With more than two dozen performances packed into three hours, the music almost never stopped at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas — save for a few surprising wins, heartfelt speeches and a moment when the show’s host called out the awards themselves.
These are the moments that caught our eyes and ears at the 2019 ACM Awards.
Miranda Lambert’s explosive medley
Lambert’s early show medley was a striking show of force from the singer, who has more ACM wins than any other artist in history.
She and her band didn’t let the foot off the gas for four solid minutes, plowing through “Kerosene,” “Gunpowder and Lead,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “White Liar” and “Little Red Wagon.”
Lambert also joined George Strait for a duet of his classic hit “Run,” looking appropriate old-school country in a fringed shirtdress with a big, ole belt buckle.
Host Reba speaks up for women
When the nominees were announced for this year’s ACM Awards, host Reba McEntire wasn’t happy that there were no female nominees up for the night’s top prize.
That omission was still on the country star’s mind Sunday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as she took the stage for her opening monologue.
“Do you know it snowed in Las Vegas just a few weeks ago?” she asked the audience.
“Yeah. It was so cold, it froze us women out of entertainer of the year. But you know what? That didn’t bother Kacey Musgraves, because she’s been too busy carrying all her Grammys around.”
By night’s end, Musgraves had two more ACM Awards for her shelf: album and female artist of the year.
Keith Urban’s ‘Burden’ and big win
It was Keith Urban’s version of performing without a net — going guitar-free to debut a brand-new song.
But “Burden” was worth the risk: a ballad written by Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance, with a message that stopped the singer in his tracks when he heard it.
“No matter how much you’re hurting right now/ You know that everything will change in time/ So let me carry your burden.”
An hour later, Urban was carrying the trophy for Entertainer of the Year, after a stunning win in a similar category at last year’s CMA Awards.
Eric Church and Ashley McBryde top the team-ups
Church, the “outsider,” and McBryde, a self-described “underdog,” put an inspired spin on his political parable “The Snake,” turning it into a seething duet.
Elsewhere, rising country star Kane Brown found harmony with 21-year-old R&B phenom Khalid on Brown’s “Good as You” and the pair’s remix of Khalid’s “Saturday Nights.”
Other pairings included Dierks Bentley and Brandi Carlile (which we’ve highlighted elsewhere here), George Strait and Miranda Lambert on his 2001 hit “Run,” plus Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne, Dan + Shay and Kelly Clarkson, and Brooks & Dunn and Luke Combs.
Jason Aldean is ‘Artist of the Decade’
The country star said it was “one of the proudest nights” of his life to receive the ACM’s sixth Dick Clark Artist of the Decade Award — and to receive it from George Strait, no less.
“That’s the reason I wear a cowboy hat, right here,” Aldean said, gesturing toward the country legend.
After performing a medley that included his “Dirt Road Anthem” and “Don’t You Wanna Stay” (with Kelly Clarkson), Aldean thanked the fans and country radio stations that “changed my life forever.”
Brandi Carlile and Dierks Bentley shine with ‘Light’
Over the last few weeks, Americana star Carlile has been winning over country audiences left and right, from her standing ovation at Loretta Lynn’s tribute to a cameo at Maren Morris’ Ryman Auditorium concert.
That continued Sunday with Dierks Bentley, as the pair performed the rollicking “Travelin’ Light” from his 2018 album “The Mountain” — not a show-stopping powerhouse like her “The Joke,” but it still packed plenty of charm.
Little Big Town debuts ‘The Daughters’
The award-winning country quartet performed its brand-new single for the first time on TV at Sunday’s ACM Awards. The acoustic-driven tune opens with an arresting verse from the group’s Karen Fairchild.
“Girl, shoulders back and stand up straight,” she sings. “Girl, watch your mouth and watch your weight/ Mind your manners, smile for the camera/
“And pose like a trophy on a shelf/ Dream for everyone but not yourself/ I’ve heard of God the Son and God the Father/ I’m still looking for a God for the daughters.”
Chrissy Metz ‘standing with’ Carrie Underwood and more
The “This Is Us” star made her TV debut as a singer on the ACMs, performing a song from her new movie “Breakthrough.”
“I’m Standing With You” is an inspirational ballad from the pen of Diane Warren, and Metz was joined on stage by several country stars who also are featured on the “Breakthrough” soundtrack album: Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina, Mickey Guyton and Maddie & Tae.
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