With “Entertainer of the Year” nominees kicking off the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards, singing their No. 1 hits, the star-studded performances began. The No. 1 hits medley included performances by Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line with their “Single Record of the Year” “H.O.L.Y,” Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. The title was presented to Aldean at the end of the show.
After the medley, the performances ceased as the hosts, Bryan and Dierks Bentley, came out on stage. During this time, they joked about their crazy time in Vegas, which included a behind-the-scenes look at Cirque du Soleil, leotards and all.
Bentley joked, “those leotards are tighter than most of your jeans, if that’s even possible,” to Bryan.
Next up, the hosts performed a tribute to the late Chuck Barry along with special guest, Joe Walsh. More performances of the night included, Sam Hunt with “Body Like A Backroad,” Bentley’s “Make My World Go Black” and Rascal Flatt’s “Yours.”
When “Song of the Year” was announced, Thomas Rhett was presented with the award for his hit, “Die A Happy Man,” which was inspired by his high school sweetheart and pregnant wife Lauren Akins Rhett. Later on, he was presented with “Male Vocalist of the Year.” Starting off as an opening act for Keith Urban, Maren Morris rose to fame and claimed “New Female Vocalist of the Year.” “New Male Vocalist of the Year” was clinched by Jon Pardi. Rising to the title of “Vocal Duo of the Year” were the Brothers Osborne.
Another entertaining performance of the night started off with Urban taking the stage for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” and turning into Urban’s exciting duet to “The Fighter” alongside 12-time ACM winner, Underwood. The couple, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, performed their worldwide television premiere of duet “Speak To A Girl.” Another world premiere was Thomas Rhett’s “Craving You,” which Maren Morris sang along with him.
Six-time ACM winners, Little Big Town, took home the award for “Vocal Group of the Year.” For “Album of the Year,” Miranda Lambert won for her heartfelt album “The Weight of These Wings” along with “Female Vocalist of the Year.” The category of “Video of the Year” was won by the group of Artists of Then, Now and Forever for “Forever Country,” which displays various country artists, such as Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire and Brett Eldredge, in different geographic locations, such as London, Paris and open farmland.
To end the night, FGL took the stage again singing “God, Your Mama and Me,” along with special guest performers The Backstreet Boys. Backstreet’s back, alright; they took on the country jam with ease and transitioned to “Everybody,” making this 90s baby feel nostalgic. The two bands joined together to form the ultimate boy band as they impersonated the original dance moves to “Everybody.”