Underwood’s first win came with Paisley for collaborative video for “Remind Me,” a track from his latest album, This Is Country Music. She offered a short acceptance speech but also observed the interaction Paisley and her husband, Nashville Predators hockey player Mike Fisher, shared when the win was announced.
“Did you see my husband hug him first?” Underwood joked.
As for Paisley, he credited his singing partner for the video’s success.
“I’d like to thank this beautiful woman for being in the video,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s just a dork walking through the desert. Thank you for being the eye candy of the video.”
In accepting the night’s biggest prize — the video of the year award for “Good Girl” — Underwood thanked the fans, including those who might not have necessarily voted for her.
“Everybody’s that been voting for any one of us tonight, I know how great a company I am in as far as the other nominees,” she said. I just want to thank you guys for watching the videos, voting for them, supporting all of us because we all need you, we all love you.”
Aldean won for CMT Performance of the Year, a special category centering on live performances during CMT’s television programs. He was chosen for “Tattoos on This Town” from the 2011 CMT Artists of the Year special.
“This is actually my first one of these, so this is pretty cool,” Aldean said. “I have to say a big thank you to CMT for still playing videos. It’s such an important part of what we do. … To the fans, thank you guys so much. This has been a fun year.”
Bryan accepted his male video of the year award from comic Tom Arnold of CMT’s My Big Redneck Vacation and WWE superstar Steve Austin of CMT’s new series, Redneck Island.
In accepting the CMT belt buckle trophy for “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” Bryan expressed special appreciation for his wife, no doubt referring to the depiction of a relationship with an actress featured in the sultry video.
“When I came home to show my wife this video, I removed all the bullets out of our house,” he said. “And I want to thank her for not going to buy more bullets to shoot me with. I love you, baby. Thank you for letting me do this video.”
Pausing, Bryan noted, “This is my second CMT buckle. The first time around, I threw a jacket in the crowd, right? Well, I found out it was a very expensive jacket, so I thought I would potentially one day throw something cheaper. I have a lucky charm. I have some lucky camouflage underwear.”
Inviting one of the presenters to do the honor, Arnold provided a strong, quick tug and yanked the boxers from the waistband of Bryan’s jeans.
Lady Antebellum accepted the group video award for “We Owned the Night.”
“Thank you to CMT for really connecting the dots with these videos,” band member Dave Haywood said. “Thank you for playing these things.”
“This song, ‘Over You,’ means so much to me and to my husband and to our family,” she said. “I just want to thank Blake’s brother, Richie, in heaven for inspiring us to write this song.”
American Idol winner McCreery became a winner once again when he received the USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year award for “The Trouble With Girls.” He seized the moment by giving a shout-out to his high school in his hometown of Garner, N.C.
“This award is so special to me ’cause I got to film this at my home high school, Garner Magnet High School,” he said. “I thank everybody who came out to support that.”
Thompson Square claimed duo video honors for “I Got You.”
“This has been an amazing ride for me and Shawna,” Keifer Thompson said. “We want to thank God, first and foremost for all the blessings — and for country fans for supporting country music and changing our lives forever.”
His wife added, “It wasn’t very long ago that Keifer and I were selling belts and buckles right down the street at a Western store, so it’s pretty nice to be getting one. This is awesome.”
The awards show began with a pre-recorded video segment centering around hosts Toby Keith and actress Kristen Bell. A parody of a political campaign about which one should host the show, the clip included cameo appearances by a wide range of celebrities, including President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Today‘s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb — and 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft interviewing Jon Bon Jovi. With the awards show dilemma ending in a tie, Keith and Bell arrived onstage in a giant container paying homage to his megahit, “Red Solo Cup.”
The music kicked off with two Nashville-based groups — Lady Antebellum and Hot Chelle Rae — offering a mash-up of Hot Chelle Rae’s “Tonight, Tonight” and Lady A’s “We Owned the Night.”
Hard country was represented by the Zac Brown Band‘s performance of their new single, “The Wind,” and the Pistol Annies‘ Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley delivering “Takin’ Pills.” But could you get more country than Hank Williams Jr. teaming up with Paisley for an outdoor performance of “I’m Going to Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams All Night Long” ? Willie Nelson got some assistance from Keith, Jamey Johnson, Zac Brown and Darius Rucker on “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” a new song from Nelson’s latest album, Heroes.
Other performances were provided by Underwood (“Good Girl” ), Bryan (“Drunk on You” ), and Keith (“Beers Ago” ), along with The Band Perry (“Postcard From Paris” ), Little Big Town (“Pontoon” ) and Kenny Chesney (“Come Over” ). In addition to Williams’ performance with Paisley, Eric Church appeared on the stage in the plaza area outside the arena to sing “Drink in My Hand.” Tickets to the awards show sell out quickly each year, but the outdoor performances were free and open to the public.
The Nationwide stage featured several artists singing snippets of their songs, including McCreery (“Water Tower Town”), Lauren Alaina (“Georgia Peaches” ), Casey James (“Crying on a Suitcase”), Jana Kramer (“Why Ya Wanna” ), the Farm (“Home Sweet Home” ) and Kip Moore (“Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” ).
Rascal Flatts and Journey closed the show with a medley of Flatts’ “Banjo” and the rock band’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
In addition, the show included onstage appearances by CMT One Country spokesperson Sara Evans, Ronnie Dunn, Alan Jackson, Jake Owen, Kellie Pickler, sixth season American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, American Idol finalists Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine, 2012 Indianapolis 500 sinner Dario Franchitti, Twilight star Ashley Greene, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, actor Dax Shepard and actresses Hayden Panettiere and Denise Richards.Check out complete coverage of the 2012 CMT Music Awards.