2018 CMA Awards
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The 7 Best Moments From the 2018 CMA Awards

The 2018 CMA Awards were filled with stellar collaborations and a few surprises. (Pretty much no one — even the man himself — saw Keith Urban's Entertainer of the Year win coming). Here's a roundup of our favorite moments from the 52nd annual CMA Awards.

Brad and Carrie's Banter

It was their 11th consecutive year hosting, so it makes sense that country superstars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood have fallen into a comfortable groove. Yes, sometimes the jokes still fell flat (the "A Star is Born" parody, anyone?), but the hosts' incredible chemistry allowed for some timely zingers too. Paisley's sarcastic remark that 2018 was a "big year for men in country" and Underwood's deadpan "Yeah, finally" was a much-needed commentary on modern country radio's male-driven culture. The lack of women on country radio certainly isn't funny, but it's nice to see it called out from the stage on Country Music's Biggest Night. Now if we could just do something about it.

Perhaps the best moment of the whole bit was when Underwood announced she's having a baby boy, followed by an appearance by "Lil' Hank Williams" himself, Mason Ramsey, who appeared as Carrie's "son" to sing about the "big brother blues." It was over the top, ridiculous and adorable — basically everything we love about Brad and Carrie's often saccharine opening monologues.

Country's Rising Stars Join Luke Bryan's Opening Number

Luke Bryan promised there would be special guests joining him for his show-opening number "What Makes You Country," but it was still a welcome surprise to see some of the genre's rising stars emerge from the audience to join Bryan onstage. Luke CombsJon Pardi, Chris JansonAshley McBryde, Lindsay Ell and Cole Swindell all joined in for the boisterous tribute to the country life. Ell and McBryde should've been among the night's nominees for Best New Artist, but it was a thrill seeing them take ownership of the stage like the chart-toppers they deserve to be.

Ricky Skaggs Shreds With Famous Friends

Ricky Skaggs' performance with his white-hot band Kentucky Thunder, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart, Brad Paisley, Sierra Hull, Carson Peters and Brothers Osborne's John Osborne was one of the best of the night, hands down. The Country Music Hall of Fame member charged through "Black Eyed Suzie" before joining Urban for '80s country favorite "Highway 40 Blues" and Paisley for the Skaggs' classic "Country Boy." Judging by the audience reaction (and reactions on social media), the bluegrass jam session was a reminder that good old fashioned musicianship (and insane talent) is still the best recipe for killer country music entertainment.

Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, Marty Stuart and Mavis Staples Bridge Generations and Genres

Speaking of insane talent, this lineup had it in mass. Chris and Morgane Stapleton, Maren Morris, Marty Stuart, Dave Cobb and R&B and gospel icon Mavis Staples delivered a rousing performance of "Friendship," which Stapleton recorded on his CMA-nominated From A Room: Vol. 2, and The Staples Singers' timeless "I'll Take You There," which had the audience at Nashville's Bridgestone arena on its feet — to say nothing of the thousands probably dancing along at home. It was an unforgettable collaboration and no one was having a better time than the artists sharing the stage with Staples, a living legend who's been fusing R&B, country, folk and gospel since before most of the night's nominees were even born.

Garth Serenades Trisha

If anyone knows how to create an award show moment, it's Garth. The country superstar dedicated his brand new song "Stronger Than Me" to his wife Trisha Yearwood and performed it for her for the first time on the show. With just a guitar and an intimate, moving song, Brooks created one of the night's sweetest moments.

Kacey Musgraves Gets Her Due

Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour was the underdog in the Album of the Year category. It's a brilliant album that received universal critical acclaim, but little to no radio play. So it was especially heartening to see Musgraves take home the award, especially since it marked a very special anniversary.

"This is really, really crazy timing, because I just realized this morning — it sounds like a lie — 10 years ago today, I moved to Nashville," Musgraves said in her acceptance speech.

Musgraves is only the sixth solo woman to win the the CMA for Album of the Year in 52 years. (And yes, that's way too few.) She's made a name for herself based on honest and heartfelt songs and being true to herself and no one deserved the honor more.

Pistol Annies Bring it (Down)home


By the time the Pistol Annies took the stage, Miranda Lambert had already performed once in the evening. But her slightly lackluster performance with Jason Aldean felt like a warm-up to the real Lambert performance of the night. Along with bandmates Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, Lambert practically dared anyone to speculate on her personal life while serving up a supercharged "Got My Name Changed Back" complete with washboard accompaniment. The down-home performance was a reminder of country's roots, even if a few of the lyrics would've made Roy Acuff blush.

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