ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill began the night with a rocking version of “LaGrange,” a signature song for what’s widely known as that “little ol’ band from Texas.”
With a quick shift, Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard actually popped up from the stage, flying into the air to begin “This Is How We Roll.” Bryan quickly followed suit, and no one was injured in the execution of the stunt.
After singing his lines, Bryan introduced the next guest by yelling, “We’re proud to have Jason Derulo , y’all.” While it could have been one of the first time the pop sensation’s name has been included in a sentence with the word “y’all,” Derulo was warmly received by the crowd at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
Accompanied by a troupe of dancers, Derulo roared into his hit “Talk Dirty,” which Bryan had previously described as “kind of like the hip-hop version of ’Country Girl (Shake It for Me).’ ” By the time the segment returned to “This Is How We Roll,” everyone was sharing the stage, and Gibbons could be seen grinning beneath the long whiskers of his legendary beard.
As country fans analyze the awards show, the discussion may turn to whether Derulo and ZZ Top had a place with Florida Georgia Line and Bryan on the awards show, although Derulo is featured on a new remix version of “This Is How We Roll.” However, the truth is that it was a fascinating mix of cultures and genres that would probably never happen anyplace except the CMT Music Awards.