’s not just a TV guy, he’s actually a country music guy and he’s got something to say that’s worth listening to,'” McCreery said. “That was huge because I never wanted to be the TV guy, I wanted to be a country music singer.”

He proved his staying power with his third album, “Seasons Change” (2017), which featured the hit single “Five More Minutes” and the must-play wedding song “This Is It.”

“Every weekend, especially in the summer, I get on Instagram and I’m tagged in a post of a couple walking down the aisle to it or having their first dance to it,” McCreery said. “You want to impact people in a positive way and their wedding day is the biggest day of their lives, so to have one of my songs be such a big part in their big day, that’s awesome.”

His latest album, “Same Truck” (2021), features the new singles “You Time” and “Damn Strait,” which curses George Strait for love songs that are so good that they now hurt.

“This song is one that I was so excited to record,” McCreery said. “No. 1 just being a massive George Strait fan, he was my very first concert, but No. 2, it speaks to the power of music. You hear a song and it can take you back to memories. It can be great memories like, man, that was an amazing summer, or it can take you back to a heartbreak.”

What’s his favorite George Strait song of all time?

“It’s kind of like asking, ‘Do you have a favorite Elvis song?’ because there are so many of them,” McCreery said. “For me, the one I always go back to that I sing when I’m doing the dishes or something is ‘The Chair.’ … It’s a classic. It’s just a conversation and it’s so realistic, too. You can tell the guy is nervous because he says, ‘Can I drink you a buy?'”

Beyond Strait, McCreery’s deep voice mostly recalls Randy Travis or Josh Turner.

“Any time they compare me to Josh, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him over the years, and mine may sound deep, but you have not heard deep until you have heard Josh Turner do his thing, it can rattle a house,” McCreery said. “Whether it was Randy Travis or Josh Turner or a bunch of other folks, I was like that’s what I want to be doing one day.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Scotty McCreery at Hollywood Casino (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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