2022 CMA Awards Recap [Live Blog]
No matter who wins CMA Entertainer of the Year, the result promises to be controversial. Some say Morgan Wallen is favorited to win his first Entertainer of the Year trophy, and if true, it'd signal that the country music industry has 100 percent moved on after he was caught using a racist slur on camera in 2021.
Carrie Underwood has never won a CMA Entertainer of the Year, and her fans feel that not only is she long overdue, this is her year. However, Miranda Lambert's fans think she's also worthy, and (last year's winner) Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton fans aren't backing down.
Other storylines to follow at the CMAs include if Maren Morris and husband Ryan Hurd attend the 2022 event (she said she might not) and if any reference is made to politics or some of the more divisive issues in country music. Hosts Luke Bryan and Petyon Manning are likely to keep it safe for all ideologies, but the same can't be promised for every performer and presenter.
Ideally, all anyone is talking about on Thursday morning is the awards and performances, which include tributes to Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn and Alan Jackson. Taste of Country's live blog starts at 6:30PM CT below, with the most recent happenings up top but additional video, photo and audio assets added as available.
11:05PM — Luke Combs had the quote of the night. "This is my fifth or sixth year at being at this award show and country sounded more country than it has in a long time tonight," he shared, winning his second straight CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year.
This was a tough category to predict but even if your artist didn't win it's hard to be mad at Combs for winning. He worked hard, had a tremendous amount of success and is very easy to vote for. I noted this on Twitter, but of the five nominees, he was the only one to participate in CMA Radio Row, an annual two-day junket where artists talk to radio stations nationwide. This is to say he's actively cultivating relationships. I promised this year-long commitment earned him a few votes.
Thanks for hanging with me tonight. I enjoyed doing this and hope to repeat in 2023.
10:52PM — I'm not sure what you say about Alan Jackson. Keith Urban's look said it best. It was a melancholy appreciation of a hero combined with recognition that CMT might soon take him from our stage. Great tribute by all involved.
Has Lainey Wilson been on stage four times tonight?
10:43PM — So far, Cody Johnson and Lainey Wilson's are the leaders with two CMAs each. Entertainer of the Year is the only CMA left to hand out and neither is nominated. According to Bet US, Morgan Wallen is the even odds favorite to win that award.
In other news, Ronnie Dunn went DEEP for this red carpet snap:
10:35PM — I did NOT see Lainey Wilson winning Female Vocalist of the Year, but I'm not mad about it. What a moment. She says her father is a real no-nonsense kind of guy who only lets her know he likes her songs by tapping his foot. I gotta imagine he did not like walking that red carpet, but he probably didn't have a choice either. She is her father's daughter. Look for a song called "Those Boots (Deddy's Song)" about her dad on Lainey's new Bell Bottom Country album.
10:15PM — It's not a bad idea to bet on Chris Stapleton for the best moment of an awards show. He just delivered with his wife Morgane and Patty Loveless. The song is called "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" and it's not well-known — well, it wasn't before this night.
Everyone was on their feet as Loveless brought this song home. What a moment!
9:58PM — New Artist of the Year winner Lainey Wilson is an artist that everyone in that room was cheering for and most are friends with. If you saw Hardy's proud smile, it was genuine. They're very good friends. Dustin Lynch stood for Lainey, Cody Johnson didn't seem to mind losing to her — the love for Lainey is legit!
9:55PM — On stage right now is Kelsea Ballerini, with Carly Pearce and Kelly Clarkson. All three are recent divorcees, something they are well aware of. We chatted with both Kelsea and Carly before the show and each opened up about how their friendship helped through a difficult time. Carly says she's able to assure Kelsea — with first-hand confidence — that she'll be OK.
I really like this song and would love to see it become a radio single one day.
9:44PM — Album of the Year is always a wild card category. Voters tend to choose the most mainstream songs available for Song and Single but let their wild child vote for Album.
This year, that didn't hold true. Luke Combs' Growin' Up won the CMA for Album of the Year. Miranda Lambert smiled but looked a little disappointed. Understandable. She is an album artist.
Wait, is that the first time we've seen Maren Morris on TV all night?
9:34PM — My mid-show Top 5 moments are (from No. 5 to No. 1): Tribute to Loretta Lynn, Luke Combs' performance, Carrie Underwood's performance, Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning's monologue and Cody Johnson's "'Til You Can't."
9:25PM — I think most people see this, but I like to note moments of synergy at awards show. Peyton Manning is hosting, but the bigger play is an opportunity for his growing Omaha Productions. Of course he hosts the Manningcast during ESPN's Monday Night Football. ESPN and ABC are the same company.
Elsewhere, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie aren't there if they aren't American Idol judges with Bryan (he's likely not host without being an ABC talent already). The CMAs are in a tricky spot right now because awards show viewership is flagging, and attempts to boost ratings by doubling down on "real country" stars haven't worked. However blatant attempts to do the same by recruiting pop stars have been bad for business — in my opinion Manning was a very, very smart choice to lead this show and I suspect he'll be here for awhile.
