Kelsea Ballerini wore multiple hats during the 2021 CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night, co-hosting the show and performing a brand-new song with Paul Klein from pop group LANY, which formed in Nashville in 2014. The pair performed "I Quit Drinking," a song they wrote together with Nicolle Galyon about deciding to stop drinking after a breakup.
The pre-taped performance took place on a rooftop in downtown Nashville and started with Ballerini singing solo before Klein joined her. At the end of the song, a shower of rain fell in what appears to be a cosmic coincidence. "You're the reason there's no whiskey / Anywhere inside this house / You're the reason all my friends know I don't go downtown," the pair harmonized in the chorus. "You're the reason I hate champagne, never used to turn it down / You're the only thing I want when one drop hits my mouth / Baby, you're the reason I quit drinking."
"I Quit Drinking" was officially released following the performance and is now streaming. "I’ve been a fan of LANY for a long time!" Ballerini said in a statement, via Sounds Like Nashville. "So, it was really amazing to work together on 'I Quit Drinking.' We’ve all got Tennessee in common, and we found this sweet spot between rock, pop, and country for the song. It’s a little different for the both of us, and I can’t wait to play it live again!"
Ballerini was nominated for three awards during Wednesday's show and took home a win for Performance of the Year for her 2020 CMT Music Awards performance with her good friend Halsey. The pair performed their collaboration "The Other Girl," and Ballerini took a moment to address criticism they received during her acceptance speech.
"There was a lot of chatter on ‘categorically’ what genre this song did or didn’t fit into," she said. "And the fact that you voted this as the winning performance tells me that you know where my roots are and that you know who I am. But it also tells me that you hear music as music and tells me that you love when people push boundaries and explore artistry. As I make a new record, that means the absolute world to me." The Tennessee native is currently working on her fourth album, and judging by her collaboration with Klein, it's clear that she is continuing to move in new directions with her sound.