Charles Kelley Joins Rob Thomas For Gleeful 'Smooth'

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Rob Thomas and Charles Kelley perform at CMT Crossroads: Charles Kelley and Rob Thomas at The Factory on March 21, 2016 in Franklin, Tenn.

CMT Crossroads pairs country artists with singers from other genres for live performances. When the show started in 2002, the sonic boundaries between country and everything else were more clearly defined – though Shania Twain and Garth Brooks had already done much to blur those lines – so the show's concept seemed more radical.

Nowadays, when inter-genre collaborations are commonplace and the sound of country is increasingly wide-ranging, much of the joy comes from the song selection: viewers get a chance to see a country star take on a mega pop-hit. (Country singers also do this frequently at live shows in the Northeast.) Charles Kelley teamed up with Rob Thomas on a recent episode of Crossroads to deliver a rendition of "Smooth," the famous Thomas/Santana collaboration that was a massive smash in 1999.

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Kelley is an easy fit for Crossroads – he always had one foot in country and another in pop, which helped his group Lady Antebellum achieve mega crossover success with "Need You Now." Interestingly, Kelley chooses to imitate Thomas's vocal style during the second verse of "Smooth," rather than show off his own finely textured voice.

Watch below. The full episode airs July 1 at 10 p.m. EST.

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