The Hodgepodge: Pop Duets Ignore Country’s Rich Talent Pool of Female Artists

Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King – “Different for Girls”

Brad Paisley feat. Demi Lovato – “Without a Fight”

Kenny Chesney feat. P!nk – “Setting the World on Fire”

One of the most recent musical trends out of Nashville, as you can tell by the above pairings, is partnering a male country singer with a female non-country singer to record a non-country song, probably in hopes for a crossover hit. Three big, veteran names in country music are using the big names from female pop acts to gain even more exposure and revenue.

This isn’t a terrible trend, and Paisley and Chesney’s songs aren’t terrible. “Different for Girls” has some backwards lyrics, but Dierks and Elle sing the song well, and I like the production to the tune. My only gripe with this trend is that it blatantly ignores a large, talented pool of female singers in country music. Females who already struggle to get songs on the radio by themselves. To be fair, Dierks Bentley also recorded “I’ll Be The Moon” on Black with newcomer Maren Morris, a song which received quite a bit of album promotional play and press before the album’s release. However, the label decided to move forward with the Elle King duet as the single, not the Morris duet.

I know the answer to this question is money and marketability, but why not record these same songs with country newcomers? Mickey Guyton has a vocal power similar to Demi Lovato, and could easily fit into “Without a Fight.” In Fact, on several occasions while on tour with Paisley, Mickey Guyton sang Allison Krauss’ role in “Whiskey Lullaby.” I think Mickey Guyton could have sung Lovato’s parts and “Without a Fight” could still be just as good.

Like I said, I know that there’s a certain marketability that comes with having Demi Lovato’s or P!nk’s name attached to a song as opposed to Mickey Guyton or Cam. Outside of the obvious pop demographic (which the songs are clearly catered toward), those two names are just simply more well-known. But even some singers like Kellie Pickler and Lauren Alaina are good singers themselves and have the American Idol notoriety surrounding their name.

Obviously the larger purpose of songs like the ones mentioned above is the fact that these females attract a non-country audience to song and probably double the listening potential. But coming off a year in which the problem of females on country radio, or lack thereof, was headlining everywhere, it’s odd to me that producers would gloss over that potential talent pool.

Chris Young recently had a number one song on the Airplay Charts that he recorded with Cassadee Pope. “Think of You” is just as Adult Contemporary sounding as the three aforementioned songs. So don’t try to argue that “country females won’t sell” because clearly a duet between male and female COUNTRY singers sold and succeeded.

I’m probably just beating a dead horse and screaming at a brick wall because complaint’s like this haven’t helped. Even with Tomato Gate on everyone’s mind last year, Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini are still the only females getting consistent radio airplay. Yet women like Lori McKenna, Brandy Clark, Aubrie Sellers, and Margo Price have all released great albums this year. Why don’t we hear them on the charts? Why aren’t labels pursuing duets with these talented singers? Yes, Aubrie Sellers has recently signed a deal with Warner, and Lori McKenna has seen excellent success as a songwriter from “Girl Crush” and “Humble and Kind.” However, it’s still a shame that several of country’s talented female singers are overlooked for a cash-grab pop duet.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Mo Pitney has announced his debut LP through Curb Records. Behind This Guitar will be released October 7.
  • William Michael Morgan announced his debut album, Vinyl, will be released on September 30.
  • Reckless Kelly will release Sunset Motel on September 23.
  • Also on September 23 Dwight Yoakam is releasing a bluegrass album titled Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…
  • Jack Ingram will release Midnight Motel on August 26. Hear the new single, “I’m Drinking Through It.”
  • The Cadillac Three will release Bury Me in Boots tomorrow.
  • Cody Johnson will release Gotta Be Me tomorrow.
  • Next Friday, both Cody Jinks (I’m Not The Devil) and Kelsey Waldon (I’ve Got a Way) will release albums. A day which is sure to be a good day for new country music.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn With all the talk of country duets today, what could be better than a duet from two of country’s best singers? Sit back and enjoy this 1973 hit from their duet album of the same name.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Foo Fighters “Everlong” The only non-country music I’ve listened to this week is the Foo Fighters Greatest Hits album, so I recommend what is probably my favorite Foo Fighters song.

Tweet of the Week

I told myself not to mention a certain country group that I wrote about in last week’s Hodgepodge, but this tweet pretty much sums up my opinions on “Comeback Kid.”

iTunes Review for Big Smo

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This guy hates the fact that country fans call Big Smo not country. Especially when later on in this review, he clearly states how Big Smo raps. Sure we don’t technically own the word “country” but we know which music is actually country music and which is actually rap or hick hop.

The Hodgepodge: Red Dirt Favorites

Reckless Kelly

Once again, I found myself in a busy work week, and a long weekend of traveling and shutting out the rest of the world didn’t help either when it came time to write this week’s feature. I have no ideas simmering this week, so today I’ve decided to list a few of my favorite Red Dirt/Texas songs and albums. I’ll link most songs discussed and embed to the page, but I encourage all of you to listen to these and seek them out. I’m a big Red Dirt country fan and continue to expand and discover new songs and artists on a fairly regular basis.

Just to reiterate, these are my personal favorites. This list is not a top songs or “best of” list. And as always, I’d love to hear other recommendations if I overlooked a favorite of yours on this list.

