Jason Aldean talks Kelly Clarkson duet (listen!) and rapping on his new album
Country singer Jason Aldean’s fourth studio album, My Kinda Party, doesn’t drop until Nov. 2, but you can hear what could be its second single, a power ballad duet with Kelly Clarkson called “Don’t You Want to Stay,” on EW.com today. Listen to the full track below. Rumor has it Aldean and Clarkson will perform the song at Nov. 10’s 44th Annual CMA Awards on ABC. We asked Aldean about it when he phoned us this afternoon, and all we got out of him was a coy “maybe….” (Update: The Country Music Association has now confirmed the duet will happen.) Aldean did say he’s loved Clarkson’s voice ever since he watched her win American Idol. He’d never met her before, even though she’s no stranger to Nashville. (She’s dueted with Reba McEntire, with whom she filmed an episode of the concert series CMT Crossroads, and she surprised the audience at the 2006 ACM Awards by joining Rascal Flatts onstage to sing their hit “What Hurts the Most.”) “When I was listening to this song, it was a pretty short list of who I thought could pull it off and who I wanted, and she was on top of it. We went in to cut her stuff, and I come into the studio with my wife and my two girls,” he recalls, laughing. “She’s a sweetheart. She wasn’t a pop star who was there to handle her business and leave. She was very cool, very personable, and very grateful that we had thought of her to do the song.”
Aldean says the decision is being made now on what single will follow the album’s title track. If it’s not “Don’t You Want to Stay,” it’ll likely be “Dirt Road Anthem,” another buzzy tune that :45 into its slow, bluesy, Southern rock groove has Aldean picking up the pace with a little rapping. “You can say it’s rap, but if you listen to the song, it goes so well with my style. I think it’s cool to branch out. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I felt like this was cool. It breaks up the monotony of the record, and just when people think they know exactly what they’re gettin’, you throw something different at them.” Having once been doing an interview in a bar with Aldean when Kanye West came on the jukebox, we know he’s a rap fan. Did he ever think about collaborating with someone on this Colt Ford cover? “We threw around some ideas at first. We talked about gettin’ maybe Kid Rock on it, or someone like that. After I did it, we all agreed that this was the way to go. That’s not to say that at some point, we may not get someone to come in and do something with us live on it. But we dug it the way it was.” (Who wouldn’t want to rhyme “biscuits” with “fix it,” right? “That’s Colt Ford,” Aldean says. “If you see Colt, he’s a big boy. He likes biscuits.”)
One of Aldean’s favorite tracks on the album is “Fly Over States,” about two guys sitting in first class on a flight from NY to LA wondering why people would want to live in the middle of the country. The song has the kind of soaring chorus that makes you want to press ‘repeat’ as soon as it ends. “I like the song because the chord progressions and the overall sound is really different. It’s unlike anything that we’ve ever recorded before. The melody is stuff that you don’t hear on country records. It might be our best track that we’ve ever done in the studio,” he says.
Look for Aldean to hit the road in support of the new album. As the press material accompanying My Kinda Party notes, “He was the first country artist of any significance to incorporate Guns N’ Roses medleys into his live show.” What does that mean exactly? A few years ago, he and his band made a habit of doing “Paradise City” into “Sweet Child O’ Mine” live. This year, they’ve been doing Kid Rock’s “Cowboy.” Now, they’re working on a new cover for 2011. (He would only say it’s Bon Jovi.)