The 2018 Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday evening (Nov. 14) returned to a well-worn theme for the CMAs in that includes younger expertise displaying respect to their elders, however