Jason Aldean featuring Kelly Clarkson – “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

Blake Boldt | January 13th, 2011

Jason AldeanSongwriters: Andy Gibson, Paul Jenkins and Jason Sellers

On “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” the Top 20 single by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, the two parties aren’t at war with each other, but with themselves. These four minutes represent do-or-die time in a budding relationship, with the track’s swelling strings attracting attention to their indecision. “Stay” is a dramatic affair that demonstrates how pop and country can intersect with each other and offer decent results.

With a lyric sheet that seems drawn from a LiveJournal diary in 2002, this unlikely pair need to muster every ounce of energy to distract from the quality of the writing. They do. Aldean allows the spotlight to shine on his duet partner; his grounded and gritty performance is a strong counterbalance to the towering melody.

The star, though, is Clarkson. Mere moments into the cheesy, overwrought ballad, it’s clear that Miss Independent could do without her romantic freedom. “Stay” is centered around its big chorus–the first verse is fairly short and sweet—and Clarkson, one of the most powerful voices in pop, elevates the whole track above the average radio hit.

When Aldean unleashes his Georgia growl, Clarkson one-ups him by giving an even more aggressive response. The hook line might seem like a desperate plea, but she makes it sounds more like a demand. “Don’t you wanna stay here a little while?” she sings, fearful of hearing his reply. It’s a candid request, but this would-be couple isn’t in it for sex or short-term satisfaction: “We can make forever feel this way.” They’ve been mulling over the idea for quite a while, and the loud electric guitars gradually unveil their long-held frustration.

“Don’t You Wanna Stay” would be a suitable fit for a Foreigner or Whitesnake album, and, though nowhere near a classic, it’s an instant entrant into the “guilty pleasure” category.

Thumbs Up

  1. Dr. No
    January 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

    More cheese than a Hickory Farms summer sausage pack.

  2. Noah Eaton
    January 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I happen to largely agree with the sentiments of this review.

    This track works because of the convincing call-and-response it evokes vocally. Even though Aldean’s voice lacks a range and is often jammed in monotone stick-shift mode, he nonetheless has quite a distinctive voice in that he’s able to convey emotion in a song with the restricted range he has. And that is exactly the kind of counterbalance that is needed to Clarkson’s remarkable range and timbre, which in a way is symbiotic of the opposites these two singers represent and their effort to bridge the divide through their reciprocity.

    Musically, I agree. It bears a much more striking resemblance to a 80’s hair-metal power ballad than even a “contemporary” country crooner. But as far as vocal performances go, this makes for an inviting listen, and I’m willing to bet this will be a staple at karaoke parties in the months to come.

  3. Dan E
    January 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Great song!

  4. Ben Foster
    January 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. While this is one of Aldean’s stronger performances, it’s really Clarkson’s contribution that makes it. It’s good enough to go into my guilty pleasure file.

  5. Thomas
    January 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    …some duets work – some don’t. this one does. powerful stuff.

    for waynoe: don’t even think of raising the duo issue!

  6. Leeann Ward
    January 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Luckily, I don’t have to feel guilty about liking this one. Ick.

  7. Marian
    January 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    This is a powerful duet. Kelly Clarkson NEVER ceases to amaze me with her strong vocals yet soft emotion. Jason chose Kelly for his duet partner and they are awesome together. I wish them and this song much success.

  8. Noah Eaton
    January 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    For the record, while Aldean is frustratingly hit-and-miss as a singles artist (all of his lead singles to date have been terrible, although he has also released a few compelling secondary releases each era, including “Amarillo Sky” and “The Truth”)…..I do find him to be slightly above average as an album artist, and “My Kinda Party” is his most consistent, representative album to date, in my opinion.

    Topically he may be as white bread and bologna as ever, sticking to the same safe small town everyman territory…..but his emotive monotone nonetheless makes him a convincing communicator. And he has restrained himself too with the chicken-fried metal escapades, which the title track is thankfully the record’s nadir and the only time he really slips into that tendency. If anything, I think “Tattoos On This Town” proves that he can combine a dirty, distorted guitar riff with a nostalgic heart-rendering mid-tempo and make it work.

    To my ears anyway, it sounds like a countrified version of the Foo Fighters’ “There Is Nothing Left To Lose”. A most accessible, radio-friendly, mainstream “contemporary country” record that nonetheless unmistakably has enough edge and electric guitar to keep it from sounding too Adult Contemporary-leaning. Although “Wide Open” was surely his watershed moment commercially, I have a feeling “My Kinda Party” will wind up being his definitive record…….and this will likely be not just his banner hit, but a crossover hit as well.

    This isn’t my favorite track from the record by any means, but it’s a surefire hit that works. I’m just hoping he releases better-written tracks like “Church Pew or Barstool” or “Texas Was You” this era (please don’t release “Country Boy’s World”).

