Gwen Stefani brought third wave ska to the CMT Music Awards on Sunday night (April 2) with help from one of contemporary country's brightest young stars.
Stefani went full-on retro, singing No Doubt's 1994 hit "Just a Girl" while wearing a white mini-dress with red polka dots. After Stefani tore through the first verse and chorus, she was joined by a leather-clad Carly Pearce. The vocal versatility Pearce learned in bluegrass shone through as she brought Kentucky twang to an alternative radio staple from her childhood. From start to finish, she kept up with Stefani's ska-punk pace.
There was barely an attempt at manufacturing a crossover country feel. Fiddle and steel guitar gave way to synthesizers and a horn section in a way that kept the No Doubt original's charm intact. The stage floor graphics also played off decade-specific nostalgia, complete with a pink and white checkerboard pattern that beckoned back to the UK's two-tone scene that preceded No Doubt's TRL-friendly sound.
Pearce was up for two awards on Sunday. Along with Ashley McBryde and LeAnn Rimes, she was in contention for CMT Performance of the Year for another '90s cover, Rimes' "One Way Ticket," from television special CMT Crossroads: LeAnn Rimes & Friends. Cody Johnson took home hardware in that category for his 2022 CMT Music Awards performance of Grammy winner "Til You Can't." Pearce's "What He Didn't Do" was in the running for Female Video of the Year, which was won by Lainey Wilson's "Heart Like a Truck."
In 2018, Pearce won her only CMT Music Award so far-- Breakthrough Video of the Year for "Every Little Thing."
It was Stefani's second draw-dropping outfit of the night. When she arrived at the red carpet with Blake Shelton, both took black tie attire in their own quirky direction.
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