The annual CMT Music Awards (country’s equivalent to the MTV Music Video Awards) took place last night in Nashville, packing a total of eight awards in between an abundance of performances in a 2-and-a-half hour show.
Co-hosted by Toby Keith and Kristin Bell, the awards show itself serves as a perfect example of how modern country music is relying on crossover appeal to reach a wider audience. The opening song by Lady Antebellum quickly became a collaboration with pop/rock act Hot Chelle Rae, cleverly blending “We Own the Night” with “Tonight Tonight.” Likewise, 80s rock band Journey took the stage with Rascal Flatts for a similar blending of “Banjo” with “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Presenters also came from a wide range of backgrounds besides country music, and included R&B singer Jordin Sparks, Twilight actress Ashley Greene, skateboard pro Tony Hawk, and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchetti, among others.
Understandably, the CMT Music Awards show was heavy on the younger talent; with the exception of the legendary Willie Nelson, in fact, it almost felt like Toby Keith was the oldest guy in the room. Newcomers like Thompson Square and Luke Bryan took the lion’s share of performances, along with a separate stage that offered short previews of up-and-coming talent like Scotty McCreery and Jana Kramer. Also evident throughout the night’s festivities was the amount of influence that the American Idol franchise has actually exerted on country music (besides just providing us with Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreary); the show included appearances by many former contestants, including Kellie Pickler, Lauren Alaina, Casey James, Jordin Sparks, Skylar Laine and others.
It is actually risky to spread such a small number of awards over a longer stretch of time, simply because the show producers have to find ways to fill the rest of the time in an entertaining manner. For other awards shows, this has turned out to be a bit of a fiasco (most notably the recent Billboard Music Awards, for example). However, CMT actually pulled this program off with style, keeping us entertained with a flurry of activity that didn’t feel forced. And of course, for country music fans, the best way to fill the time is with lots of country music. Besides the performances already mentioned, evening highlights included country-girl supergroup Pistol Annies performing a humourous rendition of “Taking Pills”; Hank Williams, Jr. and Brad Paisley collaborating on “I’m Gonna Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams”; and Willie Nelson’s performance of “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” featuring Jamey Johnson, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown and Toby Keith. (Given the apparent theme of musical diversity, it’s surprising that Snoop Dogg didn’t show up onstage for the performance, seeing how he contributed vocals on the record.)
At the end of the night, the big prize of Video of the Year (as voted by fans during the telecast) went to Carrie Underwood for “Good Girl.” A recap of the winners is below.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Carrie Underwood, “Good Girl”
MALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Luke Bryan, “I Don’t Want This Night to End”
FEMALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Miranda Lambert, “Over You”
GROUP VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Lady Antebellum, “We Owned The Night”
DUO VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Thompson Square, “I Got You”
BREAKTHROUGH VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Scotty McCreery, “The Trouble With Girls”
COLLABORATIVE VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me”
CMT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: Jason Aldean, “Tattoos On This Town” from 2011 CMT Artists Of The Year