Best: Lauren Alaina Takes a Victory Lap
Lauren Alaina was onstage twice Sunday night, and she didn't waste a moment of the opportunity – even though neither, on paper, was geared to be a starring performance. First up came her duet of "What Ifs" with Kane Brown, which could've flat-lined thanks to backing-track accompaniment instead of a live band. But Alaina, despite not being the featured artist on the song, took it by the scruff of the neck and used Brown as the anchor for her soaring vocal. Even Brown fought back a proud smile as he watched his old middle-school friend sing circles around the stage. Her return later for a solo rendition of her own "Doin' Fine" was equally powerful, although all too short as she only sang a verse and chorus. But what could have been a footnote instead felt like a victory lap for the New Female Vocalist champ. J.G.