Best: The Live Ballad Is Reborn
Three years ago, Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" reopened the doors on a fading but beloved country tradition: the ballad. Sure, these moments often appeared as album cuts, but rarely did they make news or the awards show stage. At the ACMs, however, the ballad was boss. Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and even terminal twang-rocker Jason Aldean trafficked in their mellow, contemplative tempos. And while Morris and Urban went high energy for their Grammy performances back in February, they both used the ACMs to showcase the drama and set a reminder that it's always smart to take things slow. M.M.