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Live blog: 2013 CMA Awards

by Brandy McDonnell Modified: November 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm •  Published: November 6, 2013
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Luke Bryan (AP file)
Luke Bryan (AP file)

7:00 p.m.: Entertainer of the Year nominee Luke Bryan is opening the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards with his new single “That’s My Kind of Night.” Yep, the one that caused a dust-up when Zac Brown called it the worst song he’s ever heard. We’re one minute in, Luke’s cap is on backward and the bro-country trend is making itself heard.

7:02: Speaking of “bro-country,” Luke is joined by Florida Georgia Line, who are performing their unavoidable hit “Cruise.” Of course they are. Are we in the presence of bro-country royalty? Should I kneel? Um, no. So far, unless you’re a white male in your early 20s to early 30s, it’s not you’re kind of night.

For the record, I don’t hate the idea of young, carefully handsome millionaires making country-rock songs about tailgates, field parties and moonshine. But does every country song really need to be this?

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood

7:05: Checotah native Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are coming out pushing and elbowing. Now, they’re not arguing over Carrie’s crazy gold, gray and black frock.

“As you can see, Brad and I are feuding,” she says. “It seems to be all the rage in country music.”

Now, they’re singing “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and calling out some of country’s latest feuding folks, starting with Zac Brown and Luke Bryan. And awww, Luke and Zac are hugging. So sweet. They’re also calling out Tom Petty, Miley Cyrus, Sinead O’Connor and more.

7:08: I have to admit this is hilarious. In order to make the feuding more fun, they’ve got Kellie Pickler handing out feuding assignments for the evening. Kelly Clarkson has her new mother-in-law, Reba, and Brad invites them to enjoy Thanksgiving. Then, Kenny Rogers gets Brad and Brad begins to strut and calling out the “sweet music man.” Darius Rucker gets Julianne Hough and they just keep on going. Funny stuff.

7:10: Brad begins clutching his back and claiming he twerked it. Carrie tells him that’s not what twerking is, and explains that if he’s ever been to a Luke Bryan concert, that’s what’s happening there. It turns out they’re not having mini-seizures. Carrie offers to get him signed up for Obamacare, and takes him off to the side to her laptop. “Why is it spinning?” “It does that.” “Why is it smoking?” “Maybe we should stop.” And they begin singing a uproarious riff on George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” called “Obamacare by Morning.”

7:12: Why they never quit while they’re ahead is beyond me. After making a few playful jabs at Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and Taylor Swift, they decide to combine two culture phenomenon – “Blurred Lines” and “Duck Dynasty” – with a silly tribute song and the Robertson family dancing like crazy. I’m a big “Duck Dynasty” fan but too much. A little too much. Still, the Robertsons’ presence is appropriate: Their “Duck the Halls” Christmas album is the No. 1 country album this week.

Anyway, Willie and Korie and Jase and Missy of the “Duck Dynasty” clan are going to give the single of the year award, and unfortunately, I think we all know where this is going:

SINGLE OF THE YEAR

(Award goes to Artist and Producer(s))

“Cruise”

Florida Georgia Line

Produced by Joey Moi

Republic Nashville

“Highway Don’t Care”

Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

Produced by Byron Gallimore and Tim McGraw

Big Machine Records

*“Mama’s Broken Heart”

Miranda Lambert

Produced by Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf, and Chuck Ainlay

RCA Nashville

“Merry Go ‘Round”

Kacey Musgraves

Produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves

Mercury Records

“Wagon Wheel”

Darius Rucker

Produced by Frank Rogers

Capitol Records Nashville

Florida Georgia Line (AP file)
Florida Georgia Line (AP file)

7:15: Winner: Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise.” Yep. Knew that was coming. They’re thanking the Lord and their moms and everyone that supported them. They’re thanking producer Joey Moi multiple time for “making magic.” It must be magic for a song with this chorus to be so darned popular:

Baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise
Down a back road blowin’ stop signs through the middle
Every little farm town with you
In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit
Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it
So baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise

Just sayin’. Bless their hearts and well-coiffed heads. OK. I’m done for now.

7:22: Jason Aldean is next performer, and I’m starting to feel less charitable toward bro-country with every performance that shoves it down my throat. But he’s singing his latest single and current album’s title track “Night Train,” which at least has a more atmospheric vibe and doesn’t sound like every other blessed song on country radio.

Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves

7:24: Carrie already has one wardrobe change after less than 25 minutes. Impressive. It’s a little froofy, but I prefer her new pink number to whatever she started out in.

And thank heaven, they are introducing Kacey Musgraves, who is going to save us from bro-country and do it very tunefully. And elegantly – I love her sassy yellow frock. She’s singing her well-written “do your thing” anthem “Follow Your Arrow.” This woman is a breath of fresh air. Love her.

Lady A
Lady A

7:32: Lady Antebellum, who have been hiatus while Hillary Scott has been on maternity leave, are performing their new anthemic single “Compass.” It’s one of my favorite of their songs in awhile. Definitely a fist waver. And I love that Hillary doesn’t look like she’s been starving herself since delivering her precious baby this summer. She still looks very pretty – and I’d like to think she maybe has been spending time with her new bundle rather than working out hours and hours a day.

7:35: Jake Owen and Lucy Hale of “Pretty Little Liars” (who has an album forthcoming) are her to present song of the year, and Kacey Musgraves is facing off against Kacey Musgraves:

SONG OF THE YEAR

(Award goes to Songwriter(s))

“I Drive Your Truck”

Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary

*“Mama’s Broken Heart”

Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves

“Merry Go ‘Round”

Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne, and Shane McAnally

“Pontoon”

Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, and Barry Dean

“Wagon Wheel”

Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor

Lee Brice
Lee Brice

7:38: Winner: “I Drive My Truck.” Lee Brice sincerely thanks the songwriters, saying the song changed his life. Jimmy Yeary is paying tribute to the real person on whom the song is based, a young soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan. Poignant moment.

7:43: Reigning vocal group of the year Little Big Town are performing their new song “Sober.” Such pretty harmonies. And they’re standing in a circle of artificial candlelight while lights twinkle throughout the crowd. That’s really pretty, too. The song is OK. Not great, but it’s my first time hearing it, so it might grow on me.

Kip Moore
Kip Moore

7:47: The handsome trio of Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge and Kip Moore is going to present the vocal duo of the year. Hoping for Thompson Square to repeat. (Keifer is a fellow Oklahoma native):

Big & Rich

Florida Georgia Line

Love and Theft

Sugarland

The Civil Wars

*Thompson Square

7:48: Winner: Florida Georgia Line. Since they get another go-round, they’re thanking more folks, including their celebrity supporters Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan and Jake Owen.

7:50: Brad Paisley appears in a black-and-white striped suit, which Carrie says makes him look like a referee going to prom. She’s wearing dark blue pants and a sparkly headband that looks right out of the late ’60s. He gives her a Nashville Predators foam claw (Carrie’s hubby Mike Fisher plays for the Predators) and when she dons it and cheers for the team, he quips that he’s sure Miley didn’t do it thataway. Snort.

Anyway, our flashily dressed hosts are introducing Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban performing their new duet “We Were Us” for the first time. Great performance. And … cue Blake Shelton singing along in the crowd. (Better than a Taylor Swift singalong shot. They get so crazy about cutting to her, I started to propose a T-Swift singalong drinking game, but I decided that would be irresponsible. As ‘Ran stomps to the finale in her pretty, shiny, towering silver shoes, cue Blake leading off the well-deserved standing ovation. “That was great, now please go back to your respective spouses,” Brad quips. Please go back to your previous clothing choice, Paisley.

Taylor Swift (AP file)
Taylor Swift (AP file)

7:58: Oklahoma native Vince Gill is in the spotlight playing guitar as Taylor Swift croons a stripped-down version of her latest hit “Red,” with Alison Krauss’ angelic voice in the background. Taylor is in a long elegant gown and they’re all just sitting in a circle singing and playing. These are some incredible singers and musicians, folks, including Sam Bush and Edgar Meyer. Respect to Swifty for bringing them together for this performance, which sounds terrific and puts substance over style. Another well-deserved standing O.

8:02: More Florida Georgia Line. They’re performing some song where they drool over a scantily clad woman and take her out in the sticks to get her drunk and pliable. It’s “‘Round Here,” as in “that’s how we do it ’round here. ” You know, in case you want to press charges. Seriously, though, I reviewed their whole first album and it all sounds the same to me. It’s the pale, flavorless, dull Coors Light of country music in my opinion.

