ACM Awards 2014: Show Recap
Co-hosts Luke Bryan (L) and Blake Shelton onstage during the 49th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 6, 2014 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Photo: Image by Getty Images
Here's our live blog from the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards as they happened.
Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban were the first winners of the night at the Academy of Country Music Awards, airing live now on CBS. They won the Vocal Event of the Year Award for "We Were Us" on the red carpet, before the show even began.
The show kicked off with an performance of "Chainsaw" from The Band Perry that was so energetic Kimberly Perry struggled a bit vocally, something that's normally not an issue for her. Confetti bombs at the end left all the celebs in the front rows covered with white paper, about which co-host Luke Bryan said, "There's $20 million in hair-dos down here that all has confetti in it, This is not a Head & Shoulders commercial everybody."
Backstage after their performance, the band reportedly told the media, "We came, we saw, we confetti'd."
Luke and Blake Shelton's so-so monologue took shots at Justin Bieber, Eric Church, the Dallas Cowboys and each other, as well as a crack about Britney Spears not singing live. Surprisingly, the camera did not cut to Britney's sister, Jamie Lynn Spears (who was in the audience) for a reaction to that.
Two more performances quickly followed, Florida Georgia Line singing "Stay" from across town at Mandalay Bay, and Brad Paisley debuting new single "River Bank" poolside at the MGM Grand.
Blake was joined by his background vocalist and season one "The Voice" contestant Gwen Sebatian to debut their new single, the ballad "My Eyes."
The show then cut back over to Mandalay Bay for New Artist nominee Brett Eldredge to sing a snippet of his current single, "Beat of the Music."
Martina McBride introduced her tour-mate, George Strait, who performed his current single "I Got A Car." We'd love to know George's secret to never aging. He's 61 and looks at least 10 years younger.
In what may be the performance of the night, Lee Brice is singing an emotional, stripped-down version of his poignant hit "I Drive Your Truck." Wish it had been the whole song and not just a snippet. Missed opportunity for the ACMs.
Tacky Guy Fieri used his presenter slot to plug his new restaurant. Fail. Also a fail: his jacket. Did he think he was required to wear a camouflage sports jacket at a country music awards show? Yuk.
Eric Church gave a solid performance of "Give Me Back My Hometown" followed by Justin Moore with "Lettin' The Night Roll." It's clearly shaping up to be a performance-heavy show, as usual. We're nearly an hour in and exactly zero awards have been given out during the live telecast.
"The Voice" coaches Shakira and Blake debut on her new song, "Medicine." Not a bad song, actually. Wonder if country radio will give it a shot.
An hour and three minutes in, the first award of the night is given out by Taylor Swift. It's Vocal Duo of the Year. In the most unsurprising and least competitive category of the night, Florida Georgia Line wins. In fact, the only real surprise here was how they made it over from the Mandalay Bay in time to be seated in the audience at the MGM Grand. (A police escort was likely involved.) It's their third career ACM, but first in the category.
The very excited duo predictably thanked the lord, their label, road crew, management, publicist and country radio. Brian Kelley added "Country music is alive and well, baby." No doubt.
Maaaaaaaaaan! We are always blown away with ANY recognition or awards but we feel very very loved tonight. You guys are a BLESSING. #ACMs— Florida Georgia Line (@FLAGALine) April 7, 2014
Blake and Luke just did a funny bit of business about a selife that involved insulting Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean and Sheryl Crow. We're waiting for them to post it so we can share it with you.
Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks are performing together, mashing up Lady A's "Golden" and Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." Stevie has now performed on TV awards shows with Taylor Swift and Lady A. Wonder which country stars she'd be interested in sharing the stage with next.
Keith Urban looking, sounding and playing great on "Even the Stars Fall 4 U." And no, Prince didn't title it.
Here's new artist nominee Kip Moore playing a snippet of "Somethin' 'Bout A Truck"and showing off some well-toned arms. Kip, usually a reliable fashion slacker on the red carpet, surprised us earlier tonight by thowing a jacket on over his t-shirt.
Each of the hosts tonight get two performance slots. Luke's using one of his now for new single "Play It Again" on a giant spinning turntable. "What's a turntable?" asked everyone under the age of 30.
We're not sure what's going on tonight, but several artists who normally don't struggle vocally are having some trouble this evening, including Luke, Lady A's Hillary Scott and Kimberly Perry.
Justin Moore, the act with the most senority among the three New Artist of the Year nominees, just picked up that award, which is one of two partially fan-voted categories at the ACMs. The diminutive singer, who has released three albums but had never won an ACM before now, quipped, "I was beginning to think there might be a height requirement for this award." Justin also thanked country radio for "giving me a voice and taking a chance on a hillbilly from Arkansas." He held his speech together until the end when he thanked his wife and daughters and started to break down before emotionally adding, "I will never forget this."
Jason Aldean endured another barrage of insults from close pal Luke, this time about his dubious hunting skills, before performing "When She Says Baby." In what seems to be a recurring theme tonight, it's not a great vocal performance, and he doesn't sound like himself.
Blake and Luke take the stage dressed like Daft Punk (see photo at the top) before ripping off the helmets and panting out the nominees for Single Record of the Year, which went to Miranda Lambert for "Mama's Broken Heart." That makes Miranda the first dual winner of the night. Could a third be coming her way for Female Vocalist of the Year? It's likely.
Miranda just followed up her win by breaking the show's shaky vocal streak with a solid performance of current single "Automatic."
Song of the year goes to Lee Brice's "I Drive Your Truck," reinforcing our earlier point that he should have been allowed to sing the whole song. This category is distinct from single of the year because it rewards the songwriters, as well as the performer.
Tim McGraw joins a growing list of artists debuting new songs tonight with "Meanwhile Back at Mama's." Unfortunately, he also joins a growing list of troublesome vocal performances tonight. Wife Faith Hill, who joined him onstage to provide background vocals, has no such trouble. Great to see her performing on an awards show again. She's been missed.
Florida Georgia Line and Luke collaborate on "This Is How We Roll" with a troupe of stunt BMX bikers. That sound you heard in the first minute was everyone in America over the age of 50 turning off their televisions.
Jason Aldean wins male vocalist of the year, besting Lee Brice, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban. “This is really unexpected,” he says. “It was a shock last year to win, and an even a bigger shock I think this year, but what a great year . . . It’s been one hell of a ride, so I hope it doesn’t end anytime soon.”
Next up, ere's Toby Keith, singlehandedly bringing back the neck kerchief to country music while performing “Shut Up and Hold On.”
George Strait and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announce the worst kept secret in the industry, that next year's 50th anniversary ACM Awards show will move out of Las Vegas for one year and be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas., on April 19, 2015. This was also announced by the hosts at the top of the show, in case you missed it the first time. Blake and Luke will be back to host that show as well.
The Band Perry wins the vocal group award for the first time. Kimberly Perry calls it "a mountaintop moment in the life of the Band Perry. We appreciate it so much because we started at the bottom of the mountain 15 years ago," she said.
A powerful, if not perfect, performance from Hunter Hayes on "Invisible" comes next. The song certainly has an ambitious range.
Female vocalist of the year is the now perennial winner in that category, Miranda Lambert, who held onto the trophy for the fifth consecutive year, despite not having had a new album out for two-and-a-half years. "I'm so grateful and thankful and humbled," she said. "I love my job."
Darius Rucker is joined by Lady Antebellum for crowd pleaser "Wagon Wheel" as the camera cuts away to other stars singing along in the audience, including Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood.
"I can tell you I really did not expect this one, said Kacey Musgraves as she accepted the Album of the Year trophy for "Same Trailer Different Park." She added, "I'm really proud to be a woman representing country music."
Clearly running out of time on the broadcast with just a few minutes to go, Garth Brooks rushes though his introduction to a tribute to Merle Haggard before George Strait and lifelong Hag fan Miranda Lambert perform a short medley of two of his songs.
Merle looks momentarily annoyed as the camera cuts to him in the audience, but then Garth gets the crowd to start singing "Happy Birthday" to him. Merle is 77 today. In his very short acceptance speech, he says, "Country music's been great to me all my life, and it's great again tonight. Thanks, everybody, for the participation in one of my most eventful evenings."
More performances as the show gets ready to roll into extra innings: Rascal Flatts on current single "Rewind" and Dierks Bentley joined by Sheryl Crow for his hit, "I Hold On," and sounding great together despite some distracting audio problems on the show's part.
Just as he did at last fall's CMA Awards, the retiring from the road George Strait won the Entertainer of the Year prize, and he seemed nearly as surprised this time around. "I've always said I have the best fans in the world," he said. "And I heard this was a fan-voted thing, so I rest my case ... It's been such an amazing past 30 years ... I love all of you." Surprisingly, it's only his second ACM win in this category in his career.
Several members of the media backstage in the press room reported that as George was onstage chatting with the press moments later, Kacey Musgraves threw open a door and yelled "Congratulations George, I love you!"
And that's a wrap.
For more show coverage, including a complete list of the winners, click here.