CMAs 2018: All the Performances Ranked From Worst to Best


The 2018 Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday evening (Nov. 14) returned to a well-worn theme for the CMAs in that includes younger expertise exhibiting respect to their elders, but it surely was veterans education rookies all evening lengthy by way of performances. 

Many of one of the best moments for the youthful set got here in too-brief appearances; Lauren Alaina surprised in a brief tribute to the late Dottie West, whereas eleven-year-old Mason Ramsey showcased vocals that deserved extra recognition than simply the transient moments of levity with hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood that got to him. 

The different facet of the age vary featured a rare acoustic efficiency by a famous person, and a latest Country Music Hall of Famer supplying a staggering quantity of musicianship to a technology of viewers which will have by no means heard his title earlier than tonight. Here's how Billboard ranks every full efficiency from worst to first.

Luke Combs, "She Got the Best of Me"

Moments after successful new artist of the 12 months from the CMAs, Combs carried out his present hit in entrance of the Bridgestone Arena crowd with an oddly sedate presence. Whether nonetheless overwhelmed by the emotions that got here with the sooner win, or simply having fun with no matter was within the crimson Solo cup he was holding, the younger expertise experiencing an exceptional 12 months on the charts got here off lackluster.

Midland, "East Bound and Down"

The Texas trio inadvertently made a case for nation followers who’ve railed in opposition to the act as inauthentic since they first discovered success, however delivering a tribute to the late Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed with a efficiency of the theme to Smokey and the Bandit that felt like a nasty journey to the karaoke bar by the workplace employees after a very lengthy day at work. 

Maren Morris, Mavis Staples, Chris and Morgane Stapleton, and Marty Stuart, "Friendship"/"I'll Take You There" Medley

One of the few collaborations to flounder on this evening, made extra stunning by the expertise onstage. Some of the individuals didn't appear overly accustomed to Stapleton's "Friendship", and as soon as Staples and a backing gospel choir took over on "I'll Take You There", you want the producers had simply let the gospel legend take us to church all by her lonesome.

Dan + Shay, "Tequila"

The first entry right here to actually sting. The duo have made a rapid title for themselves inside the nation fold for his or her masterful harmonies, however tonight's efficiency was simply lacking that visible part that might have made their vocals stand out from the pack, as an alternative of simply standing principally stationary all through.

Florida Georgia Line & Bebe Rexha, "Meant to Be" 

Hoo boy, the place to start out? The pair of nation hitmakers carried out whereas sporting matching white fits that regarded like they have been borrowed from a Backstreet Boys video in 1999, whereas Rexha missed a notice right here and there as soon as she appeared in entrance of violinists enjoying a model of the monster hit that had been stripped all the way down to strings. None of this labored.

Eric Church, "Desperate Man"

A final minute addition to the lineup of performers for this 12 months's CMAs, Church did his finest to showcase the title observe off his latest album, however the efficiency felt disjointed. Whether the blame for that goes to lack of time for the band to correctly put together, or if it was merely fatigue on everybody's half starting to set in because the three hour mark of the ceremony started to shut in, who can say?

Brad Paisley, "Bucked Off"

The singer's first new single in over a 12 months was publicly unveiled for the viewing viewers in opposition to a neon rodeo background. While the honky-tonker performed effectively to the gang, outdoors of a welcomed musical shoutout to George Strait on the finish of the tune, the whole lot right here simply felt prefer it'd been seen (and heard) earlier than.

Jason Aldean & Miranda Lambert, "Drowns the Whiskey"

Aldean and Lambert have been two of the primary performers on the evening, and have been the primary to barely disappoint the viewer in presentation. Sure, a number of the fantastic thing about the track has to do with the timelessness of the lyrics, however generally you need supply that consists of extra than simply two individuals standing at a few microphone stands. Lambert would present just a little extra spark later within the evening with the Pistol Annies.

Luke Bryan and company, "What Makes You Country"

For the second 12 months the CMAs led off their ceremony with a tribute to a latest group of taking pictures victims, adopted rapidly thereafter by an all-star efficiency on successful track. While final 12 months's selection within the Hootie and the Blowfish class "Hold My Hand" felt considerably applicable after a remembrance of the Las Vegas victims, Bryan's rollicking nation anthem was a baffling companion to a second of silence for these affected by final week's Borderline taking pictures. A endless collection of company (Luke Combs and Chris Janson amongst them) discovered moments within the solar, however the entire thing simply felt ill-timed and just a little distasteful. 

