The 2020 CMA Awards LIVE Blog

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the 2020 installment of the always-explosive Saving Country Music CMA Awards LIVE blog. As the presentation transpires, thoughts, prayers, pointed remarks, keen observations, and probably a few swear words and errant typos will be presented in real time. Yes, there will be some fun at other people’s expense, so bring a think skin, but we’ll also give credit where credit is due.

For a run down on what you can expect, including presenters, performers, what songs will be performed, nominees, and everything else, please check out the 2020 CMA Awards Complete Preview.

And of course, YOUR feedback and observations are always welcome, so please feel free to pipe up in the comments section.

WARNING: Language

All Times Central Time.


– Entertainer of the Year – Eric Church
– Album of the Year – Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get
– Male Vocalist of the Year – Luke Combs
– Female Vocalist of the Year – Maren Morris
– Duo of the Year – Dan + Shay
– Group of the Year- Old Dominion
– Song of the Year – “The Bones” – Maren Morris
– Single of the Year – “The Bones” – Maren Morris
– New Artist of the Year – Morgan Wallen

– Music Video of the Year – Miranda Lambert – “Bluebird”
– Musical Event of the Year – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice –
“I Hope You’re Happy Now,”

10:10 – It had its moments. Chris Stapleton and Ingrid Andress performances, Charley Pride making a surprise appearance, performance, and speech. But overall, the 2020 CMA Awards seemed like an exercise in trying to put on a brave face among political rancor and rising COVID-19 cases, and generally failing. Unlike the ACMs just last month, which got much more creative with venues and performances, and brought energy despite the lack of a crowd, the CMAs just felt flat for the most part.

Maren Morris had a big night with two song awards and Female Vocalist of the Year. And Eric Church fans can finally freak out over the Entertainer of the Year award they’ve been lobbying for, and he deseved based off of strong touring numbers, and overall impact. Luke Combs will have other opportunities. Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert may not.

The CMAs did not rise to meet the moment, but they also didn’t collosally fail. They just “were” in 2020. During the first hours, I truly felt embarrased to be hosting a live blog for them. It felt like an exercise in futility. They got slight better over the presentation.

10:02 – Thanks everybody for following along! This was a tough one, and I don’t blame folks for bailing out. I’m going to leave some final thoughts here, recap the winners, and call it a night.


10:00 – Look, some are going to complain that one of the two women didn’t win Entertainer, but it is very hard to argue Eric Church didn’t deserve it, not just for this year, but over many years as an “entertainer.” If anyone else deserved it, it was Luke Combs, but he will have other opportunities.

No offense to Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert at all. But making a case for Entertainer is difficult. And Carrie just got hers from the ACMS.

9:55 – WINNER – The 2020 CMA for Entertainer of the Year goes to Eric Church.

“If there was ever a year not win this award.”

9:53 – I understand how some may have found Maren Morris’s Female Vocalist speech off putting. But I just think too much of Yola and Rhianna Giddens to poo poo anyone shouting them out on prime time television.

9:48 – Kelsea Ballerini’s “Hole in the Bottle” is the biggest bait and switch for a “country” song. Could be great, but she turns it into a party song, and the production on the studio track is terrible.

9:46 – WINNER – The CMA for Male Vocalist of the Year goes to Luke Combs.

9:43 – Remember, earlier this week, journalist Marissa R. Moss, Margo Price, and others lashed out at the CMAs under the false claim the CMAs would try and suppress speech. Clearly Maren Morris wasn’t reading off a script. I have little use for much of her music. But Maren enacted a very cool moment there, and deserves credit for speaking out the right way by building up.

9:40 – Maren Morris is now one of the big winners of the night.

She shouts out black women country performers in her acceptance speech, including Linda Martell, Yola, Mickey Guyton, Rhiannon Giddens, and others. All artists worth shout out’s. A cool gesture from Maren. And yes, it’s pandering to the moment. But all of those women happen to deserve the shout outs. A good use of the platform, and in no way divisive.

9:38 – WINNER – The CMA Female Vocalist of the Year goes to Maren Morris.

9:36 – You might be having trouble reading what Keith Urban has written on his guitar. It says, “I’m a 53-year-old washout wasting my guitar chops singing frappish, indolent songs appropriate for a 23-year-old, and need to start acting my age.”

9:33 – Keith Urban is quarantining in Australia? Good, let’s 86 his work Visa while we can and keep him there.

9:32 – This performance of Maren Morris’s “The Bones” is leaving me quite flaccid.

9:30 – Maren Morris is really putting all of herself into this performance of “The Bones.” You can tell by the cleavage sweat.

9:28 – Do these guys look like a country band? Or some West Coast techies soliciting you for investment capital for their enterprising startup dealing with “micropayments”?

9:23 – Would love to have seen the camera pan to Johnny Lee, and him giving the Bronx Salute to these douchewads.

9:20 – So wait, you have Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley in the house, and you turn it over to OLD DOMINION to perform “Looking For Love” ?!? Why don’t you just tell us all to go fuck ourselves?

9:18 – It’s just culture shock to see Jon Pardi standing there looking like an actual cowboy in the audience of metro sexuals.

9:15 – Brothers Osborne surprised us all with that string of years winning those Duo of the Year CMAs, but haven’t done much with it. Their new record disappeared right after it was released. Pivoting to arena rock during a pandemic apparently is a poor move.

9:14 – If you’re playing a drinking game where you take a swig each time you see a cowboy hat or steel guitar, you’re still able at this point to operate heavy machinery.

9:13 – Garth Brooks will win Entertainer of the Year tonight. I can just feel it. And he’s not even nominated.

9:09 – They did a fine job with it, but “Sweet Music Man” is a bit of a strange pick to tribute Kenny Rogers to. At least launch into “The Gambler” or “Love Will Turn You Around” at the end or something.

9:06 – Little Big Town comes out to tribute Kenny Rogers. The one with the poofy hair is wearing an outfit you’d see on a figurine on top of your seven-year-old daughter’s birthday cake.

9:03 – WINNER The CMA for Album of the Year goes to Luke Combs for “What You See Is What You Get.”

Predictable. Hard to say it’s not deserved for the commercial performance of it. But Jon Pardi, Ashley McBryde, or Miranda would have been much more interesting. Thank goodness it wasn’t Old Dominion.

9:02 – This “Be A Light” is one part Stuart Smalley, one part John Tesh, two parts strong sedative.

9:00 – Put Thomas Rhett’s wife Lauren back up there. Rhett should be back at home watching the kiddos.

8:59 – One more hour until they announce that Entertainer of the Year goes to nobody because there was a 5-way tie and it’s going to a runoff in January!

8:55 – Ingrid Andress turns in another stellar performance. That’s two in a row. Those tears at the end felt real folks! Good for her.

8:52 – Ingrid Andress can be hit and miss, but unlike a lot of mainstream artists, her singles are mostly her best songs. “More Hearts Than Mine” is a great example.

8:50 – WINNER – The CMA for Vocal Group of the Year goes to Old Dominion.

In a mainstream country world of pallid, ordinary talent, Old Dominion takes the gold for the most generic.

8:49 – Patrick Schwarzenegger would be interning at Saving Country Music if his pops wasn’t The Terminator.

8:47 – Understand the folks who are just over the whole Stapleton thing. But you just can’t deny the power of this guy’s voice and songs. This performances backs off all the bullshit and exposes that. Maybe the best all night so far.

8:46 – Chris Stapleton performing “Starting Over” picking acoustically with Morgane adding some harmonies.

Wish the sound was a bit cleaner.

8:44 – Second hour has been a slight improvement from the first. They’re enacting the slow build to disappoint us all by giving Keith Urban Entertainer of the Year at the bitter end.

8:41 – Charley Pride, humble as ever. Really had no idea if they would even let him take the stage, let alone get a performance and speech.

