Why Is Pink Performing at the CMA Awards? Examining the Pop Star’s Country Connections
On Oct. 27, a little less than two weeks before the 2017 CMA Awards, the Country Music Association revealed that Pink will be performing at this year's ceremony. Including pop stars in the annual awards show isn't anything new -- Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande were onstage at the 2014 CMAs, and readers likely remember Justin Timberlake and Beyonce's performances in 2015 and 2016, respectively -- but it always results in an outcry from fans who feel that country awards shows should keep things country.
Pink, though, has more country cred than other pop artists the CMA could have invited -- and perhaps more country cred than fans realize. Her CMA Awards-nominated collaboration with Kenny Chesney isn't her only foray into or flirtation with the genre.
“In the same concerts where I’m flying around, I’m always barefoot and sitting with an acoustic guitar too,” Pink told the Guardian in 2014. “In every show, I do an acoustic section, so it’s a very big part of me.”
Music lovers can trace Pink's country -- or, more specifically, folk -- roots back more than a decade, at least. Pink and the Indigo Girls worked together twice that year: She is featured on the duo's Despite Our Differences album, released in September of 2006, and they appear on her record I'm Not Dead, released that May.
For I'm Not Dead, Pink worked with the Indigo Girls on the song "Dear Mr. President." In December of 2006, she released the song as a single. Although it did not chart in the United States, "Dear Mr. President" became a No. 1 hit in Austria, Belgium and Germany, and a Top 20 hit in a handful of other countries; the song has also been certified platinum in Austria and Germany and gold in Australia.
Pink's biggest folk project to date, however, came eight years later, in 2014, when she teamed up with Dallas Green -- a Canadian singer-songwriter who records his solo folk music under the alias City and Colour and as part of hardcore band Alexisonfire -- to form You+Me. They wrote and recorded their debut album together, rose ave., that spring, and released it in October. The record hit No. 1 in Canada and No. 4 in the U.S., and landed in the Top 10 in a few other countries as well; rose ave. has been certified gold in Canada, and three singles from the record charted there as well.
Artists Who Unexpectedly "Went Country"
True, Pink's aforementioned projects are more country-adjacent than they are mainstream country, but radio-listening country music fans should recognize some of the songwriter and producer names on Pink's newest album, Beautiful Trauma, released on Oct. 13. The record's lead single, "What About Us," was co-written and produced by Steve Mac, who wrote Trace Adkins' "Help Me Understand" and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's current single, "The Rest of Our Lives." Busbee -- songwriter and producer for, among others, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Lauren Alaina -- co-wrote and produced another track. And Ross Golan, who co-penned Keith Urban's "Shame" and Lady Antebellum's "Compass," co-wrote and -produced Pink's song "Barbies."
"How often do you get to work with maybe one of the best pop lyricists, artists, from one generation, and then one of the best lyric writers of the next generation, on the song together?" Golan tells The Boot, referring both to Pink and to co-writer Julia Michaels, one of pop's rising stars. "Getting to just be in the room, let alone getting to be an active participant in the writing -- you know, it was truly remarkable watching these two women interact with each other."
Country artists place a heavy emphasis on a song's lyrical content, and Golan notes that Pink is one of the best lyricists he's worked with. On all of her albums -- seven as Pink, one as You+Me -- she has co-written most, if not all, of the material.
"If all she was was the lyricist she is, I think we'd all be like, 'Man, she's one of the best artists -- pop artists -- of this generation," Golan says. He also praises Pink's vocal and performance abilities, which position the singer as a triple threat. "Who else is doing that? Who else can do that, in music, period?"
The question remains, though: What the heck will Pink sing at the 2017 CMA Awards? Chesney tells Taste of Country Nights that he won't be at the awards show this year, so unless Pink's planning to sing "Setting the World on Fire" by herself or with another artist filling in for Chesney, it won't be that song. Past special guest artists have all paired up with a country star or two, though, and they often perform a medley of both artists' hits.
The 2017 CMA Awards are scheduled to air on ABC on Nov. 8, at 8PM ET; the ceremony will take place live at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the ceremony for the 10th year in a row.
The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about winners, fashion and moments at the 2017 CMA Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to TheBoot.com for the latest CMAs headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.
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