The Real Winners and Losers of the 2014 ACC Awards
The 2014 American Country Countdown Awards found something in two hours that its FOX predecessor couldn't find in three years: credibility. After a bumpy start to Monday night's broadcast, the show found some rhythm. There were enough emotional moments to keep fans from straying to see what Craig Wayne Boyd was up to on 'The Voice,' and the performances were good by television standards.
Still, there's room for improvement. Critics looking to bash Florida Georgia Line as hosts found ammunition early on. "Oh my gosh!" acceptance speeches were replaced by immediate performances, and that took time to embrace. A few people -- Vince Vaughn specifically -- looked bored, and several of the awards seemed conjured up to get A-List talent in the house.
After 30 minutes or so, the formula began to work. Why should Miranda Lambert seem surprised she won an award dictated by sales and radio airplay success? In fact, what would happen if other shows gave the winners a heads up and skipped the faux-dramatics? It's a revolutionary idea that kind of felt right.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley quickly settled in, with Kelley looking especially cool on camera. A mix of legends and newcomers (how good did Maddie & Tae and Chase Rice look?) even got face time on television. The ACC Awards were anything but same old, same old.
Below, find the best and worst moments -- the real winners and losers -- from this inaugural Nashville ceremony. The American Country Countdown Awards didn't establish a brand in year one, but the groundwork was laid to do so in future years.
Kip Moore: Kip Moore was one of the more puzzling winners, as he didn't enjoy any radio success in 2014. Still, he's a worthy recipient and his performance of 'Hey Pretty Girl' introduced him to a whole new set of fans. Moore is a good looking guy, and for once he dressed the part. His emotional acceptance speech was one of the more heart-tugging moments of the 2014 event. Good looks + big heart + great song = WINNING!
Florida Georgia Line: After the monologue, Hubbard and Kelley shined as hosts. OK, there was one swing and miss we'll get to later, but their rockstar energy and style was a good fit for this most casual of awards shows. In short bites, FGL were able to show their personalities and sense of humor. No, they're not Brad and Carrie yet, but they were a lot more fun to watch than Trace and Danica.
Brett Eldredge's Pants: Were those jeans made of denim? Spandex? Paint? The 'Beat of the Music' singer didn't seem to have trouble moving around the stage during his performance, but seriously ... you could count the change in his pockets! One tradition this version of FOX's award show kept alive was giving new artists a platform. It was refreshing.
Reba McEntire: It was a pretty sweet setup for Reebs. Four years after releasing a record no one would play on radio, the superstar has a label and radio format set up to support her. Plus she won the Nash Icon Award, a deserved honor, but one handed off with a wink, as she was the only eligible candidate at the time the award was announced (McEntire is the flagship artist on Nash Icon Music). She made the most of her time on stage, however, picking up a microphone to sing 'Fancy' with Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson.
Jason Aldean: Jason Aldean has been the ultimate bridesmaid, always nominated for top awards but never taking them home. Finally the singer got what he deserved. If there was justice, he'd have at least one ACM and CMA Entertainer of the Year award to put his ACC Artist of the Year trophy next to. It was nice to see this singer finish on top.
Suspense: Since the awards were determined based on sales and radio airplay, the winners were mostly known as soon as nominees were announced. The ACC Awards are essentially the country-only equivalent of the Billboard Music Awards. Thankfully, they did away with the facade that there was a shroud of mystery around who would drive home with the hardware.
Hashtags: Instead of picking one hashtag to drive social media traffic to, producers of the ACC Awards chose to slap a hashtag on everything. Artist names, winners and events all necessitated a #. It was a spaghetti-to-the-wall strategy that resulted in confusing pushes for #CongratsKip, #GroundbreakerKenny and #MirandaGoesPlatinum.
Carrie Underwood: She looked great. She sounded great! Yet Carrie Underwood's show-opening performance was a dud. The medley felt like an early '80s Slim Whitman commercial. Did the show's insurance not cover any potential injury should the pregnant lady move from her pedestal? We yearned for the power and the drama she's able to conjure with a well-choreographed four-minute routine.
The Writers: Much like its FOX predecessor, the show's script seemed slapped together after everything else was finished. A little cheese -- Hubbard and Kelley's clothes being ripped off -- is forgivable. But from there the opening only got worse. Poor timing, tired cliches ("Speaking of 'Something in the Water' ...") and a lazy countdown did the show an injustice. Did Brian Kelley insinuate that he and Carrie Underwood ... nah, that couldn't have happened.
Later a bad Santa Claus bit turned into an excuse to roll out even more adolescent humor. "Tyler, you have a large sack!" Kelley said. Oh, brother.
But the poor script writing wasn't just reserved for the show's hosts. Jimmie Johnson and Clayton Kershaw's singing routine was cringe-worthy. Chase Rice made the most of bit with lifeless 'Walking Dead' star Emily Kinney. One month after the sharply-penned CMA Awards, this script seemed amateur at best.
Garth Brooks Fans: Since these awards are decided based on sales and radio airplay, Garth may never win. He reports to GhostTunes, which unfortunately reports to no one. Even if he sold a million albums it will register as a big fat zero, because he's not bragging. This means it's unlikely he'll ever appear or perform at the ACCAs, unless they come up with some award tailored for him. Is Year 2 too early to begin an ACC Nash Icon Hall of Fame?
See Pictures From the 2014 American Country Countdown Awards