Anything goes at the CMT Music Awards and that’s why we love them. It was a night filled with outlandish collaborations, smoke-filled performances and a lot of pop stars.
The fan-voted show that aired Wednesday night (June 8) featured performances from country’s biggest stars, including Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean. There were also quite a few collaborations that brought some of the biggest pop stars to the stage, including Pitbull, Leona Lewis, Pharrell and Elle King.
We culled through all the performances and speeches and picked seven of the most magnificent that took place during the 2016 CMT Music Awards.
7. Little Big Town and Pharrell Williams Performance
The upbeat disco-infused song “One Dance” isn’t necessarily something that we are used to hearing from Little Big Town, but you have to admit LBT knows how to make a live performance stand out.
When we heard that LBT was going into the studio with Pharrell, our first reaction was “Huh?” However, their new album, Wanderlust, is just the eight-song offering we needed to kick off summertime. The psychedelic screen that fronted the band, while Pharrell played drums, piqued our interest and we couldn’t take our eyes off of them. And after all, isn’t that the point?
6. Mike Fisher Defends Carrie Underwood’s Honor
There was a running theme throughout the night for co-host J.J. Watt, tight end for the Houston Texans, who happens to be single, to hit on the ladies whether they were audience members or beautiful country singers. But it was all in jest when J.J. hit on Cassidy Bentley (Dierks’ wife), Lauren Akins (Thomas Rhett’s wife) and Carrie Underwood. To his dismay, all the ladies were married. “Carrie’s definitely married,” JJ said from the stage. “But a hockey player?” At that moment, Carrie’s husband, Mike Fisher, stood up in a defensive mode and started to take off his jacket, as if to ready himself for a fight. It was a fun, lighthearted moment that pitted hockey player against football player and one of the funnier bits of the night. Well played, Mike, well played.
5. Dierks Bentley Honors Merle Haggard
It was the most serious and somber moment of the night, but one that needed to be acknowledged: the passing of Merle Haggard. Merle was one of the country’s most legendary figures, earning the title “Poet of the Common Man” with slice-of-life songs like “Mama Tried” and “If We Make It Through December.” The show would have been remiss not addressing his passing on April 6, 2016. Although we wish there was more of a tribute, we’re glad the Hag was honored. Dierks said it best: “Raise a glass, raise a guitar, whatever you have, to Merle Haggard.” Rest in peace, Merle.
4. Blake Shelton’s Acceptance Speech for CMT Social Superstar
The funniest speech of the night came from Blake Shelton when he accepted his award for Social Superstar. For what? Blake didn’t quite get it either and joked about his win. “CMT’s Social Superstar? That’s not what I was going for, but what the hell,” Blake said after accepting the award for being a social media guru. “Man, I have a few drinks and get on Twitter every now and then. I didn’t know you could get paid for that. But damn, see kids, there’s something for you all to strive for.”
3. Cam’s Mash-Up With Fifth Harmony
This could not have looked or sounded more elegant—Cam, with her signature yellow, and Fifth Harmony, a five-female pop group dressed in red. The mash-up of Cam’s “Mayday” and Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” flowed with smooth . . . wait for it . . . harmonies. We have to admit we were worried about Cam having to do Fifth Harmony’s provocative dance moves, but they kept it classy with the occasional sway here and there, looking beautiful and sounding sweet.
2. Carrie Underwood’s Performance of “Church Bells”
We dare this performance not to be on anyone’s favorite lists. Carrie Underwood proved once again why she is the at the top of country music’s game. Flawless in black see-through lace—covering all the appropriate places—with a daring black cape-like cover up, that she ripped off halfway through the song, Carrie reached all the right notes when belting out her current single, “Church Bells.” Add a 15-or-so person gospel choir to back her up and you can tell why we felt chills running down our spine.
1. Blake Shelton Performing With The Oak Ridge Boys
There’s nothing better than when the artists of today show respect the artists who have paved the way before them. With his performance, Blake did just that by sharing the stage with the legendary Oak Ridge Boys. Blake kicked off the set by singing “Doing It to Country Songs,” as the Oaks sang background vocals and Richard Sterban provided his signature bass vocal. But it was when the Oaks broke into their rendition of “Elvira” that the crowd went wild. Blake yelled to the crowd, “Hey you kids, pull your damn pants up and pay attention. This is the Oak Ridge Boys.” It was hands down the best moment of the night. Not only because it brought everyone in the arena to their feet and singing along, including Carrie Underwood, who can be seen mouthing the words, but because the Oak Ridge Boys just looked absolutely giddy, as if they couldn’t be enjoying themselves more. And neither could we.
Blake Shelton main photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT; Little Big Town with Pharrell Williams by John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT; Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Dierks Bentley by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CMT; Blake Shelton by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CMT; Cam with Fifth Harmony by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CMT; Carrie Underwood by John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT; Blake Shelton and the Oak Ridge Boys by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CMT