2021 CMA Awards
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'If I Didn't Love You': Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood Perform First In-Studio Collaboration at CMA Awards

Though Carrie Underwood quenched curiosity on social media about Jason Aldean's mystery duet partner with one emoji, anticipation remained high for two country music superstars' first in-studio collaboration. "If I Didn't Love You," a song about the feelings and habits that sometimes persist after a painful breakup, arrived on July 23 and lived up to the hype that comes when two perennial Entertainer of the Year hopefuls join forces.

Aldean bandmates Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy co-wrote "If I Didn't Love You" with John Morgan and Lydia Vaughan. It was produced by longtime Aldean collaborator Michael Knox.

During a recent chat with Apple Music Country host Kelleigh Bannen, Aldean said the new track was the finishing touch on his next album.

"We'd kind of thrown around the idea of doing a duet, but we really didn't have the song, and we were trying to force it with other songs," Aldean said. "They just kind of went in one day to try and write, and this is what they came up with. We had already gone in and tracked most of the album; this thing kind of came at the last minute ..."

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Underwood was Aldean's first choice, in part because of his past success with a different American Idol winner.

"I remember with 'Don't You Wanna Stay' [Kelly Clarkson] was actually my first choice for that song and I've just always been a fan of her voice," Aldean told Bannen. "And then when you get on stage or in the studio and start trading vocals with them, it's like, man, you realize really quick that who the better singer in the room is, you know what I mean? Those guys are amazing singers and really powerful and just a lot of range. It's really cool for me to get to work with people like that and sort of find my spot in the song to make my voice work with theirs and it's been great. I mean, obviously Kelly, the song we did with her got us a Grammy nomination and just was a really big song for us, single of the year at CMA's. Hopefully, we can replicate that with this song."

A music video starring both singers debuted on Sept. 8 and builds off the song's theme of romantic longing.

The pair performed the song live for the first time at the CMA Awards. Underwood in particular (and as usual) shone on one of country music's biggest stages.

Both Aldean (Miranda Lambert duet "Drowns the Whiskey" and Luke Bryan and Eric Church collaboration "The Only Way I Know") and Underwood (Brad Paisley duet "Remind Me" and a recent appearance on Needtobreathe's "I Wanna Remember") make a habit of teaming up with their talented friends.

Aldean's riding a wave of momentum as he nears the release of 10th studio album. "Blame It on You" recently became his 25th No. 1 hit.