Why Carrie Underwood's ACM Performance Has Everyone Talking

From over-the-top live performances to stunning red carpet looks, awards shows have it all — and country music's biggest night was no exception.  As the genre's biggest names gathered at three of Nashville's most iconic venues, the 2020 Academy of Country Music Awards offered fans an intimate (albeit virtual) evening with their favorite acts. Yet, while the event will surely go down in history for its socially distanced approach amid the COVID-19 safety guidelines, fans won't soon forget country superstar Carrie Underwood's captivating performance, either. The "Before He Cheats" singer helped open the show, setting the tone for the night, but it was her solo performance upon the Grand Ole Opry stage that left viewers mesmerized.

Although the event was an unusual one, with the show being held in Nashville instead of its usual Las Vegas (sans live audience, of course), the performances were nothing short of impressive. With Taylor Swift, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, and countless other artists taking the stage, this year's awards show might have had the greatest number of artists performing, according to ACMs CEO Damon Whiteside, who spoke to The Tennessean. But out of all the performances, it was Underwood's tribute to country music's greatest female performers that fans couldn't stop talking about.

Carrie Underwood was prepared to shine

Carrie Underwood knows what it takes to deliver a stellar performance. Not only does she always look like a dream up on stage while delivering soul-shaking vocals, but she's also aware of the fact that giving her audience a glimpse of what's coming up can increase the anticipation. That's just what she did prior to the 2020 ACM Awards when she took to Instagram to share a photo of herself prepping for the night ahead.

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Holding up her curled-back bangs while sitting cross-legged on a bed in comfy — though stylish — workout wear from her CALIA by Carrie Underwood line, the star was surrounded by things she needed before her big performance. We're talking about her phone (surely to keep updated on any last-minute developments), a bottle of water (likely to stay hydrated before taking the stage), as well as a blowdryer (undoubtedly to perfect her camera-worthy hair). Alongside the pic, the star added a caption, telling her fans, "Getting ready for tonight! Let's do this, @ACMawards!"

Indeed, Underwood's fans were thrilled to see the image of their idol, with one person telling the star, "Beautiful already!! Rooting for you." Another admirer wrote, "Beautiful!! Can't wait to watch." Underwood also shared the photo on Twitter and the response was much the same, with one social media user tweeting, "Looking gorgeous as always in your Calia!! Loving the new fall [colors]! Can't wait to see you perform twice tonight! Go kill it lady!" And that's just what she did.

Carrie Underwood honored country music's greatest female performers

Carrie Underwood — who was the ACM Awards' only female nominee for Entertainer of the Year — kicked off the night with a stunning tribute that wasn't to be missed. Dressed in a maroon gown, the singer performed a medley honoring country music's greatest female performers, including singers Patsy Cline, Barbara Mandrell, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton. Underwood added that those singers and "all the other female artists who stand on their shoulders" are "some of my heroes." As members of the Grand Ole Opry, which celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2020, these singers inspired Underwood's striking combination of songs, including Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough," Parton's "Why'd You Come in Here," McEntire's "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," and more, per People.

Not only were her vocals stunning, but the concept behind the medley struck a note with many country fans. Taking to Twitter, fans and other artists couldn't stop talking about how heartfelt Underwood's performance was. "Ummm @carrieunderwood you are GOALS," singer Carly Pearce posted on Twitter. "That last note, the whole entire tribute... thank you for always being so true to country music."

"THIS reminds me of why I LOVE Country Music so much," another user tweeted in response to Pearce. "THAT was a beautiful tribute to the legendary greats." Fans continued to describe her beautiful delivery as everything from "a gift" to "awesome" and, quite frankly, we've still got chills, too.

Carrie Underwood was 'getting hate' over another ACM performance

While plenty of viewers were thrilled by Carrie Underwood's tribute performance at the 2020 ACM Awards, not everyone was impressed by what else she delivered at the country music ceremony. "Despite slaying the red carpet and multiple performances at the Academy of Country Music Awards... Carrie Underwood is getting hate on Twitter for what some say was an awkward performance," according to Cosmopolitan.

In case you missed it, the country singer began a rendition of her song "Southbound" outside, where she appeared to be at a pool party (which was staged for the event, of course). She then wandered inside to finish the tune. While it was certainly a fun vibe, it wasn't exactly a hit with everyone. Cosmo noted that some viewers "thought one part of it in particular was super cringey."

"This Carrie Underwood performance is so forced, awkward, and cheesy. Total fail. Ouch," one Twitter user wrote. Another person tweeted, "Carrie Underwood's 'pool party' at the MGM Grand looked about as exciting as a suburban water park but with a worse soundtrack." And viewers weren't just feeling bad for Underwood, with someone else tweeting, "Major secondhand embarrassment for everyone in Carrie Underwood's pool party entrance." Eek! Thankfully, the singer's tribute performance redeemed her and left her night end on a high note.