Country duo Florida Georgia Line and R&B crooner John Legend shared the stage at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, combining their hits “Surefire” and “H.O.L.Y.” in a stripped-down, piano-only medley that emphasized the messages of devotion from both. “H.O.L.Y.,” the lead single from FGL’s third album Dig Your Roots, was a massive multi-week country Number One, and “Surefire” is the third and current single from Legend’s fifth album Darkness and Light.
Legend kicked off the performance in his favorite position: seated behind a piano. He outlined the melody to “Surefire” with spare, emphatic chords, and his singing was accompanied only by the elegant swells of a hidden string section – and the lights of thousands of phones that fans waved gently back and forth throughout the arena.
Legend continued to play the piano as the members of Florida Georgia Line sauntered onto the stage for a rendition of “H.O.L.Y.” The soul singer fit in easily next to the country duo, gracefully handling portions of the ballad’s second verse and chipping in on the lovely, gospel-leaning harmonies that buoy the single’s chorus.
“H.O.L.Y.,” written by Busbee, Nate Cyphert and William Wiik Larsen, was rumored to have been intended for Justin Bieber before Florida Georgia Line recorded it, and the song marked a noticeable shift away from the duo’s usual rowdy party tunes to smoother, romantic meditations. It was one of 2016’s biggest country hits, spending multiple weeks atop Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart, and also reaching Number One on the Country Airplay chart. Florida Georgia Line were up for six of the night’s honors, including Top Duo/Group and Top Country Album.
Legend’s silky us-against-the-world jam “Surefire” was announced as the third single from Darkness and Light in March, following “Love Me Now” – a top 10 R&B hit – and “Penthouse Floor.” Legend had a major supporting role in the Oscar-nominated 2016 film La La Land and released the politically charged non-album track “In America,” consistently voicing his opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency.
This summer, Florida Georgia Line is headlining their own Smooth tour with guests Nelly and Chris Lane, along with plans to open their own namesake bar in downtown Nashville. Meanwhile, Legend makes a guest appearance in the second season of Aziz Ansari’s acclaimed Netflix series Master of None.