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Top 40 Country Songs – January 2016

The No. 1 song on the January 2016 Top 40 Country Songs list made a huge jump to get there. In fact, no song has ever catapulted further to claim the top spot. This guy was sitting at No. 32 in December before taking off in January.

Others inside the Top 10 of our monthly Top 40 list include hits from Sam Hunt and Eric Church, and unlikely smashes from LoCash, Chris Stapleton and Jana Kramer. Last month’s top song checks in at No. 4, while new songs from Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Randy Houser help make up the Top 20.

Find your favorite song from January 2016 in the list below and then listen to all 40 songs— plus bonus features from Taste of Country — in the above playlist. Of course, if you can’t find your fave — or think we ranked the best songs too low — tell us about it in the comments section.

The list of Top 40 Country Songs of January 2016 is compiled from Billboard chart data and sales figures, in addition to staff opinion and reader feedback.

Top 40 Country Songs for January 2016:

40. Maren Morris, “My Church”
39. Kane Brown, “Used to Love You Sober”
38. David Nail, “Night’s on Fire”
37. Kip Moore, “Running for You”
36. Canaan Smith, “Hole In a Bottle”
35. Lee Brice, “That Don’t Sound Like You”
34. Justin Moore, “You Look Like I Need a Drink”
33. Brantley Gilbert, “Stone Cold Sober”
32. William Michael Morgan, “I Met a Girl”
31. Michael Ray, “Real Men Love Jesus”
30. Chris Lane, “Fix”
29. Tyler Farr, “Better in Boots”
28. Dustin Lynch, “Mind Reader”
27. Frankie Ballard, “It All Started With a Beer”
26. Rascal Flatts, “I Like the Sound of That”
25. Jon Pardi, “Head Over Boots”
24. Chase Bryant, “Little Bit of You”
23. Brad Paisley, “Country Nation”
22. Maddie & Tae, “Shut Up and Fish”
21. Old Dominion, “SnapBack” — SONG TO WATCH IN 2016!
20. Florida Georgia Line, “Confession”
19. Brett Eldredge, “Drunk on Your Love”
18. Randy Houser, “We Went”
17. Tim McGraw, “Top of the World”
16. Zac Brown Band, “Beautiful Drug”
15. Kelsea Ballerini, “Dibs”
14. Carrie Underwood, “Heartbeat”
13. Granger Smith, “Backroad Song”
12. Eric Church, “Mr. Misunderstood”
11. Keith Urban, “Break on Me”
10. Cam, “Burning House”
9. Jason Aldean, “Gonna Know We Were Here”
8. LoCash, “I Love This Life” — FIRST EVER TOP 10 HIT!
7. Jana Kramer, “I Got the Boy”
6. Cole Swindell, “You Should Be Here” — HIGHEST DEBUT!
5. Chris Stapleton, “Nobody to Blame”
4. Thomas Rhett, “Die a Happy Man” — LAST MONTH’S NO. 1!
3. Brothers Osborne, “Stay a Little Longer — DEBUT ALBUM PAWN SHOP OUT JAN. 15!
2. Sam Hunt, “Break Up in a Small Town”
1. Luke Bryan (Feat. Karen Fairchild), “Home Alone Tonight” — BIGGEST JUMP!

Did Your Favorite Song Make Our Top 40 Country Songs List for January 2016?

What would you add to our list of the Top 40 country songs for January 2016? Share your opinions on this list — as well as the songs that deserve to be included, but weren’t — in the comments section below.

The 100 Greatest Country Albums Ever! Who’s Your No. 1?

Add These Songs from the CMAs to Your Workout Playlist Now

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It was an eventful night of TV last night as country music celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic award show. If you were too zoned in on game seven of the World Series and missed the CMA Awards we’ve got you covered with all of the best moments… Like freaking Beyonce showing up!?

Yep, the queen herself made an appearance on stage to perform her country-inspired track “Daddy Lessons” alongside the Dixie Chicks (who hadn’t appeared at the CMAs in more than a decade). And while it’s not on Spotify, the ladies released a studio version shortly after the performance last night, which we highly suggest checking out. (Learn how to dance like Queen’s Bey with this workout routine.)

And can we just talk about Carrie Underwood’s 12 outfit changes?! The American Idol veteran looked stunning in everything she put on-obviously. We are having serious closet envy over here. (If you’re wondering how she gets that killer body too, try the Tabata moves Carrie swears by.) Carrie won female vocalist of the year after rocking out to her new single “Dirty Laundry”. We promise it will give you all the feels to go kick some major ass.

Two names we have to mention from last night: Dolly Parton and Maren Morris. Dolly received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award-basically the highest honor possible for country music stars. Even if you’re not into country music, you know Dolly and her hit songs ‘Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’. (And seriously, we can only hope we have as much energy as she does at 70 years old.)

And Maren Morris? Her name may not ring a bell for you now, but you’re sure to hear more from the singer in the coming months. After being rejected by both The Voice and American Idol Maren went on to release her critically-acclaimed debut album Hero and took home the award for New Artist of the Year at last night’s show. Take that reality TV judges.

So without further ado, here’s our curated playlist featuring both performers and winners from last night’s CMAs. Cue the country dance party.

  1. Dirty Laundry, Carrie Underwood
  2. Move, Luke Bryan

  3. Drunk Girls Don’t Cry, Maren Morris

  4. Wasted Time, Keith Urban

  5. Little White Church, Little Big Town

  6. Freedom, Dierks Bentley

  7. T-shirt, Thomas Rhett

  8. 80s Mercedes, Maren Morris

  9. Knives of New Orleans, Eric Church

  10. Love Me Like You Mean It, Kelsea Ballerini

  11. Day Drinking, Little Big Town

  12. What Was I Thinkin’, Dierks Bentley

  • By Justine Hall

2016 CMA Awards Performances — Full List

To say that the 2016 CMA Awards‘ performance lineup was stacked would be the understatement of the year. Country icons, today’s hottest stars and promising newcomers — plus a pop megastar — were all among the list of performers who took the stage on Country Music’s Biggest Night this year.

A complete list of 2016’s CMA Awards performances is below. Readers can click the links to learn more about each performance.

2016 Country Music Association Awards Performers

2016 CMA Awards Opening Medley

Carrie Underwood, “Dirty Laundry”

Dierks Bentley and Elle King, “Different for Girls”

Eric Church and Rhiannon Giddens, “Kill a Word”

Maren Morris, “My Church”

Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

Brad Paisley, “Today”

Kelsea Ballerini, “Peter Pan”

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Country Medley

Luke Bryan, “Move”

Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw, “May We All”

Miranda Lambert, “Vice”

Little Big Town, “Better Man”

Tim McGraw, “Humble and Kind”

Brooks & Dunn and Jason Aldean, “Brand New Man”

Alan Jackson and George Strait, “Remember When” / “Troubadour”

Dolly Parton Lifetime Achievement Award Tribute

Thomas Rhett, “Die a Happy Man”

Chris Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam, “Seven Spanish Angels”

The Dixie Chicks and Beyonce, “Daddy Lessons”

Top 10 CMA Awards Moments

Unforgettable CMA Awards Controversies

The 50th annual CMA Awards were held tonight in Nashville, with Garth Brooks taking home the top prize of Entertainer of the Year. Brooks, who returned to country music in 2014 after a lengthy hiatus, beat out last year’s winner Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood.

Underwood wasn’t shut out, however. The singer was named Female Vocalist of the Year for a fourth time, her first win in the category since 2008. Chris Stapleton repeated in the Male Vocalist race, delivering a humble and heartfelt acceptance speech that nodded to everyone from Dolly Parton, who received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, to wife Morgane Stapleton.

Right around last year’s CMA Awards, Eric Church surprise released his album Mr. Misunderstood. That record took home Album of the Year honors tonight, with Church performing its current single “Kill a Word” with vocalist Rhiannon Giddens.

The Single and Song of the Year winners were both inspired by personal experience. Thomas Rhett wrote the Single of the Year “Die a Happy Man” for his wife, while Lori McKenna penned Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” the Song of the Year champ, for her children.

While Brooks’ Entertainer victory was unexpected, the night’s biggest surprise came in the Vocal Duo of the Year race as rootsy sibling duo Brothers Osborne edged out three-time winners Florida Georgia Line. Brothers TJ and John Osborne were visibly emotional accepting the award, and when Little Big Town accepted their own trophies for Vocal Group of the Year, Karen Fairchild expressed her amazement at the Osborne coup.

Maren Morris was also teary-eyed at the podium. The “My Church” singer was named New Artist of the Year.

Dierks Bentley was announced as the winner of Musical Event of the Year along with Elle King in recognition of their duet “Different for Girls” earlier in the day. Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away” was named Music Video of the Year.

Here’s the complete winners list of the 50th CMA Awards.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Garth Brooks – WINNER
  • Luke Bryan
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban

Album of the Year

  • Black – Dierks Bentley
  • Hero – Maren Morris
  • Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church – WINNER
  • Ripcord – Keith Urban
  • Storyteller – Carrie Underwood

Single of the Year

  • “Die a Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett – WINNER
  • “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw
  • “My Church” – Maren Morris
  • “Nobody to Blame” – Chris Stapleton
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church

Song of the Year

  • “Burning House”- Cam
  • “Die a Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw – WINNER
  • “My Church” – Maren Morris
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Eric Church
  • Tim McGraw
  • Chris Stapleton – WINNER
  • Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood – WINNER

New Artist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Maren Morris – WINNER
  • Old Dominion
  • Cole Swindell

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brothers Osborne – WINNER
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Joey + Rory
  • Maddie & Tae

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town – WINNER
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Music Video of the Year

  • “Burning House” – Cam
  • “Fire Away” – Chris Stapleton – WINNER
  • “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church
  • “Somewhere on a Beach” – Dierks Bentley

Musical Event of the Year

  • “Different For Girls” – Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King – WINNER
  • “Home Alone Tonight” – Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild
  • “The Fighter” – Keith Urban (featuring Carrie Underwood)
  • “Think of You” – Chris Young (duet with Cassadee Pope)
  • “You Are My Sunshine” – Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton

Musician of the Year

Watch Beyonce and CMA Awards 2016 Performances

The CMA Awards 2016 rocked Nashville Wednesday with the performances taking center stage. Country superstars Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley hosted the spectacular event that included performances by the hottest musicians in the genre today including Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and a surprise appearance by Beyonce herself with The Dixie Chicks. Missed the big show and any of the CMA Awards 2016 performers throwing down their hits? Check out ABC’s exclusive videos from the 2016 CMA Awards below.

RELATED: CMA Stars Read Mean Tweets

SHOWSTOPPER

Texas girl Beyonce surprised audiences by showing up at the event and enlisting The Dixie Chicks help in delivering a jazzy country spin on her song “Daddy Lessons” off the hit album “Lemonade.”

Beyonce & The Dixie Chicks: “Daddy Lessons”

BLACKOUT

Single of The Year winner Thomas Rhett performed his winning song “Die A Happy Man” to a completely pitch black arena, using only the illumination of cell phones to light the way.

Thomas Rhett: “Die A Happy Man”

HIGH-FLYING

Newcomer Kelsea Ballerini’s whimsical performance of her radio smash “Peter Pan” featured aerialists.

Kelsea Ballerini: “Peter Pan”

DYNAMIC DUET

Legends Alan Jackson and George Strait joined together for an emotional rendition of Jackson’s 2003 hit “Remember When.”

