Halsey is increasingly proving herself a woman for all seasons in her varied TV appearances and awards show collaborations, and Wednesday’s CMA Awards telecast was no exception, as she ingratiated herself into the country vocal trio Lady Antebellum for some flawless four-part harmony on a medley of two of their respective hits.
She and Lady A’s two lead singers, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, first traded lines on the group’s recent “What If I Never Get Over You” — a lovelorn ballad in the tradition of their Grammy-winning “Need You Now” — before segueing into the gravity of Halsey’s own “Graveyard.” Lady A’s rhetorical question “What if time doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do?” proved an apt cross-genre match for Halsey’s declaration that “it’s crazy when the thing you love the most is the detriment.”
Going for glam is no detriment to Halsey’s sometimes scrappier persona, as the re-coiffed pop singer went for a full ’50s screen siren look in a glamorous pantsuit as she plucked an electric guitar in the otherwise rootsy and acoustic instrumental setting.
Putting Halsey and Scott together fit with the theme of this year’s CMAs show, which was largely devoted to matching up women, although usually in much larger congregations. The opening medley celebrated the veteran women of the genre. Some sang their own songs (Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, Gretchen Wilson, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Terri Clark, and host Dolly Parton reprising her “Trio” performance of “Those Memories of You” with Reba and Carrie Underwood); others paid homage to their elders (Little Big Town and Jennifer Nettles doing Loretta Lynn, the Highwomen covering Tammy Wynette).
Another all-female medley had Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” covered by a succession of younger performers, including Kelsea Ballerina, best new artist winner Ashley McBryde, Lindsay Ell, Runaway June, Maddie and Tae, and Carly Pearce.
Pink teamed up with Chris Stapleton for what turned out to be a reprise of her album version of “Love Me Anyway,” with Stapleton essentially singing a featured backup vocal part, sans any song of his own.
Underwood, Ballerini and Highwoman (and album of the year winner) Maren Morris each earned her own solo number on the show, as well, while Sheryl Crow joined Dierks Bentley for a hard-rocking duet version of the Janis Joplin classic “Me and Bobby McGee” in tribute to Kris Kristofferson.