A collective rolling of eyes ensued when the ACM’s announced earlier this month they would pair some of today’s country music spares with legends from the past as part of their “Party For a Cause” concert centered around the ACM’s 50th Anniversary. When all the country star power was assembled in the Dallas area for the ACM gala, they taped a series of “Superstar Duet” performances pairing various stars to be aired on CBS May 15th.
Punctuating the ridiculousness of the duet roster was the unfortunate marriage of country legend Dwight Yoakam and country/EDM star Sam Hunt. Other bad ideas included Alan Jackson with former Luke Bryan merch peddler Cole Swindell, and Marty Stuart with Eric Church.
The duets were performed and taped in the days leading up to Sunday night’s 50th ACM Awards despite inclement weather delaying much of the schedule and thinning out some of the floor crowd. But the performances went on, and fan footage of the duets gives us our first glimpse of what we might expect from the impending television special.
One of the big questions leading into the duets is who would take the lead in the songs? Would we have to suffer through Alan Jackson fumbling with the lyrics of some pseudo-rapped misogynist super hit from Cole Swindell? But luckily it was the new artists who were asked to participate on one of the legend’s hits, and frankly some of the pairings were not half bad …. except when it came to Dwight Yoakam and Sam Hunt. You could have never choreographed a more fish out of water moment than what the crowd endured when Sam Hunt tried to match the vocal strength of Dwight on his most-recognizable hit “Fast As You.”
There’s nothing particularly wrong about Sam Hunt’s performance except he could never match the signature drawl of Dwight in a million years. The ACM’s put him in an impossible situation.
Listen, if you dare….
Out of some of the other duets, what we can discern from faraway video is not terribly bad. Though Cole Swindell is an easy punching bag, he did just fine with Alan Jackson on “Chattahoochee.” Other duets dredged up on YouTube include Keith Urban and John Anderson singing “Swingin’,” Luke Bryan and Ronnie Milsap trading lines on “Stranger In My House,” and one of the few duets that actually didn’t look too bad on paper, Miranda Lambert and Patty Loveless paired on “Dear Diamond.”
You can see some of the rest of the performances below: