2018 CMT Music Awards: 10 Best, Worst and WTF Moments

From the royal silliness of the pre-taped opening to Kelsea Ballerini's marvelous back-to-basics performance

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Worst: Blink and You Missed the Side Stage Artists
Debby Wong/REX/Shutterstock8/10

Worst: Blink and You Missed the Side Stage Artists

Can we just do away with shoehorning in these abridged, 45-second-then-cut-to-commercial performances by up-and-comers? Even future main-stage stars like Lanco, Devin Dawson and Carly Pearce – who had to the unenviable take of trying to make an impact after Kelly Clarkson sang a rock-radio staple with a gospel choir ­­– can't help but look anything but small and not really part of the actual show on a sponsor-branded stage in a corner of the arena. With only, at best, half a verse and a chorus to work with, artists have to try painfully hard to look like they're in the middle of an impassioned performance. Just ask Lindsay Ell, whose lack of a longer slot for her fiery "Criminal" was exactly that. A.G.

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