How Justin Timberlake, Not Chris Stapleton, Changed Modern Country Music
Chris Stapleton singing "Tennessee Whiskey" with Justin Timberlake was a defining moment in his career and in modern country music. Or was it?
This week's episode of The Secret History of Country Music looks back on the moment that turned Stapleton into an overnight superstar. But it probably wasn't about Stapleton as much as it was the guy to his right. The pop superstar was the reason a newcomer got more than eight minutes of television time at the 2015 CMA Awards — nowadays, a newbie is lucky to get a verse and a chorus before it's all thrown to commercial.
Stapleton and Timberlake sang two songs that November night, and one was released as a country single ‚ but it wasn't "Tennessee Whiskey." Why this duet was immediately pushed to country radio remains a mystery. Stapleton came with "Nobody to Blame," but wouldn't notch a Top 10 hit until two years later — and it's not because two other legends got to it first. There's no comparing George Jones and David Allan Coe's version to Stapleton's. Watch the video to see why, and appreciate that in no way are we saying the Kentucky soul singer isn't deserving or worthy. JT just gave him a jumpstart, and we're all better for it.
The Secret History of Country Music is a new weekly series hosted by Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar. We'll go deeper inside the stories of country music's biggest hits, moments and figures. Look for episodes about Willie Nelson and Brooks & Dunn coming up, and be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.
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