Taylor Swift joined Shania Twain for their own version of "Thelma & Louise." Justin Bieber induced tears from teenagers as he walked the red carpet with Rascal Flatts. And Hines Ward wore cowboy boots.
The CMT Music Awards kicked off a celebration of country music's diversity in the 21st century on Wednesday, warping the lines of celebrity as actors, reality stars and athletes mingled with performers from the pop, rock and folk world.
Swift and Twain mounted a cross-country crime spree in a faux movie trailer at the top of the show, dispatching a slimy Ron White and running host Kid Rock off a cliff in a pre-recorded segment that also included Donald Trump and Kenny Rogers.
Wynonna Judd taught host Kid Rock a little something about country and Toby Keith debuted a new song before Sugarland won the night's first award, duo video of the year for "Stuck Like Glue."
And Bieber added a CMT belt buckle to the pile of trophies he's won in the last year, taking home best collaboration for "That Should Be Me."
Long a fan of Rascal Flatts, Bieber drew some of the night's biggest cheers from the crowd in a corridor of the arena, where the red carpet was moved to avoid oppressive temperatures near 100. One of the night's largest entourages included Rascal Flatts singer Gary LeVox's daughters, 10-year-old Brittany and 8-year-old Brooklyn, who were clearly smitten with the teen sensation.
"If I wanted to go home, I had no choice but to bring them," LeVox said.
Bieber and Flatts weren't the only interesting matchup of the night.
Juggernaut Jason Aldean entered the night with the most nominations at four and is joined by a field of the usual suspects at the Bridgestone Arena. But other nominees this year included rock group Staind frontman Aaron Lewis with George Jones and Charlie Daniels and collaborations between Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffett, and Aldean and Kelly Clarkson and Adele and Darius Rucker.
Fans have been voting on the winners for weeks, but there's still work to do. Kid Rock, hosting for the second straight year, announced the five finalists for video of the year at the top of the show. Fans will decide a winner from the field of Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Sugarland and Swift during the telecast.
Aldean made no secret of coveting a belt buckle.
"I'm not stingy," Aldean said. "I just want one."