We are introduced to “The Most Exciting Stars in Music Today.”
Luke Bryan sings a song in a sequined shirt and baseball cap. “This is a CMA kind of night!” he says. I don’t recognize his face but I recognize his name.
Then two guys come up to the stage. I don’t know who they are. Taylor Swift knows because she stands up to sing. I think the song is called “Trying to Get Our Buzz On,” and I wonder if I could drink a whole box of wine on a school night.
Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are the hosts. I recognize both of their faces and names. Carrie Underwood is wearing an unfortunate safari dress with gold eagle wings cascading out of her womb. Brad Paisley looks like Brad Paisley. They tell jokes about “feuding” and then sing a parody of “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” Does Tom Petty hate country music?
Kellie Pickler hands out “feud cards” and gives one to Kelly Clarkson, who is “feuding” with Reba. Her Fritos commercial is my favorite thing. Kenny Rogers (in the third row, weird) fake feuds with Brad Paisley. Darius Rucker “feuds” with Julianne Hough WHICH IS A BLACKFACE JOKE.
Brad Paisley says “twerk.”
Obamacare website joke. There is a George Strait parody song that I recognize as such when Carrie Underwood tells me that’s what it is.
They make fun of Miley Cyrus via Taylor Swift. “If anyone is gonna be caught naked licking a hammer I thought it would be Blake Shelton.”
Is Blake Shelton gay? Is that a gay joke?
Keith Urban sexts Nicole, the hosts say. They make sexting jokes. Then they say “Isn’t technology wonderful?” together and I laugh and laugh because it was funny, like an old variety show.
“Quack quack quack.”
Who I assume to be the Duck Dynasty people come up onstage. I thought that “Willie Jase Korie” and “Missy Robinson” were two different people. There are four people onstage.
The one with the beard (Which? Exactly.) is high, I think.
Single of the Year: “Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line.
Oh, those are the guys from the beginning of the show.
Did I take my birth control?
Jason Aldean sings a song. I recognize his name but do not recognize his face. He looks like every guy I went to high school with. He is in a make-believe boxcar complete with sparking wheels. Did anyone see the recent version of Anna Karenina? It was OK. Anyway, this performance kind of reminds me of that, minus the railway suicide.
Oh, “boxcar” is in the lyrics. It is a pretty good song.
Kacey Musgraves. I kind of recognize her name, I do not recognize her face.*
“If you don’t save yourself for marriage you’re a whore.”
I think I like her. This song is about YOLO. Am I right in assuming she is a teen?
Lady Antebellum performs. I maintain (with extreme prejudice) that Lady Antebellum is the worst band name in the world. That was a terrible time in American History. Is there a German oompah band called Fräulein Third Reich? JUST SAYING. I’m going to call them “Lady Antediluvian” until they change their name to something less horrifying.
Here are Jake Owen and Lucy Hale. I do not know who either of these people are. I think this is an “old” thing rather than an “unfamiliar with country” thing.
Song of the Year: Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
There’s a commercial for a David Blaine special. “Whatever you say,” says America.
Little Big Town performs. “When I die I don’t wanna go sober.”
I think I like them. Oh wait, it’s like “love is a drug,” and it’s a metaphor. I liked it more when I thought it was a party song.
Three guys are onstage. I don’t know who any of them are. They are white men. Two of them are medium-hot.
Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line
The profile of one of the guys from Florida Georgia Line kind of looks like Prince Harry.
Brad Paisley is now dressed up like Robin Thicke at the VMAs. Carrie Underwood has on a foam Preds claw. Is she the one married to the hockey player?**
Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert duet. I know who Keith Urban is and what he looks like. I know the name Miranda Lambert but I could not pick her out of a lineup.
At this point, I got hungry and warmed up a chicken sandwich and couldn’t really hear the song. I’m going to pretend it was about raccoons.
Brad Paisley had to do a Shazam commercial and he referenced Gomer Pyle and no person under 50 in the arena got it.
A bunch of people are onstage. Vince Gill, Taylor Swift, Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Edgar Meyer, Eric Darken.
I spent the song Googling half of their names to make sure they were spelled correctly. I had some problems with Darken, because I thought Paisley introduced him as “Gargen.” Google just redirects that to “Eric Garden” and the Wikipedia page for an Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood album is the first result.
Let’s take a break and listen to “Higher Love.”
Florida Georgia Line is introduced. They perform a song.
Speaking of Florida-Georgia line, the two states are in pretty serious dispute over water. Georgia also has the same problem with Tennessee, so I consider Georgia the water-greedy instigators in this matter.
Our hosts: “You know what we forgot to talk about? The Royal Baby.” Blake and Miranda/Kanye and Kim/Directional Jokes. “While Brad searches for punchline ...”
