What’s better than a country song sung by your favorite performer? How about one sung by two of them, in perfect harmony? Country music has produced a number of memorable duets pairing husbands and wives, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and combinations of artists from other genres. (Sometimes the pairings push the envelope. Here are 25 bizarre musical collaborations.)
To assemble a list of the best duets in country music history, 24/7 Tempo reviewed listings of Grammys and Country Music Awards and nominations in pertinent categories, as well as lists of best country duets on sites including Wide Open Country, Country Thang Daily, Everything Nash, Spin Ditty, Yardbarker and Ranker, then curated the list to represent key figures and hit songs in traditional, modern mainstream, and alt.country categories from the past 71 years.
Duets that have paired some of country music’s finest performers – from Patsy Cline to Dolly Parton to Kenny Chesney – have been a staple of the genre. Keeping it in the family, the husband-and-wife team Chris and Morgane Stapleton turned “You Are My Sunshine” – the state song of Louisiana – into an affirmation of family and partnership. Through the use of technology, the late Hank Williams and his son, Hank Jr., were reunited in a music video, singing “There’s a Tear in My Beer.” (These are the greatest country music stars of all time.)
While many country songs are about poverty, love lost, personal demons, and redemption, others have addressed broader issues. Alan Jackson and George Strait used the song “Murder on Music Row” to decry the commercialization of country music and how that has disconnected it from its roots. Eric Church and country and blues singer Rhiannon Giddens teamed up to perform “Kill a Word” following messages of hate and intolerance during the 2016 presidential election.
Country music is known for its various sub-genres, and the country rap theme burst onto the music scene in a big way in 2019 when “Old Town Road,” performed by country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and rapper Lil Nas X, set chart records.
No list of duets would be complete without a mention of notable performers crooning about drinking. Among is Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart’s “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ .’’ Jackson and Jimmy Buffett’s “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” is as much a working-class lament as it is about happy-hour nirvana.
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