Perhaps it has something to do with the inherent earthiness of the genre, but last night’s (September 16) 55th Annual ACM Awards worked in ways that the recent MTV VMAs didn’t. The show was seamless and the stripped-back performances were a delight across the board. Taylor Swift was the main draw, and she performed “betty” for the first time — in fact, it was her first folklore performance — with little more than a guitar and a stool for accompaniment. Needless to say, she absolutely crushed it.
Other highlights included Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s loved-up rendition of “Happy Anywhere” (the way they look at each other is unfair), Gabby Barrett’s performance of breakout hit “I Hope” and Kane Brown’s powerful presentation of “Beautiful Worldwide” as a protest song. Of course, Keith Urban and Pink brought the proverbial house down with new single “One Too Many,” but their duet hasn’t been uploaded to YouTube yet. I’ll add it as soon as it appears. In the meantime, check out the other performances below.