Top 10 Male-Female Duets in Country Music

Updated on September 2, 2018
Isabella King profile image

I attend Wellesley College, where I am earning my degree in Studio Art and English with a concentration in Creative Writing.

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What is it about duets? Some of the best country songs ever 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 listeners, 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 and female duets ever made, along with a list of several honorable mentions.

Country songs aren't always about history. Some of my favorite topics for country songs include: songs about love and murder, songs about tequila, and songs about the advancement of technology.

Top 10 Male-Female Duets in Country Music

  1. "Picture" Kid Rock Featuring Sheryl Crow
  2. "Whiskey Lullaby" Brad Paisley & Alison Kraus
  3. "I Told You So" Carrie Underwood Featuring Randy Travis
  4. "Call a Spade a Spade" Turnpike Troubadours Featuring Jamie Wilson
  5. "Jackson" Johnny Cash & June Carter
  6. "In Spite of Ourselves" John Prine & Iris DeMent
  7. "You and Tequila" Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter
  8. "Don’t You Want to Stay" Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson
  9. "When I Get Where I’m Going" Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton
  10. "Remind Me" Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood

1. "Picture" Kid Rock Featuring Sheryl Crow

Album: N/A (single)

Release year: 2002

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 Grammys, 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 is played on radio stations across America and will continue to be for many decades to come.

Great Lyrics From the Song "Picture"

Living my life in a slow hell
Different girl every night at the hotel
I ain't seen the sunshine in three damn days
Been fueling up on cocaine and whisky
Wish I had a good girl to miss me
Oh Lord I wonder if I'll ever change my ways

It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

— Sheryl Crow

2. "Whiskey Lullaby" Brad Paisley & Alison Kraus

Album: Mud on the Tires

Release year: 2004

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.

Great Lyrics From the Song "Whiskey Lullaby"

She put him out
Like the burning end of a midnight cigarette
She broke his heart
He spent his whole life tryin' to forget
We watched him drink his pain away
A little at a time

Life isn't always black and white. You're not always sure you're right. At least I'm not.

— Brad Paisley

3. "I Told You So" Carrie Underwood Featuring Randy Travis

Album: Always & Forever

Release year: 1988

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.

Great Lyrics From the Song "I Told You So"

If I told you that I realized you're all I ever wanted
And it's killin' me to be so far away.
Would you tell me that you loved me too and would we cry together?
Or would you simply laugh at me and say

Throw caution to the wind and just do it.

— Carrie Underwood

4. "Call a Spade a Spade" Turnpike Troubadours Featuring Jamie Wilson

Album: Goodbye Normal Street

Release year: 2012

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.

Great Lyrics From the Song "Call a Spade a Spade"

Well you've got a way
And you've got away with it before
And you've got a look
That could drop me dead here on the floor
And you've got a touch
It's the sweetest one I know
I've gotta go, yeah I've gotta go

What if you’d been true? You better look me in the eyes. All I smell is cheap perfume, and gin, and smoke, and lies.

— Turnpike Troubadours ("Gin, Smoke, Lies")

5. "Jackson" Johnny Cash & June Carter

Album: Carryin' On with Johnny Cash and June Carter

Release year: 1967

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 sung over a lively beat, this song is sure to win over any country music lover.

Great Lyrics From the Song "Jackson"

Well, go on down to Jackson; go ahead and wreck your health.
Go play your hand you big-talkin' man, make a big fool of yourself,
Yeah, go to Jackson; go comb your hair!
Honey, I'm gonna snowball Jackson.
See if I care.

Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.

— Johnny Cash

Great Country Duets for Karaoke

Song
Artist
Album
"Beer for My Horses"
Toby Keith and Willie Nelson
Unleashed
"It's Five O'Clock Somewhere"
Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet
"Greatest Hits Volume II"
"A Bad Goodbye"
Clint Black and Wynonna
"No Time to Kill"
"Rockin' Years"
Ricky Van Shelton and Dolly Parton
"Eagle When She Flies"
"After the Fire Is Gone"
Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty
"We Only Make Believe"
"Party for Two (feat. Billy Currington)"
Shania Twain and Billy Currington
N/A
"Till A Tear Becomes A Rose"
Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan
N/A
"The Whiskey Ain't Workin'"
Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart
"It's All About to Change"
"To All the Girls I Loved Before"
Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias
"Live and Kickin'"

6. "In Spite of Ourselves" John Prine & Iris DeMent

Album: In Spite of Ourselves

Release year: 1999

Following John Prine’s successful battle with throat cancer in 1998, he released his 13th studio album also titled In Spite of Ourselves 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.

Great Lyrics From the Song "In Spite of Ourselves"

He ain't got laid in a month of Sundays
I caught him once and he was sniffin' my undies
He ain't too sharp but he gets things done
Drinks his beer like it's oxygen
He's my baby
And I'm his honey
I'm never gonna let him go

Bewildered, bewildered, you have no complaint. You are what you are, and you ain't what you ain't.

— John Prine

7. "You and Tequila" Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter

Album: Hemingway's Whiskey

Release year: 2010

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 and 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.

Great Lyrics From the Song "You and Tequila"

Thirty days and thirty nights
Been putting up a real good fight
And there were times I thought you'd win
It's so easy to forget
The bitter taste the morning left
Swore I wouldn't go back there again

Live a little. Love a lot.

— Kenny Chesney

8. "Don’t You Want to Stay" Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson

Album: N/A

Release year: 2010

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 crossover 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.

Great Lyrics From the Song "Don’t You Want to Stay"

I really hate to let this moment go
Touching your skin, and your hair falling slow
When a goodbye kiss, feels like this

Everyone says I'm like the girl next door... Y'all must have really weird neighbors!

— Kelly Clarkson

9. "When I Get Where I’m Going" Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton

Album: Time Well Wasted

Release year: 2005

“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.

Great Lyrics From the Song "When I Get Where I’m Going"

Yeah, when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I'll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah, when I get where I'm going
Don't cry for me down here

Storms make trees take deeper roots.

— Dolly Parton

10. "Remind Me" Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood

Album: This Is Country Music

Release year: 2011

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 that 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 because it uses these two voices to gather both perspectives together in the hope of rekindling that lost spark.

Great Lyrics From the Song "Remind Me"

Remember the airport dropping me off
We were kissing goodbye and we couldn't stop
I felt bad cause you missed your flight
But that meant we had one more night

The more boys I meet, the more I love my dog.

— Carrie Underwood

More Great Country Duets

Song
Artist
Album
"We Were Us"
Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert
"Fuse"
"Barton Hollow"
The Civil Wars
"Barton Hollow"
"Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man"
Conway Twitty & Loretta Lyn
"Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man"
"I Need You"
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
"Let It Go"
"It Ain’t Me Babe"
Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
"Orange Blossom Special"
"Golden Ring"
Tammy Wynette & George Jones
"Golden Ring"
"Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not"
Thompson Square
"Thompson Square"
"Give in to Me"
Garrett Hedlund & Leighton Meester
"Country Strong"
"Meanwhile Back at Mama's"
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
"Sundown Heaven Town"
"Highway Don’t Care"
Tim McGraw & Taylor Swift
"Two Lanes of Freedom"
"It’s Your Love"
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
"Everywhere"
"Walkaway Joe"
Trisha Yearwood & Don Henley
"Hearts in Armor"
"When I Said I Do"
Clint Black & Trisha Yearwood
"D'lectrified"
"Without a Fight"
Brad Paisley & Demi Lavoto
N/A
"Different for Girls"
Dierks Bentley & Elle King
"Black"
"Setting the World on Fire"
Kenny Chesney & Pink
"Cosmic Hallelujah"
"You Can’t Make Old Friends"
Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
"You Can't Make Old Friends"
"I’ve Been Everywhere"
Johnny Cash Feat Lynn Anderson
"Unchained"
"Need You Now"
Lady Antebellum
"Need You Now"
"Mutineer"
Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
N/A
"When the Right One Comes Along"
Striking Matches
"Nothing But The Silence"
"I’ve Got This Friend"
The Civil Wars
"Barton Hollow"
"Falling"
The Civil Wars
"Live at Eddie's Attic"
"Think of You"
Chris Young & Cassadee Pope
"I'm Comin' Over"
"Lonely Tonight"
Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe
"Bringing Back the Sunshine"
"Islands in the Stream"
Kenny Rodgers & Dolly Parton
"Eyes That See in the Dark"
"You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma"
David Frizzell & Shelly West
"Carryin’ On the Family Names"
"Cowgirls Don’t Cry"
Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
"Cowboy Town"
"In Another’s Eyes"
Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood
"Sevens"

Vote for Your Favorite!

Which of these Duets is your number one pick?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Isabella King

    Are there any songs missing? Have any strong opinions about the order? Post them here!

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      • profile image

        Wayne 

        6 months ago

        Just You and I--Eddie Rabbit and Crystal Gayle..

        Don't Fall In Love w/ A Dreamer- Kenny Rodgers & Kim Carnes.

        Kenny Rogers and Dottie West- Every Time Two Fools Collide.

      • profile image

        Wayne 

        6 months ago

        Just You and I--Eddie Rabbit and Crystal Gayle..

        Don't Fall In Love w/ A Dreamer- Kenny Rodgers & Dottie West.

      • profile image

        Kim 

        7 months ago

        I really like the song Want To Want Me by Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan

      • Isabella King profile imageAUTHOR

        Isabella King 

        19 months ago from Cincinnati, Ohio

        @CJ Kelly Thank you for the input! Making the top 10 list from the songs I had compiled was extremely difficult! I did include "Islands in the Stream" in the list of songs that didn't quite make the list. While writing this article I showed it to my dad, and he had a similar reaction to that song and a few others! Thanks for reading!

      • lions44 profile image

        CJ Kelly 

        19 months ago from Auburn, WA

        I voted for Whiskey Lullaby, but I have to give a shout to Islands in the Stream. It has to be in the Top 5. I'm showing my age here but that duet had implications far beyond country music.

        First, it was a hit for months and just further solidified the stardom of both Rodgers and Parton. Second, it had a great cultural significance as well. For many in the Northeast, it was their first introduction to country music. It set the stage for the genre's national growth later in the 80s with guys like Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam.

        Great article. Thx.

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