OFFSTAGE: Jennifer Nettles and Rihanna Not So Good in “Bed”

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

I wanted to like the much-anticipated Jennifer Nettles/Rihanna duet at Sunday (April 3) night’s ACM Fan Jam. Because really, what’s not to like? Both women have such powerful pipes, and could sing together like they were a match made in vocal heaven. Which they did. But the trouble was, their voices were masked by so much bass, electric guitar and percussion. It was enough to drown out their two huge voices on Rihanna’s “California King Bed.” So what could’ve been a power ballad full of soul and twang turned out sounding like a jam session at a Prince concert. So it was very cool in theory, but in reality, I would’ve done it differently. Like maybe just had Sugarland’s other half, Kristian Bush, back them on acoustic guitar. Or had the two strong vocalists sing together on one mic instead of trying to reach every inch of the stage. The bottom line? I loved the song, the vocals, the idea and the comeback of palazzo pants (thanks to Nettles). I just didn’t think the over-the-top production did the ballad justice.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.