CMT Music Awards: Best and worst moments; Keith Urban steals the show

By the time Keith Urban accepted the video of the year prize at the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night, he confessed he didn’t know what to say. He was probably out of speeches — this was Urban’s fourth trip to the stage, as he essentially swept the ceremony that honors country music videos; he also won for male video, collaborative video, and social superstar.

So he decided to thank the fans for supporting him through the decades. “I love making music. I love making videos. I love making records. I love writing songs. I love touring. I love what I get to do, maybe more than ever right now,” said Urban, who turns 50 this year. “Because who knows how long you get to do it?”

The second-most awarded singer of the evening was, naturally, Carrie Underwood — the CMT favorite won female video for “Church Bells” and shared the collaborative video trophy with Urban for their duet, “The Fighter.” Elsewhere, the prizes were scattered among group video (Little Big Town, “Better Man”); duo video (Florida Georgia Line, “H.O.L.Y.”); breakthrough video (Lauren Alaina, “Road Less Traveled”) and CMT performance (Luke Bryan and Jason Derulo from “CMT Crossroads”).

A complete list of winners and nominees is below; here are the best and worst moments.


1) Keith Urban’s complete domination.

Hey, if you’re going to let someone steal the show, why shouldn’t it be the musician rumored to be the nicest guy in Nashville? The Australian star cleaned up, mostly thanks to his hugely successful ballad “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” He and Carrie Underwood also crushed a mostly-acoustic performance of their single “The Fighter,” which sounded a hundred times better than the overly-produced, disco-tinged radio version.

And although Urban and Nicole Kidman always pack on the PDA at country award shows, it was especially adorable this time around. When Urban won male video, he gave a “massive thank you” to his wife, “Nicole Mary.” “You have no idea of how much of what I do, she’s involved of every little piece of it,” he said, as the camera eagerly cut to a bashful-looking Kidman. “She helps me so much make these videos what they are.”

2) The Gregg Allman tribute.

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Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean and Darius Rucker kicked off the show with a tribute to Gregg Allman, who died last month, with a stellar performance of “Midnight Rider,” joined by Derek Trucks. Fun fact: Lady Antebellum and Rucker used to perform this song on tour together.

3) All the Stanley Cup references.

We get it, Nashville — you like hockey! Okay, fine, we’ll let them bask in the glory that is the Preds in the Stanley Cup. The mascot, Gnash, showed up at the telecast; presenter Ashton Kutcher brought a catfish on stage; and there were plenty of jokes about Underwood and her hockey player husband, Mike Fisher.

“There’s a lot going on right now in our lives, and we are so grateful and we are so blessed, thanks to this town,” Underwood said when she picked up her trophy for female video. “Go Preds!”

4) Miranda Lambert’s shades.

Lambert walked away from the show empty-handed, but she got a chance to perform her new single, the sassy “Pink Sunglasses” — and peer-pressured all the country stars to wear them in the crowd.

5) Luke Bryan and Jason Derulo. 

Sometimes, the pop-country collaborations during country award shows do not mesh at all. Then all of a sudden, Bryan and Derulo can smoothly segue from Bryan’s sensual “Strip It Down” to Derulo’s dance party song “Want to Want Me.” It just worked.

6) Lady Antebellum and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Speaking of collaborations, these groups closed the show with “You Look Good” and “September” — two songs that took full advantage of horn sections.

7) The host battle.

There are a lot of country award shows out there, so there are a lot of hosts — during one of the funnier bits, Underwood (co-host of the CMA Awards) and Dierks Bentley (co-host of the ACM Awards) tried to overtake the CMT Awards host, “Nashville” star Charles Esten.


1) The opening sketch with a CMT-themed Airbnb, or “CMTbnb.”

Esten did a solid job, certainly an improvement over last year’s unfortunate pairing of Erin Andrews and J.J. Watt. And while the idea of sticking a bunch of country singers (Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kellie Pickler, Cole Swindell) in a house together has potential, someone had to come up with better jokes than Thomas Rhett talking about “manscaping.”

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2) “Craving You” without Maren Morris. 

Speaking of Rhett, where was Morris, who appears with him on the pop-heavy track? A prior engagement.

3) Lauren Alaina stuck on the side stage.

Alaina, who just earned her first No. 1 song this year after six attempts at a hit single, gave an emotional speech when she won breakthrough video for “Road Less Traveled.” Unfortunately, she was relegated to the side stage, performing only a snippet of the song before the show went to commercial.

4) Florida Georgia Line and the Chainsmokers.

The fireworks at the end were fun, but otherwise, just an unnecessary collaboration.

5) Keith Urban winning social superstar of the year.

As Blake Shelton pointed out last year when he won “social superstar,” it’s a pretty odd award. “It used to be that country artists could get in trouble by breaking the law. Now, you gotta worry about spelling and having opinions. Hashtag, suck it,” Shelton said as he introduced the award this year. (Hmm, is someone upset they had to apologize for “inappropriate” tweets?)

Anyway, Urban won — but how could he win over Brett Eldredge, who recently fearlessly posted an Instagram video of a snake he found in his toilet? That’s just impressive filmography.

Artists of Then, Now & Forever — “Forever Country”
Carrie Underwood — “Church Bells”
Cole Swindell — “Middle Of A Memory”
Florida Georgia Line — “H.O.L.Y.”
Keith Urban — “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (winner)
Luke Bryan — “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day”
Miranda Lambert — “Vice”

Blake Shelton — “Came Here To Forget”
Eric Church — “Record Year”
Jason Aldean — “Lights Come On”
Keith Urban — “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (winner)
Luke Bryan — “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day”
Thomas Rhett — “Star Of The Show”

Carrie Underwood — “Church Bells” (winner)
Kelsea Ballerini — “Peter Pan”
Lauren Alaina — “Road Less Traveled”
Maren Morris — “80s Mercedes”
Miranda Lambert — “Vice”
Reba McEntire — “Back To God”

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Big & Rich feat. Tim McGraw — “Lovin’ Lately”
Brothers Osborne — “21 Summer”
Dan + Shay — “How Not To”
Florida Georgia Line — “H.O.L.Y.” (winner)
LoCash — “I Know Somebody”

Eli Young Band — “Saltwater Gospel”
Lady Antebellum — “You Look Good”
Little Big Town — “Better Man” (winner)
Midland — “Drinkin’ Problem”
Old Dominion — “Song For Another Time”

Brett Young — “In Case You Didn’t Know”
Jon Pardi — “Dirt On My Boots”
Kane Brown — “Used To Love You Sober”
Lauren Alaina — “Road Less Traveled” (winner)
Luke Combs — “Hurricane”
RaeLynn — “Love Triangle”

Artists of Then, Now & Forever — “Forever Country”
Chris Young feat. Vince Gill — “Sober Saturday Night”
Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King — “Different For Girls”
Florida Georgia Line feat. Tim McGraw — “May We All”
Keith Urban feat. Carrie Underwood — “The Fighter” (winner)
Kenny Chesney with P!nk — “Setting The World On Fire”

Jason Aldean — “Hicktown” from “CMT Concert of the Summer”
Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan — “Want To Want Me” from “CMT Crossroads” (winner)
John Mellencamp and Darius Rucker — “Pink Houses” from “CMT Crossroads”
Alicia Keys and Maren Morris — “80s Mercedes” from “CMT Crossroads”
Meghan Trainor, Jill Scott and Kelsea Ballerini — “You’re Still The One/Any Man of Mine/Man I Feel Like A Woman”  from “CMT Artists of the Year”
Nick Jonas, Thomas Rhett and Danielle Bradbery — “Close” from “CMT Crossroads”

Brett Eldredge
Jake Owen
Keith Urban (winner)
Kelsea Ballerini
Lauren Alaina
Thomas Rhett