None of the Kentuckians in contention at Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards won, but the Bluegrass State was well represented in Chris Stapleton premiering a scorching new song on the show and Backstreet Boys — featuring Kentuckians Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson — stealing the final performance of the show from Florida Georgia Line.
The big winners were Miranda Lambert, who won female vocalist and album of the year; Thomas Rhett who won song of the year for “Die A Happy Man” and male vocalist f the year; and Brothers Osborne, who won best new vocal duo and vocal duo of the year.
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Joe Walsh announces Jason Aldean wins entertainer of the year, to which Aldean remarks, “One of the Eagles just gave me an award. That’s probably the coolest thing that’s happened to me, ever.” Aldean was the Saturday night headliner at last year’s Red, White & Boom. We’re pretty sure that’s why he won.
If it’s a country awards show, there will be a country star-pop star duet. The Florida Georgia Line-Backstreet Boys pairing on “Unconditionally” was nicer than you’d expect. But of course, that’s not why BSB was in the house. As they drifted out of the song, which seemed to fall right in line with the Reba McEntire-Lauren Diagle duet, we heard the familiar, “Everybody, rock your body,” and Backstreet was back. There was Kentucky’s own Kevin Richardson sharing the microphone with Keith Urban as the party started. Country music? What country music? It was fun, but it was more fun at the end of “This is the End.”
Miranda Lambert wins female vocalist of the year. Says, “Carrie (Underwood) could sing me under the table. We’ve all agreed on that. I’m just glad to see female artists kicking ass these days; I’m so proud to be a part of that.”
Thomas Rhett gets male vocalist of the year, says, “This is the most amazing award I have ever received in my entire existence.” That put Stapleton at 0-3 at this year’s ACMs, which he tore up last year. But, judging by the new tune, he may be back in the winner’s circle soon.
The ACMs give the CMAs an award. “Forever Country,” created for the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association, wins Video of the Year. Second award Chris Stapleton didn’t get though, ironically, his “Fire Away” did win the CMA video of the year award. He’s still up for best male vocalist.
Between Tim’s “Humble and Kind” and this new duet, “Speak to a Girl,” it feels like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are becoming the mom and dad of country music. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Get used to that song. It’ll be on the radio a lot.
Miranda is becoming the Meryl of the ACMs with her fifth album in a row, “The Weight of the Wings,” to win album of the year. Lambert refers to her “heartbreak” in acknowledging the award for the double album, and two of her producer team — Eric Masse, Frank Liddell, and Glenn Worf — refer to writing with honesty and from the heart in their statements. One says to be honest, “It’s more interesting.” Touche.
Chris Stapleton comes out with a new, growling, bluesy number, “Don’t Put My Love on the Back Burner.” Unlike other performers (in the last set) we know exactly why Stapleton has a guitar in his hands. The celebs in the front row seem to be digging the scorcher.
Brett Eldredge seems to be working to maintain the Rat Pack image from his Christmas album, which was great.
Something to look forward to:
Wait! Carrie Underwood shows up in Keith Urban’s set, and it goes from black-and-white (and blue) to color?! How “Wizard of Oz”! I sense a theme forming here — see Lambert, Miranda. Seriously, “What if I Fall” just injected some actual life into this show, even if it bears no resemblance to a country song.
OK, and the set for Little Big Town’s “Happy People” looks like the poppies scene from “Wizard.” Theme. If we play this show along with the movie, will they sync up perfectly?
“GOD BLESS COUNTRY MUSIC!” I was all ready with a great line complaining about Florida Georgia Line winning best vocal duo — you would have loved it — and they pull out the surprise of Brothers Osborne, who seem genuinely, deliriously surprised.
I know I complained about all the ballads, but I have been crushing on Miranda Lambert’s “Tin Man” lately, so we here at LexGo endorse that choice. And now Rascal Flatts has an up-tempo number, but it’s Rascal Flatts.
Love Maren Morris. Love “I Could Use a Love Song.” (Lotta love in this graph.) But it feels like ACM’s director must keep saying, “let’s slow it down.” And here’s Jason Aldean to reinforce the point.
First award finally up at 8:25 p.m. OK, this is actually quicker than a lot of award shows, but after a couple performances I struggle to remember, it seems like a while.
Note: The Academy of Country of Music gets off a little joke on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when David Copperfield and Nancy Odell announce the winner of Song of the Year is Emma Stone for “La La Land.” Then, after a smoky magic trick, Copperfield revels the winner is actually Thomas Rhett for “Die a Happy Man.” So, one of Chris Stapleton’s ACM shots (”Tennessee Whiskey”) is gone.
We’ll say this for the opening: The ACMs put what they are honoring front and center with the medley of entertainer of the year nominees. Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean seemed to get the biggest productions out of the segment, while we got Florida Georgia Line looking like they were on a second stage and Keith Urban somewhere in the crowd — didn’t want to stray too far from Nicole?
Then we got Joe Walsh out to honor Chuck Berry with hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley because ... because.
Then it was Dierks and Luke trying to do their Brad and Carrie act. Let’s say, the video segment production on ACM segments isn’t quite what it is for some of the bigger ticket award shows. We got a scrapbook of their tear through Las Vegas, the best moment being when they introduced the idea of Keith Urban joining Thunder from Down Under. Well, if the entertainer of the year thing doesn’t work out ...
We’re doing something tonight we have not done in a while: live blogged an awards show. With a few Kentuckians in contention and a potentially lively night ahead, we thought we’d see how it goes. Follow along, comment below or tweet me at @copiousnotes.