Alan Jackson & George Strait: “Remember When”

Now you have seen some of the highlights, check out the rest of the performances here. Want to see all the winning moments including Dolly Parton accepting the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award? Don’t worry, ABC has you covered. Watch the full 2016 CMA Awards show here.

10 Country Music Songs That Will Make Your Workout Fly By

Music is very important when you’re working out. The wrong song can completely ruin your groove and thus your motivation. Here’s a list of country songs to get you through your next workout session.

1. The Band Perry // “Better Dig Two”

It starts off slow and gives you a nice beat to start up your workout.

2. Carrie Underwood // “Before He Cheats”

Not only is an anthem like this the perfect motivation — you’re thinking about that ex, aren’t you? — it’s just a great song. Feel free to belt alongside Carrie.

3. Miranda Lambert // “Little Red Wagon”

Keep that ex your head, because he can’t ride in your little red wagon. This song has an awesome beat and fun sound.

4. Florida Georgia Line // “Cruise”

Is your workout starting to get to you? No worries. Cruise along with FGL.

5. Little Big Town // “Little White Church”

Whether you’re trying to get in shape for a walk down the aisle or not, this tune will keep you going strong.

6. Dierks Bentley // “5-1-5-0”

You better run, Dierks is going to call the po-po.

7. Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood // “Somethin’ Bad”

Yeah, somethin’ bad is going to happen to all your toxins and unwanted calories.

8. Sara Evans // “Suds in the Bucket”

A girl runs off with her prince charming and her family is left wondering left to do. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.

9. Hunter Hayes // “Storm Warning”

There’s a storm coming and it’s you. Go on with your bad self!

10. Trace Adkins // “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”

This one is self-explanatory, right?

Country Heat Song List and Playlist

Have you been looking for what songs are included in Country Heat? Here you go!

I think what surprised me the most about this is that I was expecting this twangy, 80’s and 90’s style country music; and in reality, it is almost entirely composed of contemporary Country music, which is really, really FUN and is awesome for working out!

Interesting in joining a Country Heat Challenge Group? Click below to learn more about this program and let’s get you going!!

Country Heat Challenge Group Application

What songs are featured in the COUNTRY HEAT Workouts?

Are the songs in the Country Heat workouts originals or rerecorded?

All songs in the Country Heat workouts are rerecords of the original songs

Country Heat Workout: COUNTRY SWING

  • John Cougar John Deere John 3:16 Artist: Keith Urban
  • Kick the Dust Up Artist: Luke Bryan
  • Young & Crazy Artist: Frankie Ballard
  • We Are Tonight Artist: Billy Currington
  • That’s My Kinda Night Artist: Luke Bryan
  • Crash and Burn Artist: Thomas Rhett

Country Heat Workout: GIDDY UP Song Playlist

  • 5 1 5 0 Artist: Dierks Bently
  • I’m Here for the Party Artist: Gretchen Wilson
  • High Class Artist: Eric Paslay
  • Whiskey Drinking SOB Artist: Mikel Knight
  • Fake ID Artist: Big and Rich
  • Cowboy Up Artist: Jill Johnson

Country Heat Workout: DOWN AND DIRTY Song Playlist

  • Sideways Artist: Dierks Bently
  • Play Something Country Artist: Brooks & Dunn
  • Some Days You Gotta Dance Artist: Dixie Chicks
  • Footloose Artist: Blake Shelton Version
  • John Deere Green Artist: Joe Diffie
  • We Are Tonight Artist: Billy Currington

Country Heat Workout: BRING THE HEAT Song Playlist

  • All About Tonight Artist: Blake Shelton
  • Real Life Artist: Jake Owen
  • What Was I Thinking Artist: Dierks Bently
  • Little Bit of You Artist: Chase Bryant
  • Chattahoochie Artist: Alan Jackson
  • I Like It, I Love It Artist: Tim Mcgraw

