The video for Aldean and Underwood’s “If I Didn’t Love You” is nominated for Collaborative Video of the Year and the night’s top honor, Video of the Year, at the 2022 CMT Music Awards, which will air live from Nashville 8 p.m. Monday on CBS.
But a few days ago, they celebrated the song with a much more intimate group of friends, family, the song’s writers and music industry partners at a No. 1 party at BMI in Nashville.
Written by Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy, John Morgan and Lydia Vaughan, “If I Didn’t Love You” is Aldean’s 26th No. 1 song and Underwood’s 28th chart-topper. It is Morgan and Vaughn’s first No. 1 song as songwriters.
The song’s story is a case of the best-case scenario of what happens when a plan comes together. The writers knew Aldean was searching for a song that was a duet that could serve as a defining moment of his double album “MACON, GEORGIA.” So, they called a last-minute writing session and wrote: “If I Didn’t Love You.”
Aldean heard the song, called his manager, and joked, “I said to call Carrie’s camp and get her on the song ASAP, just that easy,” he joked as the crowd laughed.
It’s never that easy. Aldean didn’t know what Underwood’s music release schedule looked like, and if she had new music immediately pending, they couldn’t have released “If I Didn’t Love You.” But she didn’t.
“Her voice was the one I heard on the song,” Aldean said. “I remember sending it to Carrie and she wanted to hear a version of it with my voice on it. So I ran into the studio and threw a vocal on it, sent it back, and was like, ‘OK, now what do you think?’”
He said they were in the studio recording it a week later.
“From the moment she came in and started singing on it, me and (my producer) were like, ‘Holy (moly), this is going to be good. We thought it was going to be good, but this is going to be pretty special,” he said. “I think this will go down as one of the biggest duets in country music. I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Underwood remembers the first time she heard it. She was sitting on her couch listening to the song and her husband, Mike Fisher, asked what she was listening to.
“I said, ‘It’s this song they sent over that maybe I’ll sing with Jason,’” she explained. “He goes, ‘It’s really good.’ I was like, ‘I know.’”
As Underwood was telling the story, Aldean interrupted, “Good ear, Mike. Good ear.”
Underwood said the stars lined up perfectly.
“This was all meant to be,” she said. “That’s amazing to me. It all happened exactly how it should.”
For songwriter Lydia Vaughan, her good fortune didn’t end with her first hit song. Underwood is dedicated to helping empower other females in the music industry. When she saw Vaughn’s name, she was intrigued because she didn’t know her. So, she reached out.
“I have some insider information, but I think she might have a Carrie Underwood cut or two,” Underwood said as the crowd cheered.
“You’re welcome, Lydia,” Aldean hysterically injected as the crowd laughed.
See if the song’s winning streak continues when the 2022 CMT Music Awards air live from Nashville 8 p.m. (ET) Monday on CBS.