On episode #208 of his podcast, the BobbyCast, Bobby Bones interviewed country hitmaker Josh Kear, who has produced 14 No. 1 hits and won four Grammy awards. Josh’s songs have been recorded by the likes of Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, and more. Bobby started the conversation by talking about one of Josh’s most recent hits, Luke Bryan’s “Most People Are Good,” which spent three weeks at the No. 1 spot.
“That was written in 2016 during the build up to the presidential election,” Josh says of the song. “Between that, and some other things that were also going on in the world at the time, I was really kind of depressed just watching some things, and kind of went, ‘You know what? It’s not all bad. It’s really not all bad.’”
Bobby later went on to talk about one of Josh’s first breakout hits, which was undoubtedly Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” Josh told Bobby that he and co-writer Chris Tompkins originally wrote the song for Gretchen Wilson, whose team ended up passing on the tune. It then made it’s way to Underwood, and Josh had no idea about the kind of success that was coming his way.
“Chris calls me up on the phone, and he says, ‘Dude you’re not going to believe this. Carrie Underwood’s going to record our song,’” Josh says. “And I said, ‘Dude, that’s great. I don’t know who Carrie Underwood is, but that’s awesome.’ I don’t watch much TV, obviously, and I’m definitely not a reality TV guy, so I had no clue.”
That song, recorded by a seemingly unknown artist to Josh, went on to become a crossover success, spending five weeks on top of the Country chart, reaching the Top five on the Top 40 chart, and reaching the Top 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also won Josh his first Grammy for Country Song of the Year.
He made his way to the Grammy’s a second time as a co-writer behind another massive crossover hit: Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” Josh and Lady A took home the awards for both Song of the Year and Country Song of the Year. Josh says his “mind was melting” as presenter John Mayer called out their names.
Josh’s professional songwriting career spans 25 years and includes a diverse number of artists from both the country and non-country worlds. However, his journey wasn’t without challenges. Josh says there were a few “mental roadblocks” he had to overcome, including an internal battle between his creativity and gaining commercial success. A piece of advice from fellow songwriter Ed Hill was able to calm those fears.
“In my head, I had these ideas that if it was commercial, then it probably wasn’t that great,” Josh says. “[Ed] said, ‘You know, there’s an art to getting on the radio too, and there’s no shame in wanting to get to make a living at something you love for the rest of your life.’ That conversation with him was one of those moments where I kind of went, ‘Oh, okay. You’re not truly selling out, you’re just creating something that a lot of people get to hear. Nothing wrong with that.’”