Recapping the 49th CMA Awards



This year's CMA Awards show has just finished, read on for my thoughts and recap of the show....

Award winners (in the order they were presented)
  • Music Video Of The Year - Maddie & Tae, Girl In A Country Song
  • Musical Event Of The Year - Keith Urban & Eric Church, Raise 'Em Up
  • Single Of The Year (presented by Steve Martin & Edie Brickel) - Little Big Town, Girl Crush
  • Song Of The Year (presented by Betty Cantrell & Darius Rucker) - Lori McKenna, Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsay, Girl Crush
  • New Artist Of The Year (presented by Cam & Brett Eldredge) - Chris Stapleton
  • Vocal Duo Of The Year (presented by Megan Raffino, Heather O'Riley and Cole Swindell) - Florida Georgia Line
  • Musician Of The Year - Mac McAnally
  • Album Of The Year (presented by Lee Ann Womack & Keifer Sutherland) - Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Vocal Group Of The Year (presented by Pentatonix) - Little Big Town
  • Female Vocalist Of The Year (presented by Anna Davis & Charles Kelley) - Miranda Lambert
  • Male Vocalist Of The Year (presented by Erica Cristensen & Jennifer Nettles) - Chris Stapleton
  • Entertainer Of The Year (presented by Reba) - Luke Bryan
It is worth nothing that Video Of The Year and Event Of The Year were announced earlier today and Musician Of The Year was presented as an off camera award.

The immediately striking thing about the awards is Chris Stapleton has sweeped it, winning all three categories he was nominated in. I had noticed a fair few people suggesting that Chris was likely to win New Artist Of The Year but, judging by the response on social networks during the show, Chris' Album Of The Year and Male Vocalist Of The Year wins were a shock to a lot of people, album always seeming to be a very tough category and Blake Shelton having won male vocalist for the last few years. Chris was visibly emotional by the end of the night, particularly during his final acceptance speech (the award for male vocalist) - mentioning he had made the album with music his dad (who passed away two years ago) would have liked - and it was really sweet to see how happy all the other artists were for him. These three awards mark Chris' first CMA wins (as does Maddie & Tae's Video Of The Year win), alongside multiple standing ovations.

Little Big Town ended the night with two wins, making them second in the total, wins for Single Of The Year and Group Of The Year. Kimberly Schlapman commented that it has been seventeen years this month since Little Big Town formed, something which made both wins even sweeter, the group also getting a standing ovation for their Single Of The Year win (their second ever in that category). Little Big Town also gave two of the sweetest acceptance speeches, you could really tell that any win really means a lot to them, all four of them seemed thrilled and shocked to win Single and were getting emotional during their Group acceptance speech.

Miranda Lambert's win for Female Vocalist Of The Year now puts her top of the records with a total of six wins to her name. Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Mac McAnally and Little Big Town (for group of the year) retain their respective awards alongside Miranda retaining Female vocalist. Congrats to all the winners!

Performances

Hank Williams Jr. & Eric Church - Are You Ready For The Country
John Mellencamp & Keith Urban - Pink Houses
Keith Urban - John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16
Zac Brown Band - Beautiful Drug
Kenny Chesney - Save It For A Rainy Day
Sam Hunt - Take Your Time
Little Big Town - Girl Crush
Carrie Underwood - Smoke Break
Chris Stapleton & Justin Timberlake - Tennessee Whiskey & Drink You Away
Florida Georgia Line - Confession
Eric Church - Mr Misunderstood
Thomas Rhett & Fall Out Boy - Crash & Burn & Uma Thurman
Kelsea Ballarini - Love Me Like You Mean It (link to radio stations of the year)
Brad Paisley - Country Nation
Blake Shelton - Gonna
Maddie & Tae - Girl In A Country Song (link to broadcast personality of the year)
Luke Bryan - Strip It Down
Miranda Lambert - Bathroom Sink
Jason Aldean - Just Gettin' Started
Kacey Musgraves - Dime Store Cowgirl
Dierks Bentley & Lindsey Stirling - Riser
Reba & Brooks & Dunn - Why Haven't I Heard From You & Play Something Country

With the first three performances coming in quick succession, the first collaboration of the night also opened the show. The collaborations were a bit of a mixed bag in my opinion. Thomas Rhett and Fall Out Boy were distinctly poor and some of the collaborations had one artist stand out more than the other (Eric Church, Keith Urban and Reba) but the two collaborations from Chris Stapleton & Justin Timberlake and Dierks Bentley & Lindsay Stirling should be applauded. Chris and Justin performed a track of each of theirs and, interestingly, Tennessee Whisky (from Chris' album) was the best. I think Riser is a gorgeous track anyway and Dierks did not disappoint, Lindsey's violin playing working really well in the track, it made for a gorgeous all round performance.

There were a few individual performances that also shone, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Eric Church and Kacey Musgraves, with Little Big Town's and Eric's performances being the real gems for me. Eric's performance of new single Mr Misunderstood was particularly interesting in that that is the title of his new album which has just been released. Fans would have heard Three Year Old from the album a couple of months ago, both Three Year Old and Mr Misunderstood seem to herald a return to a more 'country' sound for Eric, something I will happily embrace.

With Pain Killer out as the current single, Little Big Town's decision to sing Girl Crush was a small surprise but it was a brilliant performance. Harking back to Sober from 2013, the set was simple, allowing the group's vocals to really shine. Their harmonies were on point and Karen Fairchild's lead vocal was incredible.

Keith's John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 was much better than his performance last year, he seemed completely relaxed and delivered a great vocal in what is a very strong song. Dime Store Cowgirl is one of my favourite Kacey Musgraves tracks and, whilst she had more of a complex set than some others, she also sounded completely comfortable on the stage.

The other performances were a bit of a mixed bag, some were pretty good but a few just didn't really work unfortunately.

Hosts

As has been the case for multiple years now, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood returned to host the show, again proving how well they work with each other. The opening Star Wars themed section wasn't as funny as it could have been but their monologue after the first three performances more than made up for that. 'Sam-Hunting' was introduced - the idea of talking then singing during songs - which everybody seemed to love, which then led on to a William Shatner appearance and him 'William-Shating' (talking) the opening lines of Girl Crush which was hilarious. They also made everyone chuckle by mentioning how sad it was that Miss Piggy and Kermit had divorced and then "completely unrelated, hi Blake" coming from Brad. Both hosts also paid a touching short but sweet tribute to Lil Jimmy Dickens, a really lovely, emotional moment.

I hope both Brad and Carrie return next year, they continued to work well together and impressed everybody.

So there you have it! Squeezed full of performances and with lots of worthy winners the CMA Awards are over for another year. Next year will be the 50th year of the show and it's sure to be a great one!

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