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10 Best and Worst Moments from 2014’s American Country Countdown Awards

From ham-it-up hosts to head-scratching performances, we single out the highs and lows of the live show

Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson

Miranda Lambert (left) and Kelly Clarkson flank Reba McEntire at the American Country Countdown Awards in Nashville.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Behold the American Country Countdown Awards. In all its super-sized glory, country music's latest awards show debuted Monday night. Essentially replacing the now-forgotten American Country Awards, which also aired on Fox, the ACCAs recognized the best artists, songs and albums of the year based primarily on radio play.

Staged at Nashville's Music City Center, the show was decidedly of this year, boasting a Twitter "bar" and revealing winners via smartphone screen. The hosts were also very much of the moment: Florida Georgia Line. "It's probably more nerve-wracking, to be honest, going out at an awards show and trying to read the teleprompter than [it is playing a stadium]," FGL's Brian Kelley told Rolling Stone Country. "Getting out there and trying to read something while it's live, that's probably harder than anything we've done." So how'd he and partner Tyler Hubbard do? Find out in our 10 Best and Worst Moments recap.

Florida Georgia Line, Twitter Bar

Hosts Florida Georgia Line pose at the ACC Awards' "Twitter Bar."

Jonathan Leibson/GettyImages

Worst: The Twitter Bar’s Fusing of Tailgating and Technology

If there are two things that don't go well together, it's drinking and tweeting. Nonetheless, Monday night we were introduced to the "Twitter Bar," where performers such as Lady Antebellum, Jerrod Niemann and Kix Brooks bared their souls and sang tender, stripped-down, writers'-round-style versions of singles new and old for fans listening intently — when not refreshing their Twitter feeds, of course. A Genius Bar idea this was not. And nothing says terrestrial radio (a thing you typically listen to in your car) like drinking and tweeting (two things you ought not do while driving).

Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson

Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson perform at the ACC Awards.

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Best: Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson’s Power Trio

It's been 15 years since Emmylou Harris, Linda Rondstadt and Dolly Parton released their final Trio album, and another group of all-star females should consider filling that vacancy. What began as a tribute to Reba McEntire, with legends-in-training Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert trading harmonies on 1984's "How Blue," turned into an all-out class 'n' sass fest once McEntire grabbed a microphone and joined the others on "Fancy." The result? The first (and longest) standing ovation of the evening. 

Kip Moore

Kip Moore performs at the ACC Awards.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Best: Kip Moore’s Classy Clean-Up

The last time Kip Moore played Nashville, he was headlining the Ryman Auditorium in a sleeveless flannel shirt and backwards ball cap. The guy classed it up at the ACCAs, though, donning some formal wear (bowtie unknotted, natch) and accepting his award for Breakthrough Artist with a seated, spot-on performance of "Hey Pretty Girl." Sure, the tune borrows much of its strut and sway from Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire," but we'll take the influence of the Boss over the influence of the bros any day. 

Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn presents the Groundbreaker Award to Kenny Chesney at the ACC Awards.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Best: Vince Vaughn’s Fish-Out-of-Water Cameo

Every time cameras cut to Vince Vaughn in the audience, the actor and honorary bro had a look of total, unmitigated "what am I doing here?" confusion on his face. So why was Vaughn in the house last night? To present an award to Kenny Chesney, of course. And not just any award, but the ACCA's lifetime-achievement-y Groundbreaker award. "Few artists have single-handedly elevated country music to new heights," Vaughn said in a rudimentary speech. "They are the groundbreakers. Tour after tour, album after album, great song after great song, Kenny Chesney continues to thrill country fans and break ground as only he can," he continued, in what felt like a deleted scene from a Nashville-set Wedding Crashers sequel. Was this cameo intentionally funny? Doesn't matter.

Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean performs at the ACC Awards.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Best: Jason Aldean’s Pumped-Up “Just Gettin’ Started”

Country's alpha male isn't the most dynamic of performers, but with an ace band and his own sturdy presence, he doesn't have to be. Aldean delivered his latest single, "Just Gettin' Started" — which would have worked better at the beginning of the show rather than in the penultimate slot — with muscle-bound authority. No choreography, no flash; just a simple-man performance that helped prove why the night's Artist of the Year regularly sells out stadiums. Which he'll surely do again when he hits the road with Kenny Chesney this summer.

Hank Williams Jr.

Hank Williams Jr. performs the final song of the night at the ACC Awards in Nashville.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Worst: Hank Williams Jr.’s Old Fart Song Choice

Props to the producers for including a country veteran in the ACCAs lineup. But it was an idea that looked better on paper than in execution. When Bocephus closed the show with a performance of his shopworn "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," a collective head-scratch seemed to move through the crowd, with many turning to find the ballroom's exit. Williams looked defiant as always and, to his credit, wasn't phoning it in, but the now 30-year-old song may as well have been a cave painting to the show's target audience. After Hank Jr. donned a cap with "Icon" emblazoned in gold, the whole thing took a turn to the self-congratulatory that seemed as out of place as the appearance itself. (That is, unless he's the next legacy act to follow Reba and Ronnie Dunn's lead and sign with the new Nash Icon Music label.)

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