Relive the Most Thrilling Moments From the 2016 CMT Awards

From its mod, jewel-toned stage to performances featuring a fusion of country legends, rock, and pop stars, the 2016 CMT Awards energized a classic genre with radical twists. The night celebrated country music’s rich history while showcasing its eclectic, contemporary fan base.

NFL Star J.J. Watts and TV personality Erin Andrews hosted the event, which trended on Twitter with the hashtag #CMTAwards for several hours on Wednesday, June 8.

Here are some highlights from CMT’s wildest party of the year.

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 08: Erin Andrews and J.J. Watt host the 2016 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Erin Andrews and J.J. Watt host the CMT Awards.

The night began with a surge of star power:

The first performance of the night took place outside the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. Fans swarmed the streets to watch Keith Urban and tour mates Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris perform Wasted Time.

Billy Ray Cyrus and Cheap Trick followed with a dynamic mash-up of the Elvis cover, Don’t Be Cruel, and Surrender. The performance was a nod to Cyrus’s Elvis impersonator role on Still the King.

The party moved inside for another exclusive, genre-bending collaboration, as rapper Pitbull performed his hit Messin’ Around with British songstress Leona Lewis and country-pop star Cassadee Pope.

Hosts Erin Andrews and J.J. Watts have a hard time working at CMT headquarters in spoof video:

It’s a tradition for the CMT Awards to debut a mockumentary short about the production of the show. This year’s video featured the hosts attempting to get some work done in the CMT offices, as their CMT “employees” continued to interrupt them. A slew of country singers, including Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Kellie Pickler, Brett Eldredge,  and Billy Ray Cyrus guest-starred as annoying underlings.

Carrie Underwood’s winning streak and electric performance:

Clad in black lace, accompanied by a banjo player and fog machine, Underwood dominated the night with her stark, sultry performance of Church Bells. Underwood took home awards for Female Video of the Year and CMT Performance of the Year. She succeeded in breaking her own record for most wins in the show’s history—a staggering 15 trophies.

Tim McGraw explains the anatomy of an artistic footprint in his acceptance speech for Video of the Year:

McGraw’s award-winning video is called Humble and Kind, and that described his attitude as he accepted his trophy. He thanked everyone involved in his success, from his record label to Oprah Winfrey, who provided footage for his video.

“When we make a footprint as an artist, there’s a lot of people involved in making that footprint,” said McGraw. “We do it because we hope to move you.”

Dierks Bentley led fans in memorializing “the backbone of country”:

The show honored its roots with a tribute to late country legend, Merle Haggard.

“His songs brought together people from all walks of life,” said Bentley. “He always said so much with so few words. He was the backbone of country, the real outlaw, the king of the Bakersfield sound. So tonight, let’s take a moment to say thanks to the Hag.”

Watch Merle Haggard’s Artist of a Lifetime award from the 2014 CMT Awards:

The Winners:

Visit for performance videos and more.

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