Award show favorite Miranda Lambert cannot be stopped: In a mostly male-dominated telecast, the feisty Texas singer picked up three trophies on Sunday at the Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS, making her the biggest winner of the night.
Lambert won her fifth consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year award, in addition to Single Record of the Year (break-up anthem “Mama’s Broken Heart”). However, Lambert lost out on the most coveted prize, Entertainer of the Year: That went to 61-year-old George Strait as the veteran crooner gets ready to wrap up his epic touring career with his final show this June.
Other winners included Jason Aldean for Male Vocalist, even after his divorce last year gave him all kinds of publicity he did not want. The country bros of Florida Georgia Line continued their ascent to become the new Nashville overlords by winning Vocal Duo, while sibling trio the Band Perry picked up somewhat of a surprise victory for Vocal Group. Lee Brice’s tearjerker “I Drive Your Truck” was named Song of the Year, while Justin Moore choked back some tears of his own when he was crowned Best New Artist.
Kacey Musgraves broke through with a win for Album of the Year (her Grammy-winning “Same Trailer Different Park” debut), the lone female in her category. “I’m really proud to be a woman representing country music,” Musgraves told the Las Vegas crowd.
Meanwhile, Lambert was also the center of attention for a good part of the night as ACM Awards co-host Blake Shelton (her husband) made quite a few jokes about his sex life. All right then! That brings us to the best part of award shows: Along with a full list of nominees and winners below, here are some of the more awkward moments of the night; along with a rundown of the best performances.
MOST AWKWARD MOMENTS
The confetti that opened the show. Good idea: Confetti dropping from the ceiling to spice things up! Bad idea: Dropping it at the beginning of the night. “There’s $20 million in hairdos down here and it all has confetti in it,” co-host Luke Bryan cracked during the opening bit, as cameras caught members of the dolled-up crowd frantically dusting off the shards of paper. “This is not a Head and Shoulders commercial, everybody,” he added. It did look unfortunately look a lot like dandruff — though some A-listers (Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, at least) seemed to be laughing it off.
Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan’s PG-13 monologue. Country music always boasts about being family friendly, so why did the monologue include so many references to sex and marijuana? Well, because this is still an award show (one of four country-specific ones; the second most important behind the CMAs, in case you were wondering) looking for ratings, and there’s lots of competition out there. First they tried regular zings, such as announcing that next year’s show will be at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium for the ACM Awards 50th anniversary. (Blake: “You never see an awards show at Cowboys Stadium.” Luke: “You never see a playoff game there, either.” Cut to Jerry Jones in the audience looking mad!) Then, they went for the edgier stuff:
“This year, all you hear about is same-sex marriage, over and over and over again,” Luke started.
“A year ago, same-sex marriage just meant once you got married, you had the same sex over and over and over again!” Blake crowed.
“Thanks,” Miranda mouthed in the audience, as the camera eagerly panned for her reaction.
There were also bits about an “official marijuana dispensary” being a euphemism for “Eric Church’s dressing room.” (The outlaw singer’s “Smoke a Little Smoke” may have something to do with that.) Then Luke asked Blake if he was worried about winning Entertainer of the Year. “As far as Miranda’s concerned, I’m already entertainer of the year,” Blake smirked with a “you know what I mean? Right? RIGHT?” look. “More like entertainer of the minute,” guffawed Luke. It went downhill from there.
Blake’s Britney Spears Vegas residency joke. Well, only because her sister, Jamie Lynn, was in the audience, as she’s desperately trying to launch a country music career. Looks like this industry’s not too welcoming to her family. (Luke: “Everybody in here tonight is ready to listen to some great amazing live music.” Blake: “And if you don’t like live music, then you need to go down the block and see Britney Spears.”)
Miranda Lambert accepting trophies just as she was getting ready to perform. The only thing that puts a damper on winning an award? Having just changed out of your stunning gown into jeans and a tank top. Lambert had already completed her outfit change backstage, ramping up to play her song “Automatic,” when she had to go out and accept the Single Record of the Year award in front of millions wearing ripped jeans. “I really appreciate this guys, thank you,” she said during a half-hearted speech. It happened again when she won Female Vocalist as she got ready to perform the Merle Haggard tribute, but at least then she was wearing a shimmery skirt and awesome side braid.
Blake and Luke trying to copy the Oscars. What started as a funny bit dragged as the co-hosts debated who they should include in an Ellen-like selfie, before deciding they were the biggest stars in the room and didn’t need anyone. Oh, and Blake tried to emulate John Travolta/”Adele Dazeem” mix-up by introducing “Bluke Lyran” before Luke’s performance of “Play It Again.”
