Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we are going to discuss one of the most important nights in Country music…the CMT Awards! This award show had it all, great artists, a hilarious host, fun performances, and lots of beards (I promise I’ll explain this later. Veteran host Kristen Bell was back again, only this time she hosted the show solo. If you missed the show, don’t worry I’ll catch you up. Are you ready? Are you sure? I’m just kidding, of course you are…ok let’s get started.
The 2014 CMT awards were hosted by award winning actress Kristen Bell (probably best known for her roles in ‘Veronica Mars’, ‘Frozen’, and as the voice of ‘Gossip Girl’ on, you guessed it, Gossip Girl. The opening sketch begins with Kristen on accounts depressed because she didn’t have a co-host to help host the show. She was then held by two former co-stars who introduced her to an app called Holla (which is supposed to be like Tinder only “more country”). She went on a number of “dates” with several men but was unlucky in finding a co-host. She was then given a pep talk by her former co-stars and decided to embrace the concept of girl power and host the show solo. When she went into the hallway to begin the show several country music stars gave her “advice”, which only made her more nervous. When she went to the elevator, she found Luke Bryan trying to break up the guys from Florida Georgia Line, who were fighting Solage/Jay-Z style. When the show began Kristen rose from under the stage and informed the audience that they wouldn’t have to worry about Luke Bryan falling off the stage tonight (the camera then panned to Luke who was wrapped in police caution tape). She then declared that the CMT awards would be ladies night and said that the power invested in her by CMT and her princess title in the movie ‘Frozen’ gave her the power to do so ( yup that made it official!). She then sang a song about male country artists having very tight jeans and belt buckles there were too large. After Alan Jackson was honored, later on the show, Kristen came out dressed exactly like Alan Jackson, beard and all (see told you there would be beards in this blog). She then poked fun at the Billboard Music Awards’ use of a Michael Jackson hologram by saying that she had a Jason Aldean hologram, but it was only comedian Tom Arnold. Later on in the show Kristen said that she forgot to make the VIP gift bags, so she “took” several objects from numerous artists such as Eric Church’s sunglasses, Luke Brian’s hat (which he knew nothing about) and The Band Perry’s trophy. As you can see Kristen did an excellent job hosting the CMT Awards, and had us laughing, singing, and constantly wondering what hilarious joke she would make next. I really hope that she hosts the show again next year because with Kristen Bell, you never know what is going to happen, but you know you’re going to love every minute of it. Now let’s get to the awards!
Group Video of the Year:
The Band Perry ‘Done’
Although the competition was extremely stiff, it makes sense that The Band Perry won this award, due to the critical acclaim that this song has received from critics and fans, and the amount of radio play it had last year. Ever since the group’s breakout hit ‘If I Die Young’, The Band Perry has made their presence known in country music.
Breakthrough Video of the Year:
Cassadee Pope ‘Wasting all these Tears’
Cassadee has certainly had an amazing 2 years, after winning the 3rd season of ‘The Voice’. Since then, she has had a top charting debut album, has perform with numerous amazing Country music artists, and has successfully transitioned into a well respected country/pop artist. Because of all of his hard work, it definitely doesn’t come as a surprise that Cassadee won at the CMT awards. My favorite part of her win was when Blake Shelton (Cassadee’s coach on ‘The Voice’), not only announced her win, but also “coached” her when he directed her to give her acceptance speech after she became too overwhelmed with emotion to speak.
With an amount of awards that must require another house to hold, and decades of hits, I can see why Alan Jackson is considered an artist with vast impact. I also loved all of the respect that the crowd gave Alan Jackson after he won the award; it was really heartfelt to see all of the admiration in the room. I also thought it was really sweet that Alan Jackson seemed like he wanted to cry when he received his award, it was nice to see how appreciative he was, despite the fact that he is a legend.
Male Video of the Year:
Blake Shelton ‘Doin’ What She Likes’
Again, this is a category that had some stiff competition, but it was no surprise that Blake came out on top. ‘The Voice’ coach and Country music superstar has definitely had a track record for winning awards with his chart topping hits lately, so it was obvious that his odds of winning this award were high. Congrats Mr. Shelton!
CMT Performance of the Year:
Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie ‘Oh No/All Night Long’
Ok, I think we ALL saw this coming. When you take Country star Luke Bryan, and R&B/Soul superstar Lionel Richie, and have them perform together, greatness happens. I was honestly very surprised when I first saw this performance because I found the combination to be an interesting choice, but once I saw the performance, I couldn’t believe that it took so long to get these two artists together. My only hope now is that they perform together again. Maybe they could form a Country/Pop/Soul power duo!?! Please!!!
Florida Georgia Line feat. Luke Bryan:
Florida Georgia Line feat. Luke Bryan ‘This is How We Roll’
Ever since this song first dropped, it has been ruling radio airwaves and is definitely a fan favorite (it peaked at #1 on the U.S. Country Hot Songs chart and #2 on the U.S. Country Airplay chart). Because of how infectious and catchy this track is, the appeal and longevity of the song is easy to understand.
Female Video of the Year:
Miranda Lambert ‘Automatic’
Yeah, just like we said earlier about Blake Shelton earlier, Miranda is also currently dominating award show season. With talent, fun tracks, and just a dash of a Rock n’ Roll influence in her songs, Miranda is definitely inspiring change in Country music, and fans are loving it.
Duo Video of the Year:
Florida Georgia Line ‘Round Here’
Ever since this amazing duo first released their album ‘Here’s to the Good Times’ (which peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200, and #1 on U.S. Top Country Albums charts), they have been ruling Country radio with their feel good, party music. Because of this, it is completely understandable as to why this duo has also ruled award season.
Video of the Year:
Carrie Underwood ‘See You Again’
Carrie has taken the music industry by storm ever since she won American Idol, and hasn’t slowed down since. She’s released hit after hit, so it was no surprise that fans loved ‘See You Again’ too. Carrie is also known for releasing great and often powerful music videos, and the ‘See You Again’ video is no exception. The video is beautifully shot, and definitely showcases the emotion found in the lyrics.
ZZ Top, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Derulo:
The show began with Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top kicking off the show, and then Florida Georgia line appeared and began performing ‘This is How We Roll’. Luke Bryan then came out joined in on the next portion of the song. The staging was really cool, and used multicolored lights and smoke to add extra flair to the performance. Before ‘This is How We Roll’ finished, Jason Derulo came out and everyone joined him in performing his latest single ‘Talk Dirty’. The backboard of the stage then displayed pictures of multicolored lips (which was awesome!), and Jason, Luke, and the guys from Florida Georgia Line all began dancing. Then, everyone on stage finished ‘This is How We Roll’, which was the PERFECT ending to this amazing opening number.
‘The Voice’ season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery made her CMT performance debut by performing a snippet of her latest single ‘Young in America’ on the ‘Nationwide’ stage (which is the stage where the new artists perform). The performance was short, but showed the same unique qualities that made fans fall in love with her on ‘The Voice’.
Lindsey Sterling presented an award at the show, but before she did, she demonstrated her AMAZING skills on the violin. As always, Lindsey did a PHENOMINAL job and made her playing (and dancing…while she was playing) seem effortless.
Hunter Hayes was up next, and performed a track entitled ‘Tattoo’ off of his sophomore album ‘Storyline’. The performance was really fun to watch, and the staging featured blue spotlights shooting out everywhere. The audience seemed to really love Hunter, and as always he wasn’t short on energy during his performance (he jumped around A LOT…and I mean a lot). He finished the performance with an amazing guitar solo that really had the audience excited.
Kacey Musgraves & Lee Ann Womack:
These two amazing Country music singers performed the song ‘Living on Love’, as a tribute to Country music legend Alan Jackson (who received the first ever ‘Impact Award’). During Kacey and Lee Ann’s performance, clips from Alan Jackson’s music videos were played on the stage’s back screen. It was a really touching performance, and I really loved how Alan Jackson looked as if he was going to cry during the performance, it was a very nice moment.
Next up was new artist Tyler Farr, who performed a snippet of his hit heartbreak theme song ‘Redneck Crazy’. If you listened to Country music radio at all this past year, then you have heard this song.
Country star and ‘American Idol’ coach Keith Urban was up next, and performed an acoustic version of his hit song ‘Cop Car’. He performed via video, from the ‘Bluebird Cafe’ (a historical cafe where numerous Country music stars have been discovered) in Nashville. The song was definitely a different sound for the star, because the performance did not include an amazing guitar solo (which has become Keith’s signature move). But hey, you gotta love an artist who keeps you on your toes.
Jake Owen then performed his new song ‘Beachin’ on the ‘Kia Outdoor Performance Stage’. The staging really brought the vibe of the song to life, and made the performance really fun to watch. The audience threw beach balls in the air, and the back screens on the stage showed images of beach balls (lots of beach balls in this performance). The vibe of the song was a really cool fusion of Country and Rap music, and the high energy in the track kept the audience dancing.
Eric Church & Lizzy Hale (from the band Halestorm):
Now this was a really interesting and unexpected duet. The two artists performed ‘That’s Damn Rock & Roll’ off of Eric’s newest album ‘The Outsiders’. Eric wore his signature dark sunglasses, and both he and Lizzy played the guitar. The performance had a very 70s/80s Rock n’ Roll feel to it, and drove the crowd crazy (in a good way don’t worry). It was cool to see such a different type of performance on the CMT awards, and really went with this year’s theme of introducing various different genres in the show.
New artist Thomas Rhett performed a snippet of his new track ‘Get Me Some of That’. This track (and Thomas’ other hit song ‘It Goes Like This’), have been all over Country radio over the past few years. His performance was very energetic, and he was very confident, so I can definitely see that he will have a lot of staying power as a Country artist.
John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, and Hunter Hayes:
Next up, Jennifer Nettles joined John Legend in a special duet rendition of his hit track ‘All of Me’, with Hunter Hayes on the guitar. This version definitely strayed from John Legend’s original version, and had a more bluegrass vibe to it. However, this change was not surprising due to the fact that Hunter was asked to produce the new version. I really loved how the revisions gave the track such a fresh feel, that it almost seemed like an entirely new song. I definitely hope that these three work together in the future.
Dierks Bentley performed his new track ‘Drunk on a Plane’. He came on stage playing a guitar, and had dancers who were dressed like flight attendants, and danced down the main aisle leading to the stage. They also danced around boxes off and on stage at different points of the performance. The staging was really simple (the back screen was red with yellow circles), but the dancers were a unique touch.
New artist Cole Swindell performed a snippet of his hit track ‘Chillin It’, which contains a cool fusion of Country and Rap influences. Cole kept the crowd engaged, seems confident in stage, and was just “chillin’ it” (sorry I had to make that joke).
Brantley Gilbert definitely had a physically demanding performance with his track ‘Bottoms Up’. Brantley continued the trend of being a little Rock n’ Roll into the CMTs, by rocking a camouflage muscle shirt, blue jeans, a cap, and having a drummer in his band who rocked a Mohawk. My favorite part of the performance was definitely Brantley’s back flip off of one of the small stages that the drum kit was set up on. After he did this really cool back flip, walked around in the crowd as he sang (which the audience absolutely LOVED). It was certainly a fun performance that made the fans at the show fall more and more in love with Brantley Gilbert.
Dan + Shay:
One of the newest duos to bust onto the Country music scene is Dan + Shay, who performs their incredibly infectious love song ’19 You + Me’. Although they were only able to perform a snippet of the track, both guys had very strong live vocals, and left the impression that they are a duo to watch this year.
Country music superstar Luke Bryan was up next, and performed his latest hit ‘Play it Again’. Luke tried something different with his performance, and entered from the back of the venue, and made his way through the crowd to the stage. Above where Luke entered, there was a sign that read ‘OMG Play it Again’ (this was sort of awesome…ok it was really awesome). As Luke traveled through the crowd, he touched the fans’ hands, which made them go completely crazy. Once Luke was onstage, he danced around (I think there was some minor twerking involved), and drove all of the people in the audience crazy (particularly the women). The performance definitely showed why Luke is currently one of the top guys in Country music…and this doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
Next up was the phenomenal trio Lady Antebellum. They performed their newest hit ‘Bartender’, at the ‘Kia Outdoor Performance Stage’. The staging was really cool, and had amazing green and white lazer lights that shot out at the audience. The laser lights definitely added a cool “concert” vibe to the performance, and helped hype up the audience during the performance.
Next up was a new artist who you definitely heard on Country music radio this year. David Nail performed a snippet of his track ‘Whatever She’s Got’, and although it was a short performance, he did a great job. His live voice sounded very similar to his voice on the studio recorded track, and he seemed to be very comfortable on stage.
Little Big Town:
Little Big Town performed their newest track ‘Day Drinking’. One thing that really brought attention to the group was the fact that the stage, the instruments, and all if Little Big Town, were dressed in the same shade of bright white. The back board of the stage had really cool grey and black patterns, and lots of white spotlights. At the end of the performance, multicolored streamers fell on the crowd (which they went absolutely nuts over).
Country superstar/’The Voice’ coach performed his fan favorite ‘Boys ‘Round Here’. The staging had the frame of the front of a house (which was a nod to the track’s music video. Blake did an extremely good job, and proved that his knowledge of music/performance is one of the reasons why he has had such success finding artists who transition into the mainstream music scene (one of his former contestants Danielle Bradbery performed, and another one his contestants, Cassadee Pope won an award). So needless to say, it was a good night for Blake.
Brett Eldredge was the last new artist to perform on the ‘Nationwide Stage’ (the new artist stage). He performed a snippet of his radio hit ‘Beat of the Music’. I thought that Brett did a really good job with his performance, because he was confident, looked liked he had fun, and definitely had the audience dancing to “the beat of the music”.
Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood:
Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood wrapped up the show with their performance of their new duet ‘Something Bad’. With this performance, the two country superstars proved why they are powerful forces in Country music. They wore very tight, black, short outfits, which added a Rock n’ Roll feel to the performance. There were lots of cool spotlights, and Carrie and Miranda danced around and got the audience really into their performance. They definitely proved that they are Country girls who can rock…and we all loved every minute of it.
Well as y’all can see, the CMT Awards was unpredictable, fun, and certainly showcased all of the bright stars of Country music. I loved how artists from numerous other genres of music also participated in the show, and demonstrated just how universal music really is. The show also had the perfect blend of featuring artists that we know and love, and introducing us to the stars of tomorrow. It will be hard to top this year’s show, but I have faith in you CMT.