5 Country/Pop Collaborations That Worked, 5 That Didn’t
Not all collaborations are created equal. These 10 country music crossovers are proof of that, revealing songs that sprinted to the top of the charts and others that just missed the mark.
5 Country/Pop Collaborations That Worked So Well
1. Florida Georgia Line and Nelly, "Cruise (Remix)"
Florida Georgia Line may be country music's kings of pop collaboration, working with everyone from Jason Derulo to Bebe Rexha to the Chainsmokers. However, the duo's first and highest-selling collaboration came with Nelly in 2013 for the "Cruise (Remix)." "Cruise" is certified diamond — it's now the best-selling country digital single of all time! It's so catchy that even if you pretend to hate it, you'll get caught singing along. Baby, you a song ...
2. Jason Aldean and Ludacris, "Dirt Road Anthem (Remix)"
Before Nelly jumped on "Cruise" with FGL in 2013, Jason Aldean called on the help of Ludacris to add some gusto to Aldean's No. 1 hit "Dirt Road Anthem" in 2011. Since the song was originally released by country/hip-hop artist Colt Ford before Aldean cut it, the hip-hop style meter of the song was already there, making Ludacris a natural fit in the remix. It worked well.
3. Jennifer Nettles and Bon Jovi, "Who Says You Can't Go Home"
Bon Jovi started experimenting with a country-influenced sound in 2003 with the album This Left Feels Right, but in 2006, that experiment turned into a No. 1 country music hit. When Bon Jovi released Have A Nice Day in 2005, the album contained a country version of "Who Says You Can't Go Home" featuring Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles. The following year, the song hit No. 1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart. It's still Nettles' highest charting song of her solo career and dang if it isn't pop/country goodness.
4. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, "Picture"
This is a tricky one. Though Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow are both country artists in 2017 — well, sort of — that wasn't the case in 2001 when Kid Rock released Cocky. With that album, the rap-rocker started dabbling in country music and worked with non-country artist (at the time) Crow to create the smash duet "Picture," which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Have you ever met anyone who didn't like this song? Us either.
5. Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake, "Tennessee Whiskey" / "Drink You Away"
Chris Stapleton's performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards changed his life. Joining with the megastar, Stapleton performed his rendition of "Tennessee Whiskey" with Timberlake, while the two followed with Timberlake's "Drink You Away," a previous non-single from the pop star's The 20/20 Experience album he released in 2013. The collaboration was a win for both artists, as "Drink You Away" went to country radio shortly after and Stapleton's album Traveller, which was released six months before the CMAs, rose to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart approximately one week after the performance. Traveller sold more than 50,000 copies that week and put Stapleton on the country music map as an artist. No one — seriously, not a single person — could stop talking about this moment. It has become an all-time CMA Awards highlight!
5 Country/Pop Collaborations That Did Not Work, Though They Tried
1. Taylor Swift and T-Pain, "Thug Story"
Remember the days when T-Pain was auto-tuning his way into almost every song? Well Taylor Swift — aka T-Swizzle for this track, because no one stopped her — joined the hip-hop maestro for a pre-taped music video at the 2009 CMT Music Awards. Even in its jest, the song is pretty painful. When the best lyric is "I’m so gangsta / You can find me baking cookies at night," you have a problem. At least she's honest?
2. Tim McGraw and Nelly, "Over and Over"
There was once a time when fans thoughts country and hip-hop couldn't mix. Maybe they just shouldn't? Nelly and Tim McGraw's 2004 "Over and Over" was a hit, we'll give it that. Though it's technically a country/hip-hop collaboration, the song used big stars instead of either genre's best musical elements to reach commercial success. McGraw's country twang doesn't fit the smooth production of the song, but even in all its weirdness, the track intrigued enough listeners to earn No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Some things just can't be explained.
3. Brad Paisley and LL Cool J, "Accidental Racist"
Brad Paisley and LL Cool J teamed up about a controversial subject for Paisley's 2013 album Wheelhouse. The result was "Accidental Racist," an awkward song that tackles complicated historical issues. It was immediately panned by critics and though it could serve as groundbreaking dialogue about racial issues, this work, as a song, seems off the mark. And you thought we forgot it happened ...
4. Sugarland and Beyonce, "Irreplaceable"
Some songs just shouldn't be countrified, and now we know Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" is one of them. Queen B's original track, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2006, is a smooth, acoustic-driven pop smash, but at the 2007 American Music Awards, Sugarland turned it into a good 'ol fashioned country music stomper. Though both Nettles of Sugarland and Beyonce nailed the song vocally, the arrangement created an odd vibe onstage. Not to mention Beyonce singing over an accordion just sounds wrong.
5. Florida Georgia Line and the Chainsmokers "Last Day Alive"
Did the Chainsmokers transform Florida Georgia Line into robots for this song? Must. Collaborate. With. Chainsmokers. Give the Chainsmokers credit for changing FGL lead singer Tyler Hubbard's country twang enough to fit the flavor of the song, but the vocal effects also make the lyrics sound like they're being sung by a computer. The vocals have such little character that it seems any artist who sings on this track would sound similar to what's already there. Florida Georgia Line really just seem like a big name tacked onto the song, rather than an actual collaboration. Both acts have much stronger songs, and "Last Day Alive" is a disappointment considering the star power invested in this track. Time to call Nelly.
Forgettable Country Crossovers We're Gonna Remind You About Anyway