CMT Music Awards: Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood Steal the Show While Lauren Alaina Steals Hearts

Officially, the CMA Music Festival kicks off on Thursday, June 8. That being said, Wednesday (June 7) night's CMT Music Awards proved that fans are already in the mood to party, with many of the format’s biggest stars taking part in the festivities.

The show lost none of its energy by moving to the Music City Center due to the Nashville Predators holding court this week during the Stanley Cup finals. In fact, the setting provided more of an intimate feel during the show.

Nashville star Charles Esten did a superb job hosting the show, taking part in a hilarious opening skit that showed CMT renting out the house of former series lead Rayna James (Connie Britton) to a variety of artists, including Kellie Pickler, Luke Bryan, and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Once the intro wrapped, the show rode high with a series of outstanding musical performances. Actually, that started before the opening monologue, with Charles Kelley, Jason Aldean, and Darius Rucker teaming up for a soaring tribute to the late Gregg Allman with "Midnight Rider," complete with a guitar solo from Derek Trucks.

It would be easy to call the opening the musical highlight of the night, but the show remained steady throughout the telecast. Miranda Lambert showed a little bit of sass on “Pink Sunglasses,” with several in the audience donning a pink pair. Thomas Rhett, who continues to become more of a force at each awards show, had the crowd on its feet with a highly choreographed performance of his current single “Craving You,” though sans harmony vocalist Maren Morris.

In a night where the name of the game was to be bigger and better, perhaps the moment of the evening came with Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood’s gloriously restrained version of “The Fighter,” a song that netted the pair a fan-voted trophy for Collaborative Video of the Year. Urban also collected an award for Male Video, winning for the exquisitely-filmed “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” which also tallied for Video of the Year – his fourth win of the night, as he also collected another honor in the form of the CMT Social Superstar of the Year Presented by Pepsi. Underwood didn’t go home without a solo trophy, as she nabbed yet another CMT Award for Female Video for “Church Bells.” In her remarks, she thanked the fans, before referring to husband Mike Fisher’s job in saying “Go Preds.”

Other award winners included Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.” for Duo Video of the Year, Little Big Town’s “Better Man” for Group Video, and Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan for CMT Performance of the Year for their performance of “Want To Want Me” from CMT Crossroads. Perhaps the sweetest moment was the presentation of Breakthrough Video to Lauren Alaina for her “Road Less Traveled” clip, as she was visibly moved. Making the occasion even more memorable for the songstress was that the award was presented to her by Country Music Hall of Fame member Reba McEntire

A tradition of the CMT Music Awards has perennially been the pairing of country acts with artists from outside the format. This year showed no letdown of that trend, with Florida Georgia Line teaming up with The Chainsmokers, Brothers Osborne with Peter Frampton, Bryan with Derulo and Lady Antebellum partnering up with Earth, Wind & Fire to close the night with “You Look Good,” Lady A's current hit, along with the iconic EWF hit “September,” which sent the fans into the downtown night with several more days of music to look forward to, but a memorable night already in the books.