Luke Bryan Wins Big in Vegas—at the 2012 ACAs

photo by Ray Mickshaw/FOX

The odds were with Luke Bryan in Las Vegas tonight (Dec. 10) when the grinning country singer won nine guitar "trophies" at the third annual American Country Awards, including the evening's biggest honor, Artist of the Year. Luke also opened the show, which aired live on FOX, with a typically rousing performance of "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye." Perhaps his win as Artist of the Year could have been predicted right then and there, judging by the deafening screams of the primarily young audience. The ACAs are a fan-voted awards show. 

Little Big Town continued to ride the wave generated by their hit "Pontoon," taking home Music Video of the Year by a Group for their motorboating smash. Miranda Lambert won Single by a Female Artist for "Over You," while Carrie Underwood scored as the ACAs' Female Artist of the Year. 

The real winners, however, were the fans, who were treated to a particularly solid slate of performances this year. Trace Adkins, who reunited with Kristin Chenoweth to co-host, paired up with Lynyrd Skynyrd for the Southern-rock legends' "What's Your Name." Jake Owen turned in a solid rendition of "The One that Got Away," complete with bikini-sporting ladies atop a lifeguard tower. And Jason Aldean rocked through latest single "The Only Way I Know"—though without the help he received from Luke or Eric Church at November's Country Music Association Awards. 

But the musical highlights of the night came compliments of Little Big Town and Keith Urban. LBT stood in the eye of the storm for a literally swirling performance of "Tornado" that found the foursome singing amid blowing debris. Keith, meanwhile, recruited a number of young musicians from the Grammy Foundation Camp for an amazing take on the blues-rock standard "Crossroads." Keith ceded the spotlight to the kids for the bulk of the song, standing back appreciatively as the guitarists in the group took turns soloing. While it may not have been traditionally "country," it was a display of the true power of music and earned a well-deserved standing ovation inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center, where the ACAs were held.

Lady Antebellum wrapped up the show with a holiday-appropriate run through "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," distinguished by Charles Kelley playfully waltzing into the crowd to harass pal Luke Bryan. Guess being the night's big winner doesn't spare one from some friendly ribbing.

Look for more on the ACAs in an upcoming issue of Country Weekly.

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