When it comes to the CMA Awards, viewers can count on being hit by a load of surprises and plenty of gossip that carries on through the days following.
Whether it be a shocking wardrobe malfunction, an emotional speech, a controversial issue, a great performance or even a comical moment, “country music’s biggest night” — co-hosted, this year, by the seasoned playful pair, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood — is certainly quite memorable.
This year marks the show’s 50th anniversary, which will air live from Nashville, Tenn. on Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. While there will be many returning country music veterans, a few freshman newbies will be present too. Fans can definitely expect to be met by some show-stoppers.
To honor this year’s CMA Awards, we’ve rounded up some of the most notable from past shows.
Ariana Grande Collaborates With Little Big Town — 2014
Past CMA award shows didn’t showcase guests from other genres and they sure as heck didn’t match them up to duet with other country stars. Nowadays, the CMA Awards tune has changed and includes surprise guests ranging from hip-hop artists to pop and R&B singers. In 2014, Ariana Grande teamed up with Little Big Town to deliver a unique medley of “Day Drinking” and “Bang Bang”.
Geoge Jones's Wife Steals His Award-Winning Moment — 1993
Perhaps one of the most hilarious moments in CMA Award history took place in 1993. Though he ended up winning Vocal Event of the Year that night for “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair”, singer George Jones was absent when called. However, he didn’t miss the entire show. Taking his place onstage, his wife let out a few nervous laughs saying,
“He’s in the bathroom. I promise I’ll have him here in a minute. Somebody find him.” That night, the award recognized Jones and friends Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Joe Diffe, Mark Chesnutt, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, T. Graham Brown, Travis Tritt and Vince Gill.
Faith Hill's Flip Out Moment Sparks Media Buzz — 2006
Faith Hill may have had a candid camera moment when she lost to Carrie Underwood for Female Vocalist of the Year at the 40th CMA Awards. The singer’s two-second fit of rage was quite a shocking moment for both viewers and Hill fans – So shocking that it put the singer under a bit of media scrutiny. Hill and her management company went on record to say that the incident was just a joke and eventually the critics let it go.
Charlie Rich Burns John Denver's Award Ballot
This infamous moment is on par with Kanye stealing the mic from Taylor Swift.
In 1974, Charlie Rich won the CMA Awards’ Entertainer of the Year, and the following year he was tapped to present same award. The nominees included Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty and John Denver. When Rich found out Denver won the award, he lit the award ballot on fire on stage. The audacious move was Rich’s way of protesting the more pop-leaning Denver beating out traditional country artists like Lynn and Jennings. Surprisingly, Denver graciously accepted the award, laughing and smiling while he gave his speech via satellite. (Matt Alpert)
Alan Jackson's Unexpected 'Pop a Top/Choices' Medley — 1999
When Alan Jackson received word that his buddy, George Jones — who was nominated for 1999’s CMA Single of the Year award — boycotted the show after being asked to play a cut up version of the song “Choices”, Jackson chose to take a stand. Shifting gears during his own performance of “Pop a Top”, the singer rebelliously shortened up his tune and led the band into “Choices”.
Diamond Rio Pays Tribute to Sept. 11 Attacks — 2001
The 2001 Sept. 11 attacks left a tremendous impact on Americans far and wide. Two months later, at the 35th CMA Awards, the pain still lingered in many hearts across the country. For award show attendees, it made perfect sense to honor both “unsung heroes” and those who lost their lives. There were plenty of memorable performances throughout the night by artists like Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn. However, when Diamond Rio took the stage to perform “One More Day” amid a photo slideshow, their impression on the crowd sparked a standing ovation.
Reba McEntire's Sparkly Red Dress Causes a Stir — 1993
In 1993, Reba McEntire spun heads with the revealing red dress she wore onstage during her performance of “Does He Love You”. Although the song — which she sang with Linda Davis — was a major hit and won both a Grammy and CMA award, the shock that filtered the room that night didn’t cease. After the show, the country superstar reportedly told people she accidentally wore the dress backwards.
Brad Paisley's Emotional Entertainer of the Year Speech — 2010
Brad Paisley has had his share of CMA Award co-hosting moments alongside Carrie Underwood, but in 2010 the show was anything but ordinary for the “Water” singer. That year, he took home the trophy for Entertainer of the Year and delivered an unforgettable speech.
“It sounds like a cliche when you say thanks to the fans,” said the watery-eyed singer, “but the great thing about country music is, when you say fans, I don’t even mean mine. You guys are loyal to everyone in this room.” Changing the pace of his speech, Paisley broke down telling audience members that the night, for him, was to remember his late grandfather — a country music lover who first handed him a guitar. Paisley explained that he didn’t think his grandpa knew how much impact the instrument would have on so many people.
Shania Twain Gets Flirty During "Any Man of Mine" — 1995
In 1995, Shania Twain was riding high on No. 1 hit-single “Any Man of Mine”. Her newcomer appeal dazzled country audiences and industry members and was highlighted at the 29th CMA Awards when she was up for the Horizon Award. Clad in a coquettish black two-piece ensemble, the singer flirtatiously opened up the show with “Any Man of Mine” — a song that tickles the thought of shaming any man who’s not proud of their significant other no matter the flaws. Picking on the arms, heads and laps of artists like Johnny Cash, Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart, Twain left quite the lasting impression.
Chris Stapleton Performs with Justin Timberlake
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Chris Stapleton’s duet with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards helped catapult him to superstardom. At the time, Stapleton was virtually unknown in the mainstream. The pair opened with Stapleton’s version of “Tennessee Whiskey” and closed with a powerful version of Timberlake’s “Drink You Away.” Clips of the performance went viral nearly instantaneously, introducing Stapleton’s talents to the world.
10 of the Most Shocking Moments in Country Music: