The 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards kicked off with a bang with last year’s entertainer of the year Jason Aldean performing “Lights Come on.”
Co-host Luke Bryan then took the stage and got audience members dancing with his upbeat song “Move” before introducing Florida Georgia Line, who sang a very Sunday-appropriate single, “H.O.L.Y.”
Carrie Underwood continued the theme with “Church Bells” in a futuristic silver dress before passing the spotlight to Keith Urban, who performed “Wasted Time” from the middle of the audience.
Bryan and his co-host Dierks Bentley teamed up with rock legend Joe Walsh of the Eagles for a special tribute to Chuck Berry -- the trio played “Johnny B. Goode.”
Bryan and Bentley then explained to the audience what they did in Las Vegas, which included fishing in the Bellagio’s fountain, seeing David Copperfield, where Bryan was sawed in half, and going backstage at Cirque du Soleil, where the two hosts tried stunts on a ring: “I thought I was going to die,” said Bryan, before it was revealed that the ring was only two feet off the ground.
“Those leotards are tighter than most of your jeans, if that’s possible,” Bentley cracked.
The duo also said they got on stage at male revue “Thunder from Down Under,” and showed off a shirtless photo from the show.
Bryan said he could never join the cast, though, because he wasn’t born in Australia -- and then he and Bentley informed Keith Urban that he has an open invitation to join “Thunder from Down Under.”
After their tour recap, Sam Hunt worked the crowd with “Body Like a Back Road,” walking into the audience and serenading a mystery woman.
Co-host Bentley took the stage in just a t-shirt and jeans to sing “Black” against a dark backdrop lit with scenes of the ocean and the sky.
“Good job, Dierks!” praised his co-host.
David Copperfield and Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O’Dell presented the first award for song of the year, but not before claiming the award went to Emma Stone for “La La Land.” Thankfully, Copperfield was able to correct the winner’s card with his magic, lighting it on fire to reveal that the true winner was Thomas Rhett for “Die a Happy Man.” Rhett thanked his pregnant wife who was watching from the audience.
Kellie Pickler presented new female vocalist of the year Maren Morris, who took the stage to sing “I Could Use a Love Song.”
The show came back to a smiling Bryan on stage, which turned out to be a wax figure, spooking his co-host, Bentley.
Jason Aldean returned to the stage to perform new single “Any Ol’ Barstool.”
Kane Brown, Lauren Alaina and Storme Warren presented vocal duo of the year to Brothers Osborne, who quipped that they couldn’t even believe they got such good seats at the show, let alone an award.
Miranda Lambert got on stage with just her guitar to perform stripped down single “Tin Man.”
Audience members brought out their phone flashlights to illuminate Rascal Flatts’ performance of “Yours if You Want It.”
Keith Urban took on a black-and-white effect in the spotlight against a blue backdrop for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” transitioning with a brief guitar solo to “The Fighter,” with Carrie Underwood joining him for the latter. Urban’s wife Nicole Kidman got up to dance during the song.
Little Big Town sang “Happy People” from an appropriately brightly colored set, covered in a blossoming floral print.
Lady Antebellum took the stage, flanked by horn players, to perform “You Look Good.”
Recording artist Jake Owen and radio personality Rob Stone presented vocal group of the year, which went to Little Big Town. The band members spent much of their acceptance speech talking about how great Lady Antebellum were and how they wanted to wrap up the show so they could watch the “Big Little Lies” finale on HBO.
Kellie Pickler introduced Brothers Osborne, who sang “It Ain’t My Fault.” They also won new vocal duo or group of the year.
Kelsea Ballerini wore a sparkly leotard and glittery tights to perform “Yeah Boy,” followed by Chris Stapleton and his wife Morgane who sang new song “Second One to Know.”
Todd and Savannah Chrisley introduced Brett Eldredge, who sang “Somethin’ I’m Good At.” Eldredge started at the lobby of the arena and made his way through the crowd (but not quite to the stage) as he performed.
Bentley introduced another performance by Bryan, who sang “Fast” on a mirrored stage filled with hanging lightbulbs, reminiscent of the art piece “Infinity Mirrors” by Yayoi Kusama.
Darius Rucker presented album of the year, which went to Miranda Lambert for “Weight of these Wings.” Lambert brought her producers onstage with her so they could accept the award together.
Faith Hill kicked off her duet with husband Tim McGraw, “Speak to a Girl.”
Nascar Xfinity Series drivers and self-proclaimed country fans Elliot Sadler and Bubba Wallace took the stage to present video of the year, which went to “Forever Country” by artists of then, now & forever. Several country stars took the stage to accept the award together.
Bryan and Bentley returned, supposedly dressed in loud clothing borrowed from Thomas Rhett, before they introduced Rhett’s performance of “Craving You,” joined by Maren Morris.
Old Dominion then played “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart.”
Kacey Musgraves and Ty Bentli presented male vocalist of the year, which went to Thomas Rhett. He called the other nominees in the category “his idols” and said it was the most amazing award he’d ever received.
Cole Swindell and Bentley performed “Flatliner” together before Miss America Savvy Shields presented female vocalist of the year, which went to Miranda Lambert, who has won the most female vocalist of the year awards in ACM history.
Lambert said, “I’m just glad to see females kicking a** these days. I’m so glad to be a part of that,” as she accepted her award.
Reba McEntire took the stage with contemporary Christian singer Lauren Daigle to sing “Back to God.”
Pickler returned to introduce new male vocalist of the year Jon Pardi, who sang “Dirt on My Boots.”
Florida Georgia Line sang “God, Your Mama and Me” and were joined by the Backstreet Boys to form a special country-pop collaboration -- and naturally transitioned into “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).“
Joe Walsh returned to the stage to present entertainer of the year, which went to Jason Aldean, who also won entertainer of the year in 2016. He gave a shoutout to his mom who didn’t get to see his win in 2016 because she was on a cruise: “She’s watching this year ... This is the coolest thing ever,” he said.
Bryan and Bentley returned to the stage to encourage audience members to have fun in Las Vegas as they closed out the show.
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