Best And Worst Moments At The 2019 CMA Awards

The 53rd Annual Country Music Association Awards rode into Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 13, 2019, and the biggest names in country music put on a show for the ages. First, let's talk about the hosts. Are you ready? Carrie Underwood. Reba McEntire. Dolly Parton. Would that be considered a Holy Trinity? 

"It's an incredible honor to welcome Carrie, Reba and Dolly to the CMA Awards stage this year," CMA Chief Executive Officer Sara Trahern previously released in a statement. "In addition to awarding the year's best and brightest in the genre, 'The 53rd Annual CMA Awards' will celebrate the legacy of women within Country Music, and we couldn't think of a more dynamic group of women to host the show."

While the theme of the night was clear before the first high heel stepped on stage, did it last until the boots came out? Let's find out. So, put some beer on ice, sit back, and enjoy a few of the best and worst moments country music's biggest night.

The 2019 CMA Awards' opening number

The 2019 CMA Awards' official website promised a "history-making opening performance" — and buddy, they didn't disappoint. Dubbed the "Women of Country Performance," the biggest female stars of country music — from past and present — opened the telecast with a nearly nine-minute medley of the genre's greatest hits, from Dolly Parton's "Those Memories of You" to Martina McBride's "Independence Day."

Just check out this lineup: Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, Jennifer Nettles, Crystal Gayle, Sara Evans, Tanya Tucker, Martina McBride, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby, Brandi Carlile, Gretchen Wilson, Terri Clark, Kimberly Schlapman, and Karen Fairchild. And in the audience? None other than country music icon Loretta Lyne, a.k.a. the first woman to win the CMA Award for entertainer of the year (via Vulture).

"The CMAs have decided that it's an important enough time right now at this point in America and the things that we're fighting, dealing with as women that it's important to show the respect that country music has for women in this industry," Gretchen Wilson told the Tennessean. "We try to carry it on as females in country music. We pay it forward. That's what we've always done. Just like in any industry, the women in this industry have had a hard road ahead of them." The "Redneck Woman" songstress added, "We're fighting the same fight everyone else is fighting, and we're getting there slowly just like every other woman is."

Women ruled the night at the 2019 CMAs

The 2019 CMAs promised a celebration of women, and country music's biggest night delivered. "What do you call three women hosting the CMA? Your lucky night!" Dolly Parton said in the opening monologue (via Yahoo! Entertainment). "We started out tonight concentrating on women doing something special, powerful, and beautiful — the women of country music, honoring them." Co-host Reba McEntire added to that sentiment, saying that the "spotlight" would be firmly placed on the ladies for the evening: "And we're doing it for all the little girls watching tonight, dreaming of ruling the world of country music — or maybe just ruling the world."

These icons were right. Maren Morris performed a rousing rendition of "Girl." Halsey (or Y'allsey) gave an intimate take on "Graveyard" and "What If I Never Get Over You" with Lady Antebellum. Carrie Underwood brought down the house with "Drinking Alone." Pink and Chris Stapleton made everyone cry with "Love Me Anyway." Kelsea Ballerini's performance of "Homecoming Queen" was almost magical. Miranda Lambert did all our fave Miranda Lambert things in "It All Comes Out In the Wash." And McEntire brought the entire arena to its feet with a powerful performance of her seminal hit "Fancy."

Musgraves summed it up during her acceptance speech for the female vocalist of the year award: "I just want to say ... the female creative spirit, female energy, it's really needed right now. It's really important. And I feel like it's something that Earth needs."

No Lil Nas X love?!

After topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his infectious country/rap hit, "Old Town Road," you'd think Lil Nas X would be a mortal lock for single of the year at the 2019 CMA Awards. Plot twist: he wasn't even nominated.

"Lil Nas X was robbed! The fact that 'Old Town Road' wasn't nominated in this category, despite being the biggest viral sensation of the year, smacks of exclusion," Kristen Hall told the Associated Press (via The New York Times) in a predictions piece. The award went to Blake Shelton's "God's Country," but the Atlanta-based singer-rapper didn't leave empty handed.

