Live blog: 2011 CMA Awards
7:00: Blake Shelton is getting the proceedings off to a country-rock start performing his cover of the iconic movie theme ‚ÄúFootloose.‚ÄĚ Blake‚Äôs looking dapper in his all-black look, wielding a guitar while surrounded by a troupe of appropriately action-packed dancers.
7:02: ‚ÄúFootloose‚ÄĚ originator Kenny Loggins takes the stage, getting big cheers from the crowd as he joins in on the movie theme he made famous.
7:04: Co-hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are making their first appearance in this their fourth straight year to preside over the story. And what the heck is Carrie wearing. It looks like there were a few extra yards of white fabric left over from her wedding that they stapled in random places and then attached with a bling belt.
7:05: Brad is cutting right to the jokes, coming out and playing an acoustic riff on Hank Williams Jr.‚Äôs ‚ÄúAll My Rowdy Friends,‚ÄĚ calling himself Brad-cephus and asking ‚ÄúAre you ready for an awards show?‚ÄĚ Carrie quickly scolds him and tells him to switch to plan B, singing as he strums a new version of ‚ÄúFamily Tradition,‚ÄĚ pondering ‚ÄúHank why do you drink before an interview?‚ÄĚ And of course, Bocephus himself shows up behind them. Of course, they‚Äôre feigning surprise and then getting Hank Jr. to sing them into their jokes.
7:08: OK, that may have been the most hilarious and wrong thing I‚Äôve ever seen on an award show: Carrie and Brad gave each other Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Ken and Barbie dolls, and Brad squeals, ‚ÄúI can‚Äôt wait until after the show, can we play with them now?‚ÄĚ And now they‚Äôre making the dolls make out as Brad sings ‚ÄúI like it, I love it, I want some more of it.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúHey do you think these things are anatomically correct?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúOnly one way to find out?‚ÄĚ They turn around, check and then issue apologies to Faith.
Blake also takes a hit as Brad says he inspired ‚ÄúThe Voice‚ÄĚ concept: ‚ÄúPeople have been turning their chairs when Blake sings for years.‚ÄĚ Brad also praises Blake for opening the show with the ‚Äúcountry classic ‚ÄėFootloose.‚Äô‚ÄĚ Funny because it‚Äôs true, folks. It‚Äôs an odd choice.
7:10: ‚ÄúModern Family‚Äôs‚ÄĚ Eric Stonestreet joins the party but before presenting the first award, he scolds Brad and Carrie for not mentioning Kim Kardashian‚Äôs short-lived wedding. Brad, Eric and Carrie begin performing a riff on Randy Travis‚Äô ‚ÄúForever and Ever Amen,‚ÄĚ making fun of Kim, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Blake and Miranda Lambert, Carrie and her hubby Mike Fisher and Brad and his long-suffering wife Kimberly Williams Paisley along the way.
7:12: Now it‚Äôs time for the first award, single of the year, and Blake is among the nominees:
(Award goes to Artist and Producer(s))
‚ÄúA Little Bit Stronger‚ÄĚ
Produced by Tony Brown
Zac Brown Band
Produced by Keith Stegall and Zac Brown
Southern Ground Artists/Atlantic Records
‚ÄúDon‚Äôt You Wanna Stay‚ÄĚ
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
Produced by Michael Knox
Broken Bow Records
Produced by Scott Hendricks
Warner Bros. Nashville
‚ÄúIf I Die Young‚ÄĚ
The Band Perry
Produced by Paul Worley
7:14: Winner: The Band Perry‚Äôs breakout mega-hit ‚ÄúIf I Die Young.‚ÄĚ I doubt it will be the first time the sibling trio is thanking their fans, radio and label head Scott Borchetta.
7:17: Carrie has changed into a much less, um, distinctive but much more attractive short, sparkly golden dress. Brad is thanking her for the Tim doll to complete his set, which includes Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. He‚Äôs showing her a standard-size redhaired Barbie, paired with a little blond action figure guy holding a guitar. Like Brad needs to mock anyone for height issues. But it‚Äôs a good intro for Keith‚Äôs performance of ‚ÄúYou Gonna Fly with Me,‚ÄĚ and his taking his guitar and soaring ballad onto the lighted runaway out in the crowd. It‚Äôs been a pretty energetic show so far.
7:21: This year‚Äôs comeback girl Sara Evans is slowing it down, singing her anthemic hit ‚ÄúA Little Bit Stronger‚ÄĚ against a blue backdrop and billowing smoke. She looks terrific in her all black pant suit, and she‚Äôs accompanied by aerial dancers suspended from long red ropes. Sara is in great voice, and she‚Äôs getting big applause at the end of her performance. It‚Äôs a warm welcome back for her.
7:28: Carrie is in a sparkly pink dress with a sassy sash at the waist, and she‚Äôs reading a copy of Brad‚Äôs book ‚ÄúDiary of a Player.‚ÄĚ When he asks if she‚Äôs read anything interesting, she tosses it over her shoulder and says ‚Äúnope.‚ÄĚ Speaking of sassy, they‚Äôre quickly kicking it over to Tishomingo country star and reigning CMA female vocalist Miranda Lambert, who‚Äôs belting her new smash single ‚ÄúBaggage Claim.‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs the lead-off single from her new album ‚ÄúFour the Record,‚ÄĚ which I love, love, love. Miranda looks terrific in her slim black pantsuit with the long silver fringe and the silver, bejeweled ginormous belt that covers her whole midriff. I love it when she does her stomping around the stage, hair-tossing dance. Blake is on his feet to cheer on his honey, and I can‚Äôt blame him. She‚Äôs awesome!
7:32: Kellie Pickler comments to ‚ÄúTwilight‚ÄĚ actor Kellan Lutz that ‚ÄúThey always give me the cute co-presenter.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúMe, too,‚ÄĚ he replies. They‚Äôre going to present song of the year. Are the CMAs openminded enough to give it to ‚ÄúDirt Road Anthem,‚ÄĚ or will it go to something a bit more traditional?
Song of the Year
(Award goes to Songwriter(s))
Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, and Coy Bowles
‚ÄúDirt Road Anthem‚ÄĚ
Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford
‚ÄúIf I Die Young‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúYou and Tequila‚ÄĚ
Matraca Berg and Deana Carter
7:34: Winner: Nope, it‚Äôs The Band Perry with another win for ‚ÄúIf I Die Young.‚ÄĚ Kimberly Perry says she believes the song was ‚Äúalways meant to be but I sure was glad have pen and paper in hand when it decided to come down to Earth.‚ÄĚ She‚Äôs calling her brothers the backbone of the band and effusively thanking their parents.
7:35: Zac Brown Band, who have five nominations tonight, are playing a tribute to their home state with ‚ÄúGeorgia on My Mind.‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs a cover that would do Ray Charles proud, with Gregg Allman contributing on vocals and piano. Allman and Zac Brown sound terrific together, and the crowd is giving that performance a standing ovation. ZBB always give such great performances on these shows.
7:42: Rascal Flatts is taking the stage to perform their latest hit ‚ÄúEasy,‚ÄĚ a duet with pop star Natasha Bedingfield, who will be joining them shortly. Love those three-part harmonies these guys make look so easy! Natasha is wearing another, um, unusual dress. The top is just a plain black camisole, but the skirt looks like an enormous magenta towel all bunched up around her. Because terry cloth is an underutilized fabric in formal wear, right? Yes, please turn the camera toward Picher‚Äôs own Joe Don Rooney and his big guitar solo and away from the scary dress. I think the performance is pretty good, but I keep waiting for Natasha to turn into Muppet, since her dress is already halfway there.
7:45: Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas of the new ABC fantasy series ‚ÄúOnce Upon a Time‚ÄĚ are going to present the award for duo of the year. Oklahoma now has a pair in this category, with Thompson Square, which includes Miami native Keifer Thompson. But can he and his wife Shawna overcome the Sugarland powerhouse?
Vocal Duo of the Year
The Civil Wars
7:47: Nope, Sugarland wins for the fifth straight year. Jennifer Nettles tells Gregg Allman that she‚Äôs the one who shook his hand on the red carpet, and even though he doesn‚Äôt know who she is, ‚ÄúI really like you.‚ÄĚ They‚Äôre dedicating the award to their fans, whom Kristian Bush says ‚Äúsaved us this year,‚ÄĚ and the good people of Indiana, where that horrible accident happened this year at their state fair show.
7:48: Brad points out that there are lots of newcomers in the mix at this year‚Äôs awards, and they‚Äôre going to showcase a few of them, starting with new outlaw Eric Church, playing ‚ÄúDrink in My Hand.‚ÄĚ Eric is going to play Dec. 3 at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, and I got to interview him recently. He was a super nice guy to chat with on the phone, and he‚Äôs making the most of this showcase for his raucous country-rock.
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