The 44th annual Academy of Country Music Awards aired live from Las Vegas on April 5, and saw a 26 percent increase in viewers over last year. That new audience witnessed some intentional highlights — like Sugarland’s sultry mandolin/electric-guitar slow dance on ”What I’d Give” — as well as plenty that were accidentally memorable. Here are the biggest surprises of the unusually wild night.
Tim McGraw stormed out of rehearsals on Saturday after what his publicist described as a ”major dispute” with the show’s producers. By Sunday morning, he’d pulled out of the show altogether. (Details about the feud remain sketchy, but the squabble proved short-lived: McGraw showed up the next night to participate in an ACM-sponsored tribute to George Strait.) Meanwhile, infamously hot-blooded singer Toby Keith angrily vented personal beef in the pressroom, yelling directly at a Nashville journalist who’d recently posted a blog item that upset the outspoken star. Keith dropped a cluster of F-bombs on The Tennessean’s Peter Cooper — we will spare you the truly unpleasant specifics — before getting yanked off the dais by his publicist. (Much more on the labyrinthine Keith conflict can be found at music-mix.ew.com.)
Miley’s Shocking Moves!
We know it’s Vegas. We’re just not sure 16-year-old Miley Cyrus needed to writhe so much during her hydraulic, pyrotechnic, literally over-the-top production of ”The Climb.” Just sayin’.
Following months of ”Urban or Chesney?” speculation, the fan-voted Entertainer of the Year went to Carrie Underwood, only the seventh woman to win since 1966. During her speech, she thanked God and her fans…and made a pass at Matthew McConaughey. Naturally, she has since apologized for the latter.
The back of Top New Artist winner Julianne Hough’s Zuhair Murad dress popped open as she jumped up to collect her award, requiring this awkward acceptance-speech pose (and a hand from presenter Jack Ingram). Subsequent celebrations led to a visit from an emergency seamstress.
Strange New Pals!
Jamie Foxx: actor, singer, George Strait superfan. After enthusiastically introducing his fellow Texan as ”a legend, and my buddy,” Foxx sprinted across the stage to shake the venerable star’s hand. His epic intro — which included an Obama shout-out and a Tyler Perry joke — ran a full 21 seconds longer than Strait’s entire performance.