Sunday marked the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards live in Las Vegas, and with more than two dozen performers, and hosts like Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, it was not to be missed.
I know it seems like every other week country music is hosting yet another award show, the CMAs, the CMT Music Awards, and any other acronym imaginable, but the ACMs is the head hauncho of awards, as it comes from the country music “academy.” So it’s the Oscars of country music, I guess you could say.
The show kicked off with Shelton, an infamous drinker, and Bryan, the most awkward human alive, fumbling their way through a little standup and throwing shade at Britney Spears and the Dallas Cowboys, among several other things. I’m all for Shelton and everything he does because, hey, he’s hilarious and honest and charming and amazing. Bryan on the other hand, I just don’t get the hype or his Gumby-esque moves, but to each his own.
While the night was short on awards, it wasn’t short on performances.
The Band Perry got the show locked and loaded with a head banging execution of “Chainsaw” that ended with confetti covering the MGM Grand Arena. Cut to the audience and the likes of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift picking red and white paper flecks out of their professionally-done hair do’s: priceless.
Brad Paisley put on a show poolside, unsurprising, Toby Keith sang something that made me remember why I forgot about him in the first place and Rascal Flatts lip-synced and then admitted to it the next day. But those were really the only boring and/or terrible ones, and three out of 20-something ain’t bad.
Being a country music fan, there was plenty to celebrate.
Anything Florida Georgia Line does catches and sticks, think “Cruise,” but really their whole album and every performance is just as likable and memorable.
Along with hosting duties Shelton also doubled up on performance duties and debuted his new single “My Eyes” and took the stage with fellow judge on The Voice, Shakira, for their newest hit, “Medicine.” Both are very good, with the former serving as one of the more appealing love songs as of recent.
Speaking of love, Tim McGraw sang the nostalgic “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” (which should ring something true inside anyone whose grown up in the South) and was joined on stage by wife Faith Hill. Swoon! Between the song and the real-life love affair, it was too much for my heartstrings to handle.
And Lady Antebellum was also joined on stage by someone special a.k.a. holy crap it’s Stevie Nicks. When they started to sing “Rhiannon”… no words. My jaw was on the ground, because, it’s Stevie Nicks.
A best performance honorable mention shout out also goes to Taylor Swift for her legendary crowd dancing during every song at every award show ever.
Sidebar: Hunter Hayes also performed, don’t care, but is he not or is he not the male version of T-Swift? I swear they would make the perfect couple.
As the event of the evening, all eyes set on the King of Country, George Strait. He first played a tune of his own and then surprised us on stage again with Miranda Lambert for a tribute to Merle Haggard. Don’t you wish he would just ride on his “Cowboy Rides Away” tour for the next decade or so? Or forever?
Did you know: Strait is the only artist in the history of music to have a top 10 hit every year for 30 years?
I’m not really sure who even won awards, as there were hardly any given out. Lambert got best female vocalist and Kacey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park” took best album. Clearly I have selective hearing because those are the only two I care about anyway.
In a twist of fate, perhaps, Strait took home the headlining award of the night, Entertainer of the Year. I know this came as a surprise to no one in his final country campaign, but I say “twist” of fate because he was up against former winners Swift and Bryan, and Lambert, who has five consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year wins to her name, the most ever. That’s how good he is and that’s how admired he’ll always be.
So for now the cowboy may be riding away, but it looks like King George’s legacy in country music will continue to live on.
Caitlin Rickard is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.