Welcome baseball fans to the Saving Country Music LIVE blog for the 50th Annual CMA Awards! For those few who aren’t watching the Chicago Cubs face the Cleveland Indians in one of the most anticipated Game 7 World Series matchups in the last century—or perhaps are looking for a way to either keep up with the CMA’s without watching, or read a recap after the game, thanks for stopping by. We’ll be raising hell and running down the winners and big events of the evening while trying not to pretend there isn’t an arguably more important event going on simultaneously.
So stretch out those refresh fingers, rosin up your mousing palms, and get ready for some off-speed frivolity and hijinks headed your way. And as always, feel free to step up to the plate and participate yourself below in the comments section.
- Entertainer of the Year – Garth Brooks
- Male Vocalist of the Year – Chris Stapleton
- Female Vocalist of the Year – Carrie Underwood
- Album of the Year – Erich Church’s “Mr. Misunderstood”
- Song of the Year – Lori McKenna’s “Humble and Kind”
- Vocal Duo of the Year – Brothers Osborne
- Vocal Group of the Year – Little Big Town
- New Artist of the Year – Maren Morris
- Musician of the Year – Dan Huff
- Single of the Year – Some song from Thomas Rhett
10:35 – RECAP: Overall, I think we have to tip our hat the the CMA Awards for really trying to take the 50th Anniversary seriously. Yes, the majority of the older performers constituted only about 8 minutes at the very beginning of the presentation, but it was still such a sight to see them all in one place, and on national television, reviving all of those classics, and when the most people were tuning in likely thinking they were going to see Beyonce. Smart trick, CMA’s.
Also, throughout the program they kept coming back to older performers and classic medleys, while giving a full performance to George Strait and Alan Jackson. All classic country fans have ever asked for is a place at the table and equal time. And for once, that was granted. Of course we can expect next year it will go back to the regular format, but perhaps they’ll include a bit more classic country now. I also think the rating might be a bit better than we expect. I was surprised by the amount of interest on social media, and here on the LIVE blog during a difficult night.
But the biggest story is how the CMA’s gave the mother of all snubs to Florida Georgia Line, and Brothers Osborne were genuinely surprised to win. That will be the biggest moment in their career, and shows just what the industry, and country music’s peers think of bands like Florida Georgia Line. Bro-Country is dead, and has been for a while except an errant song or two.
And Chris Stapleton once again has a big night. All that star power he was up against for Male Vocalist, and he still walked away with it, for a second year. And “Fire Away” deserves all the attention it can get, and the Video of the Year win.
10:28 – Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who stopped by tonight, especially with the World Series going on. Thanks to eveyone who commented or just followed along. Thanks to everyone who tweeted, retweeted, liked, shared, etc. Sorry for the outage in the middle. Still not sure what happened there. I’m going to compose some final thoughts, run down the winners, and go watch the end of the World Series. Thanks so much!
10:22 – Not totally surprising that Garth won. The model was set when the award was given to George Strait a few years back for his farewell tour. Don’t want to see Entertainer of the Year completely turn into a touring award, but that is where it is headed. Rest assured, Luke Bryan fans are crying. He was completely shut out, despite being one of the biggest concert draws, except for Garth. Garth has set records, and the CMA’s recognized that. Meanwhile radio loses another notch of relevancy. Has to be one of the best results for true country fans.
10:19 – Garth Brooks comes up on stage to “Man Against Machine.” He thanks a lot of his touring people, because that is what this award is solely predicated upon. “We’re so lucky to be a part of this thing called COUNTRY MUSIC!” Garth says.
10:18 – The CMA for Entertainer of the Year goes to Garth Brooks. Wow.
10:17 – Taylor Swift takes the stage to hand out the award for Entertainer of the Year. Luckily, Kanye West is nowhere in sight.
10:16 – The World Series is tied 6-6 in the 8th. We very well might get done here before the end of the game.
10:13 – Brad Paisley takes the stage at a piano of all things. He hits a few of the keys on the melody of “Today” before picking up the telecaster. On the background, once again we see images of country legends accepting awards from years past. This is what the ACM Awards missed when they celebrated their 50th.
10:12 – For those who care, I am 9 for 10 on my predictions of winners (find the link at the top). The only one I missed was Brothers Osborne for Vocal Duo of the Year.
10:10 – Chris Stapleton winning for Video of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year sets up well for him to get votes for Entertainer of the Year. In such a spread field where anyone could win, you have to like his chances here.
10:09 – So obviously we’re going long here, either by design or accident.
10:09 – “I’d give my time to Dolly if they’d let me,” says Chris Stapleton.
10:07 – The CMA for Male Vocalist of the Year goes to Chris Stapleton!
10:06 – Sharon Stone handing out a country award is about as appropriate as when she uncrossed her legs in ‘Basic Instinct.’
10:05 – Let Dolly speak!
10:03 – Dolly Parton then takes the stage in a long yellow dress to accept her Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement award. Vince Gill helps her on stage. “I would have cried but I didn’t want to mess up my eyelashes. Receiving the Willie Nelson award, it’s a ‘High” achievement for me,” she says. Another Willie pot joke.
10:02 – Really great performance of “I Will Always Love You.” Two guns up.
10:00 – Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride come out on stage to do “I Will Always Love You.” Reba and Jennifer Nettles, and Kacey Musgraves join in, each singing a part of a the verses. Carrie Underwood takes the the lead on the iconic chorus.
9:58 – Ha! Reba comes out and misses her cue singing “9 to 5” “I saw Dolly and got distracted” she says and starts mid verse. There’s a whole string section on stage backing the band up. Kacey Musgraves comes out in a poofy white dress singing “Here You Come Again.”
9:56 – No doubt Pentatonix has talent, but this Bobby McFerrin stuff feels so gimmicky.
9:55 – Lily Tomlin, who starred beside Dolly Parton in “9 to 5,” comes out to present Dolly with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
9:51 – Great moment for Rhiannon Giddens with Eric Church. He bestowed that same moment to Valerie June a few years ago. Say what you want about him, he does a lot to shine a spotlight on worthy artists.
9:50 – During the unfortunate LIVE Blog outage, Brothers Osborne were named Vocal Duo of the Year. I don’t care what you think about Brothers Osborne, THIS IS MASSIVE. It doesn’t matter who it was, it matters that it WASN’T Florida Georgia Line, especially in a year when they released a record. This is their relevancy slipping away folks! Brothers Osborne shouldn’t have been able to compete with them. It’s a HUGE sign that things are changing.
9:46 – Eric Church comes out to perform his current single “Kill A Word.” The AMAZING Rhiannon Giddens is with him in a red dress. “Words” are imposed on the backdrop.
9:45 – Brad Paisley announces that Dan Huff was the winner of Musician of the Year.
9:43 – The CMA for Female Vocalist of the Year goes to Carrie Underwood, ending Miranda Lambert’s 6 year run.
9:42 – Vince Gill comes out to present Female Vocalist of the Year.
9:40 – Watch the drummer during the Florida Georgia Line performance. This is totally being played to backing track.
9:39 – You know while Florida Georgia Line is performing here, they know they’re goose is cooked after they inexplicably lost to Brothers Osborne. The Nickelback of country music in every way.
9:36 – Sorry folks, absolute catastrophic website failure we’ve been working very hard at solving. Perhaps a malicious attack, perhaps not. Everything appears to be working now. Hopefully it remains that way. My apologies for the inconvenience.
8:57 – The CMA for Vocal Group of the Year goes to Little Big Town.
8:50 – Sorry folks! The website crashed. Thanks for your patience.
8:45 – The CMA for Vocal Duo of the Year goes to Brothers Osborne. This. Is. Huge!
8:42– Give the CMA’s some credit for mixing in performances like this throughout the presentation. It has been a decent mix of new and old, and George Strait and Alan Jackson actually get a FULL 3-minute performance.
8:40 – Alan Jackson takes the stage singing “Remember When” while images of passed on country legends are displayed in the background, and then snippets of older artists accepting CMA awards play as George Strait walks out on stage.
8:35 – We go to commercial with the Oak Ridge Boys singing “Elvira.” We do get a bit of classic country mixed in throughout the presentation. A bit, that is.
8:34 – Brad Paisley drops the nugget that Taylor Swift will show up to present Entertainer of the Year. Aka the Cubs just scored again, but stay tuned. 4 to 1 now in the top of the 5th.
8:33 – Then a bunch of teenagers dressed in black holding candles show up? But the candles aren’t lit. A little awkward. But Lori McKenna is crying again.
8:31– McGraw is performing in black behind a huge screen showing the faces of people behind him. This is a much better presentation than what they tried at the ACM Awards.
