CMT Hot 20 Decade: “Meant to Be,” Florida Georgia Line & Bebe Rexha

Editor’s Note: CMT Hot 20 Countdown takes a look back on 10 years of incredible music with Decade, a weekly segment that features a modern country classic that made its greatest impact between 2010 and 2019. This week, Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley talk about their 2017 single, “Meant to Be.” CMT Hot 20 Countdown airs at 9/8c Saturday and Sunday mornings.

CMT: How did the song “Meant to Be” come about?

Tyler Hubbard: We didn’t know nothing about Bebe Rexha and she didn’t know nothing about Florida Georgia Line. She actually thought she was going in to write with Little Big Town — some country band, right?

And anyways it became a joke but once we got in the studio, and introduced ourselves to each other, it was a pretty natural feeling. She was really cool from day one, really fun to work with, really good energy, and really exciting energy. Just a very creative energy and very good at what she did. …

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Just to take you back to that night a little bit, we had both written a song prior, earlier in the day. This was our second song of the day, which was even unexpected. We thought we were supposed to write with somebody else and that fell through, so last minute we get a call, “Bebe Rhexa is coming to the studio if you guys want to write.” So we left dinner, ran back to the studio. Me and a couple buddies — Josh Miller and David Garcia.

We were like, “Well, I don’t know how this is gonna play out. Whatever, we’ll see how it goes.” And my wife literally said, “Hey, don’t worry about it. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” And I said, “Well, there’s a cool title. We’ll take that in the studio and see if anything happens from it.” So the title happened out of a walk back to the studio. Three hours after that, the song was essentially finished.

We wrote the song out in LA, so that was very untraditional for what we do. But it’s another testament to getting out of our comfort zone a little bit, getting out of the box, doing stuff that’s not really done here in Nashville, and I think that was a very rewarding experience from day one.

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Then it went to No. 1 and stayed there, just like “Cruise.” It’s happening again. Could you believe that?

Brian Kelley: Pretty mind-blowing, man. Every week we got the call that it’s still No. 1, it’s still No. 1. Just about a year long. That’s mind-blowing. It’s really hard to put that into perspective. It’s motivating, it’s humbling, it’s inspiring. It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing to happen twice, but it’s a blessing.

TH: Which makes us think it could happen a third time. We’re hoping for it, fingers crossed.

BK: Hey, third time’s the big charm!

TH: We gotta beat “Meant to Be” with something off this next album.

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By recording previously with Nelly on “Cruise,” did that make it easier to record with other people?

TH: I think for both of us, we love to work with other artists. To take other people’s energy and creativity and learn from it. You know, whether it’s the Chainsmokers, [Jason] Derulo, Backstreet Boys or Alesso, Hailee Steinfeld. The list goes on and on, and if the opportunity presents itself and it feels right, then BK and I are going to jump on it.

So it’s been a lot of fun over the years. I do think it was more comfortable by the time we met Bebe and wrote that song and worked with her. It had been done before a little bit, and we were a little bit more comfortable, but it’s something we love to do.