Kelsea Ballerini doesn’t mince words when it comes to her brand-new studio album, Subject to Change. The coming of age project, which dropped in late September, is loaded with material that finds the star looking inward as she re-directs herself through some of the most challenging moments of her 20s.
And one tune that proves to navigate that theme is “Doin’ My Best.”
The pop-laden track finds Ballerini seemingly recalling a time when she posted a tweet in response to the 2021 scandal surrounding Morgan Wallen’s use of a racial slur. At the time, Ballerini used the social media platform to condemn Wallen’s actions with the tweet – “The news out of Nashville tonight does not represent country music.”
Unexpectedly, Ballerini found herself facing criticism over the words that she used. Although, she has since publicly apologized for what some considered a tone-deaf response. Ballerini readdresses the situation in “Doin’ My Best” by singing the words, “Sometimes I try to say the right thing / And it comes out wrong / I got my a** kicked on Twitter.”
Now Ballerini, 29, is opening up about that track, calling it one that “probably the most opened my chest up.”
Speaking with Yahoo!, Ballerini said, “It was a good lesson for me. I think I’m a chronic people-pleaser, and being an artist and a public person, I’ve had to learn how to stand up for things I believe in. But, sometimes, when you’re doing that, you’re going to stumble, and you’re going to do it wrong. And, you know, I didn’t do it all the way right.”
“I just take ownership of that fully,” she continued. “I think that the intention is one thing, but I think the rebuttal to [that Wallen tweet] was my not acknowledging the systematic racism that has occurred — which I fully understand. I stepped back. I listened, I learned… I got my ass kicked, and I learned a lot from it.”
Since tweeting out her controversial remark on Twitter, Ballerini has remained inactive on the social media platform. Instead, she is taking time to educate herself more on the subject while also focusing on her mental health. And she says, “I also do not miss Twitter, literally, at all!”
“I honestly think it was after that incident that I realized I had a choice,” Ballerini explained. “It was like, ‘Do I just shut up and just post the pretty parts of my life, and just not open myself up to this anymore?’ Because I’m really sensitive. I feel it all. I think that’s what makes me good at my job. Or ‘Do I work on myself personally in therapy, and do all the things to make sure I am doing the work on myself and learning the things I need to learn… and stay open and find the tools?”
But, this certainly isn’t the first time Ballerini has addressed the tweet she made about Wallen. In her cathartic 2021 poetry book, Feel Your Way Through, the singer/songwriter revisits the controversy with ‘The Right Side Of History.’
“I have had a very small corner of cancel culture around that,” Ballerini admitted in an interview with CBS This Morning. “… I’m an only child from a divorced family. I’m like ‘everyone good? What can I do?’ So, standing up for anything is me crawling out of my skin, but it’s something that’s important to me… So, it’s something I’m trying to learn about. Something I’m in a lot of therapy about, and something I’m trying to do better and better and more eloquently as I get older.”
Elsewhere, on Subject to Change, as well as in her poetry book, in which she delves into family, relationships, self-love, and sexuality, Ballerini dives into another subject – the onset of womanhood and feeling objectified through that. She does that with her song, “Marilyn.”
“To me “Marilyn is a metaphor in this song for me,” the singer-songwriter and Knoxville native explains. “Marilyn, to me, in this context represents a woman who presents herself in one way and deeply feels another. I certainly relate to that, and I think that with social media, maybe everyone relates to that.”
“I just loved the idea of using this iconic beautiful woman, who has such an intricate and emotional story as this metaphor for literally all of us,” she added.
Subject to Change, which also includes songs like “Heartfirst,” “You’re Drunk, Go Home,” “Muscle Memory” and “Love Is A Cowboy,” follows Ballerini’s 2020 self-titled album. Ballerini is currently promoting her new record on her 2022 headlining Heartfirst tour, which kicked off in Radio City Music Hall in New York. The 10-city trek runs through Oct. 14.
“Obviously, we’ve all changed a lot the last couple of years, because life has forced us to… And I feel like the last few years, in my twenties, I’ve grown up so much,” Ballerini shared. “I’ve learned so much about myself in this extra space we’ve kind of been forced into. And I loved that Subject to Change represented my life. It represented everyone’s life. It kind of thematically took me through the story that I was writing. And so, we just kind of went back and forth, like, ‘Do we make it broad, or do we just make it like very much so about me?’ And we ended up just going very inward, very personal, to set the tone for the whole record.”
Ballerini’s next scheduled tour date is on Thursday, October 6 at Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, CA with special guest Georgia Webster.