Welcome back from maternity leave, Carrie Underwood! Not sure if you can tell, but Nashville is really excited that you’re here.

In her much-hyped first televised performance since giving birth three months ago, the country superstar landed three trophies at the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday, including the Video of the Year for her hit “Something in the Water.” (See a complete list of winners below.)

Really, the whole night was an Underwood lovefest: Host Erin Andrews proclaimed her love for the singer as she cropped herself into Underwood’s wedding photos and orchestrated a song called “Carrie Crush,” a parody of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.”

Underwood’s success couldn’t have come at a more fitting time for the industry, recently rocked by a silly-sounding but actually fairly unsettling controversy known as #Saladgate, in which a radio consultant advised stations that to increase ratings, data shows they should play fewer songs by women (calling them the “tomatoes” in the country music salad). Predictably, it took all of two minutes for Erin Andrews and her co-host, Brittany Snow, to make a joke about it on stage: “It’s the first time [the show’s] been hosted by a couple of tomatoes!”

Anyway, given that the CMT Awards are always a strange experience, here are 10 lessons we learned from the night. (You can watch the whole show here.)

1) The CMT Awards thinks everybody should get a prize.

Besides Underwood, the prizes were spread out so evenly it seemed like there was a rule that every big star who showed up should walk away with something, including Luke Bryan (Male Video, “Play It Again”); Jason Aldean (CMT Performance, “Turn the Page” with Bob Seger); Miranda Lambert (Collaborative Video, “Somethin’ Bad” with Underwood); Florida Georgia Line (Duo Video, “Dirt”); Lady Antebellum (Group Video, “Bartender”) and Sam Hunt (Breakthrough Video, “Leave the Night On”).

Meanwhile, here’s a fun fact: For the last nine years, the Video of the Year trophy (the most coveted of them all) has only gone to either Underwood or Taylor Swift.

2) If you definitely want to win a trophy in any genre, put Kate Upton in your music video. 

Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum admitted as much on stage while the trio accepted the Group Video prize for “Bartender,” which starred the swimsuit model. “For the first time ever, Charles and Dave [Haywood] showed up early,” Hillary Scott dryly noted of her bandmates. “Wonder why.”

3) Jake Owen wants to be Katy Perry.

At least, that’s what Twitter assumed when his performance of new single “Real Life” looked just like a typical Katy Perry candy-coated beach party set-up — cue the #LeftShark jokes.


4) Eric Church can blow everyone away with a slow song.

And he didn’t even need one inner tube shaped like a doughnut.


5) If you’re going to host a country music awards show without a connection to the country music world, at least be entertaining.

“Hmmmm,” you may be wondering. “Why would sports reporter Erin Andrews and ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ actress Brittany Snow host a country award show?” Excellent question! We have no idea. But the hosts didn’t seem to have any idea either, which makes us feel better.

Then again, actress Kristen Bell has nothing to do with Nashville and she expertly hosted the show solo last year. The difference? Bell has comedy chops, while these two… well, let’s just say most of the well-intentioned jokes fell flat. In fact, Bell upstaged both of them when she appeared in a previously filmed bit offering them advice: “Don’t look Luke Bryan in the eyes. It’s a beautiful lagoon and you’ll drown in it.” “If, and I mean when, you get into a drinking contest with Toby Keith, the safe word is ‘mudflap.'”

6) Luke Bryan is dreamy.

Speaking of the genre’s top hitmaker, did you know he’s very attractive? If not, there were numerous jokes pointing to his good looks, including one from Justin Bieber (!) of all people, who appeared in a sketch with James Corden driving a car pretending to go to the CMT Awards so they could see their favorite singer. It led to this exchange between the two: “I love Luke Bryan!” “Are you serious? I love Luke Bryan!” “He’s so awesome!” “He’s so hot!” “He’s hot.” “I get lost in his eyes.”

7) Sam Hunt stretches the definition of “fashion.”

You may be country music’s fastest rising star, but we still have a lot of questions about this:

8) Nicole Kidman knows all the words to her husband Keith Urban’s songs.

The camera likes to frequently cut to the actress during award shows to remind everyone of this fact, and Urban’s performance of “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” was no exception.

9) Steven Tyler is really going all in on this “country” thing.

Yes, the Aerosmith frontman is cutting a country album, and he got lots of screen time to goof off with Alan Jackson in another sketch.


10) The love between Carrie Underwood and Nashville is mutual. 

With three acceptance speeches, she had plenty of time to gush about how much she loved country music fans. She also gave a shout out to her new baby son Isaiah — as well as her husband, hockey player Mike Fisher, who was beaming in the audience. “This was my first award show since little Isaiah has been in the world… I’m sure he’s napping on the bus right now. But I should definitely say that he has already inspired me so much as well as my husband, Mike,” Underwood said, starting to get emotional before she wrapped it up: “Thank you, guys. Thank you CMT, this is awesome!”

(Our annual note: The CMT Music Awards are fan-voted and for music videos. This show is not to be confused with 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.)

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Carrie Underwood – “Something In The Water” (winner)
Dierks Bentley – “Drunk On A Plane”
Florida Georgia Line – “Dirt”
Jason Aldean – “Burnin’ It Down”
Luke Bryan – “Play It Again”
Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood – “Somethin’ Bad”

MALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Dierks Bentley – “Drunk On A Plane”
Eric Church – “Talladega”
Jason Aldean – “Burnin’ It Down”
Keith Urban – “Somewhere In My Car”
Kenny Chesney – “American Kids”
Luke Bryan – “Play It Again” (winner)

FEMALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns”
Carrie Underwood – “Something In The Water” (winner)
Lee Ann Womack – “The Way I’m Livin’”
Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon”
RaeLynn – “God Made Girls”
Reba – “Going Out Like That”

GROUP VIDEO OF THE YEAR
A Thousand Horses – “Smoke”
Eli Young Band – “Dust”
Lady Antebellum – “Bartender” (winner)
Little Big Town – “Day Drinking”
The Band Perry – “Chainsaw”
Zac Brown Band – “All Alright”

DUO VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Big & Rich – “Look At You”
Brothers Osborne – “Rum”
Florida Georgia Line – “Dirt” (winner)
Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze”
Maddie & Tae – “Girl In A Country Song”
The Swon Brothers – “Later On”

COLLABORATIVE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Blake Shelton feat. Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight”
Brantley Gilbert feat. Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett – “Small Town Throwdown”
Jennifer Nettles feat. Brandy Clark – “His Hands”
Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter – “Wild Child”
Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood – “Somethin’ Bad” (winner)
Tim McGraw feat. Faith Hill – “Meanwhile Back At Mamas”

CMT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Bob Seger and Jason Aldean – “Turn The Page” from “CMT Crossroads: Bob Seger and Jason Aldean” (winner)
Brett Eldredge – “Beat of the Music” from “CMT’s Ultimate Kickoff Party”
John Legend and Lee Ann Womack – “You & I (Nobody In The World)” from “CMT Crossroads”
Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves – “Roar” from “Crossroads”
Keith Urban – “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” from “2014 CMT Artists of the Year”
Kenny Chesney – “American Kids” from “Instant Jam”
Lady Antebellum and Aloe Blacc – “Wake Me Up” from “CMT’s Ultimate Kickoff Party”
Lady Antebellum and Chris Stapleton – “Drink A Beer” from “2014 CMT Artists of the Year”

BREAKTHROUGH VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Chase Rice – “Gonna Wanna Tonight”
Frankie Ballard – “Sunshine & Whiskey”
Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It”
Maddie & Tae – “Girl In a Country Song”
RaeLynn – “God Made Girls”
Sam Hunt – “Leave The Night On” (winner)

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