Nashville phenomenon Taylor Swift took Entertainer of the Year honors at the 2011 CMA Awards, broadcast live Wednesday night on ABC from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
Hosted again this year by the amiable pair of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, the show kicked off with a hilarious reference to Hank Williams, Jr.’s recent anti-Obama remarks on Fox & Friends, which cost him his longtime gig with ESPN. “Hank, why do you drink?” Paisley sang, to which Underwood rejoined, “Before interviews?” in a pointed reference to Williams’ obviously inebriated state when he slurred that President Obama and Vice President Biden are “the enemy.” Williams himself joined the hosts briefly for the skit, which kicked off an entertaining, but uneven broadcast.
As always with the CMA Awards, the musical performances were a mixed bag, mostly negative. It’s difficult for live music to translate well on live television, and this year’s telecast was no magical exception.
Uber-talented Keith Urban turned in a well-below-par performance, while Sara Evans delivered a badly-out-of-tune version of “A Little Bit Stronger.” Eric Church’s rendition of “Drink in My Hand” belonged in a Moose Lodge on Friday night, while Taylor Swift’s solo acoustic version of “Ours,” without her usual full-blown visual and audio production, revealed her genuine weaknesses as a musician and singer.
Other lowlights included Luke Bryan’s bizarrely over-produced performance on “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” and Paisley and Underwood’s overblown “Remind Me.”
Musical highlights included Miranda Lambert’s spirited performance of “Baggage Claim,” Lady Antebellum’s note-perfect “We Own the Night,” Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter’s acoustic rendition of “You and Tequila,” (which was everything Taylor Swift wasn’t), and a musical tribute to Glen Campbell from Vince Gill, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.
Here are the winners in the major categories at the 2011 CMA Awards:
Song of the Year: “If I Die Young,” Kimberly Perry, writer
Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland
Album of the Year: My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
Musical Event of the Year: Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
Music Video of the Year: “You and Tequila,” Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter, director Shaun Silva
Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum
New Artist of the Year: The Band Perry
Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift