There’s no shortage of country awards shows, but the CMT Music Awards hold the distinction of being the genre’s most loose. This is country music’s VMAs, a chance to pay tribute to the best in music videos, which have become increasingly more cinematic and inspired in recent years. See Jason Aldean’s three-part “You Make It Easy” or Old Dominion’s video-game fantasy “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart.”
Ahead of the CMTs – once known as the Flameworthy Awards – we break down everything you need to know.
How to watch: The 2018 CMT Music Awards air Wednesday, June 6th, at 8:00 p.m./ET on CMT, live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The show has traditionally been the unofficial kickoff to CMA Music Festival, which begins in Music City on Thursday.
Who’s hosting: Country quartet Little Big Town will host the CMT Awards for the first time. But it’s not their first-ever gig as emcees: the group has hosted the CMA Music Fest special on ABC in the past. LBT, who are nominated for three awards, including Group Video of the Year for “When Someone Stops Loving You,” will also give the live debut of their new single “Summer Fever.”
Who’s up for awards: Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean lead all nominees with four each. Underwood arrives with the most winning CMT Awards record – 17 trophies throughout her career. Nominees from outside the sphere of country include Justin Timberlake, Common, Ludacris, Derek Trucks, Earth Wind & Fire, and the Backstreet Boys.
Who are the Video of the Year finalists: The night’s top prize is the trophy for Video of the Year, and Wednesday morning the five finalists – whittled down from 12 – were announced: Blake Shelton’s “I’ll Name the Dogs,” Brett Young’s “Mercy,” Kane Brown’s “What Ifs” (featuring Lauren Alaina), Luke Combs’ “When It Rains It Pours” and Thomas Rhett’s “Marry Me.” Viewers can cast votes via Twitter throughout the broadcast, using special hashtags, with the winner being announced at the end of the show
Who will perform: The talent list is always impressive for the CMTs and this year is no exception. Among the highlights: Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini and Blake Shelton. Kelly Clarkson and Backstreet Boys will also make special appearances tonight, with Clarkson offering her update of the Guess Who’s “American Woman” and BSB performing their new song “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” Two can’t-miss collaborations are also slated, including Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne doing Bentley’s song “Burning Man,” and Darius Rucker debuting his version of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s “Straight to Hell” with Aldean, Bryan and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley.
Who are the new artists to know: Carly Pearce, Devin Dawson, Lanco, Lindsay Ell, Russell Dickerson and Walker Hayes are all nominated for Breakthrough Video of the Year, and each will perform (likely abbreviated versions of their songs) on a side stage during the awards.