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Our Favorite Moments From The 56th CMA Awards

The 2022 CMA Awards have received mixed reviews from fans and industry professionals alike, but there's no doubt that last night is one to remember. During what many consider to be "Country Music's Biggest Night," hosts Peyton Manning and Luke Bryan helped Nashville celebrate some of this past year's greatest accomplishments in the genre. Here's a few of our highlights from the 56th annual event!

Loretta Lynn Tributes

The death of 90-year-old Loretta Lynn shook many members of the country music world last month, as they mourned the groundbreaking legend who broke down doors for countless women. The show kicked off with footage of Lynn accepting CMA’s entertainer of the year in 1972, the first time a woman ever won the prize, followed by a tribute from Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire.

Female Vocalist Of The Year nominee Carly Pearce also performed "Dear Miss Loretta" in honor of the late titan. A standout from Pearce's career-defining record 29: Written In Stone, the emotional song highlights Lynn's immense impact.

Cole Swindell & Jo Dee Messina Bring Us ’90s Country Nostalgia

The audience started screaming as Jo Dee Messina joined Cole Swindell onstage for an invigorating version of Swindell’s “She Had Me At Heads Carolina,” a reimagining of Messina’s 1996 classic, “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” Swindell and Messina finally released a remix of the former's song together this week, timed perfectly to their CMAs performance. Blending lyrics from both the artists' smash hits, the two stars captivated both millennial and Get Z country fans in one of the night's most memorable moments.

It’s hard to overstate how enormous this hit has been for Swindell, who has had several big singles in his career but saw this song explode over the summer and fall, sitting for five weeks at No. 1 on the radio charts — as Nashville knows, ’90s nostalgia is real and overwhelming.

Chris Stapleton & Patty Loveless, Together Again The two Kentucky natives performed together at a recent Kentucky benefit concert for flood relief and thrilled the CMAs audience when they joined again for Loveless’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” Stapleton’s booming voice always sends country fans into a frenzy, and aided by Loveless’s stellar vocals, the crowd was practically on its feet before the song was even over.

Ashley McBryde, Pillbox Patti, Brandy Clark, John Osborne & Caylee Hammack Welcome Us To Lindeville

Performing the standout "When Will I Be Loved" from McBryde's collaboration-heavy concept album Lindeville, this diverse group of performers shows country music's true storytelling potential. Lindeville contains some of McBryde's best work yet, detailing stories of a small town, its dynamics, and its characters, with a variety of musical techniques. McBryde's bold, unique approach immensely contributes to the country music scene of 2022.

The Alan Jackson Tribute There is nothing that country award shows love more than showing how much contemporary stars adore the hits from legendary artists, and the camera showcased Kelsea Ballerini, Breland, Ashley McBryde, Combs and many more singing along to Alan Jackson’s classics during his tribute.

Jackson, the recipient of this year’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, took the stage for “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” but a slew of others performed their own versions of Jackson’s hits, including Underwood (“Remember When”) and Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi and Wilson all together for “Chattahoochee,” “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” and “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”

Brothers Osborne & the War and Treaty

Brothers Osborne continued the tradition of electrifying award show performances with a cover of “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” by the Rolling Stones — a track on an upcoming country music tribute album called “Stoned Cold Country” — along with the War and Treaty, husband and wife duo Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter, whose powerful vocals added to the riveting spectacle. The Trotters shimmied around the stage as the brothers stayed anchored on guitars, and the camera panned to crowd members dancing like they were having the time of their lives, from T.J. Osborne’s boyfriend to Morgane Stapleton.

HARDY & Lainey Wilson's Murder Ballad

Country music award shows these days are known more for glitter than chilling murder ballads, but Hardy and Wilson were determined to change that during a captivating performance of a track that makes you go, “Wait, did he just say what I think he said?” In this case, yes, Hardy sings from the perspective of a man who kills Wilson’s abuser and then goes to jail. And to make sure no one missed the meaning, Hardy — standing in front of a truck — drew his finger across his throat after he sang the line about being in jail: “It ain’t paradise, that’s true / But it’s a whole hell of a lot better than the place I sent him to.

Wilson contributed her unmatched, raw vocals to the performance. Her phenomenal stage presence and belt especially shined in the bridge, as the New Artist & Female Vocalist winner boldly sang her part. “I want the people who have been abused to hear the song,” Wilson told the Associated Press. “I want them to feel like they are not alone. But I want the abusers to hear it. I want them to be haunted.”

"YOU'RE DRUNK, GO HOME" - The Ultimate Girl Power Collaboration

Ballerini has weathered criticism her whole career that she’s “too pop,” but her latest album SUBJECT TO CHANGE has some of the most classic country songs of the year. That includes the upbeat anthem “YOU'RE DRUNK, GO HOME,”featuring Carly Pearce and Kelly “always seems like she’s on the verge of crossing over to country music” Clarkson. All three singers scornfully informed the drunk man in the song that they were not interested in his pickup lines.

To several fans' pleasure, Clarkson made sure to include the iconic "Byeee!" from the song's bridge in the live performance. As they belted out the lyrics, for some reason, a brief shower of fire rained down behind them. This phenomenal trio got the entire CMA audience - as well as fans watching from their TVs at home - on their feet.

Moments like these prove that award shows aren't just about the winners. The CMAs' primary purpose is to celebrate music and the ways that it brings people together. Country music especially covers a wide range of topics and sub-genres, which the diverse group of artists in last night's lineup represent well. As we count down to next year's ceremony, we're so glad we have these videos to watch over and over again.

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