It’s a music-business axiom that the public doesn’t remember who won or lost at awards shows, just who performed well.
I doubt that even the industry really cares about the fan-voted trophy Buckles at the CMT Awards. I, for one, mostly paid attention to who sang the best.
That would be Sugarland, with its stirring duet performance of “Stand Up.” Two Joplin, MO sisters waved flags throughout the song, and its proceeds will go the Red Cross to benefit disaster victims.
Also in the winner’s circle were Big & Rich, plus Gretchen Wilson, for their “Fake ID.” It was on-the-money both vocally and with party attitude. Gretchen promises that their tour together will be, “one band, no breaks, hit after hit.”
Keith Urban’s raspy-cool vocal on “Long Hot Summer” and the Zac Brown Band’s charming rendition of “Knee Deep” were first-rate, as well. The surprise of the performances was probably the super-energetic snippet of “Fast as You” sung by CMT Next Superstar finalists Matt Mason and Steve Clawson.
Toby Keith has the distinction of being the only artist to perform on all 10 CMT Awards telecasts. Alas, he was somewhat pitch-y on “Made in America.” Ditto for Hunter Hayes. And the less said about the Colt Ford train-wreck snippet, the better.
In general, the show was notable as an exercise in country music’s self-loathing. As if the genre’s stars and songs aren’t “good enough” for television, many of them had to be tricked out with rock additions.
First of all, where is it written that Kid Rock has to be on every country awards show, never mind as a host? What’s worse, he and Wynonna actually mocked country music with their “Hell, Yes, I’m Country.”
Throughout the show, much was made of the presence of pop prince Justin Bieber, who tagged along with Rascal Flatts. Nashville rockers Paramore, whom we love, were trotted out inappropriately as presenters.
Lady Antebellum’s lovely “Just a Kiss” apparently wasn’t strong enough to stand on its own without the grafting of Prince’s “Kiss” onto its performance. Ludacris had to rampage in to join Jason Aldean on “Dirt Road Anthem.” I hate to break it to you producers, but fans of Ludacris likely aren’t watching this show, and his appearance won’t cause them to drop what they’re doing and tune in.
Ably acquitting themselves musically were The Band Perry, Luke Bryan and snippet singers Thompson Square, Lee Brice and The JaneDear Girls.
One of the cutest moments on the show was the opening video starring Taylor Swift and Shania Twain in a Thelma & Louise parody. Donald Trump, Kenny Rogers, Glee’s Chord Overstreet, Ron White and Kid Rock were featured in it.
On occasions such as this, always thank the fans. “Country music fans are the best,” said Lady A’s Hillary Scott. “I’m honored that you fans all gathered together to vote me Male Video of the Year,” said Blake Shelton via video from the set of The Voice. “Thanks to everybody and to all the love that they show us,” chimed in Zac Brown.
Here’s my favorite: “It takes a village to raise an artist, and you are our village,” said Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry.
Among my favorite quips was Sara Evans saying on the red carpet, “I hate gowns…I’m such a tomboy.” Jay DeMarcus joked of Bieber, “He reminds me of myself when I was a kid – extremely good looking and talented.” Quoth Shania Twain of her OWN reality show, “It’s been a really great growing, healing experience.” The red carpet walk, by the way, was moved indoors this year. Smart move: The heat index outside by show time was nearly 100 degrees.
“I was voted Best Hair in the NFL,” said pony-tailed linebacker Clay Matthews of The Green Bay Packers. “I’ve won two Super Bowls and Dancing With the Stars,” responded Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward.
Sheryl Crow told the viewers that everyone was tweeting about her underwear showing during her performance. What is this culture coming to?
Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon escorted Sunny Sweeney to the Bridgestone Arena whoop-de-do. Also making the scene were Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Katie Cook, Evan Farmer, Ron White, a nicely amusing Laura Bell Bundy, Terry Bumgarner, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Nicole Kidman, Gary Busey, Train lead singer Pat Monahan, Melissa Peterman, Cheryl Hines, Mary Steenburgen, Kristin Chenoweth, Ricky Schroeder and Shania’s handsome hubby Fred Thiebaud.
Missing in action, in addition to Blake, were big winners Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. Nevertheless, Jennifer Nettles proclaimed it, “The most fun awards show, ever.”
To read a differing opinion of the CMT Awards show, click here.