What You Didn't See On TV At The 2018 CMA Awards

The 52nd Country Music Association Awards had a lot to offer any country fan as the fresh faces of country music's new generation — stars such as Luke Combs and Kacey Musgraves — took the same stage as country icons like Garth Brooks and Ricky Skaggs. Hosted for the 11th time by country stars Brad Paisley and (a very pregnant) Carrie Underwood, the 2018 CMAs at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville had great performances and touching moments to spare. 

The night's most nominated artist, Chris Stapleton, took home three awards. There were tears from Keith Urban. There was a lot of hot chicken. There was the Walmart Yodeling Kid. There was bad dancing. There was a full choir. There was Lionel Richie for some reason. But what about all the action you missed behind-the-scenes? Hop on that tire swing and let's take a gander at what you didn't see on TV. Anybody down for some fried chicken? We didn't get any.

There was no contingency plan for Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood is expected to welcome her second child (another boy!) with hockey star husband Mike Fisher sometime in early 2019, but as we're all aware, babies aren't very good at math. Underwood has yet to confirm her due date, so if new baby Underwood had decided to make his grand entrance during the CMAs, there was no plan in place for a backup co-host.

When asked during a press conference a few days the ceremony if the new baby could come sooner than later (per Taste of Country), Underwood replied, "We should be okay. I got a little ways to go." Country Countdown USA radio host Lon Helton then "joked that Peyton Manning should be on standby since he does so well with Paisley in the Nationwide commercials." Luckily for the "Cry Pretty" singer, her baby decided to cook a little longer, and she made it through the show without incident. Underwood had joked that she would be wearing sweats during the broadcast, but she wound up making eleven outfit changes, delivering a powerful performance of her hit "Love Wins," winning 5th female vocalist of the year award, and locking down the co-hosting duties — all while pregnant. Is there anything Carrie Underwood can't do?

Kacey Musgraves won big, but didn't 'get a lick of radio play'

During the ceremony, Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour won album of the year. However, only eight women have won that award since the CMA Awards debuted in 1967. That's a terrible ratio, considering the countless women country stars you know by name, but it gets worse when you learn the Dixie Chicks count as three of those eight women, and Miranda Lambert has won the award twice. Musgraves was keenly aware of that history during a September 2018 interview with Billboard

"Though I'm extremely honored to be nominated, I have to say that the number of females included still doesn't satisfy me — especially considering the fact that I feel that we're in a current time where more females are making good music, she said. "I can't say exactly why this is still an ongoing issue, but the current formula or way music is serviced and pushed in modern country music just doesn't allow for equality." To underscore her point, none of her albums' tracks played on country music radio

"Whooooa, Kacey Musgraves just got Album of the Year for 'Golden Hour!' Kacey doesn't get a lick of radio play, and yet she has all the buzz/respect of Music Row," country music writer Grady Smith tweeted. "It's a pleasant, ethereal, lovely album, and 'Space Cowboy' is one of the finest songs in recent memory."

Kelsea Ballerini knew she wouldn't win

If you noticed country music newcomer Kelsea Ballerini wasn't too upset when she lost female vocalist of the year to Carrie Underwood, that's because she wasn't. With her fellow nominees being Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and Maren Morris, Ballerini gave herself no shot at that coveted trophy. "I'm really practical with awards shows," she told Taste of Country before the ceremony. "It's not my time yet, it's just not ... Maybe one day if I feel like I've had a year win-worthy, I will be more hopeful." She joked that if she did win, she would "pass out before I even get to the microphone ... I'm not going to win, so it's fine."

Ballerini performed her hit "Miss Me More" on the show, and that was reward enough for the country music upstart. "I think that getting a performance is getting an award, and I have a performance that I'm really excited about," she said. "So that's the award to me."

Kenny Chesney (for a good reason)

Country star Kenny Chesney canceled his scheduled appearance at the CMA Awards due to a death in the family. "CMA Musical Event of the Year winner & Entertainer of the Year nominee @KennyChesney will be unable to appear on tonight's telecast due to a death in the family," the CMA tweeted just hours before the live broadcast. No further details were given at the time.

Although Chesney lost the entertainer of the year award to Keith Urban, he snagged the musical event of the year award for his collaboration with David Lee Murphy earlier in the day. "Sometimes you hear songs & they just feel good," Chesney wrote on Twitter. "Occasionally one that feels good says something that people need to hear. That's how I felt about Everything's Gonna Be Alright when I heard it. Proud to have been part of this with my friend @davidleemurphy. #musicaleventoftheyear."

Olivia Culpo wasn't looking for a new boyfriend

Olivia Culpo dropped by the 2018 CMAs to present the award for vocal group of the year, but while she was walking the red carpet, Entertainment Tonight's Cassie DiLaura asked the Sports Illustrated model if she was looking for any eligible country bachelors after her recent split with NFL wide receiver Danny Amendola. "No," Culpo quickly responded. "For the record, no."

Who has time for a boyfriend when you're as busy as Culpo? "I have a Sports Illustrated event this weekend in Miami, then I'm going home for Thanksgiving," she said. "Then I'm filming a new show in L.A., so a little bit of acting. Then I have another fashion line coming in a few months." Oh, and if you're wondering why Culpo attended the CMAs, it's pretty simple. "I am a country music nut!" she revealed. "I love Old Dominion; I love Lady Antebellum, I love Florida Georgia Line."

Trisha Yearwood had no idea

Country music superstar Garth Brooks opened the CMA Awards by paying his respects and leading a moment of silence for the 12 Thousand Oaks shooting victims who lost their lives on Nov. 9, 2018. The next time Brooks took the stage, he debuted his new song, "Stronger Than Me," which is about his wife of 13 years, platinum-selling country artist Trisha Yearwood. His performance at the show was Yearwood's first time hearing the song.

Before the show, the couple was caught on the red carpet by People TV's Cynthia Sanz, who mentioned her excitement to hear Brooks' new tune. "Nobody's gonna be more surprised than me," Yearwood replied. "Have you not heard this song?" Sanz asked in disbelief. "No, and everybody thinks I have, and I have not, and I'm really nervous because I have no idea what's gonna happen," Yearwood said.

When the acoustic performance was over, SPOILER ALERT: they were both in tears as the crowd gave them a standing ovation. According to The Boot, Brooks almost backed out of his plan to debut the song at the CMAs. "The closer I got, the more I thought it was a bad idea," he admitted. "Because she's not a big surprise girl."

Dolly Parton sent her regards

It's hard to imagine a celebration of country music without Dolly Parton in attendance, but she sent well-wishes to all the nominees. "Good luck to everyone," the country music legend tweeted. "...I've been a time or two in the past and it was a blast!" 

Maybe it was a case of been there done that. Parton has taken home nine CMA Awards throughout her career, and she received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. "It is an honor, and it makes me feel good to feel like I've done something to further this business," the icon said at the time (per The Boot). "The fact that all these young women and all these young stars say that I've inspired them makes me feel real good." And in classic Dolly Parton fashion, she quipped "I hope they don't think because they gave me a Lifetime Achievement Award, I'll be done."