Barbie Dolls and Taylor Swift: Highlights From the Country Music Awards

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Mark Humphrey / AP

Taylor Swift accepts the award for entertainer of the year during the 45th Annual CMA Awards

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hosted the Country Music Awards last night, a show which boasted 29 different musical performances, countless cowboy hats, three fedoras and one camouflage blazer (that would belong to Paisley). Here are the highlights:

  • Carrie Underwood changed clothes ten times.
  • She and Paisley played with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw Barbie and Ken dolls. They made the dolls kiss and then pretended to check to see if they were anatomically correct. “That can’t be right,” Underwood said while assessing the McGraw doll. “There’s nothing there.” In the audience, Faith Hill shouted something in her husband’s defense that sadly, no one could hear.
  • After Paisley sang a song about the time Hank Williams Jr. compared Obama to Hitler, Williams himself appeared on stage and received a standing ovation. I’ll go ahead and assume that they were applauding his contributions to country music and not his recent statements. But honestly, it was confusing.
  • The CMA gives out separate awards for song of the year and single of the year. What’s the difference between these two genres? Simple: the nominees for song of the year were about dying, mean people, dirt roads, a break-up and tequila. The singles of the years are almost all about breaking up. Still unsure of the difference? Don’t worry because the Band Perry won both awards for its song “If I Die Young.”  The Perry siblings were also named best new artist of the year.
  • At first, the duo of Lionel Richie and Darius Rucker seemed an unlikely choice for a country music awards show, until they played songs off the country album they recorded with The Rascal Flatts and Little Big Town.
  • Taylor Swift debuted her song “Ours” while sitting on what appeared to be a used couch and wearing a pink sweater that I’m pretty sure is from Old Navy. This sounds like a criticism, but actually, I think it worked.  Swift often comes across as irritatingly polished. She’s like that straight-A honor student in high school who is so perfect you find yourself hating her out of spite. But she’s so nice that you feel guilty for hating her, and then you just hate her more for making you feel guilty. But then one day you hang out with her at her house — on her ratty couch while she’s wearing pajamas — and you realize that she’s actually not that bad. There’s a reason why Taylor Swift is so popular. She’s really good at what she does.
  • Martina McBride gave an emotional performance of “I’m Gonna Love You Through It,” her ballad about supporting a loved one through cancer treatment. There are so many nuances to life that popular music never explores. I’m glad McBride is exploring comparatively uncharted territory.
  • Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban teamed up to pay tribute to Glen Campbell, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease earlier this year and is retiring from music. Campbell was in the audience for the performance. Paisley, et. al played “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Galveston,” which were both written by Jimmy Webb, who also appeared on stage. This performance was the best I’ve ever heard Keith Urban sound.
  • Taylor Swift lost in every category except for the big one: she took home Entertainer of the Year. On stage, she read her acceptance speech off her arm.
  • In the end, the CMA Awards turned out to be a lot of flash and quite a bit of fun. Twenty-nine performers were a little much; at times it felt as if every single person who had ever recorded a country song had been invited on stage. But Underwood and Paisley made sure the audience had a good time. Actually, they were funnier than most hosts of higher profile awards shows. Did you hear that, Academy Awards?
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