7:00: Co-hosts Trace Adkins and Danica Patrick are starting with a skit involving a tiny car and an Elvis impersonating policeman, but they’re quickly kicking over to Lady Antebellum, who are performing their buoyant new single “Compass” while the crowd waves multicolored glow sticks.
7:03: Well, “Compass” is getting my 3-year-old to sing and dance. I wonder what Hillary Scott’s little bundle of joy thinks about it. She’s looking good, and I’m glad she’s not gone nuts trying to ditch all the baby weight all at once. I’m all for famous women looking like real, actual humans.
7:05: In case you needed another reminder that this show is airing live from Vegas, the Elvis impersonator is escorting the handcuffed co-hosts out. Trace drawls, “I think we’ve driven this joke into the ground,” and quickly gets him to uncuff them and leave. Not without another cheesy joke: “I’ve always wanted to say that, ‘Elvis has left the building,’” Trace says. Of course, we’ve already got a joke about how fast Danica does everything, and she defending how she fits into country music by showing a clip of Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert’s “Fastest Girl in Town” music video in which she co-stars. I’m always in favor of more Miranda Lambert – and I like short host bits, too.
7:08: Rodeo competitors Shada and Trevor Brazile are up to present the first award – in less than 10 minutes. I would love for this to be the new trend in awards shows.
First up is male artist of the year. Here are the options:
7:10: Winner: Luke Bryan. The announcer says he also wins touring artist of the year, giving him a total of 11 ACAs, the most of any male artist. “It’s been the most amazing year of my life. It’s start amazing and it’s ending amazingly,” he says, thanking his fans, his wife, everyone on his team and his family, including his cousins. “I’m so blessed to get to do this for a living.” He round it up by thanking God, the ACAs and country radio.
7:16: Jake Owen is joined by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons for a special performance of “Days of Gold,” the fast-paced title track from Jake’s new album. So far, the harmonica player is stealing the show from Jake and Billy. Cat’s got soul.
7:20: Sara Evans and Joe Nichols are to present the next award. “Days of Gold” isn’t the only fast paced about tonight. They’re going to give out the single of the year prize to one of these folks:
‘Cruise,’ Florida Georgia Line
‘How Country Feels,’ Randy Houser
‘Beer Money,’ Kip Moore
‘Better Dig Two,’ The Band Perry
‘One of Those Nights,’ Tim McGraw
7:21: Winner: Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise.” Not a big surprise, once you’ve gotten over the fact that a song this insipid has become so darn popular. They’ve also won a slew of other prizes, including new artist of the year, music video by a new artist, single by a new artist, most played radio track and most played radio track by a new artist. That’s a whole lot of commemorative guitars. (Seriously, how cool is it that the ACAs give out guitars instead of trophies.) The duo is thanking the fans profusely as well as their producer, and rightly so.
7:28: Trace gives a shoutout to songwriter of the year winners Mark Irwins, Josh Kear, Brad Warren and Brett Warren for “Highway Don’t Care,” Tim McGraw’s hit with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. He’s also introducing Randy Houser, who will perform “How Country Feels,” which earned him his first ACA for most-played radio track by a male artist.
7:32: Country/hip-hop performers Cowboy Troy and Big Smo are rhyming out their introduction for ACA album of the year. Here are the noms:
‘Night Train,’ Jason Aldean
‘Here’s to the Good Times,’ Florida Georgia Line
‘Two Lanes of Freedom,’ Tim McGraw
‘Based On a True Story…,’ Blake Shelton
‘Pioneer,’ The Band Perry
7:34: Winner: Blake Shelton, who isn’t there in person because “The Voice” is live in Los Angeles. But he’s recorded a video to accept his four awards; he also wins video of the year, music video by a male artist and single by a male artist for “Sure Be Cool if You Did.” He’s saying that the album seemed “like an impossible project.” But it’s won him a lot of accolades; the Tishomingo resident also got a Grammy nomination this week!
7:36: Carrie Keegan rips open the shirt of “Farm Kings” star Dan King to show off his show’s beefcake. It’s somehow related to introducing Kellie Pickler’s performance of her new song “Little Bit Gypsy.” I guess if you’ve got six pack abs things don’t always have to make sense.
7:42: Jewel and Chris Young take the stage looking attractive in basic black and extolling the virtues in collaboration in country music. They’re introducing country converts Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow, and he’s starting out singing his anthemic new song “Radio.” It’s a medley as Crow arrives in Vegas-y sequined pants strumming her acoustic guitar and crooning her ballad “Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely.” Does it really count as a collaboration if you just take turns singing your own songs? Ah, here we go, they’re going to perform Rucker’s version of “Wagon Wheel” together. Now it’s a collaboration. Gotcha. It’s a catchy song that’s got everyone singing along. Check out Old Crow Medicine Show’s version sometime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gX1EP6mG-E.
7:48: Trace is dressed in a neon-green NASCAR driver’s suit and Danica is in a short sparkly white dressed with white cowboy hat. And they’re showing a funny video of Trace trying to fit his towering frame into a race car. They’re kicking it to Thompson Square, who will be presenting breakthrough artist to one of these artists:
7:51: Winner: Scotty McCreery. I like the “American Idol” winner, but wouldn’t the year he won “Idol” be his breakthrough year. Eh, I’m going with it. He’s thanking his fans, naturally, as well as country radio, his team and “last but not least my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for letting me do this.”
7:56: Two-time Grammy winner Dwight Yoakam is taking the stage – and he’s wearing two scarves because Mick Jagger told him to always take an extra scarf – to present Brad Paisley with the ACA Video Visionary Award. He’s saying that he’s changed the way people look at country music through his creative, self-deprecating, star-studded videos. Oh, good, they’re gonna show clips! Yay!
7:59: Brad Paisley is going to perform his latest “masterpiece” – ha ha – “Mona Lisa,” with his paisley-patterned guitar. I love Brad Paisley.
8:05: As the song winds down, Dwight is taking the stage with him to present Brad with his commemorative guitar. “I have to say you guys have the absolute coolest trophy of any awards show,” Brad says, noting he plugged it in earlier and it was horribly out of tune but he’ll fix it later. (Of course, he’s gonna play a guitar if he gets a new one. I wonder how many of those ACA guitars actually get played.) He’s thinking his wife and kids and fans and record label for spending so much money on his videos. Such a cheeky guy.
8:09: A quartet of feather- and rhinestone-adorned showgirls are here to herald the “showgirl debut of Danica Patrick,” who gamely kicks and grins her way on the stage joking about how she doesn’t have enough bust to have a wardrobe malfunction. She hopes the bit doesn’t fall flat – big, cheesy wink – and then introduces Justin Moore performing his twangy ballad “Point at You.” He’s getting a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd.
8:14: I did not need to see Trace dressed in that showgirl getaway singing “I Feel Pretty.” You can just rock me to sleep tonight.
8:15: Parmalee is singing a bit of their hit “She Feels Like Carolina” a capella, which is quite lovely, but mostly they’re there to introduce Thomas Rhett’s performance of “It Goes Like This.” You gotta credit the ACAs with showcase some of the young up-and-comers.
8:21: Danica is reminding the crowd that 18 million people watched Carrie Underwood in “The Sound of Music” and joke that the producers wanted them to do something similar like Trace in “Phantom of the Opry.” Ugh. Danica does get to show that she can sing a little bit, crooning “Hopelessly Devoted to You” as she introduces Olivia Newton-John, whose mere presence (elegant in a long spangly black dress) gets a standing O. She’s going to present the Worldwide Artist Award to Taylor Swift, who has sold more than 27 million albums and 97 million tracks worldwide while selling out shows around the globe and notching No. 1 albums in a long list of countries.
8:24: The crowd is chanting “Taylor, Taylor,” who is accepting the first-ever World Wide Artist of the Year by video from Australia, where she says “I’m so happy that you’ve decided to honor touring worldwide,” noting that she has experienced the thrill of having fans sing her lyrics back to her around the globe, even in countries where English isn’t the first language.
8:25: “Idol” alumni Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery are going to present the group of the year award:
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
8:26: Winner: Lady A. They also win best single by a group for “Downtown.” Charles Kelley is asking Dwight for advice on how to strum the guitar. Hillary is thanking their fans, their spouses, their families, and Hillary thanks her baby daughter for the first time. Awww.
8:33: The next presenter is ACA winner Luke Bryan, who is dazzling the crowd with his sparkling white teeth as the ladies shout their endless affection for him. He’s introducing a tribute to the late, great Patsy Cline by LeAnn Rimes, who is in black and white as she croons a medley of “If You’ve Got Leaving on Your Mind,” “Walking After Midnight” and, of course, “Crazy.” LeAnn’s got a great voice and she’s doing a great job on this performance, but there’s no one like Patsy Cline. I guess the greatest compliment I could give is that she makes me want to break out my old Patsy records. But LeAnn seems sincerely choked up once she gets to the end of her tribute, so she gets bonus credit for giving such a heartfelt homage. Huge applause at the end and a well-deserved standing O.
Patsy Cline died 50 years ago this year.
8:43: Whoa. I hate it when they do this. They’re running through a list of other winners, which include Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Lee Brice, Tim McGraw and The Band Perry. I hate it when the ACAs do this. Is it an awards show or not? And if you’re going to give out awards, then allot the adequate time to do it. Come on ACAs, pretend to be pros at this. I’ll try to sort it out and get back to you.
8:45: Colt Ford, Clay Walker and a giddy Gary Allan are introducing Florida Georgia Line, whose performance is apparently more important to the ACAs than actually giving out the awards. So irritating. Anyway, Florida Georgia Line is singing “Stay.”
8:49: Sportscaster Joe Buck has arrived to announce the artist of the year:
Florida Georgia Line
8:50: Winner: Luke Bryan. He gives his wife a big kiss and rushes up to accept the award to the tune of Florida Georgia Line’s “Round Here.” Yeah, that makes sense. He jokes he’s still blinded by all the fireworks the duo shot off. Luke says it’s amazing to be named the artist of the year and he’s having so much fun bringing his show to country fans, who are “good hard-working Americans.” He’s reaffirming his love for his fans and his wife and promising his boys at home they’ll be back in time for the Christmas program in the morning.
8:56: Trace Adkins is going to close the show with a special Christmas performance of “The Little Drummer Boy,” featuring, naturally, a whole bunch of drummers. Love his deep, deep voice on this yuletide favorite. It’s got fiddles and heart and a great voice, so I’ll take it.
That’s it for the 2013 ACAs. Thanks for following along with me tonight.