Greatest Hits Is ‘The Most Exciting Thing’ Arsenio Hall Has Ever Done

Marisa Roffman
Greg Gayne/ABC

Would you walk 500 miles for this? ABC pays homage to some of the most classic tunes from the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s with the new unscripted series Greatest Hits. The show, hosted by Arsenio Hall and singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini, features current musical artists either singing the songs of their mentors or pairing up with industry icons to perform tunes that defined those decades.

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Pitbull joins REO Speedwagon on stage.

Pitbull joins REO Speedwagon on stage.

Hall’s eponymous late-night talk show proved to be the genesis for this six-episode project. The network came to him, inspired by the 1992 installment where Boyz II Men and the Temptations teamed up for a performance. “It’s the greatest project I’ve ever been involved with on TV,” Hall says of the new series. “Sitting in the production meetings, or talking bookings, it’s the most exciting thing I’ve done.”

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As part of the casting, the producers asked artists with whom they’d be interested in sharing the stage. That led to a few unexpected pairings: Pitbull and Meghan Trainor chose their childhood favorites (REO Speedwagon and Backstreet Boys, respectively); Bonnie Raitt wanted to collaborate with up-and-comer Andra Day. And John Legend—who played the piano in Lauryn Hill’s song “Everything Is Everything”—wanted to revisit his work with his former collaborator, but with a twist: His performance is his own take on a few of her songs.

Jason Derulo's tribute to Michael Jackson.

Jason Derulo’s tribute to Michael Jackson.

But it was singer Jason Derulo’s tribute to Michael Jackson that “blew me away,” Hall says. Derulo dressed up for the performance, danced and chose an unexpected song. Hall says, “I hope that viewers will watch every one of these performances, but there are moments like that I hope they don’t miss.”

Hall also hopes the series can continue. “We only had one [performer] we couldn’t work out,” he says. “That’s the reason I want to do more. It would be nice to do it every summer.”

Greatest Hits, Season Premiere, Thursday, June 30, 9/8c, ABC.