Think of the country-music genre as a closed club, open only to hat-and-boot-wearing Southerners who sing about pickup trucks? Wednesday night's CMT Awards in Nashville tried their best to dissolve that stereotype. Pop singers, rockers, R&B artists, heavy-metal musicians and even comedians and actors joined in at the Nashville event.
Tom Arnold, Lionel Richie, James "Dawson" Van Der Beek, Vince Neil, ZZ Top and more were among the presenters and performers at the awards show.
While the big winner was country all the way, a singer of another genre had a hand in the presentation of her award. Carrie Underwood claimed the night's biggest honor — video of the year — for "See You Again," and received the buckle-shaped trophy from soft-rock icon Lionel Richie. The 1970s legend had claimed an award of his own earlier in the night when he and Luke Bryan won the CMT performance of the year award for "Oh No/All Night Long."
"All I can say is, if I'm having this much fun, let's do it again," Richie said when he and Bryan won.
It was a good night for married singers Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. Shelton won male video of the year for "Doin' What She Likes," and Lambert won the parallel female video of the year award for "Automatic."
But Shelton was perhaps just as excited when his "Voice" protégé, Cassadee Pope, won the breakthrough video of the year for "Wasting All These Tears." When he accepted his own male video award, Shelton's first thought was of Pope.
"I'm still freaking out because Cassadee won," Shelton said.
Florida Georgia Line picked up two awards: duo video of the year for "Round Here" and, with Luke Bryan, collaborative video of the year for "This Is How We Roll."
The Band Perry won group video of the year for "Done."
Host Kristen Bell made only one "Frozen" joke (the actress and singer voiced Anna in the Disney kids' megahit), but plenty of jokes about hosting the show solo after co-hosting with Jason Aldean in 2013 and Toby Keith in 2012. In one sketch, she tried to find a male co-host using the dating app Tinder, but rejected such famous names as Neil Patrick Harris, Tom Arnold, and her own husband, Dax Shepard.
Bell also poked fun at the recent Jay Z-Solange Knowles elevator incident, with a black-and-white elevator segment featuring Bryan and Florida Georgia Line members Bryan Kelley and Tyler Hubbard.
Country legend Alan Jackson was honored with the first-ever CMT Impact Award. In a strange skit, Bell dressed up as Jackson, complete with giant mustache, leading Shepard to later deliver a risque joke that shocked some listeners.
In a nod to the trend of deceased musicians being recreated in hologram form, Bell joked about presenting the "first country hologram," only to introduce Tom Arnold claiming to be a hologram of Jason Aldean, who's very much alive.
"I know all his greatest dance moves," protested Arnold. "Like the 'Aldean Lean.'"
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