The 2017 CMT Music Awards are now in the book, having kicked off in fine style with performances from many of the top stars in the format — plus a few from outside of it. Billboard has ranked the performances on the show. See if your opinion matches up with ours.
14. “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” Luke Bryan: Bryan has released more than his share of summer anthems over the years, and we’re sure this one — with its infectious melody — will join those other classics at the top of the list.
13. “Drowns The Whiskey,” Jason Aldean: On a night where the boundaries were pushed to the limit, one of country’s biggest male artists turned the pendulum back towards the traditional. The only glaring omission concerning the performance was the fact that Miranda Lambert, who sings harmony on the recorded version, was absent.
12. “Tequila,” Dan + Shay: The Warner Bros. duo proved they arrived in the hearts of fans with their first CMT Music Award win. Just a few minutes later, the pair returned to the Bridgestone stage to dazzle their fans with a harmony-laden performance of the song that netted them the win.
11. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” The Backstreet Boys: Introduced to CMT viewers last year, the legendary boy band chose this years’ telecast to unveil their brand new single — which showcased their harmonies as air-tight as ever.
10. “Summer Fever,” Little Big Town: The show’s hosts kicked off the telecast with a perfect song to usher in Summer, complete with a ’70s vibe that would make one of their biggest influences — Fleetwood Mac — brim with pride.
9. “Downtown’s Dead,” Sam Hunt: Despite the title of his latest hit, Sam Hunt demonstrated that things were hopping in a big way outside the sold-out Bridgestone Arena. The Georgia native has quite the effect on his growing fan base — a trend that we don’t see going away anytime soon.
8. “Simple,” Florida Georgia Line: For the first release from their upcoming disc, Brian and Tyler went for more of an organic sound than we’re accustomed to — conjuring up a Mumford-esque sound. To say it works is an understatement.
7. “Burnin’ Man,” Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne: The 2018 tour partners gave fans a taste of Bentley’s upcoming The Mountain with a performance that featured a winning combination of strength and vulnerability.
6. “Straight To Hell,” The Troublemakers (Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Charles Kelley): This all-star pairing brought back memories of some of country music’s greatest bad boys of all time — and each looked damn cool doing it.
5. “Millionaire,” Chris Stapleton: As always the case, there’s nothing particularly flashy about a Chris Stapleton performance — that is, until you actually take the time to listen to him, and you realize, “Holy smokes. This guy IS that good!…..And, indeed he is.
4. “Cry Pretty,” Carrie Underwood: Perhaps not as dramatic as her unveiling of her debut Capitol Nashville single during April’s ACM Awards, her performance was still as jaw-dropping. Needless to say, she hit all the right notes — as she always does.
3. “I Hate Love Songs,” Kelsea Ballerini: One of the fastest-rising artists in the format chose to slow things down a bit for the beginning of her current single — with the tempo coming later. This has all the makings of a career hit for Ballerini, who is stepping up to the plate as a possible female vocalist winner.
2. “Turnin’ Me On,” Blake Shelton: The Voice superstar elected to perform from the rooftop of his new Ole Red Nightclub in downtown. A longtime fan of the format, the track evoked memories of ’80s hitmakers such as T.G. Sheppard and Earl Thomas Conley.
1. “American Woman,” Kelly Clarkson: One can claim that it’s not a country song. One could claim that Clarkson is not a country singer — save her occasional flirtations with the format. But, she outright slayed this classic from the very second she took to the stage.