The first 10 minutes of the CMT Music Awards: Not exactly what you would expect. R&B star Jason Derulo helped open the show with “Talk Dirty.” Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan danced along with choreographed moves. ZZ Top randomly showed up to join them. Most shocking of all was the part right after that spectacle, as the show admitted out loud that country music has a women problem.
Not that it’s much of a secret — just look at the tiny number of female country stars on the radio. Still, to hear it in front of the biggest stars in the industry was surprising. “Did anyone else notice there were a lot of dudes in that number?” host Kristen Bell asked after the opening performance. “I mean we love ‘em all. But I just want to say while we do enjoy the sausage fest that is the country charts these days, I’m personally also proud that CMT has invited a woman to host the show alone.”
“Because the truth is, sisters have been doing it for themselves in Nashville for years, that’s obvious,” she continued. “By the girl power vested in me by CMT…I am declaring the 2014 CMT Music Awards to be a ladies’ night.”
…After which not one female artist performed alone on the main stage. But hey, at least there’s some acknowledgement!
As for the actual awards: The party bros of Florida Georgia Line were the big winners of the night with two trophies, Duo Video of the Year (“Round Here”) and Collaborative Video of the Year for current hit “This is How We Roll” featuring Luke Bryan. Speaking of the current king of Nashville, Bryan also won CMT Performance of the Year, thanks to a duet (“Oh No”/”All Night Long”) with Lionel Richie at the 2013 CMT Artists of the Year.
Because it’s a law that power couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are required to take home prizes at these type of shows, they won Male Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year for “Doin’ What She Likes” and “Automatic,” respectively. (Miranda led everyone with six nominations.) Meanwhile, Carrie Underwood picked up Video of the Year (“See You Again”) for the second year in a row, while The Band Perry got the trophy for Group Video of the Year (“Done”).
A genuine surprise: Cassadee Pope, Season 3 winner of “The Voice” and the lone female in the Breakout Video of the Year category, won for her first hit single “Wastin’ All These Tears.”
(Our annual note: The CMT Awards are for music videos. This show is not to be confused with Fox’s fan-voted American Country Awards in December; CBS’s Academy of Country Music Awards in April; or ABC’s Country Music Association Awards in November, known as the most prestigious trophy of them all.) As for performances, here were the highlights:
ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill/Florida Georgia Line/Luke Bryan/Jason Derulo: Okay this was a bizarre group of singers, but it was pretty entertaining: “La Grange” into a “This is How We Roll”/”Talk Dirty” remix. Seeing Luke Bryan actually briefly become a back-up dancer may have been worth it.
Eric Church. Nashville’s reigning outsider triumphantly sang an ode to rock, “That’s Damn Rock & Roll” — it’s hard to take your eyes off him.
Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. The country powerhouses collaborated for final song of the night with “Somethin’ Bad,” a feisty cut on Miranda’s new album. So much energy, and so much glitter.
Luke Bryan. Yeah, this night was pretty much the Luke Bryan Show — what else is new? The genre’s top hitmaker wore a sensible button-down shirt and only did a few signature hip swivels as he sang his latest single, “Play It again.”
Keith Urban. Playing tricks on the audience, it looked like the “American Idol” judge was at the famous Bluebird Cafe; but it was all a ruse, as he was actually at the award show in front of a very convincing backdrop to perform the excellent “Cop Car.”
Little Big Town. Dressed all in white to sing “Day Drinking,” the quartet looked like they were part of some weird cult while extolling the virtues of getting drunk while it’s still light outside. Then they all got covered in paint.
Kacey Musgraves and Lee Ann Womack. The two paid tribute to the “Impact Award” winner with “Livin’ on Love,”
Lady Antebellum. After a decidedly “eh” album, the trio is determined to storm back onto the charts with this insanely catchy dance anthem “Bartender.”
Dierks Bentley. Going with the old “scantily clad flight attendant” trope during “Drunk on a Plane” — a little over the top, Dierks.
Kristen Bell. She didn’t really perform, but she killed it as host; huge improvement over when she previously awkwardly co-hosted with Toby Keith and Jason Aldean. Of course, the whole opening skit was about how she really needed a co-host, turning to a Tindr-type app to help find a man to help — leading to guest appearances by Sean Hayes, Tom Arnold and her husband, Dax Shephard. However the skit resulted in an excellent Jay Z-Solange video parody featuring Luke Bryan and the guys of Florida Georgia Line faux-fighting in an elevator.
Here’s the rundown of nominees and winners:
VIDEO OF THE YEAR Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends – “Boys ‘Round Here”
Carrie Underwood – “See You Again” (winner)
Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan – “This Is How We Roll”
Luke Bryan – “That’s My Kind of Night”
Miranda Lambert – “Automatic”
Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care”
MALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR Blake Shelton – “Doin’ What She Likes” (winner)
Eric Church – “Give Me Back My Hometown”
Hunter Hayes – “I Want Crazy”
Jason Aldean – “Night Train”
Luke Bryan – “Crash My Party”
Randy Houser – “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight”
FEMALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR Carrie Underwood – “See You Again”
Cassadee Pope – “Wasting All These Tears”
Kacey Musgraves – “Follow Your Arrow”
Miranda Lambert – “Automatic” (winner)
Sheryl Crow – “Easy”
Taylor Swift – “Red”
GROUP VIDEO OF THE YEAR Eli Young Band – “Drunk Last Night”
Lady Antebellum – “Compass”
Little Big Town – “Your Side Of The Bed”
Rascal Flatts – “Rewind”
The Band Perry – “Done” (winner)
Zac Brown Band – “Sweet Annie”
DUO VIDEO OF THE YEAR Dan + Shay – “19 You + Me”
Florida Georgia Line – “Round Here” (winner)
Florida Georgia Line – “Stay”
Thompson Square – “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About”
BREAKTHROUGH VIDEO OF THE YEAR Brett Eldredge – “Beat Of The Music”
Cassadee Pope – “Wasting All These Tears” (winner)
Cole Swindell – “Chillin’ It”
David Nail – “Whatever She’s Got”
Thomas Rhett – “It Goes Like This”
Tyler Farr – “Redneck Crazy”
COLLABORATIVE VIDEO OF THE YEAR Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends – “Boys ‘Round Here”
Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan – “This Is How We Roll” (winner)
Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly – “Cruise (Remix)”
Hunter Hayes featuring Jason Mraz – “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me”
Keith Urban with Miranda Lambert – “We Were Us”
Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care
CMT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR Dierks Bentley and OneRepublic – “Counting Stars” from “CMT Crossroads: OneRepublic and Dierks Bentley”
Jake Owen – “Days Of Gold” from “CMT Hot 20 Countdown”
Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks – “Rhiannon” from “CMT Crossroads: Stevie Nicks and Lady Antebellum”
Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie – “Oh No/All Night Long” from “2013 CMT Artists of the Year” (winner)
The Band Perry and Fall Out Boy – “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” from “CMT Crossroads: Fall Out Boy and The Band Perry”
Willie Nelson and Neil Young – “Long May You Run” from “CMT Crossroads: Willie Nelson & Friends From Third Man Records”
CMT IMPACT AWARD