8:30 – Tim McGraw comes out to sing Song of the Year “Humble & Kind” that I screwed up and called a Garth Brooks song earlier.
8:28 – Oh, here’s Matthew McConaughey, a.k.a. someone over 45-years-old at this shindig that Florida Georgia Line actually recognizes.
8:26 – Always like to see Miranda on national TV if for no other reason than steel player Spencer Cullum Jr. gets some face time. Who is that guy holding the acoustic guitar in black glasses?
8:25 – Carrie Underwood introduces Miranda Lambert, who starts off “Vice” A Capella.
8:20 – So much for the show opening with Beyonce and the Dixie Chicks. Good bait and switch move by the CMA’s to get folks to tune in early, and stay tuned in until Queen Bea graces us with her presence. Cubs 3, Indians 1 in the bottom of the 4th.
8:19 – Yawn.
8:18 – Really don’t have an opinion on this new Little Big Town song except it’s pretty obvious from the lyrics that Taylor Swift wrote it. It’s just a generic pop breakup song. Looks like the rumor Swift may show up to sing along were unfounded.
8:15 – “We gave it to the fans first,” says Eric Church about “Mr. Misunderstood,” which he sent out to tens of thousands of people in his fan club before it went on sale. Church has said previously Album of the Year is the only award he cares about. In a very weak field, it’s hard to argue with that pick.
8:13 – The CMA for Album of the Year goes to Eric Church for “Mr. Misunderstood.” Well deserved considering the nominees.
8:11 – Usually Carrie Underwood is one of the reprieves of these awards shows, this performance so far has easily been the worst aside from Jason Aldean’s screeching. There’s more kinked hair than in Ronnie Dunn’s dressing room.
8:10 – Carrie Underwood comes out looking like a sadomachochistic 80’s new wave artist. What the hell is this?
8:08 – Thanks to everyone piping up in the comments section. Reading them when I get a free second!
8:06 – Your Saving Country Music alternative New Artist of the Year is Dori Freeman!
8:04 – I always know it’s fall when there’s a nip in the air, and Garth Brooks is repackaging his Greatest Hits into a box set again.
8:02 – Here we go with the rapid-fire medley again. “Mississippi Woman, Louisiana Man,” “Rose Garden,” “Golden Ring,” all get 20 seconds. Good to see Rory Feek get some face time out in the crowd.
8:00 – Garth Brooks is sure looking puffy these days. He’s a red sweater vest and mustache away from becoming the Ken Bone of country music.
7:59 – Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood come singing the classic duet “Jackson,” into Roger Miller’s “Chug A Lug,” and then into Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”.
7:57 – Barbara Mandrell comes out of retirement to make an appearance, and she looks great!
7:56 – Maren Morris: “Last year I sat in a bar across the street and watched this show.”
7:55 – The CMA for New Artist of the Year goes to Maren Morris.
7:54 – Any irony in Jennifer Garner talking about the poor victims of the hurricanes with about 14 carats of diamonds dangling from her index finger?
7:50 – Pretty bad when the music on the commercials is better than the music on the show #BadCompany
7:49 – I’d give my right nut for that SS on the red carpet.
7:48 – I could get behind Maren Morris easier if she’d lose the whole diva attitude in her movement and inflections. This is a decent song, but I’m not a fan of this rendition. Even the McCrary Sisters and Preservation Hall Band can save it from her attitude. Sorry.
7:45 – Pretty cool to see all the country legends in attendance as well. Ha! Loretta and Crystal get caught snacking when the camera gets to them. Hey, not their fault this thing goes down right at dinnertime.
7:44 – Pretty forgettable performance from Dierks Bentley and Elle King.
7:43 – I appreciate the effort by Dierks on “Different For Girls,” but I just don’t think the hook of this song delivers.
7:40 – Lori McKenna’s win for “Humble & Kind” is the first solo-written song win Song of the Year in five years. She also shared the award last year for “Girl Crush.”
7:36 – Holy shit Jason Aldean is awful here. Make it stop. Who thought this was a good idea?
7:35 – Jason Aldean comes out with Brooks & Dunn, and immediately fucks up the classic country melody of “Brand New Man.”
7:33 – Lori McKenna, a mother of five, is crying. She wrote the song all by herself … Music Row.
7:32 – The CMA for Song of the Year goes to “Humble & Kind” written by Lori McKenna, performed by Tim McGraw. Excellent pick.