Some Favorite Red Dirt Albums

Reckless Kelly’s Wicked Twisted Road – The title track of the album is probably my favorite Reckless Kelly song of all time, but this whole album is great. With hit after hit like “Seven Nights in Eire”, “Motel Cowboy Show” and “Baby’s Got a Whole Lot More”, Reckless Kelly delivers a solid album from start to finish. If you’ve never really listened to this band before, Wicked Twisted Road is a great place to start.

Wade Bowen’s Lost Hotel – Just as a simple country album, regardless of region or radio popularity, Lost Hotel stands as one of the best. Bowen delivers some powerful vocal performances on a few well written ballads and balances them with excellent upbeat country songs. Without a doubt, Lost Hotel is Bowen’s best album.


Seth James’ That Kind of Man – Seth James is a background player in Texas country, but his lone solo album is a constant on my iPhone. James has one of the best singing voices I’ve heard, delivering songs with captivating and powerful vocals. For a short time, James was also a part of Cody Canada’s new band, The Departed, where he and Canada swapped vocal leads on the band’s album Adventus. But James’ solo album is one to listen to over and over again.

Turnpike Troubadours’ Diamonds & Gasoline – This is an album loaded with great song after great song from the Oklahoma country band. Opening with “Every Girl” immediately followed by “7&7” sets a great mood and proves that country music can be fun without mentions of fireball shots. The album also includes a title track that tugs at your heart and the intriguing story of “The Funeral.” Diamonds & Gasoline is an album that doesn’t get old.

Some Favorite Red Dirt Songs

“Hank” Jason Boland & The Stragglers – An excellent country protest song about the state of country music. As great as the song is, it’s poignant with the hook line “Hank Williams wouldn’t make it now in Nashville, Tennessee.” That’s just a sad thought.

“Oh Tonight” Josh Abbott Band feat. Kacey Musgraves – Back before Musgraves’ big break, she collaborated with Josh Abbott on this love song. Her inclusion here is welcome and adds a great layer to the song. Both Abbott and Musgraves offer up great vocal performances on a great production.

“Alabama” Cross Canadian Ragweed – I’ve become a huge fan of Cody Canada’s over the past year, digging into the Ragweed discography along with The Departed. He’s written and recorded many songs I love, but this rocking love song stands as one of my favorites.

“Lost and Found” Randy Rogers Band – This breakup song from The Randy Rogers Band is one of their many great songs. I love the melody of the song and Rogers’ vocal delivery pulls at your heartstrings as he realizes how he messed things up in the relationship.

“Used To Be” The Great Divide – Written by Red Dirt founding father Tom Skinner, “Used To Be” reminisces of the way things used to be in a small town. Between the great upbeat lead guitar riff and the lyrics, “Used To Be” may be the quintessential Red Dirt song.

“Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah” Reckless Kelly – For those who think Tyler Farr is redneck crazy, let me introduce to Crazy Eddie. This song is absolutely absurd, but it’s so over-the-top that you can’t help but enjoy it. If you want to write a ridiculous break up song, this is how it’s done.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Tomorrow, The Turnpike Troubadours will release their new, self-titled album.
  • Eric Paslay has hinted at new music which will be revealed tomorrow.
  • Tim McGraw has announced the title of his next album, Damn Country Music. 
  • Next week, Don Henley will release his first solo album in 15 years. Cass County will hit the shelves on September 25.
  • Sunny Sweeney and Brennen Leigh sang a song together at a recent acoustic show in Austin, Texas.  “But If You Like Country Music” finds two men at the far ends of the political spectrum finding common ground in Merle Haggard. It’s a fun, witty song that you can’t help but enjoy.
  • Toby Keith’s newest single off 35 MPH Town is called “Rum is the Reason.”
  • Jana Kramer has a new album due out October 9 called Thirty One. The album features her current single “I Got The Boy” as well as her previous single “Love.”

Today in Country Music History

  • In 1923 country music’s first big star, and most influential singer/songwriter, Hank Williams, is born in Mount Olive, Alabama.
  • Reba McEntire makes her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1977.

Today’s Country Music history facts come courtesy of RolandNote.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Your Cheatin’ Heart” – Hank Williams. In honor of Hank’s birthday, it only seems appropriate for today’s throwback song to be one of his best. Hank recorded “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in one of his last recording sessions before his death at age 29. The song’s release immediately following Williams’ death propelled him to an instant success.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


Foo Fighters – Songs From The Laundry Room. This four-song EP was originally compiled and released strictly for Record Day 2015, but Grohl and company re-released it for mass-consumption this month. Songs From The Laundry Room consists of demos of early Foo Fighters’ songs recorded in the early 90s, one cover of “Kids in America” and a previously unreleased song called “Empty Handed.” If you’re a fan of the Foo Fighters, this is a great EP to add to your collection.

Tweet of the Week

This fake “Drunken Martina McBride” twitter account is one of my favorite parody accounts. She pulls no punches when it comes to calling out bros on their stupidity.

An iTunes Review To Which I Shake My Head

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This was for Brett Eldredge’s Illinois. I listened to the album, and I don’t quite know where this reviewer heard “that true country sound” because I sure didn’t. Some crappy lyrics throughout the album, especially on “Drunk On Your Love” which is one of the dumbest, unoriginal songs ever. And don’t even get me started on that awful disco song he sang with Thomas Rhett.