lionel richie kenny chesney cbs Lionel Richie goes country for a little while in concert specialFunk and pop music legend Lionel Richie found himself in an unfamiliar spot on Friday (April 13) as he took on country music during his CBS special “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends.” But it seemed that the title was about as “country” as the show got.

The program opened with Richie himself doing his chart-topper “All Night Long.” The only difference between the original and Richie’s “country” version was the addition of a mildly-audible slide guitar. Other than that, it sounded like the calypso-inspired song it always has.

The show didn’t get any more country after that, this despite the involvement of the industry’s best. Rascal Flatts‘ duet with Richie on “Dancing on the Ceiling” was as un-country as one might expect and a low point of the evening.

On the plus side, Jason Aldean did his best with “Say You, Say Me.” Richie’s duet of “My Love” with Kenny Chesney was also a highlight, and probably the most traditional country-sounding song of the night. This was aided by an actual original musical arrangement rather than just adding a fiddle an calling it a day.

Other artists who joined the Richie celebration included Martina McBride, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker. Each offered an admirable effort as they covered songs from Richie’s extensive musical catalog. 

While the show was an interesting experiment, the problem was, no matter how hard they tried, Richie’s songs just don’t lend themselves to this musical genre.

So Zappers, what did you think of the special?

Posted by:David Eckstein