You know something? An hour ago, I had zero opinions on Carrie Underwood. Now I think she is GREAT with a really good sense of comedic timing. She should host more things. Like, I really want her to host a ‘70s-style variety show, with musical guests and skits and whatnot. She would be good at it! Unfortunately, only me and the folks who got the Gomer Pyle joke are interested in such things.
Hunter Hayes (a child!) and Jason Mraz perform a song.
I do not care for Jason Mraz. Let’s leave it at that.
New Artist of the Year: Kacey Musgraves
Eric Church performs a song. I don’t like his sunglasses. I guess that is his “thing,” but like I said, I don’t like it. Get another thing.
* Red shoes, always
* White T-shirt
* A fancy distinctive guitar
* Regular glasses
Any of those things are fine.
The Band Perry performs a song.
“They should have called themselves ‘Trail of Tears.’” - Lady Antediluvian
Sheryl Crow comes out to present Album of the Year. She is definitely high.
Album of the Year: Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story ...
Brad Paisley has to tell a Dolly Parton “airbags” joke. BOOOO.
Tim McGraw performs a song. His pants are so high and skinny, they qualify as trousers, if not breeches.
Blake Shelton performs a song. He kind of looks like he could be on True Blood..
Lennon and Maisy Stella, the tiny stars of Nashville, sing a song and it is precious. It is a Taylor Swift song? Because she sings along and then gives the lil’est one a hug.***
Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban come out and talk about how great Taylor Swift is. They also play a video about how great Taylor Swift is.
You know what was truly grea, though? When Faith Hill got all pissed at Carrie Underwood winning an award. Let’s take a quick break to watch that reaction again.
Anyway, Taylor Swift goes up to accept her Pinnacle Award. She talks about how great all of the presenters are.
Carrie Underwood performs a song. I don’t usually watch music awards shows, so it’s pretty interesting to see so many performances, and I guess it is the justification for this thing being three hours long, seeing as how there are only like five actual awards.
I like the Emmys and the Oscars. These performances are, across the board, much more competent and less embarrassing than I’m used to.
Kellie Pickler and Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, for some reason. “It’s always been a dream of mine to come to the CMAs,” he says. “Whatever you say,” says America. He says “I’m coming out tonight” and that reminds me this song:
He plugs his new network (there we are). Kellie Pickler is still there.
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
“You know what’s a catchier group name? ‘The Rape of Nanking.’” -Lady Antediluvian
Then there is a George Jones tribute performed by Alan Jackson and George Strait.
Zac Brown Band and Dave Grohl (“Whatever you say,” says America) perform a song. Zac Brown is wearing a jacket with skulls and such on it; I kinda like it. There is INTENSE FIDDLING in this song, which I like even more.
If you google “Zac Brown” and then click on his linked name on the right under “Lead singer,” it redirects you to Japanese pages. Weird.
I didn’t really catch the name of the song. I’m gonna call it “Dance Moms.”
Then Brad Paisley performs a song. Some of the lyrics are “Mona Lisa” and he is wearing a Mona Lisa T-shirt. There are long “woooah” parts where you’re supposed to sing along, and I like that, in any genre.
Jennifer Nettles sings a single verse of a song TO Kenny Rogers. It’s kind of awkward. Now Rascall Flatts sing a song. I know this song! I’ve seen The Big Lebowski. I didn’t know Kenny Rogers sang that! I learned a thing. Then Darius Rucker sings “The Gambler.” It’s fun, but not as fun as the thing that kick-started Rucker's country career (I dare you to tell me otherwise), “Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch.”
Now Kenny Rogers sings “Islands in the Stream” with that lady from earlier. Jennifer Dandelion. He gets his Lifetime Achievement Award. Kenny Rogers is likable and truly an American institution. I knew all of those songs! That is a pretty big deal, because as we have firmly established, I do not know very much about country music.
Now out come Charles Esten and Connie Britton, stars of ABC’s Nashville. (You can read my painstaking recaps of that show on Country Life.) (That’s called “self-promotion,” what I just did, I learned it from Sean Combs.)
They get seemingly the biggest cheers of the night.
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert (I think she ended with “Feed the world.”)
Luke Bryan sings again. It is a song dedicated to the memory of his brother and sister, Carrie tells me, which is sad.
Kelly Clarkson presents the award for male vocalist of the year. I like Kelly Clarkson.
Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton
Both Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert said they didn’t think they’d win awards “this year” which is kind of weird, right?
Robin Roberts, the Good Morning America anchor who drew the “country music” slip from ABC’s Bucket O’ Tie-Ins, is here to announce “Entertainer of the Year.”
Entertainer of the Year: George Strait
He is very tan and looks much older than I remember.
Time keeps on slippin’, y’all.
* Ed. Note: Kacey Musgraves graced the cover of the Scene in June. She is not a teen.
** Ed. Note: Yes.
*** Ed. Note: Yes. It was "You Belong With Me."