Taylor Swift opened the Country Music Television awards with a skit about living out her dreams. The 19-year-old country and pop sensation went a long way toward doing just that by winning video of the year and female video of the year for “Love Story” and by performing with one of her favorite rock bands.
“I want to thank Shania Twain for always making such theatrical videos, and Garth Brooks for always putting the fans first. I take my cues from you,” Swift said Tuesday in accepting video of the year honors at Nashville’s Sommet Center.
“I thank the fans for giving me video of the year when my whole family is here watching.”
Swift won the fan-voted award over Brad Paisley’s “Waitin’ on a Woman,” Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This,” Carrie Underwood’s “Just a Dream” and Sugarland’s “All I Want to Do.”
Her “Love Story” video is an elaborate production with period costumes that echoes the story of Romeo and Juliet.
“This is for everybody who still believes in love stories, because I do,” Swift said earlier in winning female video.
She closed the awards show by performing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” with the British rock band Def Leppard.
Brad Paisley was the night’s other big winner, taking home awards for male video (“Waitin’ on a Woman”), collaborative video (“Start a Band” with Keith Urban) and performance of the year (Alan Jackson’s “Country Boy” with Jackson, George Strait and Dierks Bentley).
Good advice from Paisley, Urban
“Start a Band” features two youngsters playing the “Rock Band” music video game. Paisley and Urban urged young viewers to learn to play.
“Learn guitar kids — the real thing,” Urban said.
“‘Rock Band’ never got anybody a date — never,” Paisley added.
In his acceptance speech for male video, Paisley thanked TV’s Andy Griffith, who passes on some wisdom to a younger man in the video.
“He has changed my life in so many ways, and to be on film with him you can imagine what that would be like,” Paisley said of Griffith, who wasn’t at the show.
Rascal Flatts won group video of the year for “Every Day.” The band’s bassist, Jay DeMarcus, called country fans “the greatest fans on the entire planet.”
“I’ve made I think about 45 country music videos in that time,” Jackson said. “CMT and the fans have been with me ever since.”
Sugarland won duo of the year for their island-themed video, “All I Want to Do,” and the Zac Brown Band won breakthrough video for “Chicken Fried,” their snappy song about life’s simple pleasures.
“Thank you for following us wherever we’ve been going,” Sugarland’s Kristian Bush said of the soulful song and video, which features singer Jennifer Nettles on a surfboard.
Kid Rock won wide open country video for “All Summer Long,” which samples Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” The video, set on a lake in northern Michigan, features bikini-clad dancers on a pontoon boat.
“I think this was based on creativity, this award, because what’s more creative than a strip pole on a pontoon boat?” said Kid Rock, who hugged Sheryl Crow as he walked up to accept the award. A few years ago, Kid Rock and Crow teamed for the hit “Picture.”
Swift shift to rap
The show kicked off with a skit featuring Swift and host Bill Engvall that had Swift rapping with T-Pain, appearing in a “Star Trek” movie and playing for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
In his opening remarks, Engvall poked fun at Jessica Simpson’s lackluster country career, saying T-Pain doesn’t wear boots or a cowboy hat “and is still more embraced by country fans than Jessica Simpson.”
The comedian also had a few cracks for John Rich of the duo Big & Rich. Rich was recently charged with misdemeanor assault charges. The singer recently told Larry King that he may run for governor of Tennessee next year.
“It’s not that he likes politics that much. He just thinks it might be easier asking for a pardon,” Engvall said.
There were also some unusual combinations with the presenters. Ted Nugent teamed with Alison Krauss, Kid Rock joined model Karolina Kurkova, and Naomi Judd paired with Bill O’Reilly.
“I try to live in the No Spin Zone all the time,” Judd told O’Reilly.
Musical performances were a big part of the show. Paisley punctuated his hit “Then” with bluesy guitar solos. Swift brought out a stage full of cheerleaders for “You Belong With Me.” Urban ran up into the stands during “Sweet Thing” and joined Jason Aldean for the thumping rocker “She’s Country.”
The topper, though, may have been Sugarland bringing out fellow Georgia greats the B-52’s for a performance of “Love Shack.”
Viewers cast more than 2.5 million votes to decide the four finalists in most categories. Fans could vote for their favorites for video of the year throughout the show.