It was a weekend of thunder, whipping wind, and heavy rain—such that set times were constantly delayed as stars huddled in buses and backrooms while fans huddled, well, together—at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, while ACM Presents: Superstar Duets filmed (the special was filmed April 17 and 18 before the ACM Awards). But filmed they did, Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore, Reba the Great, Dwight Yoakam and many more legends and young guns took the stage to honor country music and Stand Up To Cancer in the two-hour broadcast that aired Friday. Here’s what I thought:
Alan Jackson and Cole Swindell sing Jackson’s 1992 song, “Chattahoochee”: Does Cole Swindell shower with his Georgia Southern hat on? If he got on a motorcycle, would he wear his hat under his helmet? Does he have more than one? If he has only one, what does he do with his head whilst the one is being washed? Wait…do you think he washes the one if there is only one? But seriously, we’ve spent so much time discussing the hat that perhaps we’ve forgotten it might be hiding something.
An ancillary concern: Are Cole Swindell and Alan Jackson related?
Patty Loveless and Miranda Lambert sing Loveless’s 1993 song “Blame It On Your Lyin’ Cheatin’ Heart”: What’m I doing with my life that I’m still not Miranda Lambert? There is no one better to carry on the old school, female spitfire tunes.
Dwight Yoakam and Sam Hunt sing Yoakam’s 1993 song, “Fast As You”: Sam—can I call you Sam? I know Mr. Yoakam is your hero, but I do not feel good about this partnership. Yes, you’re both standouts because you stand alone, but you don’t stand anywhere near each other. Well anyway, whatever, let’s get started. Sam, is there something in your eye? Sam, Sam, over here!! Hey Sam! Oh wait, Sam, you sound great. Wait Sam, can you dance like Dwight? Do you know how hard it is for Dwight to steal the spotlight when you’re standing next to him? He’s stealing it. Dwight Yoakam is crushing the dance game, right now.
The Band Perry and Deana Carter sing Carter’s 1995 song, “Strawberry Wine”: Hold on while my entire childhood crashes into me. “My biggest fear was September”—I miss thinking that. Currently, however, I’m thinking about how perfectly smokey Kimberly Perry is for this track.
Ancillary concern: Speaking of childhood, what was it like in the Perry household? On a scale of 1-Von Trapp, where do we think they were?
Brantley Gilbert sings his own track, “One Hell of an Amen,” to honor the servicemen and women and Stand Up To Cancer: Wow, it is pouringggggggggggggg. Also, there is a lot Brantley does that distracts you from what he’s actually doing—which is singing with a gravely baritone I’m in no rush to turn off.
Alabama and Eli Young Band sing Alabama’s boundary-pushing song, “The Closer You Get”: Can we think about the intro Alabama just received? Twenty-one No. 1 records in a row—is that even possible anymore? Also, Randy Owen is the beginning and end of everything right now—he passes the song to Mike Eli with a “Take it young man!” that practically kills me with awesomeness.
Ancillary concern: Remember when Eli Young Band put out music this year? You probably don’t as it arrived with little fanfare, but you should. It was good.
Sara Evans and Darius Rucker cover June and Johnny Cash’s 1967 recording, “Jackson” (the song was originally recorded by Billy Edd Wheeler): It’s hard to imagine not liking everything these two do but…
Ronnie Milsap and Luke Bryan cover Milsap’s 1983 song, “Stranger in my House”: I can appreciate a Luke Bryan dance move but this Luke Bryan, the one seated behind a piano just sangin’ (“sangin’ ” because, twang) is my favorite Luke Bryan.
Miranda Lambert and Patty Loveless return to sing Lambert’s 2011 song, “Dear Diamond”: Where can I get this? Will one and/or both of you sing this to me every afternoon while I sleep beneath my desk?
Lady Antebellum and Brandy Clark sing Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s 1983 song, “Islands in the Stream”: CAN SOMEONE MAKE ROOM FOR BRANDY?
Clint Black and Joe Nichols sing Black’s 1997 song, “Nothing but the Taillights”: Clint looks good. Really good.
Also, this duet, in terms of the legend-and-little-one-relationship makes the most sense. Isn’t it nice when things sound nice?
Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore, Ashley Monroe, sing Waylon Jennings’ 1980 song, “Good Ol’ Boys”: Isn’t it nice to see Kip without a hat on? (*cough, Cole, *cough). Also, I think Dierks was right in his introduction, it is nice to see Ms. Monroe really lay into a track.
Ancillary concern: How does Monroe make a rainstorm look so good?
Kenny Chesney sings George Jones’ 1988 song, “I’m a One-Woman Man” (Jones actually covered this track, it was originally recorded by Johnny Horton in 1956): Kenny is a rare performer—he’s popping off on TV, which is especially impressive given that this isn’t just his concert or just his fans. Who knows who these people came to see (it feels like maybe the answer is Kenny).
John Anderson and Keith Urban sing Anderson’s 1982 song, “Swinging”: Oh man Keith, you’re gonna be just fine after Idol. Also, if you guys don’t mind, can you play guitar together….forever?
Brett Eldredge and Hunter Hayes sing Marty Robbins’ 1959 song, “El Paso”: We couldn’t find two people just slightly closer in height-range of each other? Also, Brett, if the other guy is bringing a guitar, bring one too!
Ancillary concern: There’s really been a lot of leather jackets tonight, hm?
Jake Owen sings his 2013 track “What We Ain’t Got” in honor of his father who beat cancer two years ago: His voice sounds like being bathed in honey without having to worry about drowning.
Reba sings her 2015 single “Going Out Like That” solo because no one deserves to be onstage with her: Good God no one deserves to be on—ah, already said that.
Brooks & Dunn and Reba sing the duo’s 2007 song “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” (Reba starred in the video!): Turns out someone can share that stage with Reba and it’s Ronnie Dunn.
Darius Rucker closes out the broadcast with Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition”: A staple of Rucker’s live shows proves a perfect ending to a stormy, slightly off-kilter, slightly awesome evening.