The Outsiders (Eric Church album)

The Outsiders
Studio album by Eric Church
Released February 11, 2014 (2014-02-11)
Recorded 2013–14
Length 50:42
Label EMI Nashville
Producer Jay Joyce
Eric Church chronology
The Outsiders
Mr. Misunderstood
Singles from The Outsiders
  1. "The Outsiders"
    Released: October 22, 2013
  2. "Give Me Back My Hometown"
    Released: January 10, 2014
  3. "Cold One"
    Released: June 2, 2014
  4. "Talladega"
    Released: September 15, 2014
  5. "Like a Wrecking Ball"
    Released: March 9, 2015

The Outsiders is the fourth studio album by American country music artist Eric Church. It was released on February 11, 2014, via EMI Nashville. Like all of his previous albums, it is produced by Jay Joyce.[1] It was before the release that Church received media attention for saying "I think genres are dead."[2] This comment irked certain news outlets.[3]

Two singles were released prior to the album's release: the title track and "Give Me Back My Hometown". Both were met with positive reviews from critics, and charted in the top 10 Hot Country Songs chart. The latter also reached number one on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, becoming his fourth chart-topping single. The album's third single, "Cold One", was released in June 2014 and was a top 20 hit. The fourth single, "Talladega", was released to country radio on September 15, 2014, and became Church's fourth No. 1 hit.[4] The fifth single, "Like a Wrecking Ball", was released to country radio on March 9, 2015.

The album received critical acclaim, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums Chart, with sales of 288,000 in its first week of release.[5] It was the best-selling country album of 2014 in the United States.[6]


In regard to the album's sound and genre, Church emphasized that he does not define his music by genre, calling it an "outdated concept." He goes further to say "I think the interesting thing is that there still are a bunch of stigmas about what this is or what that is. But I think the stigmas go away in the next 10 years, if they're not already going away now. I don't know what that means, I really don't."[7] According to CMT, Church goes further to say "I think genres are dead. There's good music. There's bad music. And I think the cool thing about Nashville is it is at the epicenter of that kind of thinking. I'm a country music artist in Nashville, but Nashville is way, way, way bigger than country music."[2]

After the release of the album, Church urged fans not to shuffle the song list on their playlists, saying "Anybody puts it on shuffle, I”ll come kill them myself. It’s made to be listened to start to finish. You start with 'The Outsiders,' you end with 'The Joint.' There’s two songs on the album, 'That’s Damn Rock & Roll' and 'Talladega.' I love ‘em both, but I don’t love ‘em near as much by themselves as I do in the sequence. The space they get from the songs around them, and the space they give the songs around them, makes me love those songs more. If you take them out, mix them all up — totally different album, it’s a totally different journey. It’s one of the only albums I can think of that I really believe that, if you put it on shuffle, you’re going to have an entirely different experience than if you listen to it the way it’s presented. I don’t know that people do that any more, but it’s meant to be listened to that way."[8]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
American Songwriter[11]
Country WeeklyA[12]
Entertainment WeeklyA[13]
The Guardian[14]
The Oakland Press[16]
Rolling Stone[17]
USA Today[19]

The Outsiders garnered critical acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, they assign a "weighted average" score to selected independent ratings and reviews, and based upon eleven reviews the album has a Metascore of an 82, which means the album received "universal acclaim".[9] At USA Today, Brian Mansfield rated the album a perfect four stars, stating that on the release Church "steps far outside country music's safety zone: It's adventurous and outrageous, full of metallic guitars and funky country skronk but also expresses vulnerability and pain."[19] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic rated the album three-and-a-half stars out of five, writing that even "if he doesn't quite knock it out of the park when he swings for the fences, he nevertheless scores."[10] At The Oakland Press, Gary Graff rated the album two-and-a-half stars out of four, saying that "It's 50 minutes of unapologetic daring that gets messy at times, but its' hard not to give Church big props for keeping his gaze forward."[16] Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe gave a positive review, telling that "The reckoning continues on the superb follow-up 'The Outsiders'."[20] At Rolling Stone, Will Hermes rated the album four stars out of five, writing that Church "made a record that's weirder, louder [...] and even more badass" on which shows Church's "crafty, ambitious songwriter with a sensitive, rueful side."[17] At The New York Times, Jon Caramanica wrote a positive review, and noted that Church is a "wise songwriter", but this does not give him license to the lyrics and songs he crafts even though he "sings these sorts of songs with more authority, or more vision, than his contemporaries".[21]

Jody Rosen states that "Church's new album, The Outsiders, is, in keeping with the pattern, his best yet; it's also his most blustery, with the guitars and the outlaw swagger turned up, as the poet said, to eleven."[22] Joseph Hudak of Country Weekly graded the album an A, saying that "the terrifyingly creative The Outsiders, Eric Church pulls off what so many before him have tried: successfully merging the bedrock sounds of country music (plinking banjo, crying Dobro and a Hank Williams twang) with those of seemingly disparate genres like rock, heavy metal and especially R&B to create an utterly unique product."[12] At Entertainment Weekly, Nick Catucci graded the album an A, writing that "As with all of The Outsiders' thrills, it's both thumpingly obvious and exquisitely executed."[13] Glenn Gamboa of Newsday graded the album a B+, stating that "Church consciously tries to move outside the mainstream again, looking to be more artistic."[15] At American Songwriter, Jonathan Bernstein rated the album four stars out of five, saying that "Church gets to have it both ways on The Outsiders, writing several irresistible hits while boasting repeatedly to the press about the ten some-odd surefire number one singles he decided, alongside producer Jay Joyce, to not include on the album."[10] In addition, Bernstein writes that "The Outsiders is at its best when it lets the songs market themselves."[11] At Spin, Michael Robbins rated the album a nine out of ten, commenting that "But mostly, this is the kind of record critics imagine Kanye keeps making: a freakish statement of confidence and power from an artist in full command of his gifts."[18]

PopMatters' Anthony Easton rated the album a seven out of a ten, stating, "Church is so good at the commercial that he will never be an outsider, but he also knows how well the safe outsider sells," and that the album is "not nearly as dangerous as he thinks it is," while finally concluding, "This might be cynicism, but pop music is as much about the sizzle as it is about the steak, and no one plays both ends against the middle as efficiently as Church."[23] At AbsolutePunk, Gregory Robson rated the album an 85-percent, calling the album a "fine step forward" that has "its weak moments, [but] there's no denying that when Church swings for the fences, he absolutely knocks it out of the park. Defiant, undaunted and brimming with confidence, The Outsiders happily carries the banner of outlaw country."[24] Dan MacIntosh of Roughstock rated the album four out of five stars, writing that the release "is best appreciated with a studied examination of its insides."[25] At Music Is My Oxygen, Rob Burkhardt rated the album four-and-a-half stars out of five, writing that the releases "strong points far outweigh its flaws."[26] Tara Toro of Got Country Online rated the album a perfect five stars, indicating how "The Outsiders takes you on a musically adventurous ride from first note to last."[27] However, The Guardian's Dave Simpson rated the album three stars out of five in a mixed review, cautioning that the music's "Dark Side intriguingly explores inner urges but ultimately descends into a desire to shoot the bad guys", which just happens to be "a microcosm of an album with a radical spirit but a conservative heart."[14]

The album was nominated for Best Country Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards but lost to Miranda Lambert's Platinum. The album won the "International Album of the Year" award at the 2014 British Country Music Association awards.

Commercial performance

The album sold 288,000 copies in the US during its first week of release, charting at number one on both the Billboard 200 and the Top Country Albums chart. It was Church's second #1 album, and the biggest selling debut-week for a country album since Luke Bryan's Crash My Party.[5] In its second week, the album fell to number two, selling 74,000.[28] The album was certified Gold by the RIAA on July 17, 2014.[29] It became the best-selling country album of 2014 in the US,[6] as well as the tenth best-selling album overall of 2014 in the US with 811,000 copies sold for the year.[30] Sales of the album reached a million in July 2015,[31][32] and has sold 1,210,000 copies in the US as of November 2016.[33]

The album also charted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 18,000 copies in its first week.[34] The album also reached number 38 in the mid-week official UK Albums Chart before officially charting at number 70 in the UK and number 70 in Scotland, becoming Church's first appearance on these charts.

Track listing

No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "The Outsiders"  
2. "A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young"  
  • Church
  • Jeremy Spillman
3. "Cold One"  
  • Church
  • Lynn Hutton
  • Jeff Hyde
4. "Roller Coaster Ride"  
  • Church
  • Hyde
  • Ryan Tyndell
5. "Talladega"   4:22
6. "Broke Record"  
  • Church
  • Hyde
7. "Like a Wrecking Ball"  
  • Church
  • Beathard
8. "That's Damn Rock & Roll"  
9. "Dark Side"  
10. "Devil, Devil (Prelude: Princess of Darkness)"  
  • Church
  • Beathard
  • Monty Criswell
11. "Give Me Back My Hometown"  
  • Church
  • Laird
12. "The Joint"  
  • Church
  • Beathard
Total length:


Charts and certifications

Peak positions

Chart (2014–15) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[35] 23
Australian Country Albums (ARIA)[36] 3
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[37] 1
US Billboard 200[38] 1
US Top Country Albums (Billboard)[39] 1

Year-end charts

Chart (2014) Position
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[40] 48
US Billboard 200[41] 13
US Top Country Albums (Billboard)[42] 4


Year Single Peak chart positions
US Country US Country Airplay US CAN Country CAN
2013 "The Outsiders" 6 25 51 37 32
2014 "Give Me Back My Hometown" 4 1 36 1 30
"Cold One" 20 20 88 19 87
"Talladega" 2 1 43 1 51
2015 "Like a Wrecking Ball" 6 11 51 32 75


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[43] Platinum 80,000^
United States (RIAA)[29] Platinum 1,210,000[33]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
Here's to the Good Times by Florida Georgia Line
Spring Break 6...Like We Ain't Ever by Luke Bryan
Top Country Albums number-one album
March 1–8, 2014
April 5, 2014
Succeeded by
Riser by Dierks Bentley
Out Among the Stars by Johnny Cash


  2. 1 2
  4. "Eric Church's 'Talladega' Circles A Defining Rite Of Passage". Billboard. October 2, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  5. 1 2 Billboard Magazine 2014.02.19
  6. 1 2 Stephen L. Betts (December 17, 2014). "Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan Are 2014 Country Chart Champs". Rolling Stone.
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  10. 1 2 3 Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (February 10, 2014). "The Outsiders - Eric Church". AllMusic. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
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  20. Rodman, Sarah (February 10, 2014). "Eric Church, 'The Outsiders'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  21. Caramanica, Jon (February 13, 2014). "Eric Church's New Album Is 'The Outsiders'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  22. Rosen, Jody (January 26, 2014). "Rosen: Eric Church Smashes Bro-Country Clichés on The Outsiders". Vulture. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  23. Easton, Anthony (February 21, 2014). "Eric Church: The Outsiders". PopMatters. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  24. Robson, Gregory (February 12, 2014). "Eric Church - The Outsiders – Album Review". AbsolutePunk. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
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  26. Burkhardt, Rob (February 11, 2014). "Eric Church "The Outsiders" –Album Review". Music Is My Oxygen. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
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  33. 1 2 Bjorke, Matt (November 2, 2016). "Special Report: Catalog Country Album Sales: October 2, 2016". Roughstock.
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