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Live blog: 2011 American Country Awards

by Brandy McDonnell Published: December 5, 2011
AMERICAN COUNTRY AWARDS: L-R: Co-hosts Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth (pictured), along with country music’s Blake Shelton, Pistol Annies, Thompson Square, Eli Young Band and The Band Perry are set to perform at the AMERICAN COUNTRY AWARDS (ACA) airing live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Monday, Dec. 5 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.
AMERICAN COUNTRY AWARDS: L-R: Co-hosts Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth (pictured), along with country music’s Blake Shelton, Pistol Annies, Thompson Square, Eli Young Band and The Band Perry are set to perform at the AMERICAN COUNTRY AWARDS (ACA) airing live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Monday, Dec. 5 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.

7:00 p.m.: Co-host Trace Adkins, dressed in his usual all black, is performing one of his past smashes, “Honkatonk Badonkadonk” while a group of female dancers shake theirs around him. Carrie Underwood is singing along in the crowd. “Now for something completely different,” he says as the dancers shimmy offstage and he starts crooning “Just Fishin’.” Now the dancers are back, the electric guitars are rocking again, and Trace is doing “Ladies Love Country Boys.” The ladies end by surrounding him like a harem, while Trace intones “thank you ladies.” It’s an odd little medley, but if this show is anything like last year, that will be par for the course for the still-young ACAs.

7:05: Trace says he hosted the show last year and thought he did a pretty good job, but the “network people” didn’t feel like he followed the rules or the prompter too well. So they gave him a “co-host” to “keep him in line,” he says, noting that anyone trying to him in line is an opponent because those are fighting words. So 4’11″ Oklahoma native Kristin Chenoweth comes out with boxing gloves and a robe and starts dancing around him throwing punches. “Watch the below-the-belt stuff,” he says. “I have no choice but to go below the belt,” she says, showing off her slogan on her robe “Four Feet of Fury.” She is having him pull off her gloves so she can get her hands on “country’s sexiest man,” as determined by Country Weekly, and he tells her to stop it.

7:09: She’s challenging him to a singoff, winner gets to host, loser goes home to Louisiana. She’s bragging that she’s from Oklahoma and challenging him to sing “Oklahoma!” for the first round. “You’re pretty comfortable with those jazz hands you could be on Broadway.” He challenges her to sing “Honkytonk Badonkadonk,” so she throws off her robe to reveal a prodigiously padded rear and sings it in her best opera voice, with some guy dancers. “So it looks like I’m staying.” “This ain’t over yet, Chenoweth.” This is silly but it’s kind of fun too.

7:11: Josh Turner and Jordin Sparks are going to present the first award, which will honor some of country’s top ladies. But first the “American Idol” contender is asking Josh to sing one of his songs. That deep voice is pretty se

Single of the Year: Female

Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”

*Miranda Lambert, “Heart Like Mine”

*Reba, “Turn On The Radio”

Taylor Swift, “Mean”

*Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”

xy and all the girls including Jordin are singing along. Of course, we’re not getting all these awards distributed very quickly.

Anyway, they’re gonna present single of the year: female to one of these fine ladies:

Carrie Underwood (AP file)
Carrie Underwood (AP file)

7:14: Winner: Carrie Underwood for “Mama’s Song.” “First off, I don’t even know what to do about that intro, that was awesome,” the Checotah says as she holds the commemorative guitar, which is given in lieu of a trophy at the ACAs. She’s effusively thanking the country fans for their support. I believe Carrie won 6 or so awards at the first ACAs, so we could see a lot more of her tonight. Of course, since she got her break on Fox’s “American Idol,” she maybe has a bit of a homefield advantage.

arrives at the 38th Annual American Music Awards on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
arrives at the 38th Annual American Music Awards on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

7:19: The Band Perry, who were just nominated for the Grammy for best new artist, are performing their latest hit “All Your Life” while the fans in the crowd wave glow sticks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to win that Grammy, they are so hot right now. Kimberly is even rocking a dress with a tulle skirt that looks like it escaped relatively unscathed from 1989.

7:23: Kristin Chenoweth announces that they will be awarding an Artist of the Decade, based on MediaBase’s assessment of the most-played artist of the past 10 years. They’ll be counting down throughout the show the top 10 most-played artists, with the No. 1 getting the prize and performing live. No. 10 is Keith Urban, and No. 9 is Brad Paisley.

Didn’t they give an artist of the decade award on this show last year?

7:25: Comedian Bill Engvall and “Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina are up to tell us a bit about the Telecaster guitars they’re giving away. Bill and Lauren fumble the hand-off and drop the nice guitar to the floor, but they’re still gonna name the single of the year winner. I think Thompson Square (including Miami, OK, native Keifer Thompson) has a great shot here:

Billy Currington, “Let Me Down Easy”

Tim McGraw, “Felt Good On My Lips”

*Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”

Chris Young, “Voices”

Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”

Chris Young (Photo by Nathan Poppe, The Oklahoman Archive)
Chris Young (Photo by Nathan Poppe, The Oklahoman Archive)

7:27: Winner: Chris Young for “Voices,” and he’s treating us to a performance of his winning song, which I absolutely adore. Plus, Keifer and wife Shawna of Thompson Square have 6 more chances tonight to win a guitar.

7:29: As Chris finishes up his performance and begins thanking the usual suspects, the announcer says he’s also been named breakthrough artist of the year. Good for him.

7:35: Two unbelievable things just happened at the ACAs: Garth Brooks, who has released maybe one single this millennium, is No. 8 on that artist of the decade countdown. And Trace just came out carrying Kristin on his chest in a big baby carrying, quipping, “I knew I’d end up carrying you on this show.”

They’re quickly tossing it to rodeo legend Larry Mahan, GAC personality Storme Warren and up-and-coming singer Hunter Hayes. They’re gonna present music video of the year

Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”

Jerrod Niemann, “What Do You Want”

*Blake Shelton, “Who Are you When I’m Not Looking”

*Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”

Josh Turner, “I Wouldn’t Be A Man”

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton

7:39: Winner: Blake Shelton, who also wins music video by a male artist. Blake is saying hi to his dad back home because he’s had a rough couple of weeks, so he’s dedicating the award to his dad and telling him he loves him. Aw.

Eli Young Band
Eli Young Band

7:40: Eli Young Band is on to perform “Crazy Girl,” which has helped elevate them to a whole new level of success. It’s nice to see some Texas country represented here.

7:46: Rascal Flatts is listed as No. 7 on the artist of the decade list. And now Trace is getting some script changes from Kristin, and the wrestler Big Show shows up to make sure her co-host does just what she wants. He’s introducing the men of “Pawn Stars” per her instructions, and they show up holding that broken guitar claiming Bill Engvall tried to sell it to them for $500. They’re reading the canned lead-up to the album of the year noms with varying degrees of painfulness. Here are the noms:

Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party”

Kenny Chesney, “Hemingway’s Whiskey”

Brad Paisley, “This Is Country Music”

Taylor Swift, “Speak Now”

Keith Urban, “Get Closer”

Zac Brown Band, “You Get What You Give”

Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean

7:49: Winner: Jason Aldean, who gets an undamaged guitar. He notes “it’s been a hell of year,” and he’s certainly been on a hot streak. But I think Paisley should have won in this category. Jason notes that he’s proudest this year that more than 1 million fans came out to his shows. He’s coming to OKC in the new year if you want to see him live.


7:50: Trace appears in a neck brace, and Kristin, in an extremely low-cut green dress, is apologizing for having the biggest athlete in the world brutally body slam him. “You’re right, this is our show, we can do whatever the hell we want,”as she yanks off the neck brace. “I like your style, Chenoweth, I’m gonna let you be my co-host.” Now that that is settled, they’re introducing the amazing duo of Pistol Annies: Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert, Angeleena Presley and Ashley Monroe are in matching black outfits as they croon their smoking first single “Hell on Heels.” Love them so much.

7:58: Brooks & Dunn is No. 7 on the artist of the decade countdown, and Tulsa comic Rodney Carrington, who has been playing Vegas and will be playing his annual post-Christmas shows at Firelake Grand in Shawnee soon, is with The JaneDear Girls. They’re going to present the new artist of the year prize. Here are the options:

The Band Perry

Scotty McCreery

Jerrod Niemann

*Pistol Annies

*Thompson Square

Scotty McCreery
Scotty McCreery

8:00: Winner: “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, whose debut album has already gone gold, is the performing his new single “The Trouble with Girls” to mark his second big win on Fox. Carrie is nodding along as he croons. It’s amazing that a guy that young sounds so grown up; no matter how many times I hear him sing, I’m still kind of startled by it. “Thank y’all so much. It’s my first award, and it’s a dad-gum Telecaster.” He’s thanking the usual suspects, putting his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ first, and giving a birthday shout-out to his mom. If he were any sweeter, the kid would be Tim Tebow.

8:08: The duo Love and Theft are revealing No. 5 on the artist of the decade countdown, Alan Jackson, and Kristin Chenoweth is chatting with her fellow Oklahoma girl Carrie Underwood, noting that she’s perfect “just like my girls from Oklahoma.” “Sometimes awards show put people together that go together; this is not o

The Band Perry, “You Lie”

*Rascal Flatts, “Why Wait”

Sugarland, “Stuck Like Glue”

*Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”

Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”

ne of those times.” The Big Show is back, with NASCAR pit reporter Jamie Little, and their chatting about their jobs while the wrestler points out her “Olympic conditioning” in her sleek purple gown.

They’re going to present single of the year by a group. Here are the noms:

Thompson Square
Thompson Square

8:12: Winner: Thompson Square, who are performing their winning, breakthrough, Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling ballad. It’s been a ginormous year for this husband-and-wife team. The couple also won best single by a new artist and best video by a new artist. “Thank y’all very much. This is the first we’ve ever won anything, so be patient with us,” Keifer said. He’s thanking God for making it such a blessed year for them.

Blake Shelton (AP file)
Blake Shelton (AP file)

8:20: Artist of the decade countdown continues with George Strait at No. 4, and with Kristin Chenoweth pretending to be the dummy to Trace’s fake ventriloquist. “How do you like the show so far?” Trace asks. “I’d like it better if I was sitting on Blake Shelton’s lap,” she said in a voice that’s more like a robot. But she can’t because Blake – who got huge cheers earlier when he won his music video honors – is going to croon his latest hit, “God Gave Me You.” Love this Okie, and I’m glad to see he’s finally achieving the level of success he deserves. And Miranda is singing along to the song, which he recorded for her and earned a Grammy nomination for the songwriter, Dave Barnes, to boot. It’s a gorgeous performance, and I love it when we get to see romantic Blake and not just crazy-funny Blake.

8:29: Artist of the decade countdown continues with Kenny Chesney at No. 3. Since I bet my boots that Toby Keith is No. 1, this list is awfully male-dominated. NASCAR star Kyle Busch, who’s giving a shoutout to his smoking hot wife, is going to present the female artist of the year:

Sara Evans

Alison Krauss

*Miranda Lambert

Taylor Swift

*Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood (AP file)
Carrie Underwood (AP file)

8:31: Winner: Carrie Underwood, who also wins music video of the year by a female for “Mama’s Song.” She is thanking her fans, specifically her fan club, and promising an amazing 2012. She also says she loves and misses her hubby Mike, then apologizing because his teammates are gonna make fun of him for that later.

Kristin Chenoweth (AP file)
Kristin Chenoweth (AP file)

8:32: Trace says he’s been pretending that he doesn’t want to listen to his co-host but that’s just an act, and he’s introducing her singing her sassy country single “I Didn’t.” She’s letting her Okie accent and full-blown feisty out as she dedicates the song to her ex-boyfriend. No question her voice is amazing, but I think the Broken Arrow native is trying a little too hard with her performance, particularly with the “yee haw.” Of course, the last time I saw her perform “I Didn’t Live,” it was in front of 2,000 people – about a fourth of them relatives or friends and all of them fellow Okies and fans – at her Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame induction in Muskogee. So that could just be my perception based on a show in which she was definitely at home and ease.

Alabama (AP file)
Alabama (AP file)

8:39: The artist of the decade countdown is almost over with Tim McGraw getting the No. 2 spot. They’re going to give the Hits Award, which last year went to Alan Jackson, and since ACA male artist Brad Paisley is doing the intro via video, it’s safe to say the winner is going to be Alabama. The legendary band is getting a standing O as they take the stage to play a medley of their hits including “Tennessee River,” “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” and “Mountain Music” that has everyone in the crowd singing along. It is so amazing to see this band playing their hits, and the crowd is just adoring every minute. Like most of the people there, I grew up with this band’s music. What great players, every one!

8:45: Trace is presenting the Greatest Hits Award to Alabama, saying the first concert he ever attended featured the band, who was “the greatest then and they’re still the greatest now.” He literally takes his hat off to the band, who then figuratively tips their hats to the fans and to the military members who keep Americans free to play and listen to the music of their choice. I notice that one of the band members is wearing a big slogan “We’re Back” on the back of his shirt. Awesome.

8:49: I’m betting that Okie Toby Keith is No. 1 on the artist of the decade countdown, though I may well be wrong. If that’s the case, the list will not have included a single female. If that’s the case, it’s just shameful.

8:51: Miranda Lambert, who is the first country artist to have her first four albums go No. 1, is looking quite sexy in a black dress covered in rectangular golden beads, and she’s going to present the artist of the year award. I’m disappointed that her honey isn’t in the running here, but here are the candidates:

Jason Aldean

Kenny Chesney

Lady Antebellum

Taylor Swift

Zac Brown Band


8:53: Winner: Jason Aldean, who comments, “This is getting ridiculous.” Yep, it sure is because that’s not all he’s won. He also gets:

Album and single of the year by a male artist for “My Kinda Party.”

Single and music video of the year by group/duo/collaboration for “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson.

That brings his total ACA wins to 6. Wow. What a year.

Toby Keith
Toby Keith

8:56: Trace and Kristin (who looks stunning her long golden and black dress) are presenting the artist of the decade honor to … Toby Keith, who comes out to his tune “I Wanna Talk About Me.” “Hell, anybody can have a good decade, right?” TK quips before going on to thank the fans. Before he performs his new smash “Red Solo Cup” for the first time, Stephen Colbert pays tribute to TK as the “pop of Nashville” in a taped message. Love that TK won, and my disappointment that there were ZERO women on the countdown is being drowned in the catchiness of “Red Solo Cup.” Everyone out in the crowd – from the fans to the stars – are holding the plasticware in question, and Toby Keith is so into this song, he just goofed on the lyrics. He is totally selling this ridiculous song! “You’re my friend!”

9:00: all the presenters along with Trace and Kristin join TK on stage to toast and drink from their red Solo cups, with Trace contributing to the lyrics and Kristin pretending to coach one of the guitar players.

It’s a fun way to end the show, and a handy way for Fox to promote that “Red Solo Cup” will be performed on Tuesday’s new episode of its cult favorite show “Glee.”

Thanks for following my live blog tonight. As usual, I’ll have more coverage to come soon. And if you’re drinking from a red Solo cup, please be safe and smart about it!


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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