Films have the Oscars; theater has the Tonys; TV has the Emmys; and songs about jeans, pick-up trucks, the moon, and “baby blues” (gag) have the CMT Awards — which do not presently appear to have a cuter name, so you’re welcome to try. (The Twangies?) The ceremony airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CMT.
This year, hosting duties for this annual celebration of bubblegum pop in cowboy drag will be split evenly among a party of four: Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook — far better known as Little Big Town, who themselves are nominated for three Garthies.
And while awards shows find ways to divert all the attention to everything but the awards, the Beeries tend to stay keenly focused on the music — or rather, the music videos. (Sample red carpet exchange: “Who are you wearing?” “Wrangler and Hanes.”) And rather than some shadowy council of honky-tonk elders, the winners are chosen by fan votes.
Don’t expect any wardrobe malfunctions (unless you count Nudie suits), stray F-bombs, or tacky kissing stunts; do expect a Texas portion of top country talent onstage (some of whom — trigger warnin’ y’all! — may be lip-syncing). And also expect at least one or two shots of purist pettiness (like when Alan Jackson walked out midway through Beyoncé’s performance in 2016 — a gesture unbecoming of the Tailgaties, if you ask me).
This year’s show will feature performances by Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, Kelly Clarkson (making her CMT debut with a version of the Guess Who’s “American Woman”), and, of course, the Backstreet Boys, for which I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation.
There will also be a trio of live collaborations from Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne, Darius Rucker and Jason Aldean, and Luke Bryan and Charles Kelly.
Who will win? It’s anyone’s guess, but if you said “a white person in denim with a song about the radio,” come on up and claim your Hankie.Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.