Elle King has been slammed for a performance she gave in Nashville last week, when she drunkenly stumbled through a cover of Dolly Parton’s 2001 song Marry Me.
Last Friday (January 19), King took to the stage at the Grand Ole Opry (also known as the Ryman Auditorium) to cover Marry Me for Dolly Goes Opry, a show hosted by the venue to pay tribute to Parton on her 78th birthday. King reportedly admitted she was drunk when she started her performance, but as footage shared on TikTok shows, that much was quite obvious from the outset.
“I don’t know the lyrics to these things in this fucking town/ Don’t tell Dolly ‘cus it’s her birthday,” King is heard saying before then addressed the audience: “I’m not even gonna fucking lie… y’all bought tickets for this shit, you ain’t getting you’re money back.”
“I’m gonna tell you one thing more,” she said. “Hi, my name is Elle King, I’m fucking hammered.” When a band member suggested she play one of her own songs, she said: “I can barely play another person’s song, let me see if I can play one of mine.”
Following the shock performance, Opry Twitter account responded to a comment expressing their disappointment over King’s performance, which included a lot of cursing in what was meant to be a family-friendly event: “We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance.”
One commenter branded the appearance as “absolutely horrific” and “disgustingly disrespectful to the Ryman and to Dolly”. Another said King’s performance evoked Amy Winehouse “but more offensive and less talent[ed]”, and one quipped that it served as “proof the place isn’t haunted”, because if it was, “Patsy Cline would have shoved her ass off the stage”.
Some, however, seemed more concerned than anything. “Elle King is spinning out of control and someone needs to help her,” wrote one commenter. Another said King “obviously has issues”, and plead with viewers to “look at her with compassion”.
In an op-ed for Saving Country Music, writer Trigger wrote that King’s performance “just comes across as sad, and perhaps a cry for help”, and implored her to “clean it up, or if necessary, dry out and get some help”.
King was primarily a blues artist until the 2020s, when she announced a pivot into country with her third album, Come Get Your Wife. The record was eventually released in January 2023 on the back of singles Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home) and Worth A Shot – both admittedly awkward titles in the context of this specific news.
At the time of writing, King hasn’t spoken publicly about last Friday’s performance.