The most anticipated night in country music occurred Wednesday in Nashville as the 47th CMA awards achieved a record high of 13.7 million viewers.
Hosting the show for the sixth year in a row, country favorites Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood kept the audience entertained throughout the night with jokes about Obamacare, Miley Cyrus and current pop culture feuds. But the fun didn't end there; Brad and Carrie were joined on stage by Willie and Jase Robertson, in a Duck Dynasty inspired "Blurred Lines" parody, after Brad thanked Taylor Swift for not ending up like Miley.
The CMAs began perfectly with one of country's hottest stars, Luke Bryan. If that wasn't enough eye candy, Florida Georgia Line joined the stage with their summer hit "Cruise," which won single of the year. Florida Georgia Line also went home with vocal duo of the year, the duo's first CMA win of their career.
One of the biggest awards of the night went to 23-year-old Taylor Swift, who was presented with the Pinnacle Award from country legends George Straight, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts. The "Red" singer was completely blown away by the award, which included a video message from her idols such as Mick Jagger and Ellen DeGeneres, and a beautiful rendition of Swift's "You Belong With Me" sung by "Nashville" stars Lennon and Maisy Stella.
"No one deserved this award more than Taylor," senior Janine Norton, a huge fan of Swift, said. "At 23, she has accomplished more than any other could. I'm so happy for her."
On top of winning one of the biggest awards, Swift also captured the audience with what could be considered her best acceptance speech of her career, as she thanked and contributed her success to each of the artists standing on the stage with her.
Swift wasn't the only one to score that night. Country's hottest couple, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, won male and female vocalist of the year, making them the first couple in history to win four years in a row. Both Lambert and Shelton performed throughout the night, but one of the highlights of the night was Miranda's duet with Keith Urban.
Country music is no stranger to its strong love and appreciation for American troops. Song of the year went to "I Drive Your Truck," sung by Lee Brice. The song was inspired by the real-life story of a young man killed in action in Afghanistan. The writers of the song paid tribute to the troops, and the audience gracefully cheered in honor.
Junior Lindsay Pastor said this was her favorite moment of the show.
"I absolutely love how country music supports our troops," Pastor said. "The songs are so real and touch home to so many people. I'm glad these artists are able to share these stories with the world."
Kenny Rogers, an icon in the country world, was honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Jennifer Nettles, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts. Rogers and Nettles duetted "Islands in the Stream," Roger's duet with country superstar Dolly Parton, which had Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw singing along in the crowd.
While there were all-star performances from singers like country powerhouse Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum, one performance didn't go over so well with the audience. Newcomer Hunter Hayes teamed up with Jason Mraz, starting their performance backstage and proceeding to walk through the crowd, until finally making their way to the stage. It seemed to cause some confusion as Mraz forgot the first few words of the song.
New artist of the year winner, Kacey Musgraves, was caught multiple times throughout the night looking very unhappy to be there. Miranda Lambert even gave her a shout out during her speech and when the camera rolled over Musgrave's face, she continued to have a blank expression. Perhaps she was annoyed that she only won one out of the six awards she was nominated for.
The show came full circle as Luke Bryan took the stage again with only fifteen minutes left and performed his somber single "Drink a Beer," a song written about the loss of his siblings. Following his song, the last award of the night, entertainer of the year was presented to country vet George Straight, who hasn't won the award since 1990. Visibly shocked by the win, he ended his speech with, "This means the world to me."
Darius Rucker closed the show with his popular hit "Wagon Wheel," a perfect end to the night of country.