Recently, after playing Sugarland's cool new song "Tonight," I mentioned how much I enjoyed their performance of that song on the recent Academy of Country Music Awards. And then I went on to say I wasn't sure why Rihanna later joined the duo's Jennifer Nettles for a performance of her big pop hit "California King Bed." It's a good song. And Rihanna is enjoying a stellar pop/r&b music career. More power to her. But it just all seemed so random.

It made me wonder: is country music, in and of itself, in trouble in certain people's eyes? Are there power players who feel it needs help? I mean, it was great to see Steven Tyler sing "Walk This Way" with Carrie Underwood. And I get the American Idol connection. But was someone concerned that Underwood would have been lost without him? Don't get me wrong. It was terrific, and I enjoyed it. But I can't help but be a little curious. And my curiosity is by no means a criticism. I also wonder why, all of a sudden, pop and rock stars are singing country music. Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker, and Michelle Branch--former member of the duo The Wreckers--have had big country chart success in recent years. And the songs are all terrific. Hey, if it's country and it's good, I want to play it. I just can't put my finger on why it's happening more frequently now than it ever has before. And I would never believe that country music is being damaged by this phenomenon, as one writer does. I just have an inquiring mind. And I want to know. Anybody?