Top 10 Male-Female Duets in Country Music
What Is It About Duets?
Some of the best country songs every made in the history of country music have been male-female duets. The blending of voices and perspectives adds layers of meaning to the song, ingeniously complicating the story. As viewers, many of us have wondered when our favorite artists will come together for a duet. Unfortunately, due to record companies and complicated contracts, these duets do not always come to fruition, but when they do they leave us craving more. Below you will find a list of the top 10 best country male & female duets ever made along with a list of several honorable mentions.
1. Picture: Kid Rock Featuring Sheryl Crow
Prior to 2001 hardly anyone would have predicted that Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow would join forces to create one of the most iconic country duets ever made. The two artist’s styles and musical pasts made them an unlikely pairing, however, when the two met by chance at the Grammy’s Kid Rock found himself incredibly impressed by Crow. So, when he got the idea for the song, he invited Crow to Detroit to write together. Their chemistry as writers worked so well that they were able to write and record the song in a single day, which left them two days to just spend time together and have fun. Despite some trouble between recording companies and contracts, the song enjoyed amazing success on the charts. Audiences found the story of two lovers unable to look at the other out of guilt and sadness to be relatable and compelling. The song continues to be played on radio stations across America and will for many decades to come.
2. Whiskey Lullaby: Brad Paisley, Alison Kraus
Between the heart-wrenching lyrics reminiscent of the George Jones Classic He stopped loving her today and the hauntingly beautiful voice of Allison Kraus this song is sure to draw emotion from the coldest of souls. It is impossible not to feel the pain of the story. This song is sure to make any top ten duet list regardless of genre.
3. I Told You So: Carrie Underwood Featuring Randy Travis
Randy Travis originally wrote and recorded “I Told You So” as a solo record which appeared on his 1987 album Always & Forever alongside three other number one hits "Too Gone Too Long," "I Won't Need You Anymore (Always and Forever)" and "Forever and Ever, Amen." In 2007, 20 years after the song’s initial release, Carrie Underwood recorded a cover of the song on her album Carnival Ride. Shortly after recording the song, a DJ working in a small radio station in my native Cincinnati created a mashup of the two versions that quickly gained popularity on YouTube and radio stations alike. In 2009 Randy Travis and Carrie Underwood came together officially to perform the song as a duet on American Idol for the first time in public. Following the performance, they released an official studio recording of the song.
4. Call a Spade a Spade: Turnpike Troubadours Featuring Jamie Wilson
In 2012, the Turnpike Troubadours gained access to a wider audience with the release of their third album titled Goodbye Normal Street. While many songs on the album are co-written with the band’s lead man Evan Felker, the only song that is performed as a duet is “Call a Spade a Spade.” Felkner co-wrote and sang the song with Jamie Wilson of the Trishas, an entirely female band based in Texas. The mingling of Felker’s and Wilson’s voices and perspectives creates a very dynamic cheating story from both sides.
5. Jackson: Johnny Cash & June Carter
Any top 20 list of duets would be incomplete without an appearance by country music’s most adored couple Johnny Cash and June Carter. There is perhaps no other country music duo that has made such a long-lasting impact on country music as they have. The song “Jackson” first appeared on Johnny and June’s collaborative album Carryin’ On with Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash in 1967 which features eleven other duets by the couple. “Jackson” was wildly popular among country music fans in the 60s and 70s and experienced another rise in popularity following its use in The Help in 2011. The song features a couple who has lost the “fire” in their relationship and see going to Jackson, Mississippi as a way to scratch their marital itch. With June’s fiery sass and John’s defiant confidence sang over a lively beat, this song is sure to win over any country music lover.
6. In Spite of Ourselves: John Prine & Iris DeMent
Following John Prine’s successful battle with throat cancer in 1998 he released his 13th studio album also titled In Spite of Ourselves which features duets with other female country and folk singers including Connie Smith, Lucinda Williams, Melba Montgomery, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Dolores Keane, Patty Loveless and of course Iris Dement. John Prine originally wrote the song for the 2001 film Daddy & Them in which he co-stars alongside Billy Bob Thorton as the “brother in law with low self-esteem.” In typical Prine fashion, the witty songwriter perfectly describes the kooky dynamic of a married couple who both annoy, mystify, and ultimately depend on each other.
7. You and Tequila: Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter
Country singers, and longtime friends Deana Carter and Matraca Berg came together in 2003 to write “You and Tequila” a song that would later go on to be recorded by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals where it gained chart-topping success. Matraca Berg and Deana Carter are longtime friends; Matraca even wrote Deana’s first hit single Strawberry Wine. The inspiration for the song reportedly came from a mutual friend of Deana and Matraca who lives on Mulholland Drive in California who was going through a heartbreak at the time. Both Deana and Matraca have recorded the song, Carter on her album Just a Girl and Berg on her 2011 album The Dreaming Fields. The Version recorded by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter on Chesney’s 2010 album Hemingway's Whiskey, was nominated for in the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Although the song didn’t win it remains a favorite of country music fans. The story captures the seemingly helpless attachment to one’s vices, whether they be a lover or Tequila. The struggle to free oneself of these kinds of pleasurable, yet damaging ties is one that many of us can identify with, which is what makes the song so powerful.
8. Don’t You Want to Stay: Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson
During the 44th annual Country Music Association Awards on November 10, 2010, country music star Jason Aldean and former American Idol winner and pop-rock icon Kelly Clarkson performed “Don’t You Wanna Stay” from Jason Aldean’s album My Kinda Party. The following day, due to demands from radio stations it was released as the second single from the album. Much like Kelly Clarkson’s first cross over into country music with her duet “Because of You” recorded with country music legend Reba McEntire, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” has enjoyed a warm reception from country music fans and critics. The song went on to be nominated Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards.
9. When I Get Where I’m Going: Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton
“When I Get Where I’m Going” is a deeply sentimental song contemplating one’s own death and the possibility of reuniting with loved ones in Heaven. In the video, many people, both famous and anonymous hold up pictures of loved ones who have presumably passed on. Some of the most notable figures appearing in the video are: Michael Reagan, holding a photo of his father President Ronald Reagan; Teresa Earnhardt, with a portrait of her late husband and former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt; and John Carter Cash holding a photo of his parents and country music legends, Johnny Cash and June Carter. The song was released in October of 2005 as a single from Brad Paisley’s album Time Well Wasted. Both the recorded song and the accompanying music video were widely popular with country music listeners. At the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2006, it was nominated for song of the year and won two awards for Video of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year.
10. Remind Me: Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood
Although these two country super stars are happily married to other people—Carrie Underwood tied the knot with professional hockey player Mike Fisher in 2010 and Brad Paisley has been married to his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley since 2003—the two came together to create one of the most powerful love songs of 2011. The choice to make this song a duet adds unmistakable power and truth to the lyrics which describe a couple who wishes to reignite the old flames of passion from their early days together. Any couple who has found themselves in this situation knows that it is often a two-way street and that both partners share the blame for their current situation, and the responsibility for fixing it. The song is so powerful precisely because it uses these two voices to gather both perspectives together in the hope to rekindle that lost spark.
Other Great Duets That Didn’t Quite Make the List Include…
- We Were Us: Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert
- Barton Hollow: The Civil Wars
- Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man: Conway Twitty & Loretta Lyn
- I Need You: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
- It Ain’t Me Babe: Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
- Golden Ring: Tammy Wynette & George Jones
- Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not: Thompson Square
- Give in to Me: Garrett Hedlund & Leighton Meester
- Meanwhile Back at Mama's: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
- Highway Don’t Care: Tim McGraw & Taylor Swift
- It’s Your Love: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
- Walkaway Joe: Trisha Yearwood & Don Henley
- When I Said I do: Clint Black & Trisha Yearwood
- Without a Fight: Brad Paisley & Demi Lavoto
- Different for Girls: Dierks Bentley & Elle King
- Setting the World On Fire: Kenny Chesney & Pink
- You Can’t Make Old Friends: Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
- I’ve Been Everywhere: Johnny Cash Feat Lynn Anderson
- Need You Now: Lady Antebellum
- Mutineer: Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
- When the Right One Comes Along: Striking Matches
- I’ve Got This Friend: The Civil Wars
- Falling: The Civil Wars
- Think of You: Chris Young & Cassadee Pope
- Lonely Tonight: Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe
- Islands in the Stream: Kenny Rodgers & Dolly Parton
- You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma: David Frizzell & Shelly West
- Cowgirls Don’t Cry: Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
- In Another’s Eyes: Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood