Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards celebrated some of country’s fresh faces and some of the genre’s oldest formulas.
The timeless love ballad reigned supreme in individual song categories. Eli Young Band took home the Song of the Year award — the major award in songwriting — for their song “Crazy Girl,” a ballad written using country music’s classic frank, honest love song blueprint. “Crazy girl, don’t you know that I love you” / And I wouldn’t dream of goin’ nowhere,” sings lead singer Mike Eli on the song’s chorus.
Single Record of the Year — the only other on-air award for individual song — was granted to a song cut from a similar cloth, as Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson won for their own love ballad “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”
Awards in artist categories showcased a change in country music’s guard. Stalwarts like Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and others performed and often received nominations, but ended the night ceding the hardware to country’s new power brokers.
Pop-country favourites Lady Antebellum took home the award for Vocal Group of the Year while American Idol upstart Scotty McCreery claimed the New Artist of the Year award. At the top, country music’s newest power couple of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert took home 1 and 2 awards, respectively, including some of the night’s most valuable hardware for Male and Female Vocalist of the Year, while Lambert landed the coveted Album of the Year trophy for her “Four The Record” LP. Taylor Swift took home the Entertainer of the Year award to cap off the awards for the night.
Utilizing two venues on the Las Vegas strip, the ACMs were stacked with live performances. Two notable performances included military tributes, as both Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley performed against the backdrop of American military montages. Urban sang “For You,” a song included on the soundtrack to the recent film “Act of Valor,” while Bentley sang “Home,” following an introduction from U2 frontman Bono that praised the song for its patriotism and portrayal of Americana.
Other notable performances lifted the mood and often employed a party-like atmosphere. Country legends Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney performed a duet of their song, “Feel Like A Rockstar,” while Toby Keith — in one of the night’s odder moments — performed his viral hit “Red Solo Cup,” winding through the crowd, flanked at times by Carrot Top and Wayne Newton(?!).
Other noteworthy performers included Blake Shelton and Lionel Ritchie, Lady Antebellum, and Rascal Flatts with special guest Steve Martin, performing Rascal Flatts’ song “Banjo” as a tribute to the late banjo legend Earl Scruggs.
Undoubtedly one of the show’s most memorable moments was a performance of the song “Marry Me” by Martina McBride and Pat Monaghan of Train as a couple (Christina Davidson, Frank Tucci) was married on stage.
Watch the presentation of the Song of the Year category below, and for a complete video recap of the show’s highlights, head over to CBS.com.
For a picture recap, check out CBS’s full gallery of ACM moments.
What was your favorite moment of the ACMs? Tell us in the comments.