  9. ginger
    January 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I give big props to Aldean for having the balls to go head to head with a singer like Kelly Clarkson. Most of today’s male country artists wouldn’t even try it…might make them look less like the stars they think they are. No way Chesney or Paisley would have gone after it. Most would have chosen someone in the format with less vocal ability or star power.

  10. Noeller
    January 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    It says a lot that KC had to really be reined in, to keep from making Aldean look bad on this one. He just can’t sing, but they tried their best to make this serviceable.

    What really gets me is that, in the last two singles, Aldean has been begging for sex. It’s just creepy, and kinda pathetic from the so-called protagonist of the song.

  11. jaysem
    January 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Great review and i completely agree with you. i love this song. i hope it’s huge for them.

  12. WAYNOE
    January 13, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    @Thomas – Consider it raised. However, I’m am good with this becasue you can actually hear BOTH sing!!!! And they do a good job. A very intriguing duo for this song.

  13. Lewis
    January 13, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I wasn’t impressed by the performance of this song on the CMA Awards and still am unimpressed by the song now. Why is this being so hyped up and acting that this is the biggest country duet of all time when it’s nothing but an overblown and overproduced duet? Looks like that Clarkson wants to join up with all of the other pop artists going country and she might have succeeded with this song in getting her foot in the door of it.

  14. Leeann Ward
    January 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Well, she already had a pretty successful duet with Reba. Seems that people are inviting her to be a part of country music.

  15. Troy
    January 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    “Looks like that Clarkson wants to join up with all of the other pop artists going country and she might have succeeded with this song in getting her foot in the door of it.”

    If she did want to go country wouldn’t she already have her “foot in the door” since she already had a hit on country radio with because of you when she dueted with reba?

    And for your concern on kelly career her album is basically done and it’s still going in a pop direction (worked with people like dr. luke).

  16. Noeller
    January 14, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Thing is, KC is Texas born and raised right??? She’s always been a country girl, but the AI folks were smart enough, at the time, to market her as a pop act because they knew that’s where she’d make her money, back then. I have no problem with someone who is a truly gifted talent, such as KC, being a part of Country music, especially if she were to put out a top-notch Country project.

  17. DAN
    January 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    This is one of my favorite songs on the album, and that’s saying something because I like most of the songs. My other favorites are “I Ain’t Ready to Quit” and “If She Could See Me Now.” Country music needs more duets like this one!

  18. stewman
    January 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Dare i say it….”Cross over” hit

  19. Anna
    January 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    @ BEN FOSTER do you LIKE ANYTHING ON Current COUNTRY RADIO stations?
    Everytime i see your post’s they seem to be Negative

  20. DAN
    January 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Ben said that including Kelly on the track “makes it” and that it’s a “guilty pleasure” of his. Doesn’t sound very negative to me.

  21. Leeann Ward
    January 14, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Yeah, Dan’s right, Anna.

  22. Carrie
    January 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I’ve always felt like Kelly Clarkson could be successful moving over to country. Her voice is so good, and I feel like she’s made smart moves in paving the way if she were to ever go that route. If there’s a camp of people who are curious to see if she’ll go country, I’m joining.

    I really like this song. It gets stuck in my head often, and not in a wholly annoying way, either.

  23. Stormy
    January 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Didn’t she try and fail to go country with the whole Reba thing?

  24. Carrie
    January 14, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    I didn’t love “Because of You” by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly wasn’t a Jessica Simpson foray into country, either. It was just … there, but I didn’t(and wouldn’t) put it in the offensive category.

  25. Matt B
    January 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    It’s pretty obvious that Kelly Clarkson is the ‘can sing any type of song’ singer. She can do pop, country, rock and so on. Perhaps even Chinese folk or traditional blues or bluegrass too. That being said, I have a feeling the majority of her music will remain ‘pop’ or ‘adult pop.’

  26. Troy
    January 14, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    “Didn’t she try and fail to go country with the whole Reba thing?”

    Nope, she got to number two on country charts with reba. During this time she releashed My December which was just a more personal album and it didn’t do that well but it wasn’t pushed at country radio or labelled country. And then she releashed All I Ever Wanted which was more similar to Breakaway which had My Life Would Suck Without you go number 1. And now she current waiting on her label due Avril Lavigne releashing her stuff now and something about Clive Davis. Though she does a history of singing with country musician she has never tried to launch a country album.

  27. Vicki
    January 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Kelly can do any type of music (so can Carrie), but that being said, I have a feeling this Texas girl would like to do more in Country.

  28. Lewis
    January 15, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I have no problem with Clarkson at all if she decides to go into the country music world for good and I have no problem with Clarkson in general either though I’m not a fan of overproduced stuff like this or of the genre she’s in along with Lady Gaga, Beyonce and The Blackeyed Peas. The only real problem I have with the duet is that she screams like she’s having a fight with someone. She didn’t scream on the duet with Reba McEntire and she is capable of doing a song without screaming at the top of her lungs.

    Since Jason Sellers was one of the co-writers on this why didn’t he ask his ex-wife Lee Ann Womack to do the duet with Jason instead of Clarkson? They seem to be on very friendly terms even after their divorce and her remarriage and share a daughter together even going as far as both singing on each other’s records as harmony vocalists every once a while.

  29. Stormy
    January 15, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Vicki: What has she done that indicates she would rather be Patsy Cline than Pat Benatar?

    Lewis: Would a traditional country singer have been a good fit on a power ballad?

  30. Ben Foster
    January 15, 2011 at 10:01 am

    “@ BEN FOSTER do you LIKE ANYTHING ON Current COUNTRY RADIO stations?
    Everytime i see your post’s they seem to be Negative”
    _________________
    (Belated reply)
    I do indeed, though you might not have noticed many of my positive comments. In general, I don’t think the country music of today is as interesting as the country music of the past, but I still find quite a few songs that I like even in the current era of country (though not all of them are embraced by country radio).

  31. Jon
    January 15, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Since Jason Sellers was one of the co-writers on this why didn’t he ask his ex-wife Lee Ann Womack to do the duet…

    *facepalm* seems woefully inadequate.

  32. Vicki
    January 15, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Stormy, I think her friendship with Reba is leaning her this way. She’s done work with Reba, Rascal Flatts and Aldean. So perhaps not leaning toward Country as much as Country Pop whose division from Pop is barely there if there at all.

  33. Stormy
    January 15, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Jon:
    I don’t know, if he could have gotten Leeann Womack to do the female half and then say Chris Knight to do the male half, it would have been a better song.

    Vicki: Ah, so you don’t see her so much making music that is country as you see her making the same music and calling it country?

  34. Jon
    January 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Stormy sees:

    I have a feeling this Texas girl would like to do more in Country.

    And reads it as:

    she would rather be Patsy Cline than Pat Benatar.

    Once again, *facepalm* just isn’t up to the job.

  35. Jon
    January 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

    And by the way, Stormy, you completely missed the point of my comment and, in fact, seem to have taken the very element in Lewis’s post that prompted it and made it your own.

  36. Lewis
    January 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I should have been more specific in that I was talking about Jason Aldean pairing up with Lee Ann Womack not Jason Sellers who co-wrote the song.

    Power ballads like this have worked for others: Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes’ “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer” and Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton’s “We’ve Got Tonight” for starters. In traditional country music Conway and Loretta, Porter and Dolly and George and Tammy come to mind with their ballads as well. Don’t You Wanna Stay isn’t what I call a power ballad more of an attempt of who screams the loudest and sings the hardest is all besides it being overproduced a bunch.

  37. Lewis
    January 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    The best of what I call a power ballad in country music probably all time would have to be Kenny Rogers and Dottie West’s “Every Time Two Fools Collide”. Now that’s what I call a power ballad. Someone needs to remake this song.

  38. Stormy
    January 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Jon: Actually, what I did was looked at the roots which are evident in Clarkson’s music and the roots which are not, then I picked two lengendary female singers who illustrated these styles and had alliterative names. And then I had to explain it to you. FACEPALM.

    Lewis: Oh, yeah, um….that wouldn’t have been good.

  39. Jon
    January 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    @Stormy Actually, what you did was take a fast rocket ship to Planet Stormy.

    And you and Lewis still haven’t gotten the point with respect to his suggestion.

  40. J.R. Journey
    January 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I haven’t been sold on Aldean just yet, but this track is helping me warm up to his music a lot more. It also helps that some of his preceding singles – ‘Why’, ‘The Truth’ chief among them – were already getting better than those awful first releases.

    I agree with Blake that it’s Clarkson’s voice that really elevates this song. If Aldean had chosen a lesser vocalist, this could easily fall apart.

  41. Larry
    January 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    The funny thing is that it’s Kelly Clarkson, not Jason Aldean, that makes this song. Kelly is fantastic on this song. Jason is just mediocre on this song. Perhaps one should enter the genre and one should exit?

  42. Trey T.
    January 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Can’t we just enjoy this song without putting it in a “guilty pleasure” file (whatever that’s supposed to mean)? No, it probably shouldn’t have worked, but KC and JA absolutely nailed it. It *could* have been “overwrought” but the execution saves it. There is nothing wrong or guilty with power ballads in the rare cases in which they are sung and produced perfectly. This is one of those cases, and it is, I think, as simple as that.

  43. Ben Foster
    January 25, 2011 at 7:39 am

    This is kind of a loose definition, but for me a guilty pleasure is a song that I know isn’t “great,” and may have some things wrong with it, but that has redeeming qualities that make me like it anyway. This song suits that category well for me. It is lyrically sparse, and the production is a bit bombastic, but the performance (Kelly’s in particular) saves it.

  44. Stephen H.
    February 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    The Sirius/XM Top 40 station has been playing the crap out of this song lately (don’t ask why I’ve been listening to a lot of the Sirius/XM Top 40 station, kthx). Does anyone know if the song was officially been released to Top 40/AC/etc. radio? While I’m not a huge fan of the song I do think it’s almost designed for crossover potential.

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