In an off-camera category, Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Trent Reznor took home the musical event of the year award (via Pitchfork). Yes, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor has a CMA due to "Old Town Road" sampling his "34 Ghosts IV." However, Reznor initially didn't sound very thrilled about his music being included in the greatest meme song of the year. "At first, when you hear your stuff turned into something else, it always feels awkward because it's something that intimately came from you in some way," he told Rolling Stone in October 2019. But if this Instagram post is any indication, he appears to have come around.

Maren Morris' emotional acceptance speech

Maren Morris took home the coveted album of the year award for Girl at the 2019 CMA Awards, but she used the majority of her acceptance speech to pay tribute to her late music producer, Busbee (real name Michael James Ryan), who died less than two months earlier at the age of 43 after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.

"I would be really remiss if I didn't mention a huge facet of why this album sounds the way it does, and we miss him so dearly. He texted me the morning that we got the nomination for album of the year this year, and we were so excited, and that's our friend, Busbee," a teary-eyed Morris said onstage. "His wife, Jess, is here tonight and she looks so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your husband with us once a month, and my heart just goes out to you and your beautiful daughters. I hope when they listen to this record or any of the songs that he made that made us all better, they know how amazing their father was."

During his career, Busbee worked with almost every artist you know, including Carrie Underwood, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, and Shakira.

Jennifer Nettles' bold fashion choice rocked the 2019 CMA Awards' red carpet

Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, in collaboration with designer Christian Siriano and artist Alice Mizrachi, made a red carpet splash with a white pantsuit and attached fuchsia pink train that read, "Play Our F*@#iN Records Please & Thank You!" The back of her jacket featured the handwritten words, "Equal Play," and the Venus symbol.

As you've probably deduced, Nettles wasn't trying to be subtle. "When I heard that the CMAs were going to be celebrating women this year, I thought, what a fantastic opportunity and invitation to take the conversation beyond the applause," Nettles told Entertainment Tonight. "To take it beyond this night of celebration and to send a message to the rest of the industry that says women are supremely underrepresented and people want to hear our music and our records played on country radio and on country playlists just as equally."

This bold statement on the lack of representation and gender disparity in country music was not missed. We applaud Nettles' message of equality.

Twitter believes Carrie Underwood is pregnant again

Carrie Underwood welcomed her son, Jacob, in January 2019, but a few of the country superstar's many outfit changes during the 2019 CMA Awards sparked baby bump speculation in the Twittersphere.

"Ummmm... anyone else notice how @carrieunderwood just slightly held her stomach & that green dress hugged her tummy? Is Carrie pregnant??" one user tweeted. "I don't want to be that a-hole that thinks someone is pregnant based on a possible bump sighting, so I won't say it," another person wrote. "But I want it on record that if Carrie Underwood announces she's pregnant, I called it."

Meanwhile, another fan was quick to point out that maybe people should mind their own business. "Everyone is saying Carrie Underwood is pregnant bc she has a little tummy in her... well guess what maybe she isn't pregnant maybe she just has a little tummy on he bc she's had two children," they tweeted. "Stop assuming. SHE LOOKS EFFING AMAZING!!

At the time of this writing, Underwood has yet to confirm or deny the pregnancy speculation, but does she really need to? Hint: no.


Did Garth Brooks deserve entertainer of the year at the 2019 CMA Awards?

Want to know how long it's been since a woman won entertainer of the year? We'll tell you: Taylor Swift in 2011. (Remember when the superstar still sang country music?) Despite the female-centric push during the 2019 CMA Awards, country legend Garth Brooks won over the heavy favorite, Carrie Underwood, for a record-breaking seventh time.

Rolling Stone called the decision "business as usual," noting that Brooks has won the award three out of the last four years and didn't mention Underwood in his acceptance speech. Even Miranda Lambert thought Underwood deserved the award, previously writing on Instagram that her "iconic voice has been classin' up our stages, charts and televisions for a decade and a half." Of course, the Twitterverse also chimed in. "There's your answer about women in country. The top category has four men and one woman. That woman worked her a** off with an insane album and tour, and Garth Brooks won," Esquire's Justin Kirkland tweeted. "Holler at me when the #CMAAwards gets out of the 90s."

For his part, Brooks was more reflective backstage about the theme of the night. "It was on a historic night where country music salutes women," he said (via The Boot). "Being married to one of the greatest female singers on the planet, no matter what genre of music it is, and then being the father of three daughters, I like the message tonight that the future is infinite."