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2017 ACM Awards: 10 Best, Worst and WTF Moments

From co-hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley’s opening monologue to a bro country/boy band mash-up

The 52nd ACM Awards hit many of the right notes, as the Las Vegas blowout assembled country’s heavy hitters for a mostly entertaining show. Along with honoring today’s country music, the production also paid tribute to early rock & roll and Nineties boy-band pop, two moves that could have felt shoe-horned in if not for the game collaborators – Joe Walsh and Backstreet Boys, respectively – who graced the stage. Still, the night wasn’t without missteps. Here’s the best, worst and oh-my-god moments of the 2017 ACMs.

Best Worst ACM awards 2017 read

Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2017/Getty

Best: Brothers Osborne Begin Their Reign

Walking away with two awards and a brief but well-received performance under their belt, Brothers Osborne were one of the night’s biggest surprises, and they may have been more shocked about it than anyone. They came into the evening as early winners – they were named New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year the week before – and then went on to snatch the Vocal Duo of the Year award away from defending champs Florida Georgia Line. Their gracious acceptance speech was an emotional high point of the night, full of bewildered phrases like “What the hell?” and “How is this happening?” And all of the arena tried to match TJ Osborne’s booming bass vocal and the supercharged handclaps on “It Ain’t My Fault.” But as fun as it was to watch the duo experience a career breakthrough on live TV, the best part may be what their double win says about country’s future – that ever-bigger production isn’t necessarily the only path forward. A back-to-basics approach can still connect. C.P.

Best Worst ACM awards 2017 read

Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2017/Getty

Best: Joe Walsh Says “Hail! Hail!” to Rock & Roll

If you want to pay tribute to a legendary rock guitarist, call on a legendary rock guitarist. The ACMs did it right by tapping needer-of-no-introduction Joe Walsh to knock a salute to the late Chuck Berry right out of the park. Teaming up with Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley for a rollicking “Johnny B. Goode,” Walsh all but stole the spotlight from the co-hosts and had Vegas rocking like an outsized juke joint. Short of duck walking, Walsh’s blood-and-guts six-string fireworks rightfully channeled the spirit of the recently deceased iconic innovator. A.G.

Best Worst ACM awards 2017 read

Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2017/Getty

Best: Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley’s Opening Monologue Stays in Vegas

Co-hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley have a hokey chemistry that makes many of their bro-country dad joke stylings yield more LOLs than they honestly deserve. That said, the ACMs opening monologue – a guided slide show of the pair’s wild and crazy night out in Sin City the night before – was a reminder of why what happens in Vegas should indeed stay there. Team Bryantley went fishin’ in the Fountains of Bellagio, got sawed in half by an ostensibly tipsy David Copperfield, became leotard-clad honorary Cirque du Soleil cast members, got blackout drunk and dressed in Thomas Rhett cosplay at MGM Grand hotspot Hakkasan, and even posed oiled up and shirtless with the hot bods from male revue Thunder From Down Under. Despite a chuckle-worthy line or two, the bit mostly served as a reminder for why the world definitely doesn’t need another Hangover sequel. A.G.

Best Worst ACM awards 2017 read

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Worst: Presenters Are Short on Personality

Luke Bryan’s wax statue aside, the humor was predictably obvious at times, with the Oscars’ Best Picture mix-up an all-but-inevitable target. The not-so-sick burn was delivered during the very first category by illusionist David Copperfield and entertainment journalist Nancy O’Dell, who announced that the Song of the Year winner was Emma Stone for La La Land. They doubled down on the joke, even giving Copperfield the “wrong” card to present to the camera. It was probably better to get that one out of the way early, but it wasn’t the only awkward moment from the presenters. Rising star Kane Brown seemed to have only one paltry line to read, stiff-as-a-board NASCAR drivers looked like deer in their own headlights and Kellie Pickler had the dubious honor of presenting New Male, Female and Duo winners with their trophies immediately after their performances. J.G.

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