The ACMs transform Sin City into country city

For the second consecutive year, friends Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards. The pair’s chemistry was palpable at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Opening the show was The Band Perry in a spirited performance of “Chainsaw.” The night was more focused on live music than it was on the awards. Artists such as Miranda Lambert, George Strait and Florida Georgia Line performed more than once.

The opening monologue was clever as the hosts good-naturedly poked fun at pop stars such as Britney Spears, who is in Vegas for a two-year residency at Planet Hollywood. “If you don’t like live music, then you need to go down the block and see Britney Spears,” Shelton said, earning him nervous laughter from the shocked audience.

 

 

When comparing the differences between hosting this year to the year prior, Bryan used country icon Merle Haggard as an example: “Last year, when you heard Merle Haggard singing a song about being drunk, out of work, in jail, well, it sounded like Merle was singing about his younger self,” Bryan said. Shelton quipped, “This year, it sounds like he’s singing about Justin Bieber.”

Florida Georgia Line gave a dull performance of “Stay.” Its second performance, “This Is How We Roll” with Bryan was impressive, but not because of artistry. With pyro effects and ramps on the stage, dirt bikers flying behind the singers and doing aerial stunts were the ones to entertain the audience. After a massively successful year, Florida Georgia Line disappointed with its shows. Nonetheless, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard went home with the award for Vocal Duo of the Year.

The Song of the Year award went to Lee Brice for “I Drive Your Truck.” He gave an acoustic performance of it, making the already highly poignant song even more touching.

Shelton sang “My Eyes” with Gwen Sebastian, who appeared in the second season of “The Voice.” It was a tender moment for the usually boisterous cowboy. He was later joined by his fellow “The Voice” coach, Shakira, for a performance of their new song “Medicine.”

In a special collaboration, Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks performed “Golden,” the band’s latest hit, followed by the eminent “Rhiannon,” which Nicks wrote herself and recorded with Fleetwood Mac in the ’70s.

Country’s power couple, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill stole the show with their duet of “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s.” The song will be on McGraw’s upcoming album, expected to debut in September.

In an attempt to recreate the viral Oscar selfie that Ellen DeGeneres took at this year’s Academy Awards, Bryan and Shelton strolled by the front row of audience members searching for country artists that would garner the same attention as Hollywood’s elite. After deciding that Jason Aldean wasn’t big enough and Tim McGraw was too boring, McGraw giving them a playful kick, they decided to only include themselves in the picture.

The biggest winners were Jason Aldean for Male Vocalist of the Year, Miranda Lambert for Female Vocalist of the Year and Single Record of the Year and Kacey Musgraves for Album of the Year with “Same Trailer Different Park.”

George Strait was the recipient of the Entertainer of the Year award, which is decided by fan voters. Strait, who is retiring this year, beat out Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift for the honor.

View the full list of last night’s winners here.

Reach the reporter at jurgiles@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @MrsMathers94