Go-Karting With Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line, 2018’s Unlikeliest Hitmaking Team
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley sit at the end of a giant conference room table, happily signing their lives away. The members of Florida Georgia Line are initialing a document provided by Music City Indoor Karting, a Nashville go-kart track, that promises they will not hold the place accountable should they undergo “bodily injury or death” while flinging themselves around 90-degree turns at up to 40 mph (!) in a glorified adult Hot Wheel. Honestly, they seem pretty psyched about it.
“Didn’t Jake lose a finger doing this?” says Hubbard in his Georgia drawl, referring to beach-country artist Jake Owen as he reaches for the blue face sock that we’re required to layer underneath our helmets for sanitary protection. We’ll hit the track as soon as Bebe Rexha arrives, for what could well be my last 30 minutes on this earth before I lose control of my kart and explode into a ball of flames. Kelley assures me it’s going to be fine, handing me my own face sock. “It’s Kevlar,” he says with a smirk, hanging his halfway out of his back pocket like a wallet chain — which is, of course, an item he has worn before. Both members of FGL come from the “more is more” school of country accessorizing. Currently, they’re both sporting incarnations of denim I never knew existed.
Forty-eight hours from now, Hubbard, Kelley and Rexha will attend the Country Music Association Awards, but today the trio is engaging in a little healthy preshow competition. At the CMAs, they’ll perform their collaboration, “Meant to Be,” a song that’s up for single of the year and, though it was released in October 2017, has been downright omnipresent ever since. Released first on Rexha’s EP All Your Fault: Pt. 2 and then on her album, Expectations, “Meant to Be” reigned at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart for 50 weeks (a record) and logged 810 million on-demand streams, according to Nielsen Music. And now it’s up for a best country duo/group performance Grammy, and Rexha’s nominated for best new artist.