Kane Brown on His ‘Worldwide Beautiful’ Video and Its Racial Message
Kane Brown has two singles in play at the moment. One is “Be Like That,” his collaboration with Swae Lee and Khalid, which currently has the country star crossing over to the pop charts. His other new song, the anthemic “Worldwide Beautiful,” is about crossover between the races, which is also something that Kane, a biracial artist, knows something about.
The singles have come out back to back, with Brown deciding that he wanted to get “Worldwide Beautiful” — a song he’d been holding onto to release in 2021 — out this year as a response to and balm for divisive current events. But with the “Worldwide” video coming out just a month after the music video for “Be Like That,” he’s been a little busy… busy enough that he admits he didn’t take time to read the full treatment before he got to the disheveled set, which led to some surprises.
“I think it’s the biggest music video that we’ve done,” says Brown. “And Alex (Alvga, the director) has shot so many of my videos that I just trusted him. This was one that I didn’t really get to see the treatment for. We did it in Mount Pleasant, which is 45 minutes to an hour away from Nashville, going toward Alabama, and it was awesome. But when I got there and saw that those cops had everyone pulled over, I thought that someone had really wrecked. Like, I didn’t know that that was the set. It looked like the town was literally abandoned. And then, of course, the cops were messing with me,” as they waited for it to dawn on Brown that this had all been created for him.
The messed-up, small-town downtown looked like an “after” shot in a before-and-after-the-zombie-apocalypse movie. But the set dressing’s purpose was for something far gentler. The adult actors in the music video are frozen in place, but the children are mobile and active, as flowers begin to sprout amid the wreckage. “I felt like Alex did a really great job on showing in the video how the adults were blinded,” Brown says, “and they had the blindfolds on while they watching the news (through a TV shop window), stuck on the news and not really enjoying life and looking out into the world. That was my take on it: the future of the world is in the kids’ hands.” (One of those kids is his less-than-year-old daughter, Kingsley Rose Brown, whom he cradles in the closing shot.)
Brown is the very rare artist to sing the same song on the BET Awards and the ACM Awards. (You can also expect to hear it again next week when he co-hosts and performs on the CMT Music Awards.) “Being on the BET stage and singing ‘Worldwide Beautiful,’ it’s mainly the Black community I’m singing to, and then I go to the ACMs or CMT and sing that song again and I’m right in front of this majority white (audience). I’m just trying to bring everybody together, and getting to do it on two different platforms, I’m just blessed and honored to have that ability,” he says.
The song was included in his recent EP, but had been planned for his third full-length album next year. “We thought it was such a massive song, and we wrote it before everything started going on. Because we had lived it before.” (The writing team also had another biracial member, Brown’s frequent collaborator Shy Carter, as well as Ryan Hurd and Jordan Schmidt.) “It just wasn’t in public and not being talked about. My plan was originally to have it as the last song on my (2021) album. Then after everything started happening” — i.e., the social unrest over police killings of Black men and resulting protests — “my fans had already heard it as a demo, and they immediately started begging for it, saying, ‘Please release it.’ Of course, some of my team was worried about the outcome because it’s kind of political. But we’ve heard nothing but positive feedback. And there’s really nothing we’re saying except everybody should love everybody. We’re not picking sides. My message would be to listen to everybody instead of yelling at each other. That’s how we’ll work this thing out is when everybody can just realize we’re all people.”
He doesn’t apologize for not taking a more controversial approach to addressing the national disharmony. “As an artist, you want to release a song that everybody can relate to and not argue about. So I don’t think there’s anything arguable in the song. It’s just saying everybody should be treated the same, and stop looking at colors, because everybody’s worldwide beautiful. … I hope the song gets more life. But it’s been great that I’ve gotten it out there. Once we get back on tour, I’ll be able to play it for people to get everybody singing along. I think that’s when it’s going to really take life is when everybody’s back together and all this quarantine stuff’s over and we’re back to live shows. Because my fans are all different types, and that’s my thing with music, of going from country to pop, is just bringing people together that necessarily wouldn’t be together. So I can’t wait to sing that song live and see everybody singing it with me.”
His proceeds from “Worldwide Beautiful” are going to the Boys and Girls Club of America. “I didn’t really know much about it,” he admits, “and my team brought it to my attention. When I first went in and met these kids, I immediately fell in love. You know, I have a huge heart for children, especially gone through rough times, because I lived that. You’re in there with all these kids, different races, all getting along, all having fun. A couple of them asked me and my wife to adopt ‘em — which I would have done, immediately. But they’re (in) unfortunate (circumstances): Either their parents are working hard or their parents don’t really have jobs, and the Boys and Girls Club is helping them out. So I just immediately knew the song was for them and I had to give them the proceeds. We had a Zoom call the other day with the kids where they said I was a Boys and Girls Club member for life. It meant the world to me — I felt like I got an award.”
“It definitely takes the pressure off, having three other people there,” he says. “It also takes the pressure off knowing that there’s not going to be anything (left to) chance — you know, we can do some retakes,” he laughs, noting the non-live nature of this year’s event. “But hopefully it’ll just make me move on further to when I can actually host an awards show for myself.” He views it as an exercise in forced extroversion. “I like trying to push my personality more, too. Because you know, I’m a pretty laid back guy,” Brown chuckles. “So I feel like this is kind of a social networking thing for me.”