Kelsey Ballerini wins the controversy over her CMT performance with ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Queens

Kelsey Ballerini poses during the “IF YOU GO DOWN (I’M GOIN’ DOWN TOO)” music video | Josh Kim

This rising artist has won three Grammy nominations, two Country Music Association Awards, the iHeartRadio Music Award for “Best New Artist” and two Academy of Country Music Awards. She has also received career nominations from the People’s Choice Awards, CMT Awards, CMA Awards, ACM Awards and American Music Awards.

Ballerini performed alongside four drag queens during the CMT awards held in Dallas, Texas just days before the two new bills passed on April 5.

Texas Republicans passed two bills on drag performances. Senate Bill 12 passed with a 20-11 vote, banning explicit drag shows in front of minors and any performances done in public. Senate Bill 1601 passed 19-10, stopping any state funding towards cross-dressed library story times to minors. 

“Performers could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine,” according to Fox 4 News. “Businesses could be fined up to $10,000.” 

No future law will stop the top-chart country singer from allying with drag queens in her song “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too).” This was a major middle finger to Texas senator Bryan Hughes.

The wholesome performance exemplified the beauty of the friendship between the drag queens and the singer.

“If it all blows up and we end up on the news,” Ballerini sings in her live performance. “If you go down, I’m goin’ down too. If you go down, I’m goin’ down too, yeah.”

This storytelling performance was like no other, with the additional message that equality should remain at the foundation of any connection. 

“Continue to be your authentic self,” said drag Kennedy Davenport in the Austin American-Stateman. “We’re still motivating young people, we’re still inspiring them, we’re still lifting them up because at the end of the day, we have a calling and we have a job as drag queens.”

Many people focused on the hot topic of gender identification, while other people focused on the colors of the backgrounds and the costumes.

The queens looked like queens, but not drag queens until the headlines made the viewers do a double-take to realize it. 

The star’s performance teleports you back to the ‘60s with the green grass, bright pink house and white picket fence in the background. The details made the performance worth so much more with the help of the pink acoustic guitar, a floral one-piece swimsuit, a green cover-up, yellow hoop earrings, and a bedazzled headband.

The background dancers started the performance by sitting at a table with a fellow queen, chatting and fanning themselves, all wearing dresses that did not show cleavage or too much skin. 

If anything, the drag queens dressed more conservatively than Kelsey. But that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that four males wore dresses, 6-inch heels, ‘60s up-do hairstyles, and heavy makeup while performing as women on stage just days before the bills passed. 

If Kelsey’s background dancers were women, people would say it’s as wholesome as it can get. But since men dressed up as the opposite gender, people thought otherwise.

Parents allow their kids to go to concerts or watch music videos that consist of girls throwing their body’s around on a male singer, or vice versa, feeding into the issue of the “male gaze.” Some find it more disgusting for the opposite gender to perform like any other performer, just dressed up as a female instead of a male. 

Pitbull is a rapper known for raunchy music videos with women dancing around him, undermining the value of women and their worth. His feature music video, “On The Floor,” with actor and singer-songwriter Jennifer Lopez is a perfect example. The videographer gets close-up shots of the women moving their hips back and forth in a gold bikini surrounding him. 

I think that girls throwing their body’s on a performer is disheartening. Realistically, we have to consider that they are all performers, just doing what they signed up to do. It’s their job to put on a show, just like it is for drag queens.

At the end of the day, female performers are equivalent to male performers. Making male performers or dancers dress up as females, are performers too. 

Ballerini actually talks about reality, shattering the country stereotype of the red pick-up truck with the windows down, the perfect marriage, and five kids by the age of 35. Bigger issues take place outside of your 20-acre land of cows and corn fields.

Since gender identity became a major issue over the past few years, people look for controversy and want to start a conflict. 

Songs even written over 25 years ago include lyrics that fully support equality. Shania Twain’s hit song “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” released in 1997 perfectly exemplifies this. The excitement and thrill of the song blur out the meaning of the lyrics. Until recently, when she stood confidently alongside other artists like Kelsey Ballerini at the CMTs, allying with those of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“I believe in an all-inclusive country music. We’re family,” said country superstar Shania Twain during the CMT Awards. “This is a genre of music with a rich history that raised and nurtured my own songwriting and performance and recording career from childhood. Currently, the industry standard does a real disservice to this.”

It’s about time that someone fought to make a change, especially as a young female vocalist that has heavily impacted generations after her newly released albums, “SUBJECT TO CHANGE” and “Rolling Up the Welcome Mat – EP.” 

“God knows that’s what friends are for,” Kelsey sings as she looks back at all of the queens that stood by her side.