The 2019 CMT Music Awards promised more music than ever before, and Wednesday's live show from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena delivered, serving up more than twenty performances in less than three hours.
Carrie Underwood emerged as the big winner, taking home both the night’s most prestigious honor for Video of the Year, for “Cry Pretty,” as well as Female Video of the Year, for “Love Wins."
For the second year in a row, Little Big Town hosted, kicking things off with a musical extravaganza with Thomas Rhett that featured horn player Trombone Shorty on “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time.” Later in the show, LBT offered their moving cry for female equality on “The Daughters.”
But Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet brought their comedy chops as well. In the opening monologue, they spoke of summertime dilemmas like “hotdogs or hamburgers,” "bikinis or one-pieces" and whether or not the smash “Old Town Road” is a country song.
One of the show’s best gags began as the members of Midland passed out red solo cups, which later degenerated into a full-on game of beer pong, with Kimberly playing referee.
As in years past, the CMT Awards weren’t afraid to up the ante by taking it outside. Kane Brown, Toby Keith and Dan + Shay all performed on a stage set up in the middle of Broadway in Nashville’s honky tonk district. Cole Swindell joined Toby to do his hit, “Beer for My Horses.” Dan + Shay’s version of “All to Myself” ended with fireworks.
Inside, the contenders for Breakthrough Video of the Year performed their nominated songs, with Ashley McBryde ultimately taking home the trophy for “Girl Goin’ Nowhere.” On her way to the stage, she grabbed former tour mate Luke Combs’ drink for confidence.
Later, the North Carolina native performed his new single, “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” The other Luke-- Bryan, that is -- offered his latest release, “Knockin’ Boots,” with a heavy dose of dancers and choreography on a set that mimicked urban apartment buildings.
Keith Urban debuted his new song, “We Were,” while Kelsea Ballerini did her number-three hit, “Miss Me More.” Group Video of the Year winners Zac Brown Band performed their winning song, “Someone I Used to Know.”
In the end, it was the collaborations that generated the most buzz. Brett Young reunited with his Crossroads partners Boyz II Men to do his latest number-one, “Here Tonight.”
Maren Morris started with the Girl track, “Shade,” before Sheryl Crow joined her to deliver “Prove You Wrong,” the pair’s new single that also features the legendary Stevie Nicks.
The high point of the night, however, came as a pink-haired Tanya Tucker joined nominee Brandi Carlile -- who produced her new record -- to perform "Delta Dawn," the song that made her a star at only thirteen years old. Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Deana Carter, Carly Pearce, Lauren Alaina and RaeLynn completed the chorus of female voices singing along.
At some point during the show, Carrie Underwood traveled across town to Music City’s replica of the Parthenon to sing “Southbound” in what was billed as the CMT Music Awards’ biggest performance ever. She was still there a short time later when she won the night’s top honor.
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