CMT Awards Like Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwoods Duet Style; Miranda Lambert, Cody Johnson Also Claim Honors

Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood came out on top of “The CMT Music Awards” in the show’s broadcast premiere on CBS, picking up the top honor for video of the year, which was voted upon by fans during the three-hour telecast. The pair also picked up an additional trophy for their song “If I Didn’t Love You,” for collaborative video of the year.

Cody Johnson was Monday night’s other two-time winner, picking up male video of the year for “‘Til You Can’t” and an award for a CMT digital performance.

Miranda Lambert, who just walked away with an Academy of Country Music Award for entertainer of the year last month, had more reason to celebrate at the CMTs, as she won for female video of the year for “If I Was a Cowboy.”

Maddie & Tae were surprise winners for duo/group, for “Woman You Got,” and Parker McCollom claimed breakthrough video with his hit “To Be Loved by You.”

The show was co-hosted by actor Anthony Mackie, last-minute draftee Kane Brown and — gamely appearing from her living room and backyard, due to a positive COVID test two days earlier — Kelsea Ballerini.

“Seventeen years in the game and this is the first time I’ve ever won video of the year,” said Aldean, who has waited his turn for a major country awards honor, having been passed over plenty of times by the CMAs and ACMs — and even, as he said, CMTs — despite his country superstar status. “I hit the scene about the same time as Carrie,” he noted. “I’m pretty sure I picked the perfect partner for this song.”

McCollom seemed dumbfounded by his newcomer honor, blurting, “I never won nothin’ and never had to say anything.”

Meanwhile, presenter Gayle King had an honor of her own to issue. “Best reaction goes to you, Maddie,” speaking to Maddie Font of the sister duo Maddie & Tae.

If there were a fan vote, it surely would have gone to Marlow as well, who talked so excitedly that her voice eventually went into a register that couldn’t be distinguished. Her sister Tae Kerr looked on mostly silently from an overhead screen, at home cradling her infant daughter. The duo hasn’t been much rewarded in its eight-year recording history, which no doubt accounted for much of the emotion. “This is much bigger than a music video award to us,” said Font. “I’m crying. I’ve been drinking wine. God knows me.”

Best line of the night — in a show full of comedic groaners — would have to have gone to the “Queer Eye” cast, who, as presenters, quipped, “You know we did not come down here just to put the LGBTQ in BBQ.”

Live performances took place on two stages within Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium and outdoors, as well, with a stage set up with the facade of the Country Music Hall of Fame in view. Nashville was experiencing a rain storm, and the fact that at least some of the outdoor activity was going down live was evident in an early performance by Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson, who seemed to take some pride in stepping out and getting a little damp during their duet. “Come on, they killed it in the rain!” said Mackie, riling up the dryer crowd indoors.

Some of the performers did new songs, like Underwood, who had pre-recorded a version of her new single “Ghost Story” in-between gigs at her residency at Resorts World Las Vegas; Underwood did something she doesn’t do nightly in Vegas, which was join her troupe of airborn acrobats on the ropes at the end.

Others performed familiar material, like Kenny Chesney, who ended the show with his oldie “Beer in Mexico” as an effective advertisement for his upcoming stadium tour. “See you guys this summer! Can’t wait!”

The award for most game performance would go to Ballerini, who did her new song in her backyard, amid some flowers, with a sheet separating her from the shadows of some musicians. It might have been a more memorable reading than anything she could have done as a bigger production on stage. And if anything, she night have benefitted from how charmingly she came off in a succession of dresses in the starkness of her living room. Her charm in that remote setting could even be chalked up as a win for Ballerini, despite her admitting in an Instagram video earlier in the day that she was “devastated” not to be able to fulfill her duties on-site.

Others who made the most of the evening included the Judds, who took to the outside setting to cap off the night with a reunion and fireworks just hours after announcing what’s being billed as a farewell tour earlier in the day.

The night’s best performance skewed more toward R&B than straight country, with Mickey Guyton meeting up with Black Pumas — in advance of a coming “CMT Crossroads” they’re doing together — and showing that she’ll have a home in that genre if she ever has reason to leave this one.

The list of winners:

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You”

FEMALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Miranda Lambert, “If I Was a Cowboy”

MALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t”

DUO/GROUP VIDEO
Maddie & Tae, “Woman You Got”

BREAKTHROUGH VIDEO
Parker McCollom, “To Be Loved by You”

COLLABORATIVE VIDEO
Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You”

CMT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
George Strait, “Is Anyone Goin’ to San Antone”

CMT DIGITAL PERFORMANCE
Cody Johnson

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