The CMT Music Awards turned Nashville's Lower Broadway into a street party Wednesday night. Hosted by Little Big Town, the fan-voted awards show recognized country music's biggest stars and hottest new talent.
Here are six moments you missed:
1. Blake Shelton is top dog at the CMT Music Awards
Blake Shelton planned to stake his claim on Nashville this week during CMA Music Festival but Wednesday night he also owned the CMT Music Awards.
Shelton’s I’ll Name the Dogs took the top prize of Video of the Year as well as Male Video of the Year. He was featured in the show opening and performed Turn Me On, a song from his current album Texoma Shore, from the roof of his new bar on Lower Broadway, Ole Red.
“I can’t believe (I’ve had) 18 years of making records,” Shelton said after winning Video of the Year. “I’m lucky (the fans) accepted them, that radio played them. It’s so cool to sit up here with the new generation of country singers.”
Following the show, Shelton planned to host a concert from Ole Red.
2. Dan + Shay stun
Dan + Shay collected their first awards show trophy Wednesday night when the duo pulled off a surprise win, beating favorites Florida Georgia Line and Brothers Osborne for Duo Video of the Year with Tequila.
John Osborne of Brothers Osborne met members Shay Mooney and Dan Smyers in the aisle as they walked to the stage, greeting them with bear hugs.
“Wow, I just want to thank God for country music,” said an emotional Mooney.
“My heart is literally beating out of my chest right now,” added Smyers.
Later in the show, the duo performed Tequila backed by their full band and a trio of strings as members of the star-studded audience sang along.
Tequila has been a country music juggernaut since it was released earlier this year. Since January, Tequila has been streamed more than 100 million times. The song is the lead single from the popular duo’s self-titled album that’s due June 22.
3. Carrie Underwood continues CMT Music Awards winning streak
Carrie Underwood captured the trophy for Female Video of the Year. The award is her 18th win at the CMT Music Awards, the most of any artist in the show’s history.
Underwood won for The Champion, her collaboration with Ludacris, which opened the television broadcast of Super Bowl LII.
“Thank you so much,” Underwood said. “First and foremost, thank you God from all of us who are lucky enough to sit over here and do what we get to do. Thank you to the fans. Thank you, Ludacris, for wanting to inspire. It took a whole team of people to put all of this together.”
Earlier in the night, Underwood — complete with glitter tears — wailed through her new single Cry Pretty. The song is the first from her album that is expected later this year.
4. CMT Music Awards spoof royal family
Little Big Town showed off their hosting prowess in the opening skit of the CMT Music Awards Wednesday. The vocal group posed as news anchors in the bit, which looped in fellow country singers Kelsea Ballerini, Blake Shelton, Jake Owen, Jon Pardi and Dustin Lynch for a spoof on the popularity of bachelorette parties in downtown Nashville.
“You guys are going all out,” Shelton told Owen, Pardi and Lynch who approached him on the sidewalk wearing matching tight pink T-shirts and silly hats.
“We do this every Wednesday,” Owen quipped.
Trace Adkins, Darius Rucker and Florida Georgia Line good-naturedly poked fun at England’s royal family.
Rucker dressed as Queen Elizabeth and waved politely from the back of a limo while Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard posed as Prince Harry and Prince William in the back of a horse-drawn carriage.
“You’re looking a lot like Prince Harry,” Hubbard told Kelley.
When Kelley mentioned Hubbard resembled Prince William, Hubbard removed his hat to reveal a bald head surrounded by faux blond hair.
5. First-time winners
Tears flowed on stage at the CMT Music Awards Wednesday night when Carly Pearce, Kane Brown, Backstreet Boys and Dan + Shay accepted their first CMT Music Awards. Ludacris was also a first-time winner but was not present.
Pearce, who used to be a performer at Dollywood, said it was a dream come true.
“(The feeling) is indescribable,” said Pearce who won Breakthrough Video of the Year for Every Little Thing. “My girlfriend that was with me, she’s my best friend, she said my heart, she saw it beating in my chest. I immediately started crying because I couldn’t contain myself.”
Brown, who won for Collaborative Video of the Year for What Ifs featuring Lauren Alaina, called his win “surreal.”
“What an incredible feeling to win my first award that I’ve ever won on a song I’m so proud that I wrote, and to win with Lauren makes it even more special,” Brown said.
Brown and Alaina have been friends since grade school.
6. A plethora of summer song television debuts
Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne were pure fire during Burning Man. Flames erupted from the stage during the high-energy performance.
“Everybody jump,” Bentley told the crowd as Brothers Osborne’s John Osborne blazed through a guitar solo at the end of the song.
Burning Man is from Bentley’s new album The Mountain that will be available Friday.
Luke Bryan used Lower Broadway as a backdrop during the national television debut performance of his new single Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset. Bryan tossed it back to Florida Georgia Line who premiered their new single Simple. The stripped-down performance was a change of pace for the often progressive duo who played acoustic guitars and included a standing bass and mandolin in the song’s instrumentation.
Sam Hunt simulated a bar crawl through Lower Broadway for Downtown’s Dead. Fireworks exploded over the stage set up in the street near Bridgestone Arena at the end of the song. The Backstreet Boys did a highly choreographed version of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and Kelly Clarkson, backed by a gospel choir, wowed on a version of American Woman.
The show closed with a collaborative performance from Rucker featuring Jason Aldean, Bryan and Charles Kelley on Straight to Hell.
The winners of the CMT Music Awards are:
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Best video of the year; awarded to the artist (male, female, group/duo or collaboration) and the video director.
Blake Shelton – I’ll Name The Dogs
MALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Best video by a male artist; awarded to the artist
Blake Shelton – I’ll Name The Dogs
FEMALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Best video by a female artist; awarded to the artist
Carrie Underwood feat. Ludacris – The Champion
DUO VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Best video by a duo; awarded to the artists
Dan + Shay – Tequila
GROUP VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Best video by a group; awarded to the artists
Little Big Town – When Someone Stops Loving You
BREAKTHROUGH VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Best video from an artist's major breakthrough album; awarded to the artist (male, female or group/duo)
Carly Pearce – Every Little Thing
COLLABORATIVE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Best video from a collaboration; awarded to the artists
Kane Brown feat. Lauren Alaina – What Ifs
CMT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Musical performance on a television show, series or variety special on CMT; awarded to the artist (individual, group or duo)