CMAs 2018: All the Performances Ranked From Worst to Best

The 2018 Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday night time (Nov. 14) returned to a well-worn theme for the CMAs in that includes younger expertise displaying respect to their elders, but it surely was veterans education rookies all night time lengthy by way of performances. 

Many of the perfect moments for the youthful set got here in too-brief appearances; Lauren Alaina surprised in a brief tribute to the late Dottie West, whereas eleven-year-old Mason Ramsey showcased vocals that deserved extra recognition than simply the temporary moments of levity with hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood that got to him. 

The different facet of the age vary featured a rare acoustic efficiency by a famous person, and a latest Country Music Hall of Famer supplying a staggering quantity of musicianship to a era of viewers which will have by no means heard his title earlier than tonight. Here's how Billboard ranks every full efficiency from worst to first.

Luke Combs, "She Got the Best of Me"

Moments after successful new artist of the yr from the CMAs, Combs carried out his present hit in entrance of the Bridgestone Arena crowd with an oddly sedate presence. Whether nonetheless overwhelmed by the emotions that got here with the sooner win, or simply having fun with no matter was within the purple Solo cup he was holding, the younger expertise experiencing an outstanding yr on the charts got here off lackluster.

Midland, "East Bound and Down"

The Texas trio inadvertently made a case for nation followers who’ve railed towards the act as inauthentic since they first discovered success, however delivering a tribute to the late Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed with a efficiency of the theme to Smokey and the Bandit that felt like a foul journey to the karaoke bar by the workplace workers after a very lengthy day at work. 

Maren Morris, Mavis Staples, Chris and Morgane Stapleton, and Marty Stuart, "Friendship"/"I'll Take You There" Medley

One of the few collaborations to flounder on this night time, made extra stunning by the expertise onstage. Some of the members didn't appear overly acquainted with Stapleton's "Friendship", and as soon as Staples and a backing gospel choir took over on "I'll Take You There", you want the producers had simply let the gospel legend take us to church all by her lonesome.

Dan + Shay, "Tequila"

The first entry right here to essentially sting. The duo have made a fast title for themselves inside the nation fold for his or her masterful harmonies, however tonight's efficiency was simply lacking that visible element that might have made their vocals stand out from the pack, as a substitute of simply standing largely stationary all through.

Florida Georgia Line & Bebe Rexha, "Meant to Be" 

Hoo boy, the place to begin? The pair of nation hitmakers carried out whereas carrying matching white fits that appeared like they have been borrowed from a Backstreet Boys video in 1999, whereas Rexha missed a be aware right here and there as soon as she appeared in entrance of violinists enjoying a model of the monster hit that had been stripped right down to strings. None of this labored.

Eric Church, "Desperate Man"

A final minute addition to the lineup of performers for this yr's CMAs, Church did his finest to showcase the title observe off his latest album, however the efficiency felt disjointed. Whether the blame for that goes to lack of time for the band to correctly put together, or if it was merely fatigue on everybody's half starting to set in because the three hour mark of the ceremony started to shut in, who can say?

Brad Paisley, "Bucked Off"

The singer's first new single in over a yr was publicly unveiled for the viewing viewers towards a neon rodeo background. While the honky-tonker performed properly to the group, outdoors of a welcomed musical shoutout to George Strait on the finish of the tune, all the pieces right here simply felt prefer it'd been seen (and heard) earlier than.

Jason Aldean & Miranda Lambert, "Drowns the Whiskey"

Aldean and Lambert have been two of the primary performers on the night time, and have been the primary to barely disappoint the viewer in presentation. Sure, a few of the great thing about the tune has to do with the timelessness of the lyrics, however generally you need supply that consists of extra than simply two folks standing at a few microphone stands. Lambert would present a bit extra spark later within the night time with the Pistol Annies.

Luke Bryan and friends, "What Makes You Country"

For the second yr the CMAs led off their ceremony with a tribute to a latest group of capturing victims, adopted shortly thereafter by an all-star efficiency on successful tune. While final yr's alternative within the Hootie and the Blowfish class "Hold My Hand" felt considerably applicable after a remembrance of the Las Vegas victims, Bryan's rollicking nation anthem was a baffling companion to a second of silence for these affected by final week's Borderline capturing. A unending collection of friends (Luke Combs and Chris Janson amongst them) discovered moments within the solar, however the entire thing simply felt ill-timed and a bit distasteful. 

