Jason Aldean made it two in a row at the 52nd ACM Awards, held Sunday night in Las Vegas. He once again captured the academy’s entertainer of the year trophy, but the guy he received the trophy from is what really knocked him out.
Eagles guitarist and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Joe Walsh, who’d appeared early in the show performing “Johnny B. Goode” in tribute to the late Chuck Berry with hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley, returned to announce the entertainer of the year winner. “One of the Eagles just gave me an award: that’s probably the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me, ever!” Aldean said.
“You guys don’t know how much I love getting up and doing what I do every day,” said the “Any Ol’ Barstool” singer, who considers the entertainer of the year award an honor that’s based on the strength of an artist’s live show. “This is the coolest thing ever, man!”
Aldean also opened the show Sunday night taking part in a medley that featured all the entertainer of the year nominees singing a bit of one of their big hits. After he kicked things off with “Lights Come On,” he was followed by Luke Bryan with “Move,” Florida Georgia Line with “H.O.L.Y.,” Carrie Underwood with “Church Bells” and Keith Urban with “Wasted Time.”
Of those entertainer nominees, besides Aldean, only FGL went home with trophies, scoring vocal event of the year for “May We All” and single of the year for “H.O.L.Y.,” though those honors were presented the previous night, off-camera.
Miranda Lambert was another big winner, scoring two trophies. She was a surprise winner for album of the year for her double disc The Weight of These Wings. At the podium, she said, “Thank you for letting me ease my heartbreak, and sharing it with me.” The album was largely seen as inspired by the breakup of her marriage to Blake Shelton.
She also took home the female vocalist award, which means she now has eight: more than any other artist. She was previously tied with Reba McEntire in that category. After acknowledging that fellow nominee Carrie Underwood can “sing me under the table,” Lambert said, “I’m just glad to see females kicking a** these days. I’m so proud to be a part of that, so cheers to all of use girls out there dreamin’.”
Thomas Rhett also scored two trophies: song of the year for “Die a Happy Man,” and male vocalist of the year — and he was not expecting that last one. “This is the most amazing award that I’ve ever received in my whole existence,” said a stunned Rhett. During his song of the year acceptance, he made sure to thank his pregnant wife, Lauren — he even rubbed her belly before he walked to the podium.
Brothers Osborne were surprise winners for vocal duo of the year, since they also won new vocal duo or group of the year. “What the hell?!? What is happening right now?!?” they yelled when they got on stage. Noting that their parents were present, T.J. and John thanked them for being “behind us from the time we were babies.”
Little Big Town won vocal group of the year, and on stage, Karen Fairchild announced that she wanted to leave early so she could go watch the finale of HBO’s Big Little Lies.
Fairchild, a CMA board member, also found herself in the odd position of thanking the rival ACM for “continuing to honor country music,” as she accepted the video of the year award for the CMA’s all-star “Forever Country” video.
While the show was packed with standout performances, the one performance that truly rocked the house was the final one: Florida Georgia Line and their new best friends the Backstreet Boys teamed up to sing “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” complete with the number’s iconic choreography. The two acts are touring together this summer on select dates.
Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley co-hosted the show for a second time, but didn’t do too much in the way of comic set pieces, though they did poke fun at Thomas Rhett’s fashion sense, and ribbed Keith Urban with a joke about the Las Vegas R-rated Australian male revue Thunder from Down Under.
At one point, Bentley ended up talking to Luke’s wax figure from Madame Tussauds. Luke said he “loved” the figure, and serenaded it with Dierks’ sexy tune “Black” until Bentley made him stop.
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