Bobby Karl Works the 48th Annual CMA Awards

BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM

Chapter 475

Luke Bryan is named Entertainer of the Year during "The 48th Annual CMA Awards." Photo: John Russell / CMA

Luke Bryan is named Entertainer of the Year during “The 48th Annual CMA Awards.” Photo: John Russell / CMA

It is often said that people watching awards shows don’t remember who won or lost, but do take note of the performances they saw.

This year’s CMA Awards telecast on Wednesday (Nov. 5) inevitably crowned Luke Bryan as country’s Entertainer of the Year. Mr. and Mrs. Country Music – Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert to you – both made the history books with their wins. Deserving Brett Eldredge was named Best New Artist. Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark were the surprise winners of Song of the Year, with a creation that was censored on last year’s telecast and never embraced by country radio. To no one’s surprise, Florida Georgia Line (Duo) and Little Big Town (Group) repeated their wins.

Now for the performances. Thanks largely to talent imported from pop music, the CMA show had loads of highlights. One of the opening numbers was Meghan Trainor’s wildly entertaining pop smash “All About That Bass,” performed as-cute-as-the-dickens with Miranda Lambert. The mash-up of “Day Drinkin’” and “Bang Bang” by Little Big Town with pop star Ariana Grande was another stand-out moment. They worked with a double-stacked drum line and color-shifting wardrobes.

The legendary Doobie Brothers rocked “Listen to the Music” with Hunter Hayes, Hillary Scott and Jennifer Nettles. The band returned at the finale with “Takin’ it to the Streets,” featuring Michael McDonald and adding co-host Brad Paisley on guitar.

Country stood tall, on its own, with such performances as Florida Georgia Line’s “Dirt,” The Band Perry’s creative tribute to Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind,” co-host Carrie Underwood’s fiery, powerhouse delivery of “Something in the Water,” Miranda Lambert’s teaming with Little Big Town on “Smokin’ and Drinkin,’” Lady Antebellum’s “Bartender,” Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe’s totally-country collaboration on “Lonely Tonight” and the delightful, standing-ovation pairing of Kacey Musgraves with country queen Loretta Lynn on “You’re Lookin’ at Country.” These are the things we will remember.

“Thank you for letting me follow my dreams, every night,” said top winner Luke Bryan. His Entertainer of the Year award was presented by a true entertainer, Garth Brooks. “I’ve never met Garth,” said Luke. “Can I hug you again?

“Thank you, God above. To everybody in my world that’s put this life together. These country-music fans, thank you so much.”

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Miranda Lambert wins Album of the Year for Platinum with producers Chuck Ainlay (l) and Frank Liddell during “The 48th Annual CMA Awards.” Photo: Donn Jones / CMA

Miranda walked away with the Female, Album, Single and Event trophies, the last-named shared with Keith Urban for “We Were Us.” Her fifth Female Vocalist win puts her ahead of previous champs Reba McEntire and Martina McBride.

“She’s one of the people who paved the way for me to be here,” said Miranda backstage. On stage, she addressed the dearth of solo female artists: “I’m trying to represent for you girls. I love you.

“I definitely feel the girls have a lot to say,” she added after the telecast. “I think that’s about to come back to the forefront.”

Speaking of females, Kacey’s utterance of the word “joint” in “Follow Your Arrow” was bleeped out on last year’s CMA show. The audience erupted in cheers when the underdog anthem for tolerance, independence and acceptance was named Song of the Year.

“Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed. “Do you guys know what this means for country music?” The song not only mentions smoking pot, but references enjoying being gay. Kacey’s co-writers Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark are the first openly gay CMA winners.

“People always try to bring up the rebel card with me,” said Kacey backstage. “I’m nothing new. I’m just carrying on the [country] tradition of telling the truth.”

Blake’s fifth Male Vocalist CMA award ties him with Vince Gill and George Strait. “They put a book under our seats, and it said who has won this award in the past,” said Blake. “A name that was missing was my all-time hero Earl Thomas Conley. So this award is for you.”

Brett Eldredge was clearly flabbergasted and thrilled with his award. “This is game changing,” he said backstage. “When they said my name, I didn’t believe it.”

He told the audience, “I remember three years ago, I got here so early I was the only person sitting there. I was so excited to be here.”

Brad Paisley presents Vince Gill with the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence during "The 48th Annual CMA Awards." Photo: John Russell / CMA

Brad Paisley presents Vince Gill with the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence during “The 48th Annual CMA Awards.” Photo: John Russell / CMA

Vince Gill was given the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence. The only prior artist winner of this CMA honor was the towering Johnny Cash. “Vince has stood tall as a role model and friend to all of us here tonight,” said presenter Brad Paisley.

“I look around this room and I see a lot of young people,” said Vince. “I admire so much how you treat each other. The camaraderie you have…is a beautiful thing to watch.”

Other lively moments on the show came from Kenny Chesney doing “American Kids” with lots of dancing extras, Tim McGraw’s spiffy delivery of “Shotgun Rider,” Dierks Bentley’s rocking “Drunk on a Plane” with cool “airport” production effects, Eric Church goosing George Strait’s energy on “Cowboys Like Us” and Thomas Rhett singing “Get Me Some of That.”

On the other hand, Cole Swindell was lame with “Just Chillin’ It.” The mystery of Jason Aldean’s popularity was underlined by his lifeless “Burnin’ It Down.” Luke Bryan’s vocal on “Roller Coaster” was shaky. As is the case in his concerts, Keith Urban failed to understand the importance of hearing the words in country music.

Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally with their CMA Awards for writing the 2014 CMA Song of the Year, "Follow Your Arrow," with Kacey Musgraves, who also recorded the song. Photo: Ebie McFarland

Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally with their CMA Awards for writing the 2014 CMA Song of the Year, “Follow Your Arrow,” with Kacey Musgraves, who also recorded the song. Photo: Ebie McFarland

The parade of presenters was mostly cool – Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert, Darius Rucker, Kip Moore, Dan + Shay, Brandy Clark, Martina McBride, Connie Britton, Lucy Hale, The Swon Brothers and Trisha Yearwood. But poor Sam Hunt was paired with Lily Aldridge. That’s right: They had an underwear model present the Female Vocalist award. How demeaning is that? Has-been gridiron star Tim Tebow was also given a presenter slot.

The CMA show always salutes radio winners. Why? What other format does this? Not to mention the fact that these are the people responsible for ruining the genre with “bro country.”

Perennial co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood were at their best yet. They were laugh-out-loud funny during their opening monologue, doing “Quarantine” to the tune of “Jolene” in spoof of the defiant ebola nurse and dishing out Carrie pregnancy jokes. Brad feigned being oblivious of Strait’s presence while singing “The Cowboy Rides Away.” “Are you a fan of Ariana Grande?” asked Carrie. “No, I don’t drink coffee,” Brad replied. The show aired in place of the hit new ABC comedy Black-ish. “I hope you all are enjoying ‘White-ish,’” quipped Brad.

Several stars made it onto the telecast via ads. These included Natalie Stovall & The Drive (for J.C. Penney’s), Jana Kramer (Nationwide Insurance), Blake Shelton (his new CD), Chris Young (Kidde smoke alarms) and the stars of the TV show Nashville.

Blake Shelton is named Male Vocalist of the Year during "The 48th Annual CMA Awards." Photo: John Russell / CMA

Blake Shelton is named Male Vocalist of the Year during “The 48th Annual CMA Awards.” Photo: John Russell / CMA

Working the red carpet before the telecast were the Eli Young Band, Danielle Bradbery, Easton Corbin, David Nail, newly crowned “Sexiest Man in Country Music” Chris Young, Clay Walker, Billy Currington, Jana Kramer, Chaley Rose & Sam Palladio, Frankie Ballard, Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler and Steven Tyler.

Spotted in the crowd were Scott Borchetta, Mike Dungan, Gary Overton, WKRN’s Neil Orne & Dawn Davenport, CMT’s Katie Cook & Cody Alan, ABC’s Ginger Zee, Scott Stem, Peter Cooper, George Walker IV, Cindy Watts, Vanessa Parker, Larry McCormack, Kimberly Williams Paisley, Faith Hill, Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, Amy Grant, Andy Cordan, Bob Mueller, John Esposito, and Katherine Richardson.

 

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