Top 10 Country Collaborations of 2018
There's nothing quite as exciting as your favorite artist teaming up with your other favorite artist -- and in 2018, epic collaborations happened a lot.
Whether it was two country superstars (Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert, for example), a seasoned vet with an up-and-comer (Keith Urban and Kassi Ashton, anyone?) or a pop-country mashup for the ages (Maren Morris, Zedd and Grey!), this year's best country collaborations will be fan favorites well beyond the end of 2018.
Scroll down to check out The Boot's favorite country collaborations of 2018. We told you there were a lot of 'em this year!
Released in September, "Down Low" finds North Carolina bluegrass band Town Mountain working with rising Americana star Childers for a wild track about living the wild life. With the addition of the Americana Music Awards' Emerging Artist of the Year -- who also co-wrote the song -- "Down Low" takes on the same gritty tone that most of Childers' songs are known for, while Town Mountain's formidable skills as musicians bring a decidedly -esque vibe to the track.
For the seventh track on his No. 1 album Graffiti U, Urban says he went looking for "swagger" -- and he found it in one of The Boot's 2018 Artists to Watch, Ashton. The result is "Drop Top," a three-minute ode to confidence, freedom and just the right amount of attitude. The EDM-inspired pop-country song features a strong bass line that perfectly highlights Urban and Ashton's vocal mashup, making it one of the summer's best tracks for driving with -- you guessed it -- the droptop down.
Ballerini -- who calls "This Feeling" with pop-EDM duo the Chainsmokers a "dream collab" -- hits all the right notes in this crossover hit. Alongside the Chainsmokers' Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, the country artist's already electric vocals become even more charged, and it's clear from the very first notes that the three have great chemistry.
Ballerini says that her favorite thing about collaborating with an artist outside of her genre is that it opens the door for more people to hear great music: "Country music's not just like a traditional sound anymore," she says about "This Feeling" and other pop-country collaborations like it, "and it kind of opens the doors more, which is kinda sick."
Celebrating the human and divine in all of us, "Burning Man" is the perfect track for heavy hitters Bentley and Brothers Osborne to collaborate on. Bentley says he felt an "immediate connection" with the lyrics and "the idea that we are a little bit of everything," and when he reached out to John and TJ Osborne, they were immediately drawn in as well ... and it's a good thing, because "Burning Man" quickly became one of Bentley's biggest hits of 2018. The song reached No. 1 on the country charts and has burning up radio ever since its May release.
It's no secret that the end of 2017 was a bit rough on Underwood, but her January release of "The Champion" proved that nothing can get the country icon down for too long. Written by Underwood alongside Christopher Bridges, Chris DeStefano and Brett James, "The Champion" is an epic anthem of empowerment, made even more monumental with the addition of Ludacris. The video for "The Champion" features Underwood and Ludacris performing the track in the studio, with that footage interspersed amid a series of powerful images of those who fought (and still fight) for greatness everyday. Featuring Martin Luther King Jr., representatives of the Time's Up movement and even Underwood's hockey-playing hubby Mike Fisher, the video won the 2018 CMT Music Awards' Female Video of the Year.
With collaborations with everyone from the Chainsmokers to the Backstreet Boys, FGL are no strangers to teaming up with pop artists. But their duet with Rexha, the infectious, chart-topping "Meant to Be," may just be the best one yet. Written by Rexha and FGL's Tyler Hubbard, plus co-writers Josh Miller and David Garcia, "Meant to Be" spent a record-breaking 54 weeks at No. 1 on the country charts and earned the trio a Grammy Awards nomination in the Best Country Duo / Group Performance category.
This year, "Dust on the Bottle" singer Murphy returned in a big way with "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," a laid-back duet with Chesney. In a world where so much seems hard, Murphy says in a press release that he connected with the track and how it encourages listeners to "take a deep breath and roll with everything that's going on around you." Written by Murphy, Jimmy Yeary and Chris Stevens, "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" bested tough competition at the 2018 CMA Awards, taking home the title of Musical Event of the Year and winning Murphy his very first CMA trophy. The song also hit No. 1, Murphy's first time at the top of the charts since "Dust on the Bottle" got there in the '90s.
When Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush announced in late 2017 that their massively popular country duo Sugarland would reunite, no one quite expected that their return would include Swift. Written by Swift and Train's Pat Monahan, "Babe" also features backing vocals from the country-turned-pop icon, who even makes a cameo in the song's music video -- as a home-wrecking cheater, no less! In many ways, the mid-tempo track harkens back to Swift's Speak Now days, but finds fresh and modern life in the deft hands of Nettles and Bush, making it a sure bet that Sugarland are back and bringing some of their best music with them.
With vibrant vocals, synth-heavy melodies and that infectious tick-tick throughout, "The Middle" showcases the diversity of three very talented performers ... not to mention, it's catchy as heck. The single earned some nods at the 2019 Grammy Awards and more than a few top spots on the charts, including on the Adult Top 40 and Hot Dance/Electronic Songs lists, making Morris a bona fide crossover success and cementing her spot as one of the top artists of 2018.
When Aldean released Rearview Town in April, his stunning debut with Lambert was an instant favorite of fans and critics alike. The heartbreaking ballad about loneliness after a breakup was written by Josh Thompson, Brandon Kinney and Jeff Middleton, and is the prefect duet for Lambert and Aldean. Their vocals blend together in perfect, gut-wrenching harmony, totally selling the pain of heartbreak without being too melodramatic about it. For those nursing a broken heart, "Drowns the Whiskey" is the perfect song to ease your tears.