Blake Shelton's new album Body Language has officially arrived, and the country star celebrated a day early during his exclusive iHeartCountry Album Release Party.
Body Language is Shelton's 12th full-length studio album and follows 2017's Texoma Shore. The new album showcases 12 new songs, including "Minimum Wage," "Happy Anywhere" featuring Gwen Stefani, as well as a guest appearance from The Swon Brothers on the project's title track.
During his iHeartCountry Album Release Party, Shelton performed songs from Body Language live, including "Minimum Wage," "Happy Anywhere" and "Bible Verses," in addition to fan favorites from previous albums like "Austin," "God's Country," "Gonna," "Came Here To Forget," "The More I Drink," "God Gave Me You" and "Boys 'Round Here."
Shelton also opened up about Body Language and more during a special Q&A with Bobby Bones. The country star explained that many of the songs on Body Language have been cut for almost three years, and some of them go back to when he recorded 'God's Country.' He recalled, "They go back to even back when I was recording 'God's Country,' and we ended up not putting out a studio album, then I just kind of pushed back on the idea. Wasn't sure what I wanted to do and ended up doing that hits package that had 'God's Country' and 'Nobody But You' on it, and then some other hits from the last few albums. And then we had to start over again. And so 'Happy Anywhere' was out there floating around without a home and 'Minimum Wage.' And so finally the label was like, 'Hey man, this is stupid. I mean, you got to give us an album to put out. Give us a record, you know? So, we finally just grouped all the songs together, and luckily, we had enough to make an album out of. And I'm super excited about it now."
Elsewhere in the show, while answering a question from a fan, Shelton explained the challenges of putting together an album during the pandemic with many studio sessions being cancelled due to someone testing positive for COVID. He recalled, "I guess the challenge is where we had several sessions booked that got cancelled because people actually tested positive for COVID every time there for the first year and a half or something. And at least in Nashville, before you could do anything like that, session work or whatever, everybody had to take a COVID test. And we had several sessions cancelled because of the drummer of tested positive or whoever. And so I guess that was the only real challenge. I mean, the good part about it is, is it gave you a lot of time to live with songs and feel like you were making the right decisions. So in that way, I think it did really help."
Blake also opened up about recording music with his fiancé, Gwen Stefani, and that since some of the songs remind him of Gwen, the couple ends up singing them together. He explained, "That's why she sings on the last couple of singles that we had. It wasn't just that ... because neither of those songs were written as duets. It was like, 'Hey man, just jump on this thing with me. It's about us, let's just sing it together.' So that's the great thing is, when you have songs that are about them and they happen to be a pop icon, you can also have them on the song with you. It's handy. It's really handy."
"Body Language," the album's title track, was written by The Swon Brothers who were once Team Blake on The Voice years ago. In a full circle moment, Shelton recalled how the song came to be, explaining, "They wrote the song that's the title track of this album, 'Body Language.' They actually wrote the song and I didn't even know they wrote the song, [it] came to me from my producer and it wasn't until I said I wanted to cut it that I found out that those guys wrote it. And it's funny because we're in contact all the time, once a week we text, but they never told me that they were sending a song over. And so it happened the right way. But, obviously had to have them on the song with me singing. So, it's actually featuring The Swon Brothers, you'll hear them singing all the backgrounds and stuff. It's one of my favorite things on the record."
Blake also said that he probably would not do well on The Voice because of the pressure of being part of a singing competition on camera. He said, "I feel like I'm not that great when it comes to competitions like that on the singing side of things, I get a little too nervous. And some of these kids that come up there that they sing in front of the camera, like they do it since they were born, you know, they're unaffected. And it always gets to me a little bit when I'm performing in a situation like this, where there's cameras everywhere. I don't know why, but I've never been able to kind of get past that. So I don't think I would have done that well, to be honest with you."
As Shelton gets ready to head out on tour again, the one thing he's nervous about is remembering the words to his songs, especially the new tracks. He explained, "I am freaking out right now, especially 'Minimum Wage' and 'Happy Anywhere,' we got a new song called 'Bible Verses' that's on this album, and I haven't done these. Like I've done 'Minimum Wage' now a couple of times, 'Happy Anywhere' maybe three times, and then when we do 'Bible Verses' in a little while, I mean, literally I may pass out because I'm so nervous about forgetting the words, it's brand new to me. Remember that it's brand new performing the songs."
Blake is up for two iHeartRadio Music Awards including Country Song of the Year for "Nobody But You" featuring Gwen Stefani and Country Artist of the Year. The eighth annual iHeartRadio Music Awards will air live from The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 27th from 8:00-10:00 PM ET live (PT tape-delayed). The event will also be aired on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio app.
Photos: Wes & Alex for iHeartRadio