Miranda Lambert, George Strait Take Top Honors at 2014 ACM Awards

photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, held tonight (April 6) in Las Vegas, as usual kept the focus on the music with an abundance of performances from country music’s biggest stars. We also found out the show will move locations to Arlington, Texas, for its 50th year, and throw down at AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play. 

No kidding: nearly an hour of show lapsed, with performance after performance, before an award was presented onscreen. The Band Perry got it it all underway with a synchronized-moves, midriff-baring, confetti-blasting performance of “Chainsaw.”

“There’s 20 million dollars in hairdos, and now there’s confetti in it!” joked co-host Luke Bryan at the top of the show, before he and Blake Shelton hilariously riffed on everything from Jake Owen’s amputated finger to Britney Spears to the Dallas Cowboys’ mediocre record, since owner Jerry Jones was hanging out in the crowd.

Regarding those awards, it was Miranda Lambert who came away the night’s big winner with three trophies. Among her wins were the off-camera Vocal Event (for “We Were Us”) as well as Single Record of the Year (for “Mama’s Broken Heart”) and Female Vocalist of the Year, keeping her incredible multi-year streak alive and setting a record for the most consecutive wins.

“I’m so grateful and thankful and humbled. I love my job,” she said, after acknowledging her fellow nominees. Miranda also gave one of the night’s standout performances, singing “Automatic” while everything around her (and on her person) sparkled like the title of her new album, Platinum.

Keith Urban also won three honors, for Video of the Year (for his part in “Highway Don’t Care”) and two for Vocal Event (for “We Were Us”) as artist and producer. All of those were presented off-camera.

Justin Moore earned his first major honor, winning New Artist of the Year. “I was beginning to think there might be a height requirement for this award,” he joked at the podium, before breaking into tears as he thanked his wife and kids.

Other winners included Florida Georgia Line for Vocal Duo of the Year and The Band Perry for Vocal Group of the Year. Kimberly Perry called the honor a “mountaintop moment” for the sibling trio. Jason Aldean won his second straight Male Vocalist honor. The Lee Brice hit “I Drive Your Truck” won Song of the Year, and Lee deferred to the writers to speak. “We’re so honored and grateful for the outpouring and response to this song,” said a tearful Connie Harrington.

Album of the Year went to the beloved Same Trailer Different Park from Kacey Musgraves, who brought co-producers Shane McAnally and Luke Laird up with her. “I’m really proud to be a woman representing country music,” she said. Unfortunately, she didn’t actually get to perform any music on the show.

Among those who were afforded the opportunity to perform, standouts included Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow belting Dierks’ hit “I Hold On,” the creepy graveyard vibe of Eric Church’s “Give Me Back My Hometown,” Blake Shelton and Gwen Sebastian’s sexy rendition of “My Eyes” and George Strait and Miranda saluting Crystal Award winner Merle Haggard with “The Fugitive” and “The Bottle Let Me Down.”

“Country music’s been great to me all my life and it’s great again tonight,” said Merle, who was celebrating his 77th birthday.

As some predicted, George actually won the night’s highest honor, the fan-voted Entertainer of the Year Award. “I’ve always said I had the best fans in the world and I heard this was a fan-voted thing, so I rest my case. It’s been such an amazing past 30 years,” he said. 

George was competing against show co-hosts Luke and Blake, who genuinely seemed happy that King George got the honor. “Our hero won tonight. That’s how it’s supposed to be,” said Blake. 

Hard to argue with that.

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