Rascal Flatts sounding, um, not-live. Lead singer Gary Levox has the voice of an angel, but does he really sound that flawless live? Unlikely — Twitter lit up with accusations during the performance of “Rewind” that the trio was lipsyncing in a very obvious way.
Olivia Munn and Aaron Rodgers presenting Song of the Year. Why were “The Newsroom” star and Green Bay Packers quarterback there? It was never explained.
Okay, we’ll give Luke credit for this one as he introduced Blake performing a duet with fellow “Voice” judge Shakira, a track called “Medicine” from her latest album. “When I heard Blake and Shakira had a duet, I was amazed because of the language barrier,” Luke said. “Shakira speaks four languages and after a couple beers, Blake has trouble with just one.”
Though why on earth did NBC’s “The Voice” get so much air time? Blake also had his former “Voice” mentee Gwen Sebastian accompany him during his new single, “My Eyes.” Former contestant RaeLynn was frequently on camera next to Miranda. Great synergy — for the wrong network.
Oh, were there performances: Two dozen in all, and it took an hour before the show even got to hand out any actual awards. Some stand-outs:
George Strait. The King of Country sounded stellar on his latest single “I Got a Car,” and even more so during the Merle Haggard tribute with Lambert, as they took on “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “The Bottle Let Me Down.” Another great performance: The entire crowd singing “Happy Birthday” to Haggard (who turned 77 on Sunday) as he accepted the Crystal Milestone Award with a short and sweet speech.
Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow. We’ll admit we were wondering why the show held this duet for the last slot of the night, as “I Hold On” is one of Bentley’s more medicore offerings. But he and Crow sounded fantastic.
Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks. The trio didn’t win any awards, but they did get to perform with Stevie Nicks and paired their song “Golden” with Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” It may have just been a plug for their “CMT Crossroads” performance together; we did not care.
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. The longtime married couple joined together for McGraw’s upcoming song, “Meanwhile, Back at Mama’s.” They’re both great singers, blah blah blah, we know…but seriously how adorable is it that they are still so in love?
Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. We can take or leave the rap-heavy “This Is How We Roll,” but they get points for having BMX bikers doing flips and lots of fire in the background.
Blake Shelton. His new song “My Eyes” sounds promising. And “my eyes are the only thing I don’t wanna take off of you”? That’s a pretty good lyric in a love song.
Brad Paisley. Speaking of lyrics, looks like we’re back to typical Paisley word play for “River Bank,” his upcoming single: “We’re laughing all the way to the river bank.”
Taylor Swift. No, she didn’t actually perform, but she’s still the most entertaining crowd dancer out there. This time, to Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel.”
— Mandi Bierly (@EWMandiBierly) April 7, 2014
Full list of winners and nominees:
Entertainer of the Year
George Strait (winner)
Male Vocalist of the Year
Jason Aldean (winner)
Female Vocalist of the Year
Miranda Lambert (winner)
Vocal Duo of the Year
Big & Rich
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line (winner)
Love and Theft
Vocal Group of the Year
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
The Band Perry (winner)
Zac Brown Band
New Artist of the Year
Justin Moore (winner)
Album of the Year
“Based On A True Story…” – Blake Shelton
“Crash My Party” – Luke Bryan
“Here’s To The Good Times” – Florida Georgia Line
“Same Trailer Different Park” – Kacey Musgraves (winner)
“Two Lanes Of Freedom” – Tim McGraw
Single Record of the Year
“Cruise” Florida Georgia Line
“Highway Don’t Care” – Tim McGraw feat.Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
“I Drive Your Truck” – Lee Brice
“Mama’s Broken Heart” – Miranda Lambert (winner)
“Wagon Wheel” – Darius Rucker feat. Lady Antebellum
Song of the Year
“Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)” – Gary Allan (Written by Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matthew Warren)
“I Drive Your Truck” – Lee Brice (Written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary) (winner)
“Mama’s Broken Heart “– Miranda Lambert (Written by Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves)
“Mine Would Be You” – Blake Shelton (Written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan)
“Wagon Wheel” – Darius Rucker feat. Lady Antebellum (Written by Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor)
Video of the Year
“Better Dig Two” – The Band Perry
“Blowin’ Smoke” – Kacey Musgraves
“Highway Don’t Care” – Tim McGraw feat. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban (winner)
“I Drive Your Truck” – Lee Brice
“Mama’s Broken Heart” – Miranda Lambert
“Two Black Cadillacs” – Carrie Underwood
Vocal Event of the Year
“Boys ‘Round Here” – Blake Shelton feat. Pistol Annies & Friends
“Cruise” (remix) – Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly
“Highway Don’t Care” – Tim McGraw Featuring Taylor Swift & Keith Urban
“Wagon Wheel” – Darius Rucker Featuring Lady Antebellum
“We Were Us” – Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert (winner)