OFFSTAGE: It Had to Be Carrie Underwood

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

Frankly, I don’t know who else could have hooked up with Tony Bennett quite like Carrie Underwood. It had to be her. I mean, who else has the pipes to croon along with the legend on “It Had to Be You”? There are 57 years between them, but they sound so completely perfect together. Like they were made for that song. And I know I’m biased, but I feel the exact same way about Faith Hill‘s duet with Bennett on his “The Way You Look Tonight.” What’s nice about these duets, is that even though he chose a few country singers to join him on his Duets II album, these songs aren’t country, by any means. There are no banjos, no steel guitars and no twang. And he has some men on the album, too, like Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Josh Groban and more. And other women. But, to me, the Hill and Underwood duets shine brighter than all the others. You can hear the tracks for yourself on NPR.org now (with the exception of his “The Lady Is a Tramp” collaboration with Lady Gaga) or when the album comes out on Tuesday (Sept. 20).

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