These are crazy times we live in. A reality TV star is running for president. Hoverboards are things you can buy. And country artists like Kenny Chesney are recording songs with pop artists like P!nk.
It’s a smart business decision, to be sure. And Kenny’s just following in the footsteps of other artists before him, from Florida Georgia Line and the Backstreet Boys to Brad Paisley and Demi Lovato to Dierks Bentley and Elle King.
All this cross-promotion isn’t new, but it’s certainly become more rampant these days. Which made me wonder— What are the most crazy country-pop collaborations I could think of? Well, here’s the top 10, ranked from least outrageous to most outrageous. Listen up, record execs.
10. Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton
This one has the best shot at happening, since they actually performed together at the 2015 CMAs. I’d buy a duet album from them. Plus, Timberlake and Stapleton together on a version of “Fire Away” is tailor-made for radio appeal.
9. Jason Aldean and Ludacris (again)
They already got together on “Dirt Road Anthem,” which means duplicating that success shouldn’t be hard to do. Think about it. “Fast 8” comes out soon. Just make the song about fast cars, friends, freedom and family and you’ve got a hit.
8. Bo Burnham and Wheeler Walker, Jr.
If you haven’t heard Wheeler Walker, Jr.’s album “Redneck S—,” you’re denying yourself a wonderfully profane good time. The alter ego of comedian Ben Hoffman’s debut album sounds like a raunch film set to steel guitar. Combine that gleeful anarchism with Burnham’s piano-led humor, and there’s a great commentary on country music there somewhere. Speaking of, have you heard “Panderin’“? It’s great.
7. Britney Spears and Sam Hunt
Rapping, synths, Auto-Tune, timed drums and a shared chorus could make this collaboration the song of the summer. Bonus points if Sam throws something in there about how he used to listen to “…Oops, I Did It Again” as a teen.
6. Dolly Parton and Nicki Minaj
I’m thinking like a dueling banjos/yodeling jam between the two respective queens of their genres. And it would have to be a feminist anthem, obviously.
5. Loretta Lynn and Drake
They both started from the bottom, now they’re here. I’m envisioning a nice back-and-forth about the road to fame and the trials of success over a melancholy dancehall beat, full of homespun wisdom from Kentucky and the 6, respectively.
4. Luke Bryan and Fergie
Fergie’s new song is all about how she “makes that MILF money,” and Bryan’s been trying to go in a more sultry, adult-contemporary direction with a few of his songs on “Kill the Lights.” I have no clue how this collaboration would turn out, but something like it is probably in the back of some studio suit’s mind, and it would be amazing/horrible to watch.
3. Jake Owen and Shakira
Jake meets Shakira on the beach somewhere, he sings her a love song, Coronoa is drunk, hips are truthful, multiple music markets are satisfied, everyone goes home happy.
2. Granger Smith and Tiffany Trump
1. Country Taylor Swift feat. Pop Taylor Swift feat. Kanye West feat. Kim Kardashian
Less of a collaboration than a full-on rap battle, this song would sample KimYe’s conversation with T-Swift about “Famous,” and incorporate verses from Swift’s beginnings as a teen country starlet, West’s early hip-hop career and Swift’s later “1989” era, all set to West’s “Life of Pablo”-style production. The song would be as schizophrenic and calculating as their relationship, and it would only vault their super stars higher.
Got any other crazy pop-country collaborations? Send ’em my way @jakeharris4 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week. For info about album releases and concerts, check out this week’s Country Music Roundup.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or through email at email@example.com.