Shoulda Been a Hit: Emily West’s “Blue Sky” [Video]
I first met Emily West in Memphis. Barb Birgy and I were there for our annual St. Jude conference and Emily happened to be at the same restaurant where we were eating. My friends and I always have a good time wherever we go and that night was no exception. We were acting like we were on high school dates and taking faux prom pictures. Emily noticed how zany we were and came over to the table. She said, “I want to sit with you guys. You all are fun!” Well, so is she. And, I didn’t know this at the time, but she can REALLY sing and was about to let those vocals fly on her 2010 release, “Blue Sky.”
Gosh! I love that song. I remember the first time I heard it. I was broadcasting live at Frankie’s Sports Bar on Burlew Boulevard here in Owensboro. I was there for a UK Wildcat pre-game party and was standing outside by the station van getting ready to do a live remote break. “Blue Sky” was the last song before the commercial set. I remember just standing there in the cold, mesmorized by what I was hearing. And I thought what I was hearing was a hit. But, boy, was I wrong.
Emily West released her first EP, Emily West, in November of 2007. She managed just one chart single from it . . . 2008’s “Rocks in Your Shoes,” which peaked at #39 on the Billboard Country Chart. In 2009, she released the single “That Kind of Happy” and it failed to chart at all. It didn’t make a dent on any chart anywhere.
But, one year later, she released “Blue Sky” and Emily was armed with what I considered to be a sure-fire secret weapon, background vocals by country-music superstar Keith Urban. This combination of haunting power ballad, soaring lead vocals and background harmonies by a man who NEVER misses the Top Ten seemed fool-proof. “Blue Sky” to me seemed destined for a run up the charts.
But, it didn’t happen. In fact, “Blue Sky” topped out at #38. #38!!!! What? How did this happen? To this day, I can’t explain it.
That same year at the same time “Blue Sky” was finding its way to radio, Emily appeared on television. She was featured on Celebrity Apprentice alongside Luke Bryan.
The two were the subjects of a task assigned by Donald Trump. His celebrity teams were charged with “making over” Emily and Luke and re-positioning them as country stars. Cyndi Lauper’s team was in charge of Emily’s makeover and actually won the challenge. But, as you know, it was Luke who eventually soared. Emily West, unfortunately, faded . .. almost instantly.
Since “Blue Sky’s” chart appearance and her feature on Celebrity Apprentice, Emily West has really been out of pocket and out of the mind’s of country music fans. She most recently appeared on an episode of ABC’s Body of Proof, where she guest starred as a drug addict trying to break into the music business. And here at country radio, we haven’t heard a peep from her.
Again, I go back to that night at Frankie’s. I stood there in disbelief as I heard “Blue Sky” for the first time. Emily West’s voice just put me in a trance. I was simply stunned and dazed. Today, as I write this . . . I am dazed and confused. “Blue Sky” wasn’t a hit and I don’t understand it. It wasn’t even close. But it shoulda been.