The best and worst moments at the 2019 CMT Awards

Much like any professional artistic endeavor, you won't find a lack of events where those artists get handed trophies for their achievements. Country music is no exception. The stars of the widely-popular format descended upon the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on June 5, 2019 for an evening of live performances and fan-voted awards at the 2019 CMT Music Awards. Amazingly, Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus somehow weren't invited. Maybe they're still out on old town road. We can't confirm. 

Hosted by country music favorites Little Big Town, the night boasted performances by Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, Kane Brown, and Maren Morris with Sheryl Crow. Fun fact: along with the hosts and presenters, the performers took home a gift bag that included hemp-derived cannabis products from Willie Nelson. They also got wine and Spanx. All the bases were covered there.

However, before they got to enjoy those, the night was one to remember. From Carrie Underwood making history, to a legendary R&B act getting their first nomination, to Zac Brown getting edited by the censors, here are a few of the highlights from the 2019 CMT Music Awards.

Little Big Town had jokes and a message

Country quartet Little Big Town hosted the 2019 CMT Music Awards, and after two performances to kick off the show, the group brought the comedy with their opening monologue. According to Yahoo! Entertainment, band member Phillip Sweet "explained that CMT Music Awards are the official kick-off for summer and that the sunny season always presents some 'eternal summer questions,' such as 'Hamburger or hot dog?'" Meanwhile, Jimi Westbrook asked, "Is 'Old Town Road' country or not?" The crowd overwhelmingly agreed. Kimberly Schlapman poked fun at the audience while getting a pop culture jab in on HBO. Referencing the infamous coffee cup cameo, she said, "You know who else is here? The breakout star from the Game of Thrones." Zing!

Switching gears from comedy, the group debuted their new single, "The Daughters." Per the Tennessean, the powerful ballad is about "the unfair expectations society puts on women and girls." Group member Karen Fairchild said of the song: "I believe that God's love is for everyone, and I don't think he has an equality problem. So much of our lives are still framed in a masculine way for men, and this was just saying where's the God for the daughters and why are we still fighting these battles."

Zac Brown dropped the f-bomb for all the 'haters'

The Zac Brown Band took home the group video of the year award for its music video "Someone I Used to Know" (not to be confused with the song you're singing right now). After accepting the trophy from actresses Kate Bosworth and Michelle Monaghan, Zac Brown's speech started as you'd expect. "Thank you, CMT. All of our champions and all of our fans," he said (per Taste of Country). "Thanks to Shawn Mendes. We're so grateful that — we get our award every night when we get to show up and do what we love." He was just warming up. 

"No one has ever owned enough of our career to give us their trophies and accolades but that's not how we measure our success," he continued. "The award is for all of you; my band, outsiders who waited through everyone's doubts." Uh oh. We're seeing red here, guys. Then it happened: "For you young artists, have the courage to stand up against the machine, be yourself, work hard and one day you can stand up here and tell all the haters to f*** off."

The expletive made it on the air to the shock of fans. "Who pissed off Zac Brown Band?," @jensennn19 tweeted. "I don't think we have to worry about Zac Brown telling us how he really feels!" @deidra_dwallace added. Hopefully Zac Brown is better now.

Carrie Underwood is still the CMT Music Awards queen

With Carrie Underwood's trophies for video of the year for "Cry Pretty," and female video of the year for "Love Wins" (her 19th and 20th CMT Music Awards wins respectively), she "extended her run as the most decorated act in the history of the CMT Music Awards" per AP News.

"Fans, thank you so much. I saw you guys doing the Twitter parties and getting together and doing your thing and voting," she said during her acceptance speech for "Cry Pretty." She continued, "None of us would be able to do any of what we do if not for you guys. You guys put us here. You guys keep us going. You guys let us live out our dreams."

She also gave a shout out to her husband, former NHL player Mike Fisher, who was celebrating his 39th birthday. "It is my husband's birthday today. Look what they got you," Underwood joked. "Thank you so much. God bless you guys. Thank you, CMT. Thank you."

Ashley McBryde got the last laugh

Country artist Ashley McBryde released her debut album, Girl Going Nowhere, on March 30, 2018. A little over a year later, she took home the award for breakthrough video of the year for "A Girl Going Nowhere." Is this what artists mean when they use the word "surreal?" According to the Tennessean, McBryde "was so shocked" to hear her name called that "she didn't know which way to walk" and "politely swiped Luke Combs blue solo cup on the way to the stage."

"I ran up and took his drink," McBryde said. "I didn't have one. It helps me to have something in my hands. When I said, 'Can I have your drink,' he said, 'Yeah of course.'" She later admitted she spilled the contents on her clothes. 

The irony of her win is that the song was written about her former high school algebra teacher who once told her that moving to Nashville to become a singer/songwriter was a bad idea. "Here I am at the CMT Awards and I just won an award that I wrote in spite of that bitter old bat," McBryde explained. "I hope her TV was on. She's a gem. She's still inspiring people, still. She lit a fire under me. She was the first 'no' I ever received."

Boyz II Men are country stars now

Nobody does an R&B power ballad like the 90s chart juggernauts Boyz II Men (we dare you not to sing this). Nearly twenty years after providing the soundtrack to your high school graduation, the Philly-based music legends scored their first CMT Music Awards nomination in 2019 for their CMT Crossroads "Motownphilly" performance with the rising country-pop star, Brett Young.

The unlikely pairing (per Billboard), shared the stage for a performance of Young's 'Here Tonight,' with a little piece of Boyz II Men's 'Water Runs Dry.'" According to Yahoo! Entertainment, the group's manager's daughter is a Brett Young fan, and once she heard him perform a Boyz II Men song at one of his concerts, the rest was history. "Come to find out he was a big fan, and once we listened to his music, we actually became huge fans as well, and now we're brothers. So, we're kindred spirits, you know," Boyz II Men's Nathan Morris said.

"It's crazy [to be here]. It's definitely weird, but fun, you know? We never expected to be here. We never expected to be performing, we never expected to be nominated for awards, so we're feeling good. God is good," Nathan continued. "[I'm] trying to show my yeehaw."

Dan + Shay = repeat winners

Dan + Shay are the ones who wrote that song about tequila bringing back good memories. That's a feat in itself. Tequila has needed a better marketing team for a while now. At the 2019 CMT Music Awards, the pair won their consecutive duo video of the year award for "Speechless." We think that song should be the song about tequila — but hat's probably why we're not successful country songwriters.

Their success isn't a fluke, as the guys are all about the work and the music. "We still got a little bit of life left in [Dan + Shay], and then we'll be onto some new music. So we're working hard. We were literally working on it in the bus like 10 minutes ago," Dan Smyers told ET on the red carpet. "They had to drag us out. 'No! We need to do this one more vocal!'"

The star duo calls its meteoric rise a "blur" and admits that "it all started with CMT." Shay Mooney added: "It's crazy to be back here. It's been, I guess exactly a year ago, that was our first award ever, and I don't know, it's just a crazy feeling to be here in Nashville, to be here with all of your peers. We're going to party and it's going to be a good time."

There was a Brooke Hogan sighting

You might remember legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan's daughter, Brooke Hogan, from the reality TV shows Brooke Knows Best and Hogan Knows Best. You also might remember her very short-lived pop music career. Well, if you're wondering what she's been up to lately, she currently lives in Nashville pursuing a career in country music, and she flips houses on the side.

"I decided to take a break from cameras and fame … and just be normal," Hogan told Tennessean on the red carpet. "Tennessee allowed that. Nashville allowed that. I fell in love with Nashville and wrote with some of the best songwriters here." She admitted she's glad to be away from the spotlight of Los Angeles. "Here, being normal is the number one priority, which is why I think a lot of people are moving here," she explained. "People treat you normally … I can dabble and do the home renovation and fulfill my other creative outlets and also do music."