8:06: The musician of the year award was given to Mac McAnally in a ceremony earlier. He’s won it six straight years. Well done there.

8:07: Carrie Underwood has changed outfits again, this time to a glitter-trimmed black top and a shirt that vaguely resembles a tan Rorschach ink blot. What’s up with her stylist tonight?

8:10: Carrie tells Brad they need to talk about the royal baby, to which Brad responds “Blake and Miranda had a baby? Why doesn’t anybody tell me these things?” Cue the Tishomingo-based tabloid targets laughing in the audience. But no, Carrie’s talking about Kim and Kayne’s North West. Brad says the Shelton baby would be South East and then tries to figure out how to combine the names. You need Lady A’s “Compass.”

8:13: Hunter Hayes and Jason Mraz are starting backstage as they croon their poppy, very Mraz-y song “Everybody Got Somebody But Me.” Not my favorite sound but they sure seem to be having fun. They’re going to name the new artist of the year:

Lee Brice

Brett Eldredge

Florida Georgia Line

Kip Moore

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves (AP file)
Kacey Musgraves (AP file)

8:14: Winner: Kacey Musgraves! Yay! So deserving. She’s thanking everybody, including her sweet grandma in the audience. She’s teasing her book agent that her grandma did that job for her when she was 10 and didn’t make her sign a contract. Kacey is a great songwriter and performer, so this is the best news I’ve heard so far tonight.

Eric Church
Eric Church

8:15: Eric Church still has his aviator shades, but his ditched the trucker cap in favor of a super-short cut. He’s playing his new hard-rock anthem “The Outsiders,” with flames blazing in the background and electric guitars wailing and himself yelling out the choruses. It’s not any more or less country that the Hayes-Mraz ditty, just in the opposite direction. But it rocks a whole lot harder, and it suits my personal tastes a whole lot more. Eric Church can do hard-edged. And this rocks harder than most rock songs on those charts right now. Another standing O.

8:18: In a ceremony earlier, music video of the year went to Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban for “Highway Don’t Care.”

8:23: Carrie’s silver frock is my favorite of her outfits so far tonight. She’s introducing one of her favorite acts, The Band Perry. Kimberly says “This one’s for you, Mom,” as they launch into their emotional ballad “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely.” Sibling harmonies. So pretty. Plus, I love Kimberly’s dress, which looks like an upside down white flower.

8:28: Recent country convert Sheryl Crow, in basic black, is going to present album of the year. She’s encouraging people to vote for their favorite artists by buying albums and singles. Here are the noms:

*“Based on a True Story …”

Blake Shelton

Produced by Scott Hendricks

Warner Bros. Records

*“Blown Away”

Carrie Underwood

Produced by Mark Bright

19 Recordings/Arista Nashville

“Red”

Taylor Swift

Produced by Jeff Bhasker, Scott Borchetta, Nathan Chapman, Dann Huff, Jacknife Lee, Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift, Butch Walker, and Dan Wilson

Big Machine Records

 “Same Trailer Different Park”

Kacey Musgraves

Produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves

Mercury Records

“Tornado”

Little Big Town

Produced by Jay Joyce

Capitol Records Nashville

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton

8:30: Blake Shelton gets his first win for album of the year! He snatches the trophy out of Sheryl’s hand and playfully says “Give me that!” He’s making a point to introduce his producer and fellow Oklahoman Scott Hendricks, and then insists Scott talk and he thanks several people. Miranda’s got tears in her eyes.

8:32: Brad, who is wearing a colorful velvety jacket, is introducing a performance by superstar Tim McGraw, but first he’s going to tease Dolly Parton about her recent fender bender. “Thankfully, Dolly had airbags. Unfortunately, the ones in the car didn’t deploy.” Never gets old. Tim McGraw is singing his new single “Southern Girl,” and I can’t say the same for his weird gray slacks or the hip-hop flourishes on the chorus of this song.

8:35: Carrie comes out in that beautiful silver gown to hug Tim and congratulate him on his music vid of the year award. She says if time permits she’s going to be among the performers. Something tells me they’ll make time.

8:40: Brad and Carrie are recognizing new Country Music Hall of Famers Cowboy Jack Clement and Bobby Bare before turning the stage over to Ada native and newly minted Album of the Year winner Blake Shelton, who is crooning “Mine Would Be You,” my favorite song from that award-winning album. Excuse me, Blake and this song and I need a moment. Talk amongst yourselves.

Taylor Swift (AP file)
Taylor Swift (AP file)

8:45: Blake gets a standing O, and they’re passing it over to two of the young stars of the ABC “Nashville,” Lennon and Maisy Stella, who performed a whimsical little version of Taylor Swift’s “You belong With Me” while Taylor looked on grinning and then hugged her after. Now, they’re introducing an impressive constellation of country stars: Tim and Faith, King George, Rascal Flatts, Brad, Keith Urban. Tim says it seems like yesterday since he and his wife invited the 17-year-old with the song “Tim McGraw” to open for them. Taylor opened for all of them on that stage before beginning to headline sold-out shows of her. They’re presenting the Pinnacle Award to recognize her success in taking country music global. There are additional video interviews with Vince Gill, Carly Simmon, Keith Urban and Ethel Kennedy about her achievements in songwriting, performing and charity. There’s also congratulatory clips from Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts, Justin Timberlake, Reese Witherspoon and Ellen DeGeneres.

8:51: The only 23-year-old Taylor Swift, looking gorgeous in a red dress, says she knew she was going to get the award but she didn’t know there was going to be all this. “My parents are not just crying, they’re BAWLING.” She’s praising each of those people she’s opening for, talking about what she learned from them and saying she would never be as funny as Brad or stylish as Tim and Faith. “You guys have made me feel so special. Thank you. Thank you.” Congratulations to Taylor and thank you for skipping the surprised face.

9:00: Carrie is rocking super-short shorts and a low cut sparkly black top to perform four hits from her latest album. It’s a ridiculously sexy getup, except for the sparkly silver sock thingies above the short black boots. Weird. It’s fun but it’s weird to hear a medley of “Good Girl,” “Blown Away,” “Two Black Cadillacs” and “See You Again.” Why do I get the feeling Checotah’s sweetheart was too busy rehearsing for her live TV performance of “Sound of Music” to prep something new? Too bad we don’t get a preview of that. But that’s an NBC thing and we’re on ABC.

9:04: Sean Diddy Combs declares that he’s always been a kind of down-low country fan and he’s declaring that he loves country music out loud while co-presenter Kellie Pickler and audience member Vince Gill applaud. Of course, it’s to promo his new music channel Revolt, where there’s apparently all kinds of music ’cause people love all kinds.

Anyway, Diddy’s here, and he and Kellie are gonna present vocal group of the year:

Eli Young Band

Lady Antebellum

Little Big Town

The Band Perry

Zac Brown Band

Little Big Town
Little Big Town

9:07: Winner: Little Big Town. Karen Fairchild says, “We got an award from Puffy and Pickle!” Then it’s a flurry of thank yous.

George Jones
George Jones

9:08: Brad Paisley is saying they’re now going to pay tribute to his hero and one of the best country singer ever. He’s also thanking George Jones’ widow Nancy for keeping the old Possum around longer than he would’ve been without her TLC. They pulled out the A-team for this tribute: George Strait and Alan Jackson. So greatness is pretty much guaranteed. They’re started with “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a classic done right by these two greats. Incredible. Standing O, performance of the night, and a glimpse of a special moment where Vince Gill hugged Nancy.

Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band

9:15: Seriously, what is with Carrie’s stylist tonight? It looks like that outfit was sewed out of a tangled batch of neon-hued sports bras. Anyway, she’s introducing ZBB with Foo Fighter Dave Grohl doing “Day for the Dead.” Grohl is waling away on drums, folks, and ZB is rocking that skull print shirt. Now this show is cooking! Grohl looks like he’s having a great time, and this cool harmonizing bit alone makes me glad I’m watching this show. (I missing a Thunder game, so I need a little extra motivation.) Cue standing O and lots of big smiles in the crowd!

Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley

9:21: Carrie (still in the sports bra nightmare dress) is kicking over to Brad Paisley, whose got his guitar and his Mona Lisa T-shirt on and he’s leading the crowd in a little singalong warm up. The shirt is a visual cue that he’s going to play his peppy ballad “Mona Lisa.” Y’all, Brad is burning it up tonight on a pink paisley guitar, which is pretty sweet.

Kenny Rogers (AP file)
Kenny Rogers (AP file)

9:31: Jennifer Nettles is singing “Sweet Music Man” to new Country Music Hall of Famer Kenny Rogers. She, Rascal Flatts and Darius Rucker have prepped a medley of some of his music that has “decorated our lives.” The next song up: The Flatts (including Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney) harmonizing and grooving through Kenny Rogers and The First Edition’s hit “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” which is a cool left turn on this CMA Awards show that has already taken a few zigs and zags into other genres. Now, Darius is crooning “The Gambler,” and he’s got everyone including Kenny singing along to the classic.

Kenny is doing the crooning with Jennifer Nettles on “Islands in the Stream” while the country stars in the crowd groove and sing along. Even Jason Mraz is singing along and Diddy is grooving to it. Rogers is receiving the CMA’s massive Willie Nelson Hall of Fame Award and he jokes she’ll have to hold it because he can’t lift it. “It’s been a hell of month. Country Music Hall of Fame last week, now this this week. I can’t wait to see what next week brings.”

Another really classy tribute. CMA is doing it right tonight.

9:38: “Nashville” stars Connie Britton and Charles Esten are going to present female vocalist, and I’m rooting for ‘Ran!

Kelly Clarkson

*Miranda Lambert

Kacey Musgraves

Taylor Swift

*Carrie Underwood

Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert

9:40: Winner: Miranda Lambert gets her fourth win in the category! “Well, hell. I didn’t really think I was gonna get this one.” ‘Ran is praising all the fellow nominees individually and congratulating them on their performances and honors tonight. Except Kelly Clarkson, who just gets a “really?” She wraps by thanking Blake for “putting up with all my crap.” He’s smiling and fist-pumping. Like they do. Awesome.

9:46: Carrie Underwood is introducing Luke Bryan, who is going to sing a very personal song dedicated to the memory of his brother and his sister. He’s singing in the midst of a thick haze of theatrical smoke. He’s really got a great voice when he’s not howling about parties and pretty girls. Unfortunately, the name of this pretty, emotional ballad is “Drink a Beer.” Oh, well. Still the best thing Luke’s ever done in my opinion. In the end, he stands up and holds up a beer as a family photo of him with Chris and Kelly is shown. Sad.

9:50: If she can get her tongue untied, Kelly Clarkson is going to present male vocalist of the year to one of these handsome men:

Jason Aldean

Luke Bryan

Eric Church

*Blake Shelton

Keith Urban

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton

9:51: “Come on. Yes! Come on up here, Blake,” Kelly says. Blake is hugging practically everybody in their area. It’s Blake’s fourth win in the category. Woot! Miranda is teary eyed, and Blake is talking about how he started at the bottom and worked his way up with the support of his label, Warner Bros. He also takes a moment to thank his publicist Tree Paine for constantly cleaning up his messes. (She’s a keeper, folks, great to work with!) Good for Blake!

9:57: “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts is getting a standing O. She missed the CMAs last year while fighting cancer. She’s gonna present entertainer of the year. Go Blake!

Jason Aldean

Luke Bryan

*Blake Shelton

George Strait

Taylor Swift

George Strait (Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman Archive)
George Strait (Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman Archive)

9:58: Winner: George Strait. You can’t argue with that call or the huge standing ovation and all the cheers he’s getting from the star-studded crowd. “What?!” George says with his hand on his heart. “My dad’s been having some pretty good conversations up there, I gotta say.” He praises the other nominees as much powerful performers he’s just honored to be nominated again. He’s running through his thank you, including his grandbaby. “This means the world to me. Thank you.”

10:01: Dang it, Carrie Underwood saves her prettiest dress for last – a shimmering deep blue column with white flowers – for last as she and Brad introduce Darius Rucker’s closing performance of his smash “Wagon Wheel.” But since the show’s running a bit late, the performance gets cut off before it’s even half over. Oh, well, it saves me from having to explain to people that this version is nice but Old Crow Medicine Show’s rendition is much better.

Anyway, that’s the CMA Awards. Thanks for following along and good night!

-BAM


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...
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