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Dolly Parton and Katy Perry Are Cut From the Same Lamé

Let's play a game. Pick a quote, any Dolly Parton quote. Now apply it to Katy Perry. "It costs a lot to look this cheap." Same. "I look just like the girls next door, if you happen to live next door to an amusement park." Sure. "It's a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I'd be a drag queen." We'll give it to her because she's Dolly. "I could be very stylish if I chose to be, but I would never stoop so low as to be fashionable." Almost.


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When it comes to getting dressed, Katy and Dolly are cut from the same lamé. It's not a one-to-one likeness. There are glaring differences. Dolly isn't the type to have a stylist; she's too consistently herself. Katy wouldn't survive without a cadre of them. Though they both subscribe the holy gospel of big hair, there's the blonde versus brunette thing. Dolly wears wigs; Katy wears bumpits. Dolly is DOLLY (imagine that written in big, fat lights); Katy is Katy (imagine that written by one of eight social media managers).

Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

Their mutual fondness for wearable kitsch, however, links them on the same rainbow spectrum. They each appear before us an American grotesque, in the fully academic sense of the word, Dolly of the cowgirl glitterati, Katy of the 1950s alien pinups.

Tonight, Perry and Parton will join in sartorial communion and song on the 2016 Academy of Country Music Awards stage. Dolly is accepting the Tex Ritter Award for her television movie, Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors, and Katy is presenting it. Dolly's even baiting her fans with the candied lure of a "Jolene" rendition, saying, "Katy's wanting to do 'Jolene,' too. So, I said, 'Well, we'll see what we can do to kinda put ['Coat of Many Colors' and 'Jolene'] together."

It seems like a pairing that just descended from left field. Even Dolly's explanation for it felt thin. She told Rolling Stone Country, "I know [Katy] comes to Dollywood, brings her friends [...] I know she grew up in a spiritual family —€” I think her daddy was preacher or something like that. I think she relates to me in that respect." Yes, something like that.

Photo: Barcroft Media/Getty Images; GAB Archive/Getty Images

But right now is an auspicious time for these two forces to come together. Only recently, like within the last decade, did Nashville discovered synths and EDM, while pop stars are constantly seeking the next new-old thing, whether it be twang or whatever. Anything to reach more potential fans, and fans who actually pay for music (i.e. country fans) can't hurt.

This won't be the first time Katy has stepped foot in the country. Kacey Musgraves, a Grammy-award winning shining light in the genre, appeared on CMT Crossroads with Katy in 2014 and went on her Prismatic Tour later that year. Katy has even tried to perform with Dolly, most recently for the 2015 Super Bowl. She told Joe Coscarelli of The New York Times, "There are a lot of restrictions. [...] I tried to get Dolly Parton out there. It's more of a communal process with the N.F.L. and all the different artists."

But now the stars have aligned over Las Vegas, where the ACMs are held, a perfect setting for these two glitzy women and their four famous orbs to come together finally. Katy's wish is coming true, and I'm able to muster total and sincere happiness for her if only because they are spiritual sparkle sisters.

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images; NBC/Getty Images

Dolly, in her personality and the aesthetic born out of it, transcends territorial classification. Everybody loves Dolly. Her tackiness is endearing because her outsized outfits reenforce her outsized personality. Katy, in her own milquetoast way, transcends territorial classification, too. Katy is completely unoffensive, a blank slate that can be dressed up for whatever need. (Even when Katy's costumes can crest over pastiche and into appropriation territory, it's kind of like, 'meh, at least it's not Iggy Azalea again.') Katy is palatable because outsized outfits lend her some personality.

Who knows? Maybe all this effort to appear with Dolly is a signal that she's planning to apply her chameleon nature toward a second life in country as she ages out of pop stardom. It doesn't seem right to say Dolly is passing along any sort of musical torch, but in the end, if there's one other person besides Katy who might see two beach balls, stick them on her boobs, and call herself dressed, it would be Dolly.

Watch the technicolor dream show at the 2016 ACM Awards on April 3 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET.

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