Each year, we always get a dose of uncanny combinations of artists from different musical backgrounds, courtesy of the prestigious Academy of Country Music Awards. While we understand and respect CMA’s desire to celebrate the beauty of not just a single genre, we can’t help but feel for the people who give mixed reactions to some of the annual event’s collaborations. Think of it as trying out a new or weird food combination.
In this list, we gathered a mix of some of the best and most unexpected live duets that the CMAs have brought to us.
7. Sugarland and Beyonce
Sugarland shared the CMA stage with none other than Queen Bey. Together, they performed Irreplaceable, one of Beyonce’s hit songs. This would probably one of the craziest and most uncomfortable collaborations in country music history that we had to sit through.
6. Ariana Grande and Little Big Town
The combination of the two artists at the 2014 CMAs came off as just too random—almost as if it was a last minute decision. After Little Big Town performed their first hit, Day Drinking, Ariana Grande entered the stage to sing her song Bang Bang. Although both artists projected such incredible talent on stage, they just didn’t have the right chemistry, and their voices didn’t fit quite well together.
5. Jennifer Nettles and Rihanna
Rihanna graced the 2011 ACM Awards and performed one of her hit songs with Sugarland’s lead singer, Jennifer Nettles. While their duet for California King Bed went pretty much okay, one particular detail stood out to the audience that night. Watching the video closely, it seemed that Nettles sang RiRi’s hit song better than the Barbados Babe herself. Maybe Nettles had a stronger emotional attachment to the song’s lyrics?
4. Miranda Lambert and Meghan Trainor
Fans were pleasantly surprised during the 2014 CMA Awards after Meghan Trainor, and country queen Miranda Lambert opened the show together. Both beautiful and talented singers performed Trainor’s hit, All About That Bass. The song’s arrangement was altered a little to add some country music vibe, and the singers’ voices blended perfectly that it left everybody bopping their heads and tapping their feet to the infectious melody.
3. The Rascal Flats and Christina Aguilera
At the 2016 CMA Awards, Christina Aguilera and The Rascal Flats brought the house down with their powerful and moving rendition of Shotgun and Riot. Aguilera once again proved the versatility of her vocal prowess while The Rascal Flats exhibited their signature musicality.
2. Shania Twain and The Backstreet Boys
Who would’ve thought that a renowned country songstress and a hit pop boy band would click just right on stage? In this truly surprising number, The Backstreet Boys and Shania Twain sang From This Moment On and All I Have to Give. The Backstreet Boys took turns singing lines from Shania Twain’s song, making it a soft and sentimental rendition.
1. Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake
The most unlikely duo of this list is Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake’s duet for Drink You Away. Justin Timberlake is known for his uncontainable energy and natural charisma on stage and on camera. During the CMA, Stapleton and Timberlake’s voices just blended perfectly together that for a second, everyone forgot they were artists from contrasting music genres. They delivered a beautiful and power-packed performance for the night.
Music, like science, also needs a bit of experimentation sometimes. It can be to produce new and ‘eargasmic’ melody. Otherwise, it can just be for the sake of causing upheaval and gaining massive attention. Whatever it is, there are always two possible results: You either love or hate it.
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