The 2018 CMA Awards LIVE Blog

The snark machine is up and running, the censors have been bound and gagged in the back room, and we’re ready to get the 2018 installment of the Saving Country Music CMA Awards LIVE blog up-and-running. This annual exercise allows us to help keep our sanity, vent our frustrations, register our dissent, find commiseration for what the hell has happened to country music, as well as give credit for any positive events that may transpire throughout the night.

So as you watch along with the awards, keep your refresh fingers at the ready, and feel free to pipe up in the comments section if you have something to share. And please understand this is completely off-the-cuff and without a net, so there will be occasional spelling errors, curse words, and general bad behavior. Bring a thick skin.

For a run down on what you can expect, please check out the 2018 CMA Awards Complete Preview.

WARNING: Language

All times Central time.


  • Entertainer of the Year – Keith Urban
  • Album of the Year – Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour”
  • Female Vocalist of the Year – Carrie Underwood
  • Male Vocalist of the Year- Chris Stapleton
  • Single of the Year- “Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
  • Song of the Year – “Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
  • Vocal Duo of the Year- Brothers Osborne
  • Vocal Group of the Year – Old Dominion
  • New Artist of the Year – Luke Combs
  • Musician of the Year – Mac McAnally
  • Video of the Year – “Marry Me” by Thomas Rhett
  • Musical Event of the Year – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” by David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney

10:30 – There are three major bullet points from the 2018 CMA Awards:

• The Album of the Year win by Kacey Musgraves is massive, and in so many ways. Regardless of how you feel about her music, her public persona, Golden Hour, or anything else, it is a big win for the good guys, meaning people who want to keep substance in country music, people who want to make sure everyone is given an equal playing field, and people who want to make sure radio doesn’t dictate the winners and losers in country. It’s a big win for a deserving album, and like we saw with Entertainer of the Year later, it could have gone to someone much worse.

• Chris Stapleton still dominates awards shows, picking up three more trophies, and giving him a total now of 10 CMAs. It felt a little strange to give him so much love from the song categories, but it’s hard to argue against “Broken Halos,” and again, it could have gone to something much worse. Chris Janson’s “Drunk Girl” is the song that feels like it was left holding the bag.

• Yes, Keith Urban is now the reigning Entertainer of the Year. This feels somewhat similar to when they gave the award to Brad Paisley in 2010 because it was “his time,” and if he didn’t win it that year, he may never win it. But Keith Urban has won previously back in 2005. Perhaps the vote got split, and Keith Urban prevailed. With the way Stapleton was racking up the awards, it felt like it may have been him, and perhaps he siphoned enough votes from Jason Aldean—who also felt like a front runner—and Keith Urban stole one. It’s not about Keith’s overall body of work. His early career is fine. It’s that he’s arguably the biggest sellout in country music at the moment. Keith Urban knows better. Kane Brown and Thomas Rhett don’t. And now we’ve reinforced Urban’s bad music with country’s biggest award.

The awards felt very flat for the first 45 minutes. The Ricky Skaggs tribute helped bring it to life, and after that it remained pretty strong and did not give us much to snark about. Overall the winners could have been much worse, but Keith Urban’s Entertainer of the Year win sure leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Even if it was Jason Aldean, it would be expected. Keith Urban has no business with that trophy.


10:07 – Folks, I am still in shock. I am going to try and compose some final thoughts, run down the winners, and get out of there. THANK YOU to everyone for following along, commenting, liking, retweeting, sharing, etc. Means the world!

10:00 – Seriously, Keith Urban for Entertainer of the Year? What. The. FUCK?

This is an outright abomination. Keith Urban is the worst Entertainer of the Year in the history of the CMA Awards. This is a travesty. It’s not that Keith Urban has had a terrible career, but you can easily make the argument he is the WORST  “artist” currently in country, and unarguably the biggest sellout.

What a shitty way to end a night that started off bad, and was going pretty good.

9:57 – LOSER – Country Music. Winner – Keith Urban for ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR ?!?!

9:54 – Ah, Lionel Richie is here. With Luke Bryan, that’s two of the three American Idol judges. Katy Perry would be here too, but she’s busy being deloused in Beverley Hills.

9:52 – Thanks everybody in the comments section. Joanna Cotten is who was singing with Eric Church. She is a member of his band. Yes, I should know this.

9:49 – No argument here about Carrie Underwood for Female Vocalist of the Year. Miranda would have been a fine pick too, but it would have just been one of many. Feels more significant for Carrie. This is her year. Miranda will be back next year, likely with a new album. Too early for Maren.

9:48 – WINNER – The CMA for Female Vocalist of the Year goes to Carrie Underwood.

9:46 – I’m a “Desperate Man” apologist, but this version feels a little thin, once again partially to blame of the washed-out sound.

9:45 – Okay folks, who is the woman singing with Eric Church? He always chooses someone cool. It’s been Rhiannon Giddens and Valerie June in the past.

9:44 – Eric Church comes out to perform “Desperate Man.” Would be cool if Ray Wylie Hubbard was waiting in the wings to comes out to bang some bongos or something.

9:38 – “Slow Burn” is one of the more pedestrian songs from “Golden Hour” compared to “Space Cowboy,” “Rainbow,” and some others, but a real solid performance.

And the sound held up for Musgraves. Seems that the later performers are benefiting from better sound, as are bands that are a bit more quiet. Loud bands get washed out.

9:36 – That’s “Smokin’ Brett Resnick playing with Kacey Musgraves. He’s one of the rocks behind Kelsey Waldon.

9:33 – Album of the Year winner Kacey Musgraves takes the stage to perform “Slow Burn.”

9:32 – WINNER – The CMA for Male Vocalist of the Year goes to Chris Stapleton.

Easy call. Makes it three tonight. Might be four.

9:31 – Martina McBride looks like she just blew in from a Disney on Ice performance.

9:29 – New Brad Paisley song is not bad. Sounds like a soft George Strait tribute.

9:27 – Brad Paisley comes out singing “Bucked Off”—a song he JUST released. Sounds pretty country to me.

9:21 – Damn, Stapleton sounding like B.B. King with his guitar here. The 2nd half of the CMA Awards are definitely better than the first. This isn’t really country, but it’s a nod to the roots and  “Americana” influences in the genre.

9:18 – Okay seriously, Maren Morris usually spits the bit on these awards shows, but she did a really good job on this one, despite her culturally-appropriated inflections.

9:17∼ “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

9:16 – Ooh! Morgane Stapleton, Dave Cobb, and Marty Stuart joining Chris Stapleton, Mavis, and Morris.

9:12 – Dierks Bentley got his 2018 CMA Awards official wardrobe top at Target in a 5-pack for $6.99.

9:11 – This “Burning Man” Dierks Bentley song totally pisses off actual Burning Man-attending hippies.

9:08 – Thanks to everyone commenting down below! Reading when I can.

One more hour!

9:05 – The Pistol Annies performance of “Got My Name Changed Back” is fine. Fun song, fun performance. Nothing special. Could have been a more meaningful song, but hopefully it gives the radio single a boost, which is the right play in this instance.

9:01 – Everyone at Rolling Stone Country just pitched a tent in their music pants with the Brothers Osborne win. Expect a think piece saying it’s all because they tweet about Trump and pot.

Florida Georgia Line gets razzed once again, and deservedly so. Good win for the good guys.

9:00 – WINNER – The CMA for Vocal Duo of the Year goes to Brothers Osborne.

8:58 – Slow clap for Garth Brooks. Good song, very good performance, and gutsy to come out on stage with just the guitar. Intimate and honest. This is Garth proving when he leaves all the bullshit and marketing behind, he can be a great entertainer, and yes, an artist.

8:56 – Garth Brooks proving here how even the most powerful men in the world still have to bend over backwards for a BJ from their wife.

8:55 – Okay Garth, you better make us weep.

8:53 – If Keith Urban had won Album of the Year, later tonight I’d be in Downtown USA trying to flip over police cars.

8:51 – They awarded the CMA Award for Album of the Year 15 minutes ago to Kacey Musgraves, and they’re STILL naming off the producers for Keith Urban’s “Grafitti U” nomination.

8:47 – Seriously Keith Urban, your pubic hairs are grey. Stop with this 20-something dance club bullshit.

8:47 – …and while we’re at it, let’s build a wall around Georgia Southern university to keep the invading hordes of Bro-Country songwriters at bay.

8:46 -I’d be a strong proponent of passing whatever draconious Trump-era immigration laws one wants to propose if it meant shipping Keith Urban back to Kiwi Land.

8:45 – This performance is why Luke Combs is good, but not great. A work in progress. Better than many of the other up-and-comers, and good to see a guy who looks like America get a shot. But he needs to bring more heart and substance.

8:43 – Seriously, who does Luke Combs think he is with his red solo cup, Toby Keith or Ron White? Put your beverage down and put your heart into it, young man. Screw the image consultants.

8:40 – Back to Kacey Musgraves winning Album of the Year, this is HUGE. As someone who thinks it’s a album with some great songs, but not necessarily a great album, it’s still a huge win on many fronts. It’s a win for women, for songwriters, for artists who are ignored by radio, for artists who receive critical praise but commercial moderation, and it’s symbolic of the Nashville community stepping up and making a statement. This is NOT a political album as some like to say it is. But it’s important to the politics of country music in many ways, and a MUCH better pick than Keith Urban, or Thomas Rhett. Cool moment.

8:37 – “Meant to be, meant to be, meant to be, meant to be, meant to be,” Is this shit over yet? What a forgettable song.


8:35 – The CMAs really missed an opportunity to feature “A Star Is Born” in some capacity tonight. Would much rather see Lady Gaga as the token pop star as opposed to Bebe Rexha.

8:32 – Kacey Musgraves remarks that she moved to Nashville 10 years ago to the day that she wins Album of the Year.

8:31 – WINNER – The CMA for Album of the Year goes to Kacey Musgraves and “Golden Hour”

8:30 – Ahh, I guess it’s in tribute to Burt Reynolds, but still, Midland’s got some good songs. Let them play one, AND play tribute to the Bandit.

8:28 – There’s no bigger fan of Jerry Reed than me, and AWESOME a true country song is getting played on the CMA Awards. But why not give Midland a chance to highlight their original stuff? This is strange.

8:27 – Half way through folks!

8:25 – Great job by all in the Ricky Skaggs tribute, and all worth checking out individually. Sierra Hull is a great songwriter too. I’ll even forgive Keith Urban for getting thrown in there.

8:22 – Of course music is a matter of taste, but you can’t tell me after watching this Ricky Skaggs tribute that more talent wasn’t on display in the last five minutes than the first entire half of the CMA Awards.

8:21– Awesome. Marty Stuart, Sierra Hull, Carson Peters, Brad Paisley all on stage with Ricky, ripping up “Country Boy.”

The fresh-faced fiddler up there Carson Peters is no joke. YouTube his ass when this thing is over.

8:20 – America, on the CMA Awards right now is a guy named Ricky Skaggs. He’s a country & bluegrass musician. What you’re hearing right now is what country music actually is, not what you hear on radio. Please take note, & understand there’s a whole world of music out there like this.

8:17 – Hell yeah! Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder!

8:15 – Your Saving Country Music Alternative Vocal Group of the Year is MIKE AND THE MOONPIES!

8:12 – LOL, when you have to tell people who you are and you have three #1 hits like Brett Young does, you know you’re a generic, forgettable Music Row robot.

8:11 – I’ll forget about Brett Young as soon as they cut to commercial, and thank God.

8:09 – Old Dominion sucks. But seriously, so did this category. Would have loved to see Midland win, and they come with their own baggage.

8:08 – WINNER – The CMA for Vocal Group of the Year goes to Old Dominion.

8:06 – Really solid performance by Carrie Underwood. Not a huge fan of “Love Wins,” and I understand to some she’s more an athletic singer than a graceful one, but it’s hard to not feel inspired when she takes the stage. Best performance so far tonight.

8:04 – Carrie Underwood always has some of the most imaginative presentations. Granted, light shows wouldn’t work for most, but she pulls it off well. “Love Wins” is the first song that feels relevant and pressing up to this point.

8:03– Let’s see if Carrie Underwood can pull this presentation out of the gutter.

7:57 – Hey, it’s a Kellie Pickler sighting! Put her ass on the stage and stop diminishing her as the “dumb blonde” trope.

7:56 – If Old Dominion was a hotel, they’d rent rooms by the hour, have DNA stains on the bedspread, and a throw rug over a murder-sized blood stain in the carpet.

7:54 – Doesn’t Old Dominion have a high school hangout to troll with dime bags? Screw these dudes.

7:53 – The hot chicken bit is a rip off from the Oscars pizza bit, just not nearly as funny.

7:51 – Ah, Kelsea Ballerini saving some money on backup dancers, going with the chair dance troupe that advertises on Craigslist, and performs at senior citizens centers as an aerobic elective.

7:49 – Don’t give hot chicken to Carrie Underwood. She’ll have a baby.

7:47 – Ya’ll know I love Chris Stapleton. But giving Chris Stapleton both “Single of the Year” and “Song of the Year” feels like such a default by the voting community. Good song, but doesn’t deserve a ton of hardware. So many impactful songs out there.

Now Stapleton is all but assured a big night. The CMA cannot NOT vote for that guy if they see his name on a ballot.

7:44 – Lauren Alaina gives a shout out to Dottie West, who was just inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. At least that’s one moment so far for true country.

7:44 – Why does Lauren Alaina always look like she just broke something important and is trying to apologize for it?

7:43 – Dave Cobb once again on the CMA Awards stage. Stapleton dedicates the award to everyone lost in the wildfires in California. Cobb fawns over Lionel Richie and thanks Jesus.

7:42 – WINNER – The Single of the Year goes to Chris Stapleton for “Broken Halos.”

7:40 – “Hey, let’s have the top of the piano get set on fire!”

“Okay cool, but why?”

“It’ll be awesome.”

“Sounds pretty random to me, but whatever. It’s your production budget.”

“It’s fire!”

7:39 – Soft rock adult contemporary forgettable generic American bullshit. The yacht rock of country.

7:37 – Dan+Shay are two haircuts with microphones.

7:31 – The best part of Thomas Rhett is his wife. She more interesting doing nothing than he is performing. That’s why he can’t make a public appearance without her. Thomas Rhett’s got a big bag of nothing.

7:30 – If those horns in this Thomas Rhett performance are live, I’ll eat my hat.

7:28 – Luke Combs ain’t the greatest. But he’s an honest, real guy, and the firewall against Kane Brown, Walker Hayes, et al.  “God I love country music man,” he says during his acceptance speech.

7:27 – WINNER – The CMA for New Artist of the Year goes to Luke Combs.

7:26 – New Artist has to go to Luke Combs.

7:25 – Man this whole presentation just feels deflated so far. No energy.

“Drowns The Whiskey” was fine. Miranda said earlier this week, the only way she can get to radio these days is via a penis.

7:22 – Man. Ol’ Aldean is about as flat as a 2-day Michelob left on the kitchen counter.

7:19 – Chris Stapleton winning Song of the Year is a better alternative than Sam Hunt and Dan+ Shay, but it feels like a flat, easy, default, and obvious pick. Really feel like Chris Janson’s “Drunk Girl” was the song that had relevance and impact. Even the “Drowns The Whiskey” collaboration with Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert would have a little more oomph behind it.

This also means Stapleton could be set up for another HUGE night. NOt a lot of prognosticators had him winning that one. Entertainer of the Year now comes sharper in focus.

7:16 – I’m usually a pretty big fan of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood open, but it felt pretty flat this year. Possibly trying to avoid all of the political land mines. Comedy is dying as quickly as country music.

7:15 – WINNER: The 2018 CMA for Song of the Year goes to “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson.

7:13 – Garth Brooks saying “dumbass” on live TV has been the only highlight so far.

7:11 – Is the Nashville Chamber of Commerce paying for this run through of all the sellout celebrity bars on Lower Broadway? I hope so, because otherwise, it is serving no purpose.

7:09 – Yes, Yodel Kid, save this segment. This opening segment is about as enjoyable as shopping at Wal-Mart.

7:07 – This skit with Carrie Underwood dressed up like Colt Ford in a pink smock is hilarious!

7:06 – Opening Carrie Underwood / Brad Paisley bit “A Star Is Bored” is bombing.

7:04 – Seriously though:

7:03 – Well at least some actual country music talent shows up to help Luke Bryan. Ashley McBryde, Jon Pardi, Luke Combs, Lindsey Ell on guitar. They should be the ones with their own performance slots. Cole Swindell bringing up the caboose.

7:02 – Luke Bryan is such a Gomer Pyle-looking goober. Glad Jim Nabors is dead so he doesn’t have to see this.

7:01 – Sorry Luke, but being a middle-aged country pop star with a dad bod scrunched into a pair of skinny jeans is not “What Makes You Country.”

7:01 – Sounds washed out. Not complaining. Luke Bryan is performing.

7:00 – Garth Brooks starts off with a cold open remembering the people killed in the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA at a country dance bar. The names of the victims are displayed.

6:57 – First performance is supposed to be Luke Bryan with “special guests.” At least we get it out of the way early.

6:50 – Early winners announced this morning include “Marry Me” by Thomas Rhett that won for Video of the Year, and “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” by David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney has won for Musical Event of the Year. Chris Janson’s “Drunk Girl” deserved Video of the Year more than Thomas Rhett, but this could bode well for Janson’s “Drunk Girl” getting serious consideration for Song of the Year.

Also JUST announced, Mac McAnally is Musician of the Year, again.

6:45 – So this year, the Saving Country Music server has been extra provisioned to help ensure there is no outage, but due to the level of traffic the site receives during this event, there’s no guarantees. So if the connection is lost, be patient, and we’ll get it back online as quickly as possible.

© 2023 Saving Country Music