Elle King’s Opry Outburst: A Country Spirit High or Just a Splash Too Much?

Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry turned into a wild ride on Friday night as singer Elle King took the stage for a tribute to the legendary Dolly Parton. In a performance that could only be described as “memorable,” King, who admitted to being a little too friendly with the spirits, left some audience members in stitches and others in shock.

With a level of candor that would make even the most seasoned stand-up comedian blush, the 34-year-old singer threw caution and perhaps her script out the window. “You bought tickets for this sh—t? You ain’t getting your money back,” she slurred to the crowd, who had gathered for what was supposed to be a family-friendly celebration of Dolly Parton’s 78th birthday.

The aftermath of King’s unconventional set prompted an apology from the Grand Ole Opry itself. Responding to an audience member’s criticism on the bird app (formerly known as Twitter), the Opry expressed deep regret, saying, “We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance.”

The dissatisfied audience member, who reportedly spent a hefty $300 on his ticket, wished for country singer Lauren Alaina to take the stage instead of King, describing the performance as “horrible, drunk, and profane.”

King’s escapade on stage included a rendition of Parton’s song “Marry Me,” which, according to witnesses, featured some creative lyrical adjustments. King apparently forgot the words, replacing them with gems like “I don’t give a sh—t” and “Don’t tell Dolly ’cause it’s her birthday.”

The viral video of King’s pitchy performance and candid interaction with the audience has since flooded the internet, with many online critics claiming she “ruined” the evening for the country music enthusiasts in attendance.

Attempting to address the chaos she caused, King, in a thick country accent, responded to hecklers by admitting she was “f—ing hammered.” When a bandmate suggested she stick to her own songs, King retorted with, “I can barely play another person’s song, let me see if I can play one of mine.”

Dolly Parton, the honoree of the evening, did not grace the Opry show with her presence.

While King has yet to publicly address the incident, her social media accounts are ablaze with comments from disappointed country music fans who feel she disrespected both the genre and the iconic Parton. Some empathetic souls, however, speculate that King’s on-stage antics might be a cry for help.

Known for her openness about past substance abuse issues, King had previously mentioned in a 2022 interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune that she’s no stranger to sipping on a little something while performing. “Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don’t make them, it won’t sting as much,” she said.

As the dust settles on this whiskey-soaked performance, the question on everyone’s minds remains unanswered: Did Elle King just redefine the term “country spirit”? Only time, and perhaps a sober encore, will tell.

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