7:31 – Garth Brooks is SO jealous he didn’t get to ride on the Peter Pan stirrups during the Kealsea Ballerini performance.
7:28 – Kelsea Ballerini is the worst. So plastic, always smiling. No self-doubt, no humanity. That is what keeps her from being the next Taylor Swift.
7:25 – Your Saving Country Music alternative Single of the Year is “The Dogs” by Justin Wells!
7:22 – Thomas Rhett is wearing a gold band around his bowtie to match ONE gold band around his right shoe. His lack of symmetry is making my OCD go crazy.
7:21 – The CMA Award for Single of the Year goes to Tom Rhett for “Die A Happy Man.”
7:19 – I barely recognized Peyton Manning without him kissing Papa John or schlepping insurance.
7:18 – Worst joke ever: “Don’t drink that or you’ll have to take a Wikileaks.”
7:17 – Huh. A Willie Nelson pot joke.
7:15 – Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood telling canned jokes at the moment. One funny moment is when Brad Paisley says the awards is rigged. Otherwise, you can fast forward the DVR through this portion.
7:14 – So that opening montage constituted all of the official “legends” that were announced as performers. By my watch, none of them got more than 30 seconds. But I will say it was cool to see them all, and for the CMA to put them all on at the start. But don’t worry, Beyonce is waiting in the wings.
7:10 – Alan Jackson performs for about 17 seconds, then everyone comes out singing “Forever and Ever” with Randy Travis standing center stage who finishes the song with an elongated “A-Men!”
7:09 – Apparently Ricky Skaggs went as Ben Franklin for Halloween and didn’t have time to change out of his costume.
7:08 – Clint Black sings “Killin’ Time,” then Ricky Skaggs comes out with a blistering 30 seconds of “Country Boy.”
7:06 – Reba sings the hook of “Fancy” and then the great Dwight Yoakam comes out singing “Gutar, Cadillacs.” At this pace we’ll be through all the legends in the first five minutes. Can’t type quick enough to keep up.
7:05 – Someone should tell Charlie Daniels that Cole Swindell is pro Iran just so we can see Charlie whip his ass on national television without missing a note on the fiddle.
7:05 – The Charley Pride sings a bit of “Kiss An Angel Good Morning.” Yep, 30 second snippets of songs like we were expecting, but still good to see these folks at all, especially at the beginning of the show. Alabama also performs, and Charlie Daniels comes out as a fiddlin’ son-of-a-bitch playing “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
7:03 – Wow, two classic country performances in a row. Roy Clark comes out with Brad Paisley playing Buck Owens’ “Tiger By The Tail” . Then Carrie Underwood sings 30 seconds of “Stand By Your Man.”
7:02 – Thanks to Sturgill Simpson for making this first performance possible 😉
7:01 – Show starts off with a montage of folks who’ve won in past years accepting awards. Oh and look at this, the very first performance of the night is Vince Gill playing Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” with Merle’s son Ben Haggard on Telecaster.
7:00 – And here we go!
6:59 – Word from the red carpet is Chase Rice handed his keys to Charley Pride and told him “don’t scratch it, or screw with my stereo settings!” and then promptly vomited his designer drugs into to bowl of Tim McGraw’s plastic hat.
6:58 – For those not clued into the late breaking news today, it was announced Beyonce will be performing tonight, likely in the first 8 minutes, and with The Dixie Chicks. Also uncorroborated rumors that Taylor Swift might make an appearance, possibly with Little Big Town since she just wrote a song for them. So there’s that. And pretty much all the major networks have decided to show reruns tonight instead of compete with the World Series. Could be a rough one for the CMA’s.
6:50 – Cool shot from yesterday’s rehearsals showing us some of the country music legends that will be performing tonight.
6:45 – Just a quick addendum before we get started here. Frankly, I feel a little deflated compared to how I normally feel going into most live blogs with the realization that many will be watching the World Series Game 7 instead of the CMA’s tonight. I don’t blame anyone for making that decision, and if I didn’y run a country music website, I probably would make that decision as well, and I’m not even a huge baseball fan.
Nonetheless, the CMA’s must go on, and I’ve heard from a few folks who’ve said they’re looking forward to following along here while they follow the game. So in that spirit, I will probably be doing just as much describing what’s going on as the usual snark and criticism that the live blogs are known for. Hopefully there will still be plenty of snark and frivolity, but I also want to be mindful of the folks trying to keep up while enjoying the baseball game.