Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan Top 2015 ACM Awards
And the stars on the stage and the red carpet included not just country artists but also Nick Jonas and Christina Aguilera (who each performed), Steven Tyler, Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara and a host of Dallas Cowboys football players and cheerleaders (fitting, since the venue is home to the Cowboys).
Speaking of Luke Bryan, he took home the Entertainer of the Year trophy this year, his second time winning that coveted award. The big difference this year? Instead of bursting into tears (as he did in 2013), he came bounding on the stage, thrilled, yes, but certainly acting more the part of the superstar he's become these past couple years. (The only weirdness of this moment? The fact that his acceptance speech, for the premiere award of the entire ceremony, felt rushed, thanks no doubt to time constraints for the live broadcast.)
In terms of sheer numbers, Lambert cleaned up Sunday night, taking home four awards, including Female Vocalist of the Year (which she's won now six times in a row), Album of the Year for Platinum and Song of the Year for "Automatic."
Lambert was also one of seven artists Sunday night who earned a Milestone Award from the Academy, recognizing outstanding career achievements in the genre. Taylor Swift was another Milestone winner, and her acceptance turned into one of the night's most emotional moments, when she was presented the award by her mother Andrea (who it was just revealed has been diagnosed with cancer).
The show, though, was filled with emotional moments. One of the standouts was certainly Garth Brooks' performance of "All American Kid," a song (written by country artist Craig Campbell) from his 2014 album Man Against Machine. Already a powerful song, Brooks brought intensity to the performance, doubled down by the presence of stoic military members and his dedicating the song to his home stage of Oklahoma. Based on Sunday night's performance alone, "All American Kid" has jumped to the front of the pack as among the best of Brooks' new songs.
Dierks Bentley also delivered an emotional moment, performing his song "Riser" alone on acoustic guitar. It's a powerful song about getting past difficult challenges, one that rang true for Bentley after losing his father a few years back (as he recently told Radio.com, when he first heard the song he immediately knew it was "the cornerstone" of his new album).
Bentley, by the way, was the second-most-nominated artist at the ACMs this year but only walked away with Video of the Year honors for "Drunk on a Plane." Read more here.
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