So, the 51st annual CMA Awards had its moments of atrocity, but overall, there was more good than bad last night. Here are some highlights and opinions, in no particular order–the good, the bad, and the curious.
1. Sam Hunt walks away winless despite “Body Like a Back Road” breaking historic records on the charts. It pains me to type this, but logic says he should have won Single of the Year, as this is about commercial success–except the CMA stomped all over that logic by saying this moron isn’t country, and we aren’t giving him awards no matter what records he breaks with his dumb single. Also, FGL, Luke Bryan, and Thomas Rhett remain empty-handed which can only be counted as a blessing.
2. Miranda Lambert says “f you” to the entire establishment by coming out and performing “To Learn Her,” the most traditional song of her career and that we’ve seen at these award shows in recent memory. Stellar performance.
3. Carrie Underwood comes out singing “Softly and Tenderly” while images of lost country greats and Las Vegas footage play in the background. This was stellar as well, and because we’ve got this whole Carrie/Miranda thing going on, my only fear here is that Carrie’s moment will somehow make Miranda’s less noteworthy. Both should be equally recognized and appreciated.
4. Chris Stapleton’s wins, while definitely victorious for real country music, are starting to get predictable. Don’t get me wrong, he deserves them, but I don’t want to see the CMA fall into a thing where we award Stapleton as the token traditionalist like we award Miranda Lambert as the token female.
5. Brothers Osborne break into “Tulsa Time” in tribute to the great Don Williams which can only be described as badass.
6. Little Big Town actually do a stunning tribute to Glen Campbell with “Wichita Lineman.”
7. ON the flip side of this, Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts completely suck ass at the tribute to Troy Gentry. Look, good on the CMA for paying tribute to all these guys, but the sound quality was shit. Troy deserved better.
8. Alan Jackson, in what can only be described as a curious move, comes out singing “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.” Great song, made me happy, but definitely a missed opportunity to promote his current single and prove that traditional country music is still alive and well, not just a thing of the past.
9. Pink shouldn’t have been booked on this show, but her performance was more understated and country than many of the supposed country performers.
10. Old Dominion are still atrocious, Kelsea Ballerini’s “Legends” still sucks, and Maren Morris’s collaboration of “Seeing Blind” was utterly useless. I have not gotten the Maren Morris hype since “My Church.”
11. Sturgill Simpson busked outside the event in his characteristic arrogant fashion, most likely to protest the CMA attempt to keep the night from being focused on politics.
12. Garth Brooks lip synced–and did a bad job of it–as I’m sure many of you know, thereby making his win for Entertainer of the Year completely embarrassing. He did admit to it, and you can’t fault him for being sick, but this makes his win look pretty idiotic.
13. Eric Church, despite doing more for country music from the inside than most, performing 40-song sets by himself on tour, committing himself to his fans, prominently featuring women in his performances on these shows, doesn’t win anything. Look, it’s good that we’re not recognizing Sam Hunt and FGL, but not recognizing Eric Church for his efforts is wrong and frankly ridiculous.