9:20PM — Was that ad Breland's schedule CMA Awards "performance"?
9:13PM — This is a little inside baseball, but I'm always fascinated by what drives Google searches. So far it's been Brothers Osbrone (specifically TJ Osborne's boyfriend) which happens ever awards show, and Luke Bryan's "Country On" lyrics. I think Luke is the night's big winner so far. That song hits this mainstream audience hard.
And now this random Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins pic, because they're adorable:
9:02PM — Once again, the CMA Award for Vocal Group of the Year goes to Old Dominion. These guys are certainly deserving. Class act move by Matt Ramsey to recognize the loss of Jeff Cook of Alabama earlier this week. Matt would be a good spokesman for the genre if he wanted to lean into the role a little bit. Brad Paisley held that role for awhile and Vince Gill before that, but we've lacked an artist leader for five years.
8:45PM — Brothers Osborne win Vocal Duo of the Year. I'm not sure the category had a true favorite. TJ and John certainly have been the fan and crowd favorite in recent years but on paper Dan + Shay have a better 2021-22 resume. Voters have cooled on them for reasons I can't figure out.
LoCash are primed to have a big 2023. Chris and Preston just told me about a new song and sports-themed reality show they're working on that should be huge. This category was packed full of blue collar, get-to-work, country singers. My kinda people!
Carrie up next — I'm gonna sip some water but I'll leave you with this:
8:35PM — Jo Dee Messina surprised just about everyone by showing up on stage with Cole Swindell at the CMA Awards. Talking to Taste of Country before the show, Cole said something like "it'd be nice" to have her, but did not seem optimistic about the possibilities. We read that as "no way." TL;DR story: never play poker with Cole Swindell.
Unrelated, Lainey Wilson walked the CMA Awards red carpet with her dad who just recovered from a near-fatal fungus infection. Here are the terrifying details (it's a bit much to digest) and here is the picture of Lainey with Brian Wilson.
8:27PM — Song of the Year goes to "Buy Dirt" by Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan. This song was a huge hit in 2021 and 2022 and seems timeless. I didn't think it'd win but certainly I'm not mad about it. This is Jordan's first CMA Award and he seemed truly shocked.
Holy cow is this show moving fast! I hardly got to mention Cody Johnson's performance of "'Til You Can't," which necessitated this tweet. But here's a better one of his performance.
8:12PM — I'm going to give Peyton and Luke's monologue a solid B. It began a little rushed but once they gave a little time for the punchlines to hit everyone started to feel more comfortable. They've got promise. The clogger was unexpected but fun. A+ for whomever wrote this zinger:
Luke: How do you think I did last year?
Peyton: I thought you really needed a co-host.
8:08PM - The 2022 CMA Awards opened with a classic clip of Loretta Lynn winning her 1972 CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year and she sprints to the stage. Worth noting is she was 40 years old and already a grandmother when she won. I'm fairly certain she's the only grandma to win Entertainer of the year.
Carrie Underwood opens with a verse and chorus of "You Ain't Woman Enough" and she's followed by Miranda Lambert who sings "Don't Come Home a Drinkin.'" Reba is third with You're Lookin' At Country." This is a stand-and-sing kind of tribute that isn't doing much to fire the crowd up or recall her memory. Their combined cover of "Coal Miner's Daughter" is nice but I think this would have been better mid-show when we were already settled in and in our feelings.
8:00PM - Let's do this thing! First up is the Loretta tribute. I wonder if Miranda will perform "Rated X," the song she played at the 2015 ACM Honors amid her divorce. That was a cheeky move then — might be old news by this point though.
Here are your hosts:
7:59PM - The three tribute performances tonight will be for Alan Jackson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Loretta Lynn. Probably just a mention for Alabama's Jeff Cook, which is understandable since he just died on Tuesday. The lack of tribute for Naomi Judd bothered many people, for good reason.
I think the defense for the CMAs would be that Naomi has been well-fêted since her death last spring, and a fourth memorial would really alter the mood of the show. I'm not saying it's a good excuse per se, but it's an excuse.
7:46PM - We now have three early winners as Jenee Fleenor wins CMA Musician of the Year. Earlier today, Cody Johnson's "'Til You Can't" video won Music Video of the Year and "Never Wanted To Be That Girl" by Ashley McBryde and Carly Pearce won Musical Event of the Year. All others should be awarded live.
7:30 PM - Hey it's Billy Dukes. Thanks for joining me for this live stream. The red carpet is popping right now and we've got a growing gallery of the best dressed below. Here is one of Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher, who look amazing as usual. BTW, there are rumors Maren Morris is there but I'm still looking for photo evidence.