It wasn’t all just man hugs and inappropriate backstage tweets during the CMT Artists of the Year special. Tuesday night’s (Dec. 3) event in Nashville was packed with all kinds of big moments, little details and, ultimately, a lot of love for honorees Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes and Tim McGraw.
But there were some absolute standout moments from the 90-minute live broadcast. Allow me to list them for you.
1. Host Ron White listing the things he was not supposed to do: don’t get the stagehands high, don’t drink and smoke onstage, don’t twerk and — above all — don’t call attention to the fact that there’s a list of things not to do.
2. Artists talking about other artists: “The guy walks into a room, and you’re like, ’That’s what a superstar looks like,'” Aldean said about McGraw. And, “We’re in for a long ride watching Hunter,” McGraw said about Hayes.
3. Dwight Yoakam telling a story about McGraw singing a bunch of Yoakam’s songs one night when they were all hanging out at Billy Bob Thornton’s house. (I’d love to hear the rest of the stories from that night.)
4. When Florida Georgia Line performed their new single, “Stay,” and McGraw was the first one on his feet to give the duo a well-deserved standing ovation.
5. Style-wise, I was really digging Faith Hill’s new brown hair, Travis Tritt’s leather pants, Aldean’s Steven Tyler-esque scarf and Hayes’ ability to pull off the denim tuxedo — a jean jacket paired with jeans.
6. Aldean telling the audience he bought his first car with the cash he’d won singing a Tritt song in a talent contest.
8. Peter Frampton on Hayes: “At 8, a short stint in rehab, but then by 9 he was back on track,” he joked.
9. Dierks Bentley saying, “Fame has not changed Luke one bit,” and then imitating the way Bryan often performs with his butt towards the crowd.
10. During Bryan’s show-closing duet with Lionel Richie on “Oh No/All Night Long,” Bryan was belting out his best “jambo jumbo” right next to McGraw’s delighted daughters and his mom.