Pistol Annies, "Got My Name Changed Back"

Just over per week faraway from the discharge of their much-anticipated third album Interstate Gospel, the trio (Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley) made a case for being the reply for all of those that lament the continued exile of the Dixie Chicks from mainstream nation music. If it's doable for one to "shred" on the washboard, Lambert made a case for herself as doing so, as she attacked each the instrument and the tune with a tenacity that was sorely lacking from earlier performances on the night time.

Carrie Underwood, "Love Wins"

During an evening when the perennial cohost of the ceremony decided to steer clear of politics within the opening monologue, Underwood made a case for many highly effective efficiency on the night time by taking up her present single. In an emotional show that surprised these watching, the feminine vocalist of the yr winner is making a strong case for herself as one of many high feminine abilities in nation music historical past.

Old Dominion, "Hotel Key"

While they’d go on to win vocal group of the yr, Old Dominion takes this spot for being the primary performers on the night time to truly seem like each having enjoyable and appreciative of the second. With a neon resort signal illuminating the stage, and a tune a few one-night stand turning into successful on nation radio, the band makes a robust case for sly grownup themes in lyrics having a spot inside the mainstream viewers.

Kacey Musgraves, "Slow Burn"

On an evening that might see the proficient singer-songwriter go on to win album of the yr for the critically-lauded Golden Hour on the tenth anniversary of her transfer to Nashville, Musgraves made one other robust case for herself being essentially the most criminally missed artist in nation at present with a sultry rendition of the mellow standout observe from the report. With a backdrop giving off a '70s vibe, and masterful camerawork on the manufacturing facet of the ceremony, this might be the second that lastly convinces radio programmers to cease ignoring the vocalist.

Dierks Bentley & Brothers Osborne, "Burning Man"

Performing their hit collaboration inside a hoop of fireplace onstage, the entertainers proved that a bit showmanship can go a good distance on a protracted night time. A terrific option to showcase the strengths of all concerned, with nice harmonizing being bookended by blistering guitar work, because of John Osborne.

Keith Urban, "Never Comin Down"

A showstopper efficiency from starting to finish, Urban was one of many few to embrace pyro, whereas standing excessive above the stage. This could have been the perfect purpose that might be pointed towards as to why Urban would later be named entertainer of the yr, because the stage setup at this second could function an commercial for Urban's 2019 live performance schedule.

Kelsea Ballerini, "Miss Me More"

The fixed shadow that looms over Ballerini's profession stays Taylor Swift, as many proceed to say the younger nation star's profession so intently mirrors the latter's at roughly the identical stage that it's uncanny. The efficiency seen right here gained't be altering these opinions anytime quickly, as Ballerini was surrounded by 16 dancers performing out a choreographed routine not like any seen tonight. With an upcoming headlining tour on the horizon, the younger singer could also be hinting at an enviornment run within the not too distant future.

Thomas Rhett, "Life Changes"

The first artist of the night time to essentially embrace the visible element to an awards present efficiency, starting this title observe to his newest album on the mattress of a dorm room set, and ending up surrounded by a full marching band enjoying alongside to his musical embrace of the trail his life has gone post-college. Rhett made a reputation for himself previously yr as a real headlining act, and after tonight he ought to all the time be thought-about a heavy favourite for an entertainer of the yr nomination.

Garth Brooks, "Stronger Than Me"

How does an artist thought-about one of many biggest of his era maintain his personal towards upstarts as proficient as these seen tonight? By stripping away all the pieces pointless in delivering the most effective songs he has launched in years, and having what many think about the second of the night time. In unveiling a never-before-heard tribute to his spouse, fellow nation nice Trisha Yearwood, Brooks relied on nothing greater than his personal phrases and an acoustic guitar to captivate the eye of the complete enviornment. As tears have been shed by each he and his spouse on the finish of the tune, everybody watching realized this was a spotlight reel second in a profession outlined by them.

Ricky Skaggs and Guests, Medley

In a yr that included induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Skaggs launched himself to a era of nation fan watching at house which will have by no means even heard of his title earlier than tonight, however would bear in mind it for years to come back with a barnburner of a efficiency. In a three-parter that known as to all features of his profession, he started on one finish of the stage together with his bandmates in bluegrass outfit Kentucky Thunder on the traditional "Black Eyed Susie", earlier than strolling over and becoming a member of Keith Urban (subbing for an ailing Vince Gill) on his 1983 hit "Highway 40 Blues", after which lastly ending up with Brad Paisley and Marty Stuart on a rambunctious rendition of Skaggs' 1985 chart topper "Country Boy". Unlike many tributes that are inclined to happen on awards exhibits, not solely did a legend seem to arguably be in his prime, however was capable of tackle what might arguably be known as essentially the most expertise to share one stage in CMA historical past and blow them away.

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