Pistol Annies, "Got My Name Changed Back"

Just over every week faraway from the discharge of their much-anticipated third album Interstate Gospel, the trio (Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley) made a case for being the reply for all of those that lament the continued exile of the Dixie Chicks from mainstream nation music. If it's doable for one to "shred" on the washboard, Lambert made a case for herself as doing so, as she attacked each the instrument and the track with a tenacity that was sorely lacking from earlier performances on the evening.

Carrie Underwood, "Love Wins"

During an evening when the perennial cohost of the ceremony decided to avoid politics within the opening monologue, Underwood made a case for many highly effective efficiency on the evening by taking up her present single. In an emotional show that surprised these watching, the feminine vocalist of the 12 months winner is making a stable case for herself as one of many high feminine abilities in nation music historical past.

Old Dominion, "Hotel Key"

While they’d go on to win vocal group of the 12 months, Old Dominion takes this spot for being the primary performers on the evening to truly look like each having enjoyable and appreciative of the second. With a neon resort signal illuminating the stage, and a track a few one-night stand turning into successful on nation radio, the band makes a powerful case for sly grownup themes in lyrics having a spot inside the mainstream viewers.

Kacey Musgraves, "Slow Burn"

On an evening that might see the proficient singer-songwriter go on to win album of the 12 months for the critically-lauded Golden Hour on the tenth anniversary of her transfer to Nashville, Musgraves made one other sturdy case for herself being probably the most criminally ignored artist in nation at present with a sultry rendition of the mellow standout observe from the document. With a backdrop giving off a '70s vibe, and masterful camerawork on the manufacturing facet of the ceremony, this could possibly be the second that lastly convinces radio programmers to cease ignoring the vocalist.

Dierks Bentley & Brothers Osborne, "Burning Man"

Performing their hit collaboration inside a hoop of fireside onstage, the entertainers proved that just a little showmanship can go a good distance on an extended evening. An incredible option to showcase the strengths of all concerned, with nice harmonizing being bookended by blistering guitar work, because of John Osborne.

Keith Urban, "Never Comin Down"

A showstopper efficiency from starting to finish, Urban was one of many few to embrace pyro, whereas standing excessive above the stage. This could have been one of the best purpose that could possibly be pointed towards as to why Urban would later be named entertainer of the 12 months, because the stage setup at this second could function an commercial for Urban's 2019 live performance schedule.

Kelsea Ballerini, "Miss Me More"

The fixed shadow that looms over Ballerini's profession stays Taylor Swift, as many proceed to say the younger nation star's profession so carefully mirrors the latter's at roughly the identical stage that it's uncanny. The efficiency seen right here gained't be altering these opinions anytime quickly, as Ballerini was surrounded by 16 dancers appearing out a choreographed routine in contrast to any seen tonight. With an upcoming headlining tour on the horizon, the younger singer could also be hinting at an area run within the not too distant future.

Thomas Rhett, "Life Changes"

The first artist of the evening to actually embrace the visible part to an awards present efficiency, starting this title observe to his newest album on the mattress of a dorm room set, and ending up surrounded by a full marching band enjoying alongside to his musical embrace of the trail his life has gone post-college. Rhett made a reputation for himself previously 12 months as a real headlining act, and after tonight he ought to at all times be thought-about a heavy favourite for an entertainer of the 12 months nomination.

Garth Brooks, "Stronger Than Me"

How does an artist thought-about one of many best of his technology maintain his personal in opposition to upstarts as proficient as these seen tonight? By stripping away the whole lot pointless in delivering the most effective songs he has launched in years, and having what many take into account the second of the evening. In unveiling a never-before-heard tribute to his spouse, fellow nation nice Trisha Yearwood, Brooks relied on nothing greater than his personal phrases and an acoustic guitar to captivate the eye of all the area. As tears have been shed by each he and his spouse on the finish of the track, everybody watching realized this was a spotlight reel second in a profession outlined by them.

Ricky Skaggs and Guests, Medley

In a 12 months that included induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Skaggs launched himself to a technology of nation fan watching at house which will have by no means even heard of his title earlier than tonight, however would keep in mind it for years to come back with a barnburner of a efficiency. In a three-parter that referred to as to all points of his profession, he started on one finish of the stage along with his bandmates in bluegrass outfit Kentucky Thunder on the traditional "Black Eyed Susie", earlier than strolling over and becoming a member of Keith Urban (subbing for an ailing Vince Gill) on his 1983 hit "Highway 40 Blues", after which lastly ending up with Brad Paisley and Marty Stuart on a rambunctious rendition of Skaggs' 1985 chart topper "Country Boy". Unlike many tributes that are likely to happen on awards reveals, not solely did a legend seem to arguably be in his prime, however was in a position to tackle what may arguably be referred to as probably the most expertise to share one stage in CMA historical past and blow them away.