Why the depressing CMT Awards felt like one long commercial

No branding opportunity was left unexploited at this year’s CMT Awards, which the country music television network broadcast live Wednesday night from Nashville’s Music City Center.

A tire company had its name on one of the venue’s stages, while a candy company had its name on another. One award, bestowed on Keith Urban for his skillful deployment of social media, was sponsored by a soft drink.

And then there was CMT itself, which used the award for performance of the year to remind viewers of its other shows; the network did the same by having Charles Esten, a fine actor from CMT’s “Nashville,” serve as the evening’s deeply awkward host.

Business as usual in our age of corporate patronage? Sure. But the promo-palooza made Wednesday’s performances feel like mere branding exercises too, as when Miranda Lambert did her song “Pink Sunglasses” and you kept waiting for a Ray-Ban logo to loom into view.