Country Heat Workout: TRAILRIDE Song Playlist

  • Bar Hoppin Artist: Sandra Lyon
  • Summertime Blues Artist: Alan Jackson
  • Cotton Eyed Joed Artist: Rednex
  • Be My Baby Artist: John Michael Montgomery
  • Born to Boogie Artist: Hank Williams
  • One That Got Away Artist: Jake Owen

Country Heat Workout: WILD GOOSE CHASE Song Playlist

  • Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy Artist: Big & Rich
  • Friday Night Artist: Eric Paisley
  • Some Days You Gotta Dance Artist: Dixie Chicks
  • One More Last Chance Artist: Vince Gil
  • A Woman’s Rant Artist: Jo Dee Messina
  • Little Bit of You Artist: Chase Bryant

Country Heat Workout: CARDIO ROUND UP Song Playlist

  • One That Got Away Artist: Jake Owen
  • Crash and Burn Artist: Thomas Rhett
  • Settlin Artist: Sugarland
  • Redneck Woman Artist: Gretchen Wilson
  • I Like It, I Love It Artist: Tim Mcgraw
  • That’s My Kinda Night Artist: Luke Bryan

Country Heat Workout: DANCE CONDITIONING Song Playlist

  • Hell of a Night Artist: Dustin Lynch
  • Friday Night Artist: Eric Paisley
  • Bar Hoppin Artist: Sandra Lyon
  • Dibs Artist: Kelsea Ballerini
  • Kiss You in the Morning Artist: Michael Ray
  • Move On Artist: Clare Dunn

Country Heat Workout: DANCE MASH-UP Song Playlist

  • Summertime Blues Artist: Alan Jackson
  • One More Last Chance Artist: Vince Gil
  • Footloose Artist: Blake Shelton Version
  • Chattahoochie Artist: Alan Jackson
  • Born to Boogie Artist: Hank Williams

Country Heat Workout: NIGHT CRAWL LINE DANCE Song Playlist

  • Night Crawl Artist: Jo Dee Messina

Country Heat Workout: SADDLE UP Song Playlist

  • Cowboy Up Artist: Jill Johnson

Interesting in joining our next Challenge Group? Fill out the Form below!

CMA Award Winners 2016: Complete List

The 50th annual CMA Awards have all been handed out!

Garth Brooks was the night’s biggest winner, taking home entertainer of the year from surprise presenter Taylor Swift, but he was hardly the night’s only champ. See below for the full list:

Entertainer of the Year:
WINNER: Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood
Keith Urban

Male Vocalist of the Year:
Dierks Bentley
Eric Church
Tim McGraw
WINNER: Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year:
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
WINNER: Carrie Underwood

Vocal Group of the Year:
Lady Antebellum
WINNER: Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year:
WINNER: Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Joey + Rory
Maddie & Tae

Album of the Year:
Black — Dierks Bentley
WINNER: Mr. Misunderstood — Eric Church
Ripcord — Keith Urban
Storyteller — Carrie Underwood
Hero — Maren Morris

New Artist of the Year:
Kelsea Ballerini
Brothers Osborne
WINNER: Maren Morris
Old Dominion
Cole Swindell

Song of the Year:
“Burning House” — Cam, Tyler Johnson and Jeff Bhasker
“Die a Happy Man” — Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett and Joe Spargur
WINNER: “Humble and Kind” — Lori McKenna
“My Church” — Busbee and Maren Morris
“Record Year” — Eric Church and Jeff Hyde

Single of the Year:
WINNER: “Die a Happy Man” — Thomas Rhett
“Humble and Kind” — Tim McGraw
“My Church” — Maren Morris
“Record Year” — Eric Church
“Nobody to Blame” — Chris Stapleton

Musical Event of the Year:
WINNER: “Different For Girls” — Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King
“Home Alone Tonight” — Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild
“The Fighter” — Keith Urban (featuring Carrie Underwood)
“Think of You” — Chris Young (duet with Cassadee Pope)
“You Are My Sunshine” — Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton

Music Video of the Year:
“Burning House” — Cam; directed by Trey Fanjoy
WINNER: “Fire Away” — Chris Stapleton; directed by Tim Mattia
“Humble and Kind” — Tim McGraw; directed by Wes Edwards
“Record Year” — Eric Church; directed by John Peets and Reid Long
“Somewhere on a Beach” — Dierks Bentley; directed by Wes Edwards

CMA Awards: Six unforgettable moments

The 50th annual CMA awards brought a night of surprising wins, spoiled surprise performances, tributes and teary speeches. We’ve rounded up a few of the biggest moments.

Beyoncé joins the Dixie Chicks

Beyoncé and The Dixie Chicks didn’t need an introduction at Wednesday night’s CMA Awards — so they didn’t get one.

The surprise guests suddenly appeared after a commercial break on Wednesday’s show, and soon the crowd was on their feet as the quartet kicked into Beyoncé’s country-leaning tune Daddy Lessons.

Beyoncé steals the show at the 2016 CMA Awards

It was Beyoncé’s CMA Awards debut, and the Dixie Chicks’ first appearance on the show in a decade.

Beyoncé performed Daddy Lessons at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium last month, but at the CMAs, it had even more brass-band oomph. The song also briefly segued into Long Time Gone, a Darrell Scott-penned tune that the Dixie Chicks featured on their 2002 album Home.

“Good job, Bey!” Natalie Maines exclaimed at the end of the song.

“Happy 50th anniversary, CMA,” Beyonce said as she exchanged hugs with Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison.

Immediately after the performance, the two acts released a studio version of their collaboration. It’s now streaming on Soundcloud.

Dolly’s ‘touching’ tribute

“This was so touching,” Dolly Parton said from the CMA Awards stage on Wednesday. “I would have cried, but I didn’t want to mess up my eyelashes.”

That was Parton’s perfect review of the all-star tribute to the country legend, as she was honored with the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by her longtime friend and 9 to 5 co-star, Lily Tomlin.

List: Who won big at the CMA Awards?

The medley featured six acts performing four Parton classics. Pentatonix teamed with Jennifer Nettles for an a capella Jolene, Reba McEntire belted out 9 to 5, Kacey Musgraves took Here You Come Again, and Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood joined the group for a closing I Will Always Love You.

“Gosh dang it, Dolly, we love you to pieces,” McEntire said at the end of the song.

“For me to be receiving the Willie Nelson award, this is an absolute high for me,” Parton joked from the podium. “I mean, for Willie to have a high achievement award, I mean, how appropriate is that? Because he’s had some highs that border on historic, I can tell you that.”

Garth Brooks’ big night

He performed a medley of duets with his wife Trisha Yearwood, and he sang all night in Target commercials promoting his new box set.

But Garth Brooks’ biggest moment at Wednesday’s CMA Awards came at the end of the show, when the country superstar won the night’s top prize: Entertainer of the Year.

It’s the fifth time Brooks has won the award in his career, and his first since 1998.

Brooks accepted the award from presenter and two-time winnerTaylor Swift, who made her first CMA Awards appearance in three years on Wednesday.

USA Today Network Listening Room

“People, tonight, this is what it’s all about,” he continued. “It could not have ended better for me. I get to take (Yearwood) home, so that’s a great thing for me. But I gotta tell you: We are so damn lucky to be part of this thing called country music!”

“I kind of went numb when they called my name,” Brooks said backstage. “I went into a vacuum. When we left, I never thought I would get to come back. And when you come back, you never think you’re going to get to hold one of these again.”

Garth Brooks wins Entertainer of the Year

Brooks was open about his desire to win CMA’s top honor, which this year pitted him against Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Chris Stapleton. Brooks came out of retirement more than two years ago, and said he wanted the trophy for his band and crew. He likened the win to winning the 50th Super Bowl — the milestone year giving the honor added importance.

“I ran into Peyton (Manning) and I said, ‘Where’s the ring?’” Brooks said. “He went, ‘Ehhhh.’ I said, ‘I’m going to make a ring out of this (trophy), I’m going to put it on my finger and I’m going to wear it for the rest of my life. The 50th, that’s a cool thing.”

Surprising wins

Surprise winners of the night include critical darling and top nominee Maren Morris, who bested Cole Swindell and Kelsea Ballerini for New Artist of the Year. Swindell and Ballerini each have multiple No. 1 hits while Morris has yet to chart her first.

Morris smiled through her tears as she accepted her award .The win came just minutes after the Texas-born singer/songwriter lit up the stage with a soul-stirring performance of My Church.

“Y’all! I can’t win this award right after performing,” she exclaimed from the podium. “I’m gonna fall apart.”

“This is so crazy. I have amazing seats tonight … last year, I sat across the street at a bar and watched this show (on TV). I never thought, as a songwriter, I’d be standing here today. Thank y’all so much for voting for me. My songwriting community here in Nashville, you gave me the courage to do this, so thank you.”

Maren Morris just proved she’s the CMA Awards’ breakout star

Brothers Osborne were also admittedly stunned by their win for Vocal Duo of the Year, beating out the likes of Florida Georgia Line.

Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild called the duo’s triumph “unbelievable” during the group’s acceptance speech for Vocal Group of the Year. At the same time, Brothers Osborne were in the press room reiterating their shock.

“I’m almost convinced it’s an elaborate hoax,” said John Osborne.

“It took all we had not to fall down in the aisle and roll out in tears,” added brother T.J. Osborne.

An incredible opening

While modern country music was in the spotlight, the show paid tribute to the genre’s history with a star-studded opening that spanned decades.

Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood opened the program with a medley of classic and beloved country songs, accompanied by an armada of past winners of the show’s top award: Entertainer of the Year: Charley Pride (1971), Roy Clark (1973), Alabama (1982-1984), Reba McEntire (1986), Ricky Skaggs (1985),Alan Jackson (2002-2003), as well as Vince Gill (1993-1994), who teamed up with Dwight Yoakum and Ben Haggard to honor his father, 1970 winner Merle Haggard, who died in April. Most sang a few bars of the tunes for which they are best known.

Haggard paid tribute to his father with Mama Tried, Underwood covered Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man and Randy Travis watched as Paisley and Underwood sang his iconic Forever and Ever, Amen, chiming in on the song’s last “amen.” Travis nearly died after he suffered a stroke in 2013 and is working to regain his speech.

“There was so many just legends in the intro, I was sitting there singing like I was kid,” said Male Vocalist of the Year winner Chris Stapleton. “I got a little overwhelmed at the beginning, the gravity of what we get to be a part of, country music and the CMAs, it feels heavy but in a good way.

Brad and Carrie take on Trump, Clinton

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood told The Tennessean that election jokes were off-limits for their annual monologue at the CMA Awards.

Turns out that was a bit of a white lie — or as Paisley would say, “LIES!”

That’s what the country star exclaimed as he hovered behind Underwood on stage, mimicking Donald Trump’s moves at the second presidential debate.

“Crooked Carrie,” he called her as she pointed out nominees for Entertainer of the Year in the audience. But really, Paisley explained, he was pulling for Underwood in the category.

Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley bash elections at CMA Awards

“I love all you guys, but hashtag #I’mWithCarrie” he said from the stage.

“But what I think doesn’t really matter, because this show is rigged — bigly!”

From there, Brad and Carrie moved into Hillary territory. This year’s show had a special gift basket for all guests, Underwood explained — “Your very own basket of deplorables!”

Items included Willie Nelson’s Potted Meat and Tim McGraw/Faith Hill-branded Barbie dolls, complete with their own tour bus.

Country music 2016 playlist

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