When you picture a Lady Antebellum collaboration, your mind may default to another top country artist such as Miranda Lambert or Chris Stapleton. What you may not immediately imagine is a duet with EDM producer and DJ extraordinaire Audien — but such is precisely the odd couple currently climbing the charts with “Something Better.”
And for good reason, too. From the otherworldly video to the beautiful lyrics, “Something Better” is a single that embodies the best of cross-genre collaborations and serves as a reminder that music is a unifier.
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But how did Audien (aka Nate Rathbun) wind up working with seven-time Grammy-winning group Lady A? For starters, he jokes, the power of the Internet — “Something Better” was a bicoastal effort, with Audien in LA and Lady A in Nashville.
In truth, though, it started (as many great things do) as little more than an inkling.
“I had this kind of interesting idea of doing something I’d never done before, something I don’t think anyone’s done before,” Audien told SheKnows. “There are no duets in dance music. I haven’t heard one. So the key thing was, like, ‘Let’s get an emotional duet on there from Lady A, who do that so well and have some of the best voices in music.’ We had this cool idea to do a song with them, the label hooked us up, and it really came together quick. It was special.”
Lady A’s Dave Haywood agrees, going so far as to call it the band’s favorite collaboration to date. “As a country band, it’s a compliment when people are interested in what you’re doing, and we love what Audien does… it’s such a cool fit,” said Haywood. “We were super honored to be asked to be a part of it.”
Actually, both Lady A and Audien agree that it’s the seemingly strange pairing of the collaboration that makes it work so well.
Explains Audien, “My whole idea in the past year and going forward has been to be unpredictable. I really think that music is so diverse, and it’s such a creative thing that you don’t have to be predictable in music. People expect to hear certain songs from me, just like I’m sure they expect to hear certain songs from [Lady A]. Doing this just shows we’re not afraid to jump out of our shell to just do something different. There’s always a risk factor to that, but I think you minimize the risk with good music.”
And, well, it seems fans would agree the risk paid off. “Something Better” reached No. 1 on the Dance Radio chart, topping Calvin Harris and Zedd, and also climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard Club Chart. It’s been praised by everyone from Perez Hilton to Rolling Stone, not to mention the love it’s getting in radio play.
“It’s so funny, we were going to take a few months off at the end of the tour and, sure enough, this song is just flying up the charts,” said Haywood, laughing, “which is fun to watch.”
So good news, Lady A fans — not only will you likely be seeing more of the trio next year than originally planned, you may also be part of the inaugural crop of concertgoers who get to see Lady A perform the single as part of their set list. “As the song climbs the charts, we’re going, ‘Gosh, we need to add this into our Lady A shows!’ We’re doing a bunch of shows, fairs and festivals next year, and we’ve already talked about doing it and playing it,” hinted Haywood.
Plus, in other potentially big news, no one is ruling out another collaboration… or a live performance of the new single.
Haywood says Lady A would definitely be down for working with Audien in the future. “If our paths cross again, we’d love to do something if it works out in the future. From what we’ve done so far, we just kind of fell in love with Nate’s talent and his ability and his great ear for production, great tracks and great songs, really,” he said. “It’d be so fun to kind of all be in the same place doing it together. I feel like the energy would be pretty nuts.”
Audien’s on board too, if the opportunity presents itself. “That would be a lot of fun,” Audien responded, “and I’ve never done any live performances with vocalists or bands, so it would be a first for me. I really want to do it.”
Do you hear that, y’all? Keep an eye (or ear) out — Audien and Lady A could be coming to a fair or festival near you next year.
In the meantime, we’ve got the visually stunning “Something Better” video to wile our time away watching. And with an otherworldly concept involving a daydreaming farm boy who finds something extraordinary in a meteor crash, it’s not your run-of-the-mill music video fare.
“We had this concept of including something extraterrestrial in there,” Audien explained, “and the song definitely doesn’t sound that way. But I think when you put something weird like that with a song like this, it becomes memorable. It cuts through the crowd a little bit.”
As for the question on everyone’s mind — will there be a part two? — Audien lets us down easy.
“I can tell you that I wish there was. We didn’t actually plan a part two, but that was kind of the goal all along — to make people long for more. ‘Cause I think a music video should catch you that way and draw you in,” he said. “A lot of music videos these days are just on in the background, but I feel like the music video we did for ‘Something Better’ is very emotional and draws you in. You invest yourself into it. The concept is totally different, so I can see why people would want a part two.”
Still, judging from the respect with which Lady A and Audien speak about each other, you never know what the future may hold. This much is certain, though: the stars aligned for “Something Better.”
“This collaboration just felt natural from the beginning, from the way that the song kind of fell out of the sky and landed in our laps,” said Haywood. “We’re blown away by how organic that came about, and I just think that’s a testament to when something’s meant to be. And I think this song — and this collaboration — was definitely meant to be.”
Watch “Something Better” below, and don’t miss Audien’s new EP, Daydreams.