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CMA Awards 2014’s 12 Best Moments

From Miranda Lambert “smoking” with Little Big Town to Vince Gill’s teary tribute, the water cooler moments from country’s biggest night

CMA Awards 2014

Miranda Lambert performs with Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman (left) and Karen Fairchild (right) on the 2014 CMA Awards

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

It was an evening of the unexpected (a gay-friendly tune wins Song of the Year!) and expected (Vince Gill cries… again), coupled with heartfelt acceptance speeches and heartier performances. The 48th annual CMA Awards wrapped Wednesday evening with jokes for today's watercooler fodder, wins for the history books, several pitch-perfect performances (see: Carrie Underwood) and some refreshingly imperfect songs, too. Here are the 12 moments we're still buzzing about.

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood performs "Something in the Water" at the CMA Awards.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Best Reveals: Carrie Underwood

Forget press releases, Twitter or one of those cut-the-cake-and-see-if-it's-blueberry-or-strawberry-inside reveal parties. Carrie Underwood chose to announce the sex of her baby, due this spring, with a pretty funny bit on the CMAs. After whispering the gender to a beaming Brad Paisley, her co-host quipped, "I know something you don't know… Suck it, TMZ!" But Paisley then "accidentally" referred to Baby Fisher as "him." ("Hashtag, Brad blew it.") Underwood also made the TV debut of her new single, "Something in the Water," taking fans to church with a little "Amazing Grace" thrown into the tune and proving with her flawless delivery that she's the female vocalist of her generation… of any genre.

CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 05: Neil, Kimberly, and Reid Perry of The Band Perry perform during the 48th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 5, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Rick Diamond/Getty

Best Rhinestone Cowboys: The Band Perry

These days, it's common practice for country labels to fill out their release schedules with cross-generational tributes to aging stars. Cool concept, only most of the songs turn out so reverent that they begin to sound phoned-in. Last night, however, the Band Perry's "Gentle on My Mind" (a single off the soundtrack for Glen Campbell tour doc I'll Be Me) seemed anything but: Kimberly's vocals were delicate and precise, Reid's bass gave the tune an unexpected bump and Neil's mandolin solo was a secret show highlight. Some may eventually point to Luke Bryan's Entertainer of the Year win as bro-country's high-water mark, but remember, this 1967 classic was the night's only tune to use the words "back road."

Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark, and Kacey Musgraves accept the Song of the Year Award during the 48th annual CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 05: Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark, and Kacey Musgraves accept the Song of the Year Award during the 48th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 5, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/FilmMagic)

Terry Wyatt/Film Magic

Best Sea Biscuit Victory: Kacey Musgraves

It was a shot heard 'round the country world, as underdog Kacey Musgraves beat out superstar competition the likes of Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley and Lee Brice for Song of the Year with "Follow Your Arrow" — a breezy tune about how it's OK to smoke weed, be gay and be yourself. CMA voters definitely made a statement to those who criticize the genre as nothing but songs about trucks and tailgate parties. "Do you guys realize what this means for country music?" Musgraves said upon accepting the honor. "I wrote this song with Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this award means so much because our genre was built on simple, good songs about real life."

CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 05: Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood host the 48th annual CMA awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 5, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/FilmMagic)

Terry Wyatt/Film Magic

Best Affable Takedowns: Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood

Co-hosting the show for the seventh year in a row, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley's Jimmy Fallon-meets-modern-day-Hee Haw-style opening monologue of pun-rife topical parody, self-deprecating skits and hilariously hammy zingers is an institution within an institution at this point. Once again, the pair wasn't afraid to push the "Too soon?" envelope, taking on Ebola panic by recasting Dolly Parton's "Jolene" Weird Al-style as "Quarantined." They didn't pull punches roasting a front-row-seated George Strait right to his face — "I'm pretty sure when someone rides away they're supposed to go somewhere," ribbed Paisley. And they were damned sure not scared to take on Taylor Swift's recent breakup with country music, awkwardly coining a new mental health condition endemic to Nashville, Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder (or PPTSD). "Why isn’t our government doing something about this?” Paisley asked about the "disease." "I'm pretty sure that's why the Democrats lost the Senate," Underwood reasoned.

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