During last night’s broadcast of the 47th CMA Awards on ABC, live audio difficulties throughout the evening were the only real snafu in a 3-hour show that went off pretty much without a hitch otherwise.
After a respectable opening performance by Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood took to their typical opening comic banter, which was entertaining as usual, if not a little campy. Apparently finding little to tease country artists about directly this year, the two targeted their satire toward a notorious performance on another awards show—namely, Miley Cyrus’ twerking fiasco on the VMAs—by performing a Duck Dynasty version of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” with cast members of the reality show. The Obamacare website was another target during the opening, as Paisley and Underwood sang “Obamacare By Morning” (a twist on the George Strait hit) while trying to log onto the website via laptop.
Speaking of George Strait, in the most pleasant surprise of the evening, the “King of Country” won the big award, Entertainer of the Year, for the first time since 1990—most likely a “thank you” from industry voters for his many years in the business, since Strait is currently on his farewell tour. Strait was visibly moved: “Never in a million years…,” he quipped.
Among other notable wins: the current unofficial reigning king-and-queen of country, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, walked off again with Male and Female Vocalist of the Year, respectively. Shelton also took Album of the Year for his record Based on a True Story…. Newcomer Kacey Musgraves, who saw skyrocketing popularity this year and who had earlier captivated the crowd with a live performance of “Follow Your Arrow,” appropriately snagged the award for New Artist of the Year, while Florida Georgia Line dominated the opening awards with Single of the Year (for “Cruise”) and Vocal Duo of the Year.
The irony of the night: Taylor Swift. After snagging a whopping six CMA nominations this year, the only significant award she took away was the one she was given without a vote: the Pinnacle Award, given for her achievements in advancing country music on a global scale. The award was definitely deserved (Garth Brooks is the only prior recipient), but the timing of the award might easily be interpreted as the industry’s attempt to affirm her as still part of their community, even as her recent behaviors and attitudes may still be affecting the voters. (Swift did technically win two CMAs, but both were because she was a collaborator on Tim McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care,” which won Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year prior to the broadcast.)
When the aforementioned live audio issues weren’t distracting, the live performances were solid overall. Notable performances included a moving tribute to the late George Jones (with Alan Jackson and George Strait performing “He Stopped Loving Her Today”) and a medley of Kenny Rogers hits by Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Jennifer Nettles and Rogers himself as he accepted the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Single of the Year: “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line=
New Artist of the Year: Kacey Musgraves
Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally
Album of the Year: Blake Shelton “Based on a True Story…”
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton
Entertainer of the Year: George Strait
(Announced prior to broadcast)
Musical Event of the Year: “Highway Don’t Care” Tim McGraw (with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban)
Music Video of the Year: “Highway Don’t Care” Tim McGraw (with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban)