“Florida Georgia Line” may bring to mind the term for the demarcation line of the bordering states of Florida and Georgia, but it actually represents something altogether different for band mates B.K. (Brian Kelly), and Tyler Hubbard. Hubbard expressed, “I’m from Monroe, GA., and B.K. is from Ormond Beach, FL, but our band name isn’t so much a place on the map, but where we come together musically.” Well, that clears that up. Meanwhile, “Florida Georgia Line” has become one of the hottest country acts in the country over the past two years with their “hip hop/pop/country” brand of music. With five platinum singles from the same LP including, “Cruise” (#1 Country, over seven million copies), “Stay” (#1), “This Is How We Roll” (#1), Get Your Shine On” (#5) and “Round Here” (#3), the group’s platinum-plus debut album, “Here’s To The Good Times,” has cemented them a spot in the country music world. In two years, the duo has already garnered three Academy of Country Music Awards (New Artist of the Year, New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year and Vocal Duo of the Year), two CMT Music Awards for the song “Cruise” (Duo Video of the Year, twice, 2012 for “Cruise” and 2014 for “Round Here” and Breakthrough Video of the Year) along with an American Music Award and a Billboard Award. The unique brand of music that FGL produces stems from an eclectic group of influences. “My favorite artist of all time is Garth Brooks,” says Kelley. “I also like Jason Aldean and love Wiz Khalifa.” The guys dream of a collaboration with Wiz or Lil Wayne. “I’m a big fan of Tim McGraw and Luke Bryan,” says Hubbard. “But I also like Lil Wayne and Lynyrd Skynyrd.” This infatuation with rap led to their remix of the hit single “Cruise,” featuring Nelly that crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #4. Regarding his penchant for rap, Kelly, 27 says, “For me, listening to rap opens my mind to a different kind of creation, I try to write in a new way. So our music is country with rap lyrics.” A pretty novel concept for two southern boys who met while studying at Nashville’s Belmont University. I’m sure when the two moved in together to begin writing music, they had no idea they would be steering the much lauded genre of country music down a different highway. But I guess that’s’ just how they roll.
Malcolm Kelly and Tony Oller are former Nickelodeon teenage stars whose characters played best friends on the television series “Gigantic.” Well, life imitated art as they became best friends off the set and got together as a duo named “MKTO,” which combines the initials of both actor’s names and surnames. Later adding to the inspiration for the name by saying, “It also stands for what our album kind of is: Misfit Kids and Total Outcasts, just like the kids we were in high school.” Whatever the reason, it seems to be working just fine, thank you, for the pop duo with the Jackson 5-esque hit single “Classic” climbing up the Billboard Hot 100 chart. For some reason, MKTO is already a hit in Australia and New Zealand because of their 2012 debut single, “Thank You,” being certified 3x Platinum in Australia and Platinum in New Zealand. The group signed to Columbia Records and released their first single on January 15, 2013. “Thank You” is a crossover between pop and hip hop. The song’s music video was released onto YouTube via VEVO on January 4, 2013, and garnered over 500,000 views in two days. Earlier this year in February, the duo’s debut album went to #1 in Australia and #6 in New Zealand. MKTO also served as the opening act for Emblem3’s #bandlife Tour and Demi Lovato’s “Demi: World Tour” in 2014. I’m sure the exposure from both major tours helped introduce MKTO to the U.S. market, and is propelling “Classic” to the top of the charts. “God Only Knows,” their third single from their self-titled debut album is already a hit in, where else, Australia and New Zealand, going Platinum and Gold respectively. But not to worry, Michael and Tony, now that MKTO is embarking on their first headlining tour being billed as the “American Dream Tour,” the American public will get a chance to catch up to the success you’ve already enjoyed in other countries abroad. Which makes the name of the tour so apropos, because to experience the American Dream is so classic.