Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the 2020 edition of the ACM Awards LIVE blog on Saving Country Music. For the three hours of the presentation, we’ll be leaving quips, observations, and kudos where warranted in real time in an effort to make the awards at least somewhat palatable for those of distinguishing tastes, and who know what actual country music is supposed to sound like.
Usually the snark level is turned to excess and past the point of all decorum during these exercises. But since COVID-19 and political/racial upheaval have put a damper on spirits throughout life, we’ll try to temper the rhetoric at least to some extent this year. But once the snark machine gets going, you never know what’s going to be spit out in real time. So just remember–especially in these times of unprecedented uptightness—this is all in good fun.
If you want to know what to expect from the presentation in regards to performers, nominees, and important moments, check out the preview of the show. And remember, this is all live and unscripted, so apologies ahead of time for typos and stubbed toes.
All times Central time.
–Entertainer of the Year: Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood
— Male Artist of the Year: Luke Combs
— Female Artist of the Year: Maren Morris
— Album of the Year: Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get
— Song of the Year: Old Dominion (forgot already)
— Single of the Year: Blake Shelton – “God’s Country”
— Duo of the Year – Dan + Shay
— Group of the Year – Old Dominion
— New Male Artist of the Year – Riley Green
— New Female Artist of the Year – Tenille Townes
— Songwriter of the Year – Hillary Lindsey
— Video of the Year – Thomas Rhett – “Remember You Young”
— Musical Event of the Year – “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” – Miranda Lambert with Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, Caylee Hammack & Elle King.
10:20 – Overall, I have to say I was really impressed with how the ACMs pull off a socially distanced show, and aside from some outliers, stripped down performances resulted in significant more quality and moving moments, most accentuated by Carrie Underwood’s classic country medley, Eric Church allowing Johnny Cash to say his peace, a great performance by Mickey Guyton, and other quality performances.
The awards themselves left many puzzled. Luke Combs probably deserves whatever they give him. Maren Morris for Female Vocalist wouldn’t be my first pick, but is understandable. But again Old Dominion gets awards for who knows what reason, and the ACMs fumbled an otherwise great presentation including an extended In Memorium segment by giving Entertainer of the Year to two people, one being Thomas Rhett. THIS will be what people remember, and not for the right reasons. More on this soon.
10:10 – THANK YOU to everyone for stopping by, commenting, liking, sharing, etc. I’m going to give some final thoughts, recap the winners, and get out of here.
10:09 – No matter the outcome, I feel like the ACMs failed country music again with Entertainer of the Year. First off, Thomas Rhett deserves no part of any Entertainer of the Year award, and I think he proved that tonight, while Carrie Underwood and Eric Church, or Luke Combs proved to be much more deserving. Giving Carrie Underwood the award with Rhett steals the thunder behind it, and will only lend to conjecture and conspiracy theories of how we got here.
It’s kind of like when they say if your football teams has two quarterbacks, you really have none. If there was a tie, you ask for a revote or a runoff.
10:03 – Obviously, it is very easy to give into conspiracy theories in a moment like this. With THOUSANDS of votes cast, and never a tie in history, was this just a way to give the real winner a trophy, and award Carrie Underwood to save the backlash as well? I don’t know that we have enough information to determine that at this point. LOTS to digest here.
9:59 – Carrie Underwood wins the second Entertainer of the Year trophy. It is her third ACM Entertainer of the Year honor. She also won in 2009 and 2010.
9:57 – The 2020 ACM Entertainer of the Year Award is TIED, with the 1st going to Thomas Rhett ?!?
9:55 – Just a reminder that the chorus for Florida Georgia Line’s “I Love My Country” was straight up filched from Kane Brown’s “Short Skirt Weather” in such an overt act of creative thievery, Kane and his co-writers were added as contributors to the track.
9:54 – ..and then here comes Florida Georgia Line.
9:52 – The ACM Awards started off pretty poorly, but I’ve got to say, they’re really rising to the occasion, understanding the gravity of moments, and putting on a presentation we’ll remember. If only it could be like this every year.
9:49 – A few years the ACM’s have completely forgone an In Memorium segment. Most years, it’s not even close to complete. There’s a couple more they could have included. But to include guys like Jimmy Capps and David Olney, and Gary McSpadded, that was the best In Memoriam tribute I have seen on the CMAs or ACMs since I’ve been covering them. Impressed.
9:46 – Trisha Yearwood sings “I’ll Carry You Home” in tribute to fallen country heroes, including Earl Thomas Connley, John Prine, Jimmy Capps, Biff Adam, Paul English, Sonny Curtis, Bill Mack, Jan Howard, David Olney, Gary McSpadden, Kenny Dixon, busbee, Chuck and Jim Glaser, Joe Diffie, Charlie Daniels, and Kenny Rogers.
9:44 – Maren Morris: “I have to pee.”
I have to puke.
9:43 – The ACM for Female Artist of the Year goes to Maren Morris.
9:40 – Ooh, I see Trisha Yearwood…
9:38 – Luke Combs is having a big night taking home two of the biggest awards so far, which was easy to see coming, and hard to say is not deserved from the massive year he’s having. Still you wouldn’t mind see some of the love shared around. Half the awards given out tonight have gone to two acts: Luke Combs and Old Dominion.
9:36 – The ACM for Male Artist of the Year goes to Luke Combs.
Most obvious pick of the night.
9:35 – Holy ribbon, Lauren Alaina. You could clog a 737 engine with that thing.
9:33 – This new Keith Urban and P!ink song/performance does nothing form me. Stock.
9:32 – Gotta say, for having to incorporate multiple venues, live and pre-recorded stuff, and multiple formats, the ACMs so far have been really snappy, with good sound and overall production.
9:31 – Miranda Lambert has 35 ACM Awards. That’s crazy.
9:29 – Hey Arnold down in the comments section wants credit for “Karen Morris.” Thought I saw that on Twitter a while back, but sure. Just don’t whip our asses the rest of the night about Jon Pardi.
9:25 – Wow! The studio version of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” by Mickey Guyton left some to be desired, but she just gave the 2020 ACM Awards another “moment.” Once again, the stripped down production exposes and excellent song, and let’s a beautiful performance rise to the surface.
9:22 – I have been a bit proponent of Mickey Guyton for many years as she’s gone majorly ignored by the mainstream. It’s really heartening to see all the attention flowing towards her. It’s just a shame it took black men being killed in the streets to make it happen.
9:20 – Tim McGraw brings us up to three cowboy hats, and two steel guitars.
9:18 – As Jared pointed out in the comments section, these stripped down performances really are helping to expose some great songs, and are so much more palletable than choreographed dance troups and pyrotechnics. One rare postitive side effect of COVID. This Tim McGraw performance from the Bluebird of “I Called Mama” is a good example.
9:16 – I think Carrie Underwood and Eric Church have really made a case for themselves tonight why they should be considered front runners for Entertainer of the Year. It’s not just about tickets and sales. It’s about creating moments, and exuding leadership in the the genre. Luke Combs did well too.
9:14 – That was Joanna Cotten there singing with Eric Church.
9:10 – Appreciate that Eric Church just ceded precious minutes from his major awards show performance to allow a full spoken word rendition of Johnny Cash’s poignant and timely “Ragged Old Flag” to play. Class.
9:07 – Very cool. Eric Church’s performance of “Stick That In Your Country Song” starts with a full rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ragged Old Flag,” with Cash’s visage in front of a black background.
9:05 – Luke Combs was a pretty obvious pick for Album of the Year. Jon Pardi and Miranda Lambert may have been better picks, but you can’t complain to much about it.
9:04 – The ACM for Album of the Year goes to “What You See Is What You Get” by Luke Combs.
9:01 – Okay, is it me, or were Taylor’s guitar strums out-of-sync? Vocals are live, but it looks like the guitar was pre-recorded.
8:59 – Good visual for Taylor Swift for her “Betty” performance with a spotlight behind her and a dark background, and Swift with her hair up, and little or no makeup adding to the stripped down nature of the song.
8:58 – Here we go with Tay Tay.
8:54 – Really disappointed Karen Morris didn’t use the incredible platform of the ACMs to tell us all how stupid country music fans are.
8:50 – This Karen Morris performance is fine. Even if it was bad, wouldn’t want to give Karen criticism that she would just used to couch herself as a devastated victim on Instagram prattling for sympathy while the fawning media laps it up and calls her empowering.
8:48 – Karen Morris.
8:47 – Blake Shelton is a turd, but “God’s Country” was massive, and much more deserving of an award than that Old Dominion song I already forgot the name of.
8:46 – The ACM for Single of the Year goes to “God’s Country” by Blake Shelton.
8:43 – Sure, the message is great, but “Worldwide Beautiful” is too on-the-nose to have any real impact. Is anyone removing the hate from their heart due to Kane Brown? And the electronic loop is annoying as shit.
8:42 – Glad Kane Brown didn’t get lost on the way to his performance.
8:40 – As many are pointing out on social media, “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia” that Carrie Underwood performed as a Reba McEntire cover was originally from Viki Lawrence. Not sure why they picked such a recognizable cover instead of a different Reba song, but it worked. Perhaps because Carrie wanted to sing the song, and knew she could hit it out of the park.
8:36 – Good performance of “I Wish Grandpa’s Never Died” by Riley Green. Just wish he’d up his lyrical game a bit. Oh, and they just cut him off before he got to the “I wish country music still got played on country radio” line. Bastards.
8:35 – Riley Green: Most likely to be cancelled for some overblown pseudo-racist shit published in a high school yearbook 14 years ago.
8:33 – I just don’t even know where to start with Dan + Shat. It’s not even that it’s bad. It’s just so purely fluffy pop, it just makes me want to light a scented candle and watch kitten videos on YouTube.
8:31 – This Gabby Barrett performance has the same problems as Tenille Townes. Many of these young new women performers feel like they need to imbue their music with all this hip-hop attitude that just feels put-on and fake. “I Hope” is a good song with bad execution.
8:29 – Sweet! Don’t know how Gabby Barret roped Weird Al into performing with her, but I’m here for it!
8:27 – Aside from the Tenille Townes performance which I’m still cleaning up the blood from my ears from, stuff has gotten better as time has gone on here.
8:23 – Eh. Tenille Townes should have dried this performance out. Way too much fake energy and attitude, and she’s singing on top of the notes a la Jennifer Nettles. NOt impressed.
8:21 – Wow, how did Tenille Townes get a hold of David Bowie’s iconic space suit for this performance? Would love to hear the story behind that.
8:19 – Yeah, Luke Combs could cut some much better songs, but one of the reasons he’s been one of the best performers of 2020 is her can kill it with just a guitar and a mic. Or in this case, just a piano and a mic. You actually believe his “everyman” approach to country.
8:16 – This Luke Combs segment about bringing guitars to people suffering from PTSD would be much cooler if it wasn’t such a naked advertisement for Ford. Nuance, people.
8:15 – Carrie Underwood just had a moment.
8:11 – Carrie Underwood just sung “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, Loretta’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” Barbara Mandrell’s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” Dolly’s “Why’d You Come In Here,” and Reba’s “That’s the Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia,” and finished with a killer rendition of Martina McBride. If you want to know why she gets a pass as “pop” country, this is why. She is what pop country should be.
8:06 – There’s a steel guitar on stage. THERE’S A STEEL GUITAR ON STAGE !!!
8:04 – Oh nice, Carrie Underwood singing Patsy, Loretta and others at the Opry in tribute to their 95th anniversary.
8:03 – Fishnet stockings did for country music what …. okay I won’t go there …
8:01 – Nothing says country like performing in front of green screens from Hollywood.
8:01 – Jon Pardi deserved his own performance slot. He’s nominated for Album of the Year. “Beer Can’t Fix” does nothing for me.
8:00 – The cowboy hat count is up to 2 … an hour into a country music awards show.
7:58 – Didn’t we already have to suffer through a Thomas Rhett performance? Oh here comes Jon Pardi. God save this Pardi!
7:55 – You have to keep reminding yourself as the winners are announced, “It’s just the ACM Awards.” Old Dominion being one of tonight’s big winners pretty much sums it all up.
7:50 – Old Dominion received as much applause for winning this dumb award as they would have if there was actually a crowd in the house. Are there any actual fans of this band?
7:49 – The ACM for Group of the Year goes to Old Dominion.
7:47 – Shut it up … shut it up … shut it up. I’d rather listen to The Baha Men than this broken record performance.
7:46 – Morgan Wallen looks like a guy whose future holds many late child support payments. And what’s up with his bass player masturbating on the backline? There’s no crowd to rile you douche.
7:43 – I know Miranda’s cop hubby could billy club me to death, but she ain’t lookin’ half bad tonight. Blue’s her color.
7:41 – My one issue with “Bluebird” was the production. Stripped down like this, is much much more favorable.
7:40 – Miranda Lambert performs “Bluebird” at the Bluebird in blue fringe with her co-writers, with Luke Dick playing guitar, and Highwoman member Natalie Hemby singing harmony.
7:36 – The one good category for these awards was Song of the Year, and they gave it to the worst non-song in the entire category. Another sign these awards are bought and paid for. No way anyone could justify any Old Dominion song as the most important in a given year.
7:33 – Not hating this Kelsea Ballerini “Hold in the Bottle” song or performance at all. Best one so far tonight. She could really develop into something interesting if she continues to mature her career in this direction.
7:31 – Kelsea Ballerini giving Tina Turner’s wardrobe in Beyond Thunderdome a run for its money.
7:29 – The ACM for Song of the Year goes to Old Dominion for “One Man Band.” I write about country music for a living. Never heard this song.
7:27 – “Hey Senorita, don’t you think we need’a.” Deep, Luke. Move over Bill Shakespeare.
7:25 – Way to meet this weighty moment of life and society Luke Bryan with a vapid ode to margaritas. Touching.
7:21 – I just Dan + Shat my pants. Brooks & Dunn got robbed.
7:19 – …and the ACM for Vocal Duo of the Year goes to Dan + Shat.
7:19 – It’s a cowboy hat, and an actual country music artist. Save us Clint Black!
7:18 – Hey wait, I thought this Live Blog was going to be a little less snarky? Sorry, when I turn it on, I can’t turn it off.
7:17 – Old Dominion, you’re not important enough to perform a medley yet. Nobody knows these fucking songs.
7:16 – You know they say the Ryman Auditorium is full of the ghosts of country greats billowing through the halls and rafters. You can’t see them because they’re just spirits, but right now the ghosts of Hank Williams, Jimmy Martin, and Roy Acuff are all standing in front of the stage making lewd gestures featuring the middle digit towards these Old Dominion losers as Minnie Pearl cackles off in the distance.
7:13 – The Bluebird Cafe is the perfect venue for this Jimmie Allen song, because it’s open mic quality. Is that loser to the left playing an electronic drum pad? Come on, get an egg shaker and call it good.
7:11 – Can’t wait for Jimmie Allen’s “dayboo” moment, Keith. Guess it’s an Aussie thing.
7:09 – Thanks Keith Urban for the Hallmark moment. You’re 52-years-old and are wearing skinny jeans.
7:07 – If Carrie Underwood wins Entertainer of the Year, it will actually be her third ACM Entertainer of the Year. The ACMs have always been a bit more favorable to Carrie.
7:03 – If you think Luke Combs is good at music, wait till you see him suck a two-day-old BBQ stain out of a pair of Carhartt pants like it was never there.
7:01 – The Entertainer of the Year nominees are starting of the show with a “medley of their hits.” Or in Thomas Rhett’s case, “a medley of songs gerrymandered to #1 on country radio due to excessive promotion and nepotism.”
6:58 – Just thought of something: Lady A was nominated and voted on for Group of the Year BEFORE their whole fiasco with the real Lady A that has them now Public Enemy #1 with many. If they end up winning, it will be like giving a ACM Award to David Duke. This is definitely something to watch for.
6:55 – So there will be three separate venues incorporated into tonight’s presentation: The Bluebird Cafe, The Ryman Auditorium, and the main stage at the Grand Ole Opry House. You can expect most of the performances NOT at the Grand Ole Opry House to be per-recorded.
6:48 – Worth pointing out again, the Americana Music Awards were supposed to be tonight as well, and had the date booked months in advance to the ACM rescheduling their show for tonight as well. Though the Americana Music Associating is citing COVID-19 as the case, they also were having issues with finding funding and sponsors for their presentation. I can’t help but think the rescheduling of the ACMs had some of a factor.
6:45 – Some awards have already been handed out:
New Male Artist of the Year – Riley Green
New Female Artist of the Year – Tenille Townes
Songwriter of the Year – Hillary Lindsey
Video of the Year – Thomas Rhett – “Remember You Young”
Musical Event of the Year – “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” – Miranda Lambert with Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, Caylee Hammack & Elle King.