Toby Keith Earns First Crossover Hit With “Stupid But Brilliant” “Red Solo Cup” – ACM Interview

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Toby Keith backstage at the 2012 ACM Awards (Kurt Wolff/CBS Local)

Toby Keith backstage at the 2012 ACM Awards (Kurt Wolff/CBS Local)



During the ACM Awards Sunday, one of the highlights of Sunday’s ACM Awards broadcast was the live performance of the award-winning “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith (along with several hundred fans, all sporting the signature cup as Keith strolled through the crowd).

After the performance, Keith stopped by backstage to talk about his Video of the Year award win for “Red Solo Cup.”

And yes, of course, he was carrying. And indeed there was something in inside it.

“My wild shot mezcal, I have a premium mezcal we keep on the bus.”

Wild Shot is his own brand, which he was not shy about discussing to the press. Of course, no one would ever call Toby Keith shy about anything.

Keith talked about the viral success of the video — a success that took him and his team by surprise, and could never have been plotted out in board rooms or manufactured.

“It’s about knowing your audience,” he said. “Once in a while you rope a big steer like that,” he said, “and you just hang on and ride.”

He still appeared genuinely bowled over by the song’s success. And, of course, pleased. He told a story of playing a show in Europe (“the fourth night” of his tour), and fans had red Solo cups lined up at the front of the stage. He asked where they got them (they cups are not sold in Europe), and they said, “we got ‘em off the Internet brother. And it [the song] was ten days old!”

Wonder if there’s a market now for red Solo cups on eBay? Especially now that the Solo Cup Company has been sold.

The song “Red Solo Cup” may be “the stupidest song that I have ever heard in my life” (to use Keith’s own words), but it also turned out to be his first-ever crossover hit. “I’ve got 80 million spins as a songwriter,” he said, “and this is my only crossover hit. I’m always looked on as, ‘he’s too country.'” Not, he noted, that there’s anything wrong with that (“I take a lot of pride” in being “too red”).

The song, though, he says “deserves” that crossover success. “The first time I heard it, I said, ‘this is so stupid, it’s brilliant.'”

Keith explained that all the awards he’s won for his videos, including this one, have “all been through our antics, and showing our personalties and having fun.”

When they were shooting the video, he says, his label “wasn’t convinced we were actually shooting a video. They thought we were doing an episode of Punk’d.” But when they found out it was real, they were fully behind it.

That personality and spirit of fun was reflected in his performance of the song at the ACMs as well. It was infectious. Keith Urban was seen laughing, Taylor Swift dancing; in fact, pretty much everyone was smiling and singing along.

“Dude,” says a grinning Keith, who stopped for a minute during the broadcast to have a private moment with his cup, “you’re not just a cup, you’re my friend.”

It may be a dumb song, but it’s pretty damn endearing.

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- Kurt Wolff, CBS Local

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