Country Christmas Special Is Fun, Festive

Reba McEntire performs "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

Last night’s CMA Country Christmas special on ABC offered viewers a spirited show to ring in the holiday season. The 90-minute special drew a second place finish for ABC, according to overnight ratings from Zap2it.com. Beginning in the 9:30 PM/ET half-hour, the show attracted 7.2 million viewers, and increased to 7.4 million for the 10 PM time slot.

Jennifer Nettles, sporting her short pixie ‘do, was a cheery host. The festive set at the Bridgestone Arena was accented with thousands of warm, glowing lights.

Our genre’s stars looked even better than usual. LeAnn Rimes was stunning in a bronze sheath, and was surrounded by dancing sailors while she sang “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.” Martina McBride’s dark hair and dark sequined dress paired in striking contrast to her blue eyes, while she delivered a beautiful version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Kellie Pickler performed “Santa Baby” as she strutted across the stage in floor-length, figure-hugging satin. Her red strapless number was accented perfectly with elbow-covering gloves.

In pre-taped segments, stars and their families shared holiday traditions and memories. Brad Paisley reminisced about his first guitar, which was a Christmas gift from his grandfather when he was eight years old. The stars also offered home movies, including a clip of Paisley, age 12, performing the first song he wrote—a Christmas tune.

One part of the show saluted soldiers stationed overseas, while Rascal Flatts sang an a cappella version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”

Darius Rucker performs "Candy Cane Christmas."

Darius Rucker was charming on his new, old-fashioned sounding single “Candy Cane Christmas.” Little Big Town harmonized flawlessly on an uptempo “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” Reba was a great pick for “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” Sheryl Crow and Paisley gave a rocking version of “Run, Run Rudolph.” Nettles shone on “Oh Come Emmanuel.”

Many of the performers sang more than one number. And for the grand finale, all the stars and even a few of their kids, piled on stage for “Jingle Bell Rock.”

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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