Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum and Jake Owen are busy scoring major victories Friday night (Jan. 9) during the CMT Ultimate Kickoff Party Live From the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Brett Eldredge, Thomas Rhett, Big & Rich, Maddie & Tae, Aloe Blacc and Jessie James Dekker are also suited up for CMT’s live broadcast hosted by comedian-actor Rob Riggle from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.
The event is a prelude to the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the University of Oregon and Ohio State University taking place Monday at the nearby AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Keith started Friday’s festivities with a horn section backing him up on his 2002 hit, “Beer for My Horses.” Raising a red Solo cup against evil, he revised the lyrics to promise, “We’ll all get hammered in a Dallas saloon.” By the looks of the crowd reaction, there will be no shortage of hammers by the time the night’s over.
“America’s technicolor cowboys” Big & Rich picked up an easy third (down) performance with “Look at You,” their latest song to crack the Top 10 on Billboard’s country airplay chart. The heartwarming midtempo love song cut straight to the duo’s strongest play, their distinctive vocal blend.
There was no penalty flag as Rhett strutted around the stage to perform his breakthrough hit, “Get Me Some of That.” Taking time to shake hands with fans, he even grabbed a fan’s cellphone for a quick photo before he returned to the locker room.
Owen is the kind of guy you want at your football party – upbeat personality, can hang out with anybody, doesn’t take your favorite spot on the couch. Owen emerged all smiles from the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd with “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” leaping across the stage like a running back.
After that, Owen paused just long enough to strap on a guitar and play the first few minutes of a romantic number, “Anywhere With You.” But it didn’t take long to slip back into the crowd, grinning and high-fiving fans along the way.
Wearing a red University of Oklahoma cap, Keith went deep with the populist message of his latest hit, “Drunk Americans.” With the crowd waving and singing along, even the fans from Oregon and Ohio could agree to a timeout on any team rivalries.
What’s the game plan? For Lady Antebellum, it’s wild and “Freestyle.” The band likes to huddle, so it didn’t take long for them to get face-to-face with the Dallas fans. With all those tongue-twisting lyrics, even John Madden would get winded. Next play: Lady A tackled “Wake Me Up” with Aloe Blacc, the smooth singer heard on the original Avicii hit. Score!
Heading in to the show’s fourth quarter, Eldredge breathed a second wind into the crowd, getting down into the trenches with fans for his soulful hit, “Beat of the Music.” He’s tall and athletic enough to make a dangerous wide receiver, but we’re glad he’s catching No. 1 songs instead.
And with dozens of cheerleaders lining the stage, Big & Rich are in a league of their own.