Wednesday night’s CMA Awards, which aired live from Nashville on ABC, packed in the maximum number of musical performances possible over three hours, with nearly every big star taking a turn in the spotlight, and some unexpected collaborations providing highlights. Here’s who sang what:
The show opened with Kenny Chesney singing “American Kids,” with a Day-Glo painted bus in the background and many people dressed like hippies frolicking around the stage.
Miranda Lambert and Meghan Trainor, both wearing short party dresses, duetted on Meghan’s eight-weeks-at-#1 pop hit “All About That Bass,” and sounded great together. Later, co-host Brad Paisley told Meghan to come over to country music by changing the title to “All About That Bass” — as in the fish.
Lady Antebellum sang “Bartender,” followed by Florida Georgia Line doing a stripped-down version of “Dirt,” during which B.K. and Tyler both sat on stools and played guitar.
Keith Urban performed “Somewhere in My Car” with some impressive stage lighting and video effects.
The Band Perry paid tribute to the legendary Glen Campbell with a version of his classic, “Gentle on My Mind.”
Kacey Musgraves teamed up with the legendary Loretta Lynn for a run through of Loretta’s hit “You’re Lookin’ at Country.”
Jason Aldean sang “Burnin’ It Down.”
Little Big Town put on a terrific performance of “Day Drinking,” wearing clothing accentuated with light-up neon piping that changed colors throughout the song. Behind them were a series of risers that contained a large drum corps, whose outfits were synced to the group, color-wise. Then, pop star Ariana Grande, clad in a silver two-piece outfit with the same light-up piping, showed up to sing her hit “Bang Bang,” which was originally a three-way collaboration between herself, British singer Jessie J and rapper Nicki Minaj. There was no rapping, but the Little Big Town women sounded great singing with Ariana, and everything looked great, as the colors changed from red to white to a variety of other colors.
Tim McGraw sang “Shotgun Rider.”
Cole Swindell did a brief performance of “Chillin’ It.”
Dierks Bentley did a great job with “Drunk on a Plane,” while video screens flashed arrivals and departures, and at one point made it look like he was standing on a runway in front of an actual plane.
Co-host Brad Paisley sang “Perfect Storm,” and Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe duetted on “Lonely Tonight.”
Co-host Carrie Underwood sang her latest hit “Something in the Water,” backed by effects that looked like crashing waves; she was also joined by a gospel choir.
Luke Bryan sang “Roller Coaster,” and wood coaster tracks were partially built around the stage set.
Miranda Lambert teamed up with Little Big Town for “Smokin’ and Drinkin’,” and Miranda’s vocals blended perfectly with those of Kimberly and Karen. She looked like the fifth member of the group.
George Strait and Eric Church teamed up for a duet on “Cowboys Like Us.”
Thomas Rhett sang a snippet of “Get Me Some of That.”
The Doobie Brothers, who recently released a new album, Southbound, that features them reworking their classics with today’s country stars, sang “Listen to the Music” with Hunter Hayes, Jennifer Nettles and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum. After Luke Bryan won Entertainer of the Year, they closed the show with “Takin’ It to the Streets,” sung by Michael McDonald. The Nashville resident is no longer a member of the Doobies, but he rejoined them for the Southbound project.
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