CMT had some big expectations to live up to, after last year's awards show featuring none less than our current Commander In Chief (as well as John McCain to boot). This year, the show could be summed up neatly by simply saying "Taylor Swift."
Anyway--Taylor. In a show with a famed comedic host (Bill Engvall) whose jokes overall fell disappointingly flat; plus an at-best bland, at-worst ill-fitting parade of dress fashion (the worst standout probably the oddly fitting satin strapless donned by Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland)--CMT's 2009 Awards were marked mostly by the teen queen's flashy/surprise-element appearances.
Swift started things out with a skit involving no less than three off-the-cuff personal "dreams" she wished to see to fruition. Number one, a part in the new Star Trek movie. Bingo, she suddenly has pointy ears and the power to vaporize host Engvall's head. This was amusing to watch.
Number two, she wants to be in the NFL. (Did we mention we'd get to the non sequitur part yet? Here you go.) Alrighty, then, we get to see her in a Titans uniform. This was also amusing to watch.
Number three, she wants to rap. With rapper T-Pain. (I personally would have chosen T.I. myself, but this is Taylor's dream. Right?) This was meant to be the climax of the skit, and was speculated upon in the press pre-show. I have to say, however, it was not as funny as it was meant to be. The hilarity/irony factor of urban acts bleeding over into the arena of country is well-tread at this point and beginning to wear a bit thin. I will admit, however, that hearing Swift rap about her "extra-small white T-shirt" did wrench a chuckle out of my jaded, cynical throat. Heh!
Ms. Taylor continued to dominate the show--mid-cycle, after several predictably on-the-money performances (Darius Rucker did a particularly good job), she appeared in a bathrobe and shucked it off to reveal a hot strappy dress underneath for her performance of "You Belong With Me." Like her or not, the girl definitely has the ability to hold and mold an audience. At the show's closing, her domineering duet with pop/rock legends Def Leppard was almost anticlimactic in light of the fact that she'd bridged and carried the entire show singlehandedly.
Swift took home two awards for her efforts--Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year, both for "Love Story." Her CMT Crossroads performance of "Photograph" (which--should be duly noted--is one of the best pop songs EVER) with Def Leppard was also nominated, but lost out to Alan Jackson's CMT Giants performance of "Country Boy" with guests George Strait, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley.
The other "eh?" moment of the night happened when Duo Of The Year winners Sugarland took the stage and unexpectedly launched into the '80s nugget "Love Shack." Even more confusing was the appearance of the actual B-52s joining them on stage. As it were, the dots are easily connectable: Sugarland has been performing this tune live here and there for a while now, and have just announced the cover will be included on their forthcoming release Live On The Inside. Additionally, the two bands share Georgia-scene heritage. To the casual fan, however, this came off as a bit of a head-scratcher.
Brad Paisley ended up the biggest winner of the night, with three awards total. However, we're going to bet that it's Taylor's three performances that will keep people talking this week. We can't say in good faith she trumped last year's Obama cameo, but she certainly stands for change in and of her own right.
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