CMA Music Festival 2018: 30 Best Things We Saw

From Carrie Underwood and Chris Stapleton's main-stage stunners to breakout sets by Ashley McBryde and Dillon Carmichael

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Best Entertainer of the Year: Carrie Underwood
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Best Entertainer of the Year: Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood was on some Reba McEntire shit when she closed out the Friday night lineup at Nissan Stadium, emphatically staking her claim as one of country's greatest exports. In a sparkling emerald romper, she mined McEntire's heightened sense of the theatrical on storytelling songs "Church Bells," "Dirty Laundry" and "Blown Away." She also trotted out some of her decade-old favorites, including the impossibly tricky "Wasted" and rowdy "Last Name," finishing things up as usual with the now-classic "Before He Cheats." But her searing ballad "Cry Pretty," placed in the middle of her set, was all of these things: powerhouse singing, gripping drama and a subtle nod to Guns N' Roses' "Don't Cry" in the final moments – some acknowledgement that she deserves to be in the Entertainer of the Year conversation every year. J.F.

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