8:38 – Dear America, the man on the CMA stage at the moment is named Charley Pride. He’s an actual country music performer, unlike many of the artists showcased on the CMAs so far. He had TWENTY NINE #1 songs. And yes, African Americans can perform country music too.

8:35 – Oh nice! and Charley Pride is here! Didn’t know if we’d see him, and he’s performing “Kiss An Angel Good Morning.”

8:34 – Jimmie Allen sings a few bars of his song “Best Shot,” then introduces a video segment paying tribute to Charley Pride.

8:32 – Reba McEntire coughing was one of the most entertaining things all night.

She couldn’t remember Jimmie Allen’s name, and neither can most of America. Just another generic dude with a generic song.

8:30 – Miranda Lambert with a stripped-down, two-piece accompaniment feels a bit more appropriate for the room than many of the other performances.

8:28 – Miranda Lambert’s next single should be “Dark Bars.” “Settle Down” is fine, but a little sleepy.

8:27 – These bastards better audible in a mention of John Prine and Veteran’s Day before the end of this thing, or they’re gonna hear it.

8:22 – Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker paying tribute to Mac Davis performing “In The Ghetto.”

Fine rendition, but it just feels like a weird song pick. Trying to speak to the moment, but it just feels more mawkish and performative. A stretch, and too obvious. Another song would have been better.

8:21 – Dan + Shay are the first female duo to win the CMA Duo of the Year since they won Duo of the Year last year.

8:20 –

8:19 – WINNER – The CMA for Vocal Duo of the Year goes to Dan + Shay.

8:17 – Dierks Bentley looking like a divorcee back on the prowl these days.

8:15 – I like Carly Pearce, and I like “I Hope You’re Happy Now.” Came up playing bluegrass 3 shifts a day at Dollywood, and is finally getting to record music inferred by those roots. Charles Kelley doing a good job filling in for Lee Brice on short notice.

8:13 – Oh great. Justin Bieber Stans found me on Twitter.

8:07 – Jon Pardi doing Joe Diffie justice performing “Pickup Man.”

Just appreciate, Jason Aldean once performed an entire tribute song to Diffie called “1994” and Aldean’s in the house, and they still called on Pardi. That tells you how bad Alean and “1994” sucked.

8:06 – Holy shit! It’s a cowboy hat and a printed shirt! Who let this redneck bastard in the house ?!?

8:05 – Yes, first responders are awesome. But you can say that without embedding that sentiment in an obvious Chevy commercial. Kind of shameless.

8:03 – Man, when you get elated to see Luke Combs in his vented fishing shirt and a Brooks & Dunn cap, you know how low the bar has been set. Solid, energetic performance of “Cold As You.” Let’s try to keep it going.

8:01 – I wish Luke Combs would just eat Dan + Shay.

7:59 – Yeah it’s fun to hoot on these awards shows and poke fun at the performers. But usually there is something, or someone to suck you in, and as bad as you generally expect them to be, they tend to surprise you and surpass expectations in the end. Right now and hour in, the CMA Awards are digging themselves into a ditch they may not be able to get out of. The whole thing just feels like everyone is going through the motions and just want to get it over with, and there’s very little chatter on social media for them. Deflated.

7:55 – Justin Bieber performing with Dan + Shay on the CMA Awards feels like a good time to recall this legendary quote…

“They should drop the formulaic cannon fodder they’ve been pumping down rural America’s throats for the last 30 years along with the high school pageantry, meat parade bullshit and start dedicating their programs to more actual country music.”

–Sturgill Simpson

7:52 – Backstage Ashley McBryde had to help Dan + Shay open their jar of ball cream to get ready for this performance.

7:51 – WINNER – The CMA for New Artist of the Year goes to Morgan Wallen.

One of the most obvious picks of the night.

7:50 – For YEARS I’ve been saying Lauren Akins was the most interesting thing about Thomas Rhett. Now the industry is finally noticing. She’ll be winning awards for him in a couple of years.

7:48 – Ashley McBryde and “One Night Standards” offering the only real twang since the opening Charlie Daniels tribute.

7:46 – 90% of mainstream country music is garbage. Ashley McBryde is a big portion of the other 10%.

7:43 – So far ACMs > CMAs. The ACMs recognized the challenges and got creative with it. The CMAs are trying to act like everything is normal and we just all need to put on a brave face.

7:40 – Generic performers playing generic songs in front of a mild crowd. They should have booked The Band Perry to play. They’re used to playing in front of virtually nobody these days.

7:38 – Gotta love how Lady A was originally paired up with Darius Rucker in this performance slot like he’s a racism repellent.

7:36 – The Eric Church performance of “Hell of a View” is fine. This song is just a little generic for my taste. Many of his best songs are album cuts.

7:34 – That’s Joanna Cotten with Eric Church.

7:33 – Welp, it can’t get much worse from here. Low energy, flat jokes, and washed out sound so far.

7:28 – Gabby Barrett rockin’ the Michael Jackson bedazzled epaulets.

7:26 – “The Bones” was a massive hit, in pop. It was propped up due to pop spins and listens, and Billboard’s misguided chart rules that boosted it in country. Does anyone really think of it as an impacting or influential song? And why not spread the love to two songs in your song awards instead of just one?

7:25 – WINNER – The CMA for Song of the Year goes to Maren Morris for “The Bones.”

7:24 – Why are we giving some random actress face time presenting an award when it could go to someone like Mickey Guyton, Mo Pitney, or Tenille Arts?

7:22 – Morgan Wallen’s bass player is like that thespian teacher they put in charge of Jr. High pep rallies that’s way to enthusiastic at the wrong times.

7:21 – Morgan Wallen got revved up for this performance by snorting COVID spores off the bare midriffs of coeds in the name of high volume pimping.

7:19 – The ACM Awards did a great job using multiple venues and no crowd to put on an engaging presentation. Having everyone sitting around semi-clapping just feels awkward and sucks the life force out of the room.

7:15 – Maren, you’re a mother. Not sure we need to see all that.


7:14 – The CMA for Single of the Year goes to Maren Morris for “The Bones.”

7:13 – The visage of Bobby Bones is a great for inducing vomiting if you ingest something evil.

7:12 – Gee I can’t wait to see how another country awards show figures out how to screw up Entertainer of the Year!

7:10 – Man, these monologue jokes are flat. Bring back Brad and Carrie!

7:08 – Wow, straight up flub by either Aldean or his drummer at the end of “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” How hard would it be to get some actual musicians to play on the CMA Awards.

7:07 – Of course they have to give Jason Aldean “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Would have been much cooler with Jenee Fleenor.

p.s. last joke an adaptation for a Fuzzy Twoshirts comment.

7:06 – Jason Aldean thought “Charlie Daniels” was a Tennessee whiskey brand until 15 minutes before the CMA rehearsal.

7:05 – Jason Aldean’s involvement in this Charlie Daniels tribute is like finding a Band-Aid in your birthday cake.

7:04 – Really digging this version of Daniels’ “Texas” they’re not playing just obvious cuts.

7:03 – Ashley McBryde strikes me as one who would help you hide a body. In a good way.

7:02 – Dierks Bentley opens with “Long Haired Country Boy” solo, then joins Brothers Osborne for a rockin’ version of “Trudy.”

7:00 – Here we go!

6:58 – Late breaking: It appears fiddle Jenee Fleenor who was supposed to be part of the opening tribute to Charlie Daniels is out with COVID-19 too, as is Lady A. That sucks, because Jenee is great, and was looking forward to hooting on Lady A.

6:53 – The COVID has already affected festivities. Tyler Hubbard tested negative for country music earlier this week, but positive for the ‘rona, resulting in Florida Georgia Line having to cancel their performance. Lee Brice also got the cooties. Charles Kelley of Lady A will fill in with Carly Pearce.

6:50 – A few awards have already been handed out. Miranda Lambert won for Video of the Year for “Bluebird.” Carly Pierce and Lee Brice won Musical Event of the Year for “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”

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