The 47th annual Country Music Association Awards took place tonight (Nov. 6) in Nashville. Celebrating the best of this year in country music and hosted by two of the genre's biggest stars (Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley), the CMA Awards were less about the trophies and speeches and more about the glitz, glamor and live music that rocked the country charts over the last 12 months.
The CMA Awards kicked off straight away with the music. Luke Bryan, who had one of the year's biggest selling albums with Crash My Party performed "That's My Kinda Night" and Florida Georgia Line rocked it with their massive crossover hit "Cruise." Beginning with two of the most successful country music ventures of the year kicked things off on a high note, though the celebrations were soon disrupted with a small bit of attempted comedy from the night's hosts.
At the top of the show, Underwood and Paisley attempted some topical humor. Music feuds, Obamacare and Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke at the MTV VMAs were all fair game for the hosts, though their blend of music and comedy was slightly more cringe-worthy that laugh out loud funny.
From there, awards were actually given out. The cast of the hit, country audience appealing TV show Duck Dynasty dove right into one of the biggest awards of the night, Single of the Year. In an obvious pick, Florida Georgia Line won the first trophy of the night for their track "Cruise."
Later on in the show, the inter-state act also picked up the award for Duo of the Year.
The other award dished out at the top of the show was Song of the Year, which went to Lee Brice and his songwriters for "I Drive Your Truck."
But, for an award show, the CMA Awards were less focused on the statuettes and more focused on the live music, a wise choice for what could otherwise be a sluggish event for at-home viewers. Jason Aldean performed on a literal train for "Night Train," Kacey Musgraves dazzled with "Follow Your Arrow," Lady Antebellum brought the drama with "Never Alone" and Little Big Town soared with "Sober."
Yes, that is six performances to two awards, a ratio that was more or less kept throughout the night.
It seemed as though everyone in country music had his or her time to shine live. Pinnacle Award winner Taylor Swift brought some beauty in a stripped-down version of "Red" and Luke Bryan brought tears to roughly 90 percent of the audience's eyes with his tribute to his siblings, "Drink A Beer."
Other performance highlights included Eric Church's hard rocking performance of "The Outsiders" and Zac Brown Band's debut of "Day for the Dead" with Dave Grohl at the drums.
Of course, there was also a fair share of awards given out. Taylor Swift and Kenny Rogers achieved lifetime achievement awards. While Rogers' Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award was more straight forward, Swift's Pinnacle Award celebrated her crossover appeal and worldwide success. This year marked only the second time a CMA Pinnacle Award had been given out. The other recipient was Garth Brooks in 2005.
As for the annual trophies, Blake Shelton won Album of the Year for Based on a True Story and Male Vocalist of the Year. Meanwhile, his wife Miranda Lambert won Female Vocalist of the Year.
As for the night's biggest honor, the CMA Awards went to a country legend. George Strait won Entertainer of the Year for the first time in 23 years, something the singer later teased would further help to fuel his comeback.
After countless performances and a small amount of trophies, the CMA Awards were finished as soon as they began. Though some fans may complain about the excessive amount of live performances, the constant shake ups helped to move the award show along. The night felt less self-congratulatory and more generally celebratory, helping fans feel like a part of the experience instead of watching celebrities love celebrities.