Comeback Queen Carrie Underwood Rules 2015 CMT Awards

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for CMT
Carrie Underwood performs onstage during the 2015 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 10, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The CMA Awards might be “Nashville’s Biggest Night,” but tonight’s 2015 CMT Awards definitely qualifies as “Music City’s Night To Party.” It also could be referred to as the comeback party for Carrie Underwood. The country star made her first post-baby appearance, and won three fan-voted trophies during the night -- including overall Video of the Year for “Something In The Water.”

In her acceptance speech, the singer said: “This is such an amazing blessing. I have the best fans in the world. I really do.”

The “party” philosophy was definitely in place from the beginning of the two-and-a-half hour telecast, which featured Lady Antebellum delivering a knockout punch on the first verse of their current single “Long Stretch Of Love,” and then bringing EDM superstar Zedd to the stage for a much-hyped collaboration of “Beautiful Now” before picking back up where they left off with their current release.

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Though the show is more known for its performances, there were some awards presented during the evening. Underwood and Miranda Lambert took home the Collaborative Video of the Year for their spicy “Somethin’ Bad” clip. The new mother was not done with her walks to the podium, as she picked up the Female Video for “Something in the Water,” to which she said: “This song and this video are very special to me.” Making her first awards show appearance since the birth of her son Isaiah in February, Underwood said, “I’m sure he’s napping on the bus right now, but I should say that he has inspired me so much, as well as my husband,” she said in reference to Mike Fisher. Another fan favorite, Luke Bryan, won the Male Video award for “Play It Again.” The singer thanked longtime crew member Michael Monaco for helping him make the video.
 
Sam Hunt walked away with the Breakthrough Video trophy for his chart-topping “Leave The Night On.” The singer thanked his fans, saying: “It’s phenomenal to be on this stage tonight. I appreciate you all.” He also recalled attending the show last year before his first single had made an impact. Florida Georgia Line, a perennial fan favorite of the show, added another trophy to their collection for “Dirt,” which was voted as Duo Video of the Year.
 
In a career first, the legendary Bob Seger was a CMT Winner via his collaboration with Jason Aldean on his iconic “Turn The Page” from CMT Crossroads which won the prize for CMT Performance of the Year. The singer thanked Seger for “being a badass. This is really cool because this was a song that I performed on stage for years, and I got a chance to perform it with him, which was a dream come true.”
 
Later in the evening, Lady Antebellum returned to the stage to accept the Group Video of the Year prize for “Bartender,” which featured supermodel Kate Upton (who coincidentally celebrates her 23rd birthday today). Hillary Scott remarked in her comments that fellow members Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood showed up early on the set the day of filming. “I wonder why,” she said to the audience. 

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This year’s show was so big that it couldn’t be contained solely in Bridgestone Arena, as Darius Rucker entertained fans outside on the streets of Broadway with an energetic performance of his recent hit “Homegrown Honey.” Later in the evening, winners Florida Georgia Line gave fans a taste of the title cut from their current album Anything Goes. Kenny Chesney also took to the outdoor setting to perform his nominated “American Kids.”
 
One of the highlights of the show was the return of Country Music Hall of Fame member Reba McEntire, who dazzled the crowd with her current release “Going Out Like That.” In addition, several newcomers got a chance for some nationwide exposure on the Nationwide stage, such as Chris Janson -- who relished the moment while performing his ground-breaking single “Buy Me A Boat.” Kelsea Ballerini -- riding the wave of success from her top-five debut single “Love Me Like You Mean It” -- also had the crowd singing along while living in the moment.
 
Perhaps the musical moment of the night belonged to Eric Church -- who gave a smoky performance of his “Like A Wrecking Ball,” which got a reaction from the female audience members similar to what Conway Twitty would have gotten with a song like “I’d Love To Lay You Down” some three decades earlier -- proving some subject matter is timeless. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, Jake Owen showcased his “Real Life” single, which featured dancers, a waitress, and a beach ball.
 
The only performance to rival Church in terms of dramatic effect was Underwood’s return to the stage to perform “Little Toy Guns,” which featured the songstress looking ravishing in a full-length black dress.

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Owen wasn’t the only star to unveil new material during the night. Keith Urban premiered his new single “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” to an enthusiastic response. The song is the lead track from his upcoming eighth studio release for Capitol.
 
There were plenty of humorous moments through the evening, with show co-host Erin Andrews bringing the “Belmont Belles” to the stage to perform “Carrie Crush,” a knock-off of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” the current number one song on the Hot Country Songs list. There was also a routine featuring Alan Jackson and the show’s hosts being driven around “Guuber” (a takeoff on Uber) -style by Steven Tyler and Arnold Schwarzenegger, respectively. The clip also featured pop sensation Justin Bieber, as well as The Late Late Show host James Corden.