2018 ACM Awards: All the Performances Ranked

From Reba & Kelly's show-stopping duet to Kelsea Ballerini's glowing neon heart to Toby & Blake's knockout throwback performance, these are all the 2018 ACM Awards performances ranked. 

25. Chris Young

While Young’s vocals sounded great, the energy level was a little lacking during “Losing Sleep.” It was...well… sleepy.

24. Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan’s performance of “Most People Are Good” was fine, and the song is well-intentioned, but it’s a weak composition, and it didn’t make a huge impression during the broadcast.

23. Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker brought out “For the First Time" at the ACMs. Not one of his best songs, but he sounded great and the crowd responded with enthusiasm. 

22. Brett Young

Young’s performance of his heart-rending “In Case You Didn’t Know” was very sweet, but too short -- he sounded great, but it left you wishing he’d been allotted more time.

21. Kenny Chesney

Chesney was the night’s first performer. He brought a positive message and good energy to the ACMs, and had the audience singing along to every word with “Get Along.” Not a standout, but a solid performance.

20. Lauren Alaina

Lauren Alaina played “Doing Fine” surrounded by glowing golden lights. She sounded fantastic, demonstrating the sweetness and depth in her voice. Although it was a quickie performance, she still made an impression.

19. Midland

Midland’s excellent “Drinkin’ Problem” performance would be higher on this list, but they unfortunately didn’t get much time for their on-air appearance.

18. Lady Antebellum

Lady A’s “Heart Break” has some cute wordplay (“take a heart break” -- get it?) and finds the country trio in their element. It’s a lovely song and their performance was on-point.

17. Dierks Bentley

Singing “Woman, Amen” in front of images of women from all walks of life, Dierks Bentley was in top form vocally -- but the standout moment of his performance was undoubtedly the end, when he walked into the crowd to kiss the most important woman in his life: his wife.

16. Florida Georgia Line & Bebe Rexha

Singing their country/pop collab “Meant to Be,” FGL and Rexha were clearly reveling in the song that’s taken them to the top of Hot Country Songs for 19 weeks so far and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

15. Blake Shelton

With girlfriend Gwen Stefani singing along in the crowd, Blake Shelton sang his low-key, tender, strummy song “I Lived It.” He’s a consummate performer, and although he fared better that night with Toby Keith, it was still a solid number.

14. Dan + Shay

The duo stopped by to pop open a bottle of “Tequila” at the ACMs. They sounded great with just their voices and an acoustic guitar, and left you wanting another shot.

13. Thomas Rhett

Singing the gentle heartbreak ode “Marry Me,” Thomas Rhett’s vocals were spot-on smooth during this lovely, moving song.

12. Jason Aldean

Prior to winning entertainer of the year at the 2018 ACM Awards, Jason Aldean delivered a stripped-down performance of “You Make It Easy.” As you would expect for someone who nabbed the night’s big award, he did, in fact, make it look easy.

11. Blake Shelton & Toby Keith

While we’re better off with them in our lives as singers, Blake Shelton and Toby Keith pondered whether they “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” at the ACMs. Keith, of course, has sung his debut single countless times, but Shelton was clearly having a blast sharing the stage with the country legend, trading lines on the 1993 hit with an irrepressible smile.

10. Chris Janson

Chris Janson closed out the 2018 ACM Awards with a rip-roaring, hyper-turnt performance of “Redneck Life,” his ode to beer box helmets, gravel roads and Mountain Dew. It might have been the end of the night, but his end level was at 11 while shouting the anthemic country-rock number and playing along on the harmonica.

9. Little Big Town

Little Big Town busted out their cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” -- from Restoration, a collection of country artists paying homage to Sir Elton -- at the ACMs. Their gorgeous harmonies blended together perfectly on the existential ballad, and their outfits -- including sparkling suits and some serious feathers -- were truly out of this world.

8. Miranda Lambert

Playing “Keeper of the Flame” on a guitar signed by Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert’s performance at the ACMs was special -- this year, she passed Brooks & Dunn for most ACM wins in history. It was a powerful performance, and afterward she wiped a tear from her eye.

7. Alan Jackson & Jon Pardi

Jon Pardi, who has two albums under his belt, his the stage with the legendary Alan Jackson for a brisk, roaring run-through of Jackson’s 1992 single ”Chattahoochee.” They sounded great together, and the audience was singing along to every word.

6. Keith Urban & Julia Michaels

Keith Urban brought his Merle Haggard-sampling new single “Coming Home” to the ACMs and made quite a splash, standing out from the crowd with a spacey sound that stood in stark contrast to the rest of the night’s songs. And when the song’s co-writer, Julia Michaels, came out to trade vocals runs with him at the end, she couldn’t help but dance along.

5. Maren Morris

Maren Morris is a kickass vocalist, bringing character and attitude to her ACMs performance -- not to mention a massive glowing sign displaying the name of her song “Rich.” How did she handle the “shit” in the song’s chorus on the family-friendly awards show? Perfectly: Her bassist got the spotlight and delivered a cheeky “ka-ching, ka-ching” to the camera in place of the four-letter word, and she was clearly living for every moment of it.

4. Kane Brown & Lauren Alaina

Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina brought their Hot Country Singles No. 1 hit “What Ifs” to the ACMs. They also brought a palpable exuberance to their performance, looking like they were having the time of their lives up on the stage. Vocally, they nailed every note, with Alaina in particular belting out the big notes effortlessly.

3. Kelsea Ballerini

Descending from a glowing neon pink heart, Kelsea Ballerini performed her hysterical, all-too-relatable “I Hate Love Songs.” Aside from imbuing every moment with an endearing sneer, she wowed with a sparkly pink dress that pulled away to reveal rhinestone-studded pants and a tank top. From the song to the costume to the staging, easily one of the night’s best.

2. Reba McEntire & Kelly Clarkson

Singing her 1993 Linda Davis duet “Does He Love You” with Kelly Clarkson, ACMs host Reba McEntire couldn’t hide her joy over sharing the stage with her daughter-in-law and friend despite the song’s heartbreaking lyrics. At the end, Kelly’s long belts blended with Reba’s growl, and it was an astonishing moment -- not just for the evening, but for ACM Awards history.

1. Carrie Underwood

Performing her brand new single “Cry Pretty,” Carrie Underwood had the night’s best outfit -- a silver rhinestone dress complemented by silver makeup under her eyes as if she’d been crying tears of glitter. Of course, she was a vocal dynamo, belting out a memorable chorus that gave her plenty of room for some huge, drawn-out notes that earned her a lengthy round of applause. This is how you do an awards show performance.

Academy of Country Music Awards 2018


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