The Star Wars-themed opening kicked off a show filled with a few awkward jokes, a bevy of country performers (including
Luke Bryan who took the prized entertainer award) and a few new faces (like big winner Chris Stapleton).
The divorce of country-music heavyweights
Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton was the elephant in the room of the awards show. Paisley attempted to make light of the hot topic, by joking about the end of the relationship "of two people in this very room who we know and love." The camera cut to Kermit and Piggy.Later, both Shelton and Lambert had their own performances, and Lambert won for female vocalist of the year. She humbly accepted the honor, saying, "Thanks ... I needed a bright spot this year."Voters were clearly crushing on the song Girl Crush, because the song by Little Big Town won the award for both song (award goes to songwriters) and single of the year. The group also won for vocal group of the year and performed their hit song about a "heart rush" for a fellow female that "ain't slowing down."Rising country star Chris Stapleton took home the awards for new artist, male vocalist and album (for Traveller), but not before taking the stage for a show-stealing performance with fellow Tennessean Justin Timberlake. (Another performance that combined pop and country: Fall Out Boy and Thomas Rhett's.) Stapleton and Timberlake performed the former's Tennessee Whiskey, and the latter's Drink You Away. "There's probably gonna be a party tonight," Stapleton said onstage, accepting his third award. Cheers to that!