How Carly Pearce + Ashley McBryde’s “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” went from a “cool album cut” to a single


Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde have a big ol’ country hit on their hands with their duet, “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” — but if they’d taken the demo in another direction, the song might never have been a single.

“The demo of ‘Never Wanted to Be That Girl’ is a lot slower,” Carly recounts to ABC Audio. When they took the song into the studio, she says, she had a vision for it inspired by a massive country hit from 2018.

“I actually referenced in the studio: ‘Highway Don’t Care.’ Tim McGraw with Keith [Urban] and Taylor [Swift],” she continues. “I was like, ‘I want it to have that sexiness to it.’”

With that inspiration in mind, Carly and her team quickly took “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” to a whole new level.

“Everybody was like, ‘Wait a minute,’” the singer remembers. “It went from just being a cool album cut to, like, ‘This feels like it could be a single.’”

Of course, the song wouldn’t be complete without Ashley’s vocals, and the complex love triangle detailed in the song. Telling that story correctly required perfect execution, and Carly says she doesn’t take her chemistry with Ashley for granted.

“We all sing from a similar place, and we can anticipate each other. It’s fun to get to sing with other women that you’re such a fan of,” she adds, “And that you can do that with. Because that doesn’t always happen.”

“Never Wanted to Be That Girl” comes off the track list of Carly’s 29: Written in Stone album.

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