Kelsea Ballerini Responds to Backlash Over CMT Music Awards Performance With Halsey

Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey performed on the CMT Music Awards last week, singing their collaboration "The Other Girl." The performance was set in an empty dive bar in Los Angeles, and the two stars took the stage in coordinating black leather outfits. While many of the duo's fans were supportive of their performance, several viewers were critical of the pair's sultry looks and dance moves, claiming that the performance wasn't "country."

After getting wind of the negativity, Ballerini used Instagram on Thursday to share a message for any haters. "After reading way too many comments, I'd like to remind people that there are different kinds of country music and none are more 'real' than others when it comes from an honest place," she wrote over a selfie of her giving the camera a thumbs-up. She continued, writing "that women can wear whatever we want and shouldn't be called names and criticized for it, and that if you don't have something nice to say, politely shut up."

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Before the show, Ballerini told Country Now that she and Halsey were planning to "kind of bring, almost like Coyote Ugly into modern-day 2020 vibes."

"What's really special about this performance is, Ashley [Halsey's real name] and I got together a couple months ago and we were trying to figure out, 'How can we give this song a visual? How can we bring this to life in some way?' Because obviously this year has gone way different than anyone had planned."

"We kind of kicked everything off with CMT Crossroads so it made a lot of sense to bring it back to CMT Awards," she explained, referencing the pair's episode of CMT Crossroads, which aired earlier this year and earned them a CMT Music Awards nomination for their performance of "The Other Girl." Of their CMT Music Awards performance, Ballerini shared that she was "really excited."

"It's really our first big performance that we've done of the song, ever," she said. "So obviously we had to make it major. We're kind of doing like a Coyote Ugly, Britney [Spears] Crossroads, Southern grunge, hot performance. I'm really excited about it."

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The 27-year-old added that the performance was "very empowered." "We're both trying to really show off our confidence as artists and as women and I'm excited to really try to exude that tonight," she said.

"The Other Girl" appears on Ballerini's album kelsea, which was released in March. Last month, she released ballerini, a re-worked and more acoustic version of the same project.