Last night's Country Music Awards featured performances by George Strait, Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney — but it was Gwyneth Paltrow who left the biggest impression on the audience. Playing the title track to her forthcoming film Country Song, the actress sounded like an old Nashville pro and drew a standing ovation.
Other highlights included Reba McEntire's surprise on Beyoncé's "If I Were A Boy" and a tribute to Nashville legend Loretta Lynn featuring Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert and Sissy Spacek (who starred in the 1980 Lynn biopic Coal Miner's Daughter), as well as Lynn herself.
Taylor Swift's new LP Speak Now was released too late for CMA consideration, but she performed a spellbinding rendition of her ballad "Back to December" (supposedly about ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner) on the piano with a large string section.
The big winners of the night were Miranda Lambert, who had surprise victories for Album Of The Year, Female Vocalist and Song Of The Year for "The House That Built Me," and Blake Shelton, who took home the awards for Male Vocalist of the Year and Musical Event of the Year for "Hillbilly Bone." The Zac Brown Band won New Artist Of The Year, and later played their new song "As She's Walking Away" with Alan Jackson. Kelly Clarkson continued her foray into country by dueting with Jason Aldean on "Don't You Wanna Stay."
The evening was hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, who opened the show with a song that poked fun at BP, Tiger Woods, Brett Favre — and the fact that the Nashville flood was completely ignored by the press.