Music Lists

The Best Moments from the 2018 Country Music Awards

Country music's biggest night delighted fans.

ew.com

Whether you're a boot-wearing, truck-driving, dip-chewing, diehard country music fan, or someone who — in the right mood — can casually enjoy the sound of a banjo, you can probably appreciate the spectacle of the Country Music Awards.

On November 14th, Country Music's biggest night returned for a star studded good time in the heart of Nashville. If you missed CBS's live presentation of the awards show, don't worry, because we've compiled a list of the night's top moments to help you feel like you were boot-stomping along with the rest of the crowd in the Bridgestone Arena.

Garth Brooks Opens the Show

E! News

Garth Brooks opened the show with a heartfelt moment. He dedicated the night to the twelve victims of last week's shooting at the country night at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California "On behalf of our country music community, I want to say that tonight's show is lovingly dedicated to the 12 individuals who we lost far too soon just a week ago tonight at the Borderline in Thousand Oaks, California," Brooks said, as phone lights illuminated the somber crowd. "Tonight, let's celebrate their lives." Afterwards, the stadium honored the fallen country music fans with a moment of silence.

Carrie Underwood Reveals the Gender of her Baby

E! News

For the 11th year in a row, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hosted the ceremony, and delivered another of their famous spoof songs. Paisley then tried to talk Underwood into revealing the gender of her second child. "Seriously Carrie, give me a little baby hint? Johnny or June? Keith or Nicole. Garth or Trisha. Tim or Faith. George or Tammy. Waylon or Willie?" After continuous prodding, Underwood finally revealed that the baby is a boy. "Oh my gosh — Willie, it's a Willie ok!?"

Keith Urban Gets Emotional 

Update Newz

Lionel Richie presented the coveted entertainer of the year award towards the end of the evening, and announced Keith Urban as the winner. Urban, who last won entertainer of the year in 2005, immediately became emotional while accepting the award, and said, "Thank you so much . . . I am shocked beyond shocked," he told the cheering crowd. He mentioned his wife, Nicole Kidman, who was also in tears in the audience ("Baby girl, I love you so much"). "I just feel very, very blessed, very grateful that I get to do what I do. . . God bless country music."

Kacey Musgraves Wins Best Album 

Billboard

Kacey Musgraves won the album of the year award for her hit record, Golden Hour. Musgraves is the first female artist to win the prize since Miranda Lambert in 2014.

Chris Stapleton's Big Night

Billboard

Chris Stapleton took home the most awards of the evening, winning male vocalist, best song, and best single of the year for the powerful hit "Broken Halos." His win for best male vocalist means the singer is undefeated in the category, having received the award every year since 2015. Stapleton also gave one of the best performances of the night with his moving collaboration with Maren Morris and Mavis Staples. The three joined together to sing Stapleton's song "Friendship" then transitioned into The Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There."

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Living rock legend and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler blazed the stage at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Fri. (Nov. 7) during a three-hour taping for this year's CMA Country Christmas. Joining country singer and accomplished guitarist Brad Paisley onstage, the two ripped into a version of the classic holiday tune "Run Run Rudolph." Set to air Dec. 1 on ABC, the night was emceed by outstanding vocalist Jennifer Nettles, who also performed several tracks throughout the night, including "Let It Go" with Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel. (You can watch that icy performance here.)

The night's lineup also included performances by Carrie Underwood and Michael W. Smith (on "All Is Well," which you can watch here), Leann Rimes ["Carol Of The Bells" (video here), "Someday At Christmas"], Idina Menzel ("Do You Hear What I Hear," "White Christmas," and also "Let It Go" with Nettles), Hunter Hayes ("Merry Christmas, Baby"), Alan Jackson ("Winter Wonderland," "Let There Be Christmas Everywhere"), Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale ("Mistletoe"), CMA New Artist of the Year winner Brett Eldredge ("What Christmas Means To Me"), Dan + Shay ("Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"), Sara Evans ("Go Tell It On A Mountain"), and Nashville's Clare Bowen (for a slinky "Santa Baby").

The 2014 CMA Country Christmas is set to air Dec. 1 on ABC. Check your local listings for more info.

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[VIDEO CREDIT: Lance Aldridge // PHOTO CREDIT: Rick Diamond]

Stay tuned for updates. Feel free to follow @Popdust and JasonTheScott on Twitter!

Country music fans unite! Tonight is the biggest night for the format—a ripple in time when we celebrate the biggest albums, songs and artists of the previous calendar year. With esteemed hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley returning to emcee for a seventh year, the 48th CMA Awards are surely gonna go down in history. We've already popped a special bottle of Miranda Lambert's delicious White Liar Chardonnay, and we are ready to sit back, relax and enjoy three hours of performances, which include special guest appearances by our personal favorites: Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor.

Both pop superstars will take the stage for the first time ever: Grande joins Little Big Town for a "Day Drinking" and "Bang Bang" hybrid and Trainor enlists Lambert for a cool version of "All About That Bass." Also to perform are Underwood (debuting her "Something In The Water"), Kenny Chesney (opening the show with "American Kids"), Luke Bryan ("Roller Coaster"), Jason Aldean, Kacey Musgraves & Loretta Lynn (on "You're Looking At Country") and so many more!

Lambert is already an early winner, having swiped Musical Event of the Year (with Keith Urban for "We Were Us") during their Good Morning America appearance. Dierks Bentley also nabbed Music Video of the Year for the Wes Edwards-directed clip "Drunk On A Plane." That bodes well for both!

Popdust will be breaking down the night as it goes on, so come back soon and often for the highlights (and inevitable low lights) of the night! The show officially kicks off live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on ABC at 8/7c.

 

 

LIVE BLOG:

[8:00] Kenny Chesney opens the show with his fantastic No. 1 hit single "American Kids" (from his latest The Big Revival disc). Much like the vibrant music video, it features a cool, psychedelic bus...with a few teenage-dreaming scantily-clad girls (and various other hipsters) in the background. Fun song. Fun performance...but a seeming lack of explosive energy that typically jump starts shows like this. But...

YAY THIS IS 'MURICA!

[8:03] CUT TO: "All About That Bass" with Meghan Trainor and Miranda Lambert (in a lovely foam-green skirt). Odd pairing...but it somehow works. Miranda more than holds on her with the hip-hop melody and urban beats. Shake it off, GIRL. Oh wait...wrong song. Oops.

Anyways, back to the program: the two Ms just slayed that rhythm. Move along, haters. I'm seriously all about this performance, even if some in the crowd aren't quit diggin' it.

[8:06] LOUD APPLAUSE AND CHEERS for Carrie and Brad. "Previously on the CMA Awards..." Carrie begins, paying tribute to George Strait (who won last year's Entertainer of the Year honor). The duo break into a little sensitive ode. "This year isn't the same without George Strait. This is where the cowboy rides away..." "Oh, Brad, he's here!!!" Carrie points. "Literally, George Strait is in this room right now." "Carrie, you've got to let him go..." HILARIOUSLY ON POINT. "I'm pretty sure if you ride away, you've got to go somewhere!" adds Brad.

CUT TO: Pregnant jokes. "Carrie, you can't keep me out of this child's life." Carrie then whispers her child's gender. "I know something you all don't know. Suck it TMZ," says Brad.

Another ace skit: POSTPARTUM TAYLOR SWIFT DISORDER

"Who's gonna fill her shoes? Who's gonna stand that tall?" Carrie & Brad sing. "Man, she was tall!" They then segue into a Taylor Swift ode about her departing the format. But it's all in fun. They'll just shake it off! Come back to us, Taylor!

Oh, then Brad blows it...and reveals Carrie's child's sex...

Steven Tyler joins Carrie and Brad for a little "Crying." OUTSTANDING CARRIE. He then hands out Single Of The Year..."Automatic" by Miranda Lambert.

[8:23] Brad in the audience cutting some jeans. WTF. He's getting Meghan Trainor ready for country. He says all she has to sing about fish and treble hooks instead. DO IT.

He introduces Lady Antebellum's performance of their smash single "Bartender" (off their new 747 album). Great groove. Hillary Scott looks stunning! "Kiss the past goodbye!" she belts. (If this bubbly has any say, yes it will...)

 

[8:27] Carrie then brings out Florida Georgia Line (WHY?!) to perform their hit summer nostalgic piece "Dirt" (OK, OK, I really dig this song...the only one I dig, dig dig). The song is lifted from their new Anything Goes album. (Don't check it out. Whatever you do, unless you like hip-hop, then go for it.) I'll give it to 'em. They went for no frills (save for a vibrant red and orange backdrop). Just telling the story from their stools on the center of the stage. Rather...lovely. (What's WRONG with me?!)

 

[8:35] Keith Urban takes the stage for "Somewhere In My Car" (from his CMA-nominated Fuse set). In true Keith fashion, he stands center stage with  his guitar, ripping into the lyrics with passion, as black and white rain drops scatter on the back screen. A nice rock-influenced song. As Steven pointed out, country IS the new rock 'n roll. Can't complain.

So. much. light shooting up from the floor! Wowza!

[8:40] Darius Rucker and Tim Tebow joke around (about something) and hand out Song Of The Year..."Follow Your Arrow" by Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally. YES. JUSTICE!

"Do you realize what this means for country music?" Kacey says onstage.

 

[8:43] Quick joke between Carrie and Brad about technology (which confuses and frustrates me always). CUT TO The Band Perry honoring the legendary Glen Campbell (who is now suffering from Alzheimer's) with "Gentle On My Mind." Nearly a capella, searing and gentle opening segment as lead vocalist Kimberly delivers the words with heartfelt girt and clarity. Midway through, they launch into the down-home arrangement with poise. Fantastic moment for traditional country, right here folks!

STANDING OVATION PLEASE.

[8:50] Carrie honors this year's Hall Of Fame inductees Mac Wiseman, Hank Cochran and Ronnie Milsap! YES! She then intros Kacey Musgraves' performance (with the Grand Ole Opry barn behnd her). She's singing "You're Looking At Country," originally done by Loretta Lynn. Tonight is a celebration of country's roots! It should always be like this, ya'll. YEE-HAW!!!

Oh...and KACEY'S HAIR. HIGH FIVE.

 

SURPRISE! Loretta steps out onto the stage to each us a thing or two about country music. The crowd goes absolutely nuts, and rightfully so. She's the standard.

STANDING OVATION!

[8:53] Lee Brice and Brantley Gilbert enter to hand out New Artist of the Year...Brett Eldredge!

Oh. Boo. Brandy Clark was the only option here.

 

[9:01] Jason Aldean is about to burn it down! He takes the stage with his blockbuster hit "Burnin' It Down" (from his new Old Boots, New Dirt). He's just doing hit thang, singing his heart out. Tight jeans. Cowboy hat. He's set!

Side note: He was snubbed for ANY awards this year (despite selling out arenas and selling tons of downloads) and still agreed to perform. Class act.

[9:05] Carrie and Brad (with a horse head filled with candy) joke about baby stuff. Brad pulls Blake Shelton's new album "for when it's time to fall asleep." Heh. Then an assortment of other gifts find their way into Carrie's hands. "That's nice Brad but...baby shower's over!" says Carrie

NOW...Little Big Town with Ariana Grande for "Day Drinking" and "Bang Bang." Uhhhhhhhh. LBT's outfits are lined with red neon lights (a nod to their stellar new album Pain Killer, perhaps?) They launch into the former track, complete with a drum line. Once the head-bobbing chorus starts, you can faintly hear QUEEN ARIANA harmonizing so eloquently. But no sign of her...yet...

Ari, Ari, where are you?!

THEN POW, BAM! "Bang Bang" is getting some country loving! LBT offer up some backup vocals as Ari slays our lives. This mashup is so oddly perfect in so many ways. Good to use the drumline as the underpinning for each. ARI THOSE NOTES!!!

[You wouldn't think this pairing would work...but it just...does...] 

[9:16] In the spirit of sharing, Chevy launched a campaign for fans to share what country means to them. MONTAGE. Plus, they made a donation to Notes For Notes non-profit in Nashville. YAY.

Tim McGraw takes the stage for his "Shotgun Rider," one of the best songs this year, from his latest Sundown Heaven Town album. Shhhhhh. I'm listening now (and drinking bubbly). Simple. Truly country

[9:22] Brandy Clark, CMA New Artist winner Brett Eldredge and Kip Moore hand out Vocal Duo of the Year...Florida Georgia Line! (Because, duh!)

CUT TO: Bumper performance by newcomer Cole Swindell with his hit "Chillin' It," yes another one of those let's get drunk and have sex anthems. (If you're playing a drinking game like I am to get through this show, DRINK!)

 

[9:30] "There were a lot of songs about drinking this year..." says Carrie, "but none flew higher than 'Drunk On A Plane.' Now, we've got an incredible vocalist with Dierks Bentley performing the hit song from his wide-ranging Riser album. An nuanced drinking song? Who knew those existed. SERIOUSLY.

I've never wanted to get drunk on a plane...before now. Meanwhile, flight schedules go nuts on the backdrop. Cool.

[9:33] Martina McBride and the incomparable Connie Britton (!!!) (who is fangirling over Martina. Heh). They hand out Album of the Year...Platinum by Miranda Lambert! It was produced by Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, and Glenn Worf, RCA Nashville. Congrats! Girl power!

 

[9:42] Carrie (in a stunning red side-swept dress) intros Brad's performance of "Perfect Storm" (from his truly enjoyable Moonshine In The Trunk). He can be a bit predicable in his live performance, but he lets the music to the talking. Gotta admire that.

Holy electric guitar, batman! He's an ace musician, too, that counts for everything.

[9:45] Brad then throws it over to Blake Shelton for a performance of "Lonely Tonight" with the out-of-this-world Ashley Monroe (go grab her Like A Rose album now!). Now, I know I've busted Blake's balls about his middle-of-the-road music at times, but this is the kind of song he should ALWAYS be doing. Captivating. Story-driven. Emotional. One of the standout performances of the night! (Then again, anything Ashley does wins).

[9:55] Standing in a circle of light, Brad intros Carrie's performance of "Something In The Water," her new single from her upcoming Greatest Hits: Decades #1 (out Dec. 9). A waterfall pours down behind her, as she lays into the power notes of the gospel story. There must of been something in the water, indeed, for her angelic voice.

WOW. Note after note after note after note. A much deserved STANDING OVATION.

[10:00] Lucy Hale (of Pretty Little Liars) and Dan + Shay hand out Vocal Group of the Year...Little Big Town! (YES! Another deserved win!)

"Thank you for making our costumes light up!" jokes Karen Fairchild! HA!

 

[10:02] The always-hunky Luke Bryan takes the stage to perform "Roller Coaster," the latest track from his blockbuster Crash My Party (which opened with more than 500,000 copies upon release last year). He opened his lips and I was done, done, done. Shhh.

As I suspected, there's a half-constructed roller coaster on stage, with a lovely sunset as the backdrop. One of the best stage setups of the night! (A++++++)

[10:10] Miranda Lambert performs her new single "Smokin' and Drinkin'" with help by harmonious and CMA Vocal Group of the Year winner Little Big Town. Haunting melody. Great arrangement (even if something seems a bit...off with the sound system).

See, folks? You can perform a single song without the OTT antics. Stick to this. Thanks.

[10:15] Carrie and Brad are back out with a guitar...singing "Whenever I Call Your Name," originally by Vince Gill. Sensational. They are honoring Vince, "the best friend country's ever had." He's receiving the highest honor in the genre, the Irving Waugh: Award Of Excellence. But first, a little video tribute chronicling his mind-blowing legacy. Thank you, grandma, for first introducing him to me.

"He's the gold standard by which all others are measured," Brad points out in voiceover. The only other person to ever win this award was the late and great Johnny Cash. (Vince's speech>>>>>>all others tonight)

[10:28] The one and only George Strait is joined by outsider Eric Church for "Cowboys Like Me." The old with the new guard! Cool moment right here. Images of the truly ground-breaking men of the genre and splashed across the screen, as well as sheet music and hand-drawn imagery.

 

[10:31] Trisha Yearwood (!!!) hands out Male Vocalist of the Year...Blake Shelton! (Why? Because he's on The Voice is a red spinning chair!)

No. Seriously. "I really thought Luke was going to win it this year," he proclaims in his speech.

 

[10:33] Bumper performance by Thomas Rhett on some drinking song. "Give Me Some Of That"? Right? They all blend together, really...

 

[10: 40] The Doobie Brothers, joined by Lady A's Hillary Scott, Hunter Hayes and Jennifer Nettles, rip into "Listen To The Music." A delightful moment, if not particularly memorable. Great to honor such an iconic band, though. Woo!

[10:45] A superstar model and Sam Hunt (*faint*) hand out Female Vocalist of the Year...Miranda Lambert!

She is now the most-awarded CMA Female Vocalist in history with FIVE WINS, beating out Reba and Martina McBride (who each have four). For those wondering, Carrie has three and Taylor has one.

 

[10:51] Garth Brooks hands out Entertainer of the Year...Luke Bryan!

Let's play it again for the man who crashes my parties every. single. time! ;)

 

AND we're out with a encore of The Doobie Brothers! That's a wrap! :)

 

The winners are as follows (denoted in red):

Entertainer Of The Year

George Strait

Keith Urban

Luke Bryan--WINNER!

Miranda Lambert

Blake Shelton

Female Vocalist Of The Year

Miranda Lambert--WINNER!

Taylor Swift

Kacey Musgraves

Carrie Underwood

Martina McBride

Male Vocalist Of The Year

Eric Church

Dierks Bentley

Luke Bryan

Blake Shelton--WINNER!

Keith Urban

Group Of The Year

Eli Young Band

Little Big Town--WINNER!

The Band Perry

Lady Antebellum

Zac Brown Band

Duo Of The Year

Dan + Shay

Florida Georgia Line--WINNER!

Love & Theft

The Swon Brothers

Thompson Square

Album Of The Year

Crash My Party, Luke Bryan (Produced by Jeff Stevens, Capitol Records Nashville)

Platinum, Miranda Lambert (Produced by Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, and Glenn Worf, RCA Nashville)--WINNER!

Fuse, Keith Urban (Produced by Benny Blanco, Nathan Chapman, Ross Copperman, Zach Crowell, Mike Elizondo, Dann Huff, Jay Joyce, Stargate, Keith Urban, and Butch Walker, Capitol Records Nashville)

Riser, Dierks Bentley (Produced by Ross Copperman, Jaren Johnston, and Arturo Buenahora, Jr., Capitol Records Nashville)

The Outsiders, Eric Church (Produced by Jay Joyce and Arturo Buenahora, Jr., EMI Records Nashville)

Song Of The Year

“Automatic” (Nicolle Galyon, Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert)

“Follow Your Arrow” (Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally)--WINNER!

“Give Me Back My Hometown” (Eric Church, Luke Laird)

“I Don’t Dance” (Lee Brice, Rob Hatch, Dallas Davidson)

“I Hold On” (Brett James & Dierks Bentley)

Single Of The Year

“Automatic,” Miranda Lambert--WINNER!

“Drunk On A Plane,” Dierks Bentley

“Give Me Back My Hometown,” Eric Church

“Meanwhile Back At Mama’s,” Tim McGraw feat. Faith Hill

“Mine Would Be You,” Blake Shelton

New Artist Of The Year

Brandy Clark

Brett Eldredge--WINNER!

Kip Moore

Thomas Rhett

Cole Swindell

Musical Event Of The Year

“Bakersfield,” Vince Gill & Paul Franklin

“Meanwhile Back At Mama’s,” Tim McGraw feat. Faith Hill

“Somethin’ Bad,” Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood

“We Were Us,” Miranda Lambert & Keith Urban--WINNER!

“You Can’t Make Old Friends,” Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton

Musician Of The Year

Sam Bush

Jerry Douglas

Paul Franklin

Dan Huff

Mac MacAnally

Music Video Of The Year

“Automatic, Miranda Lambert

“Bartender,” Lady Antebellum

“Drunk On A Plane,” Dierks Bentley--WINNER!

“Follow Your Arrow,” Kacey Musgraves

“Somethin’ Bad,” Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood

Stay tuned for updates. Feel free to follow @Popdust and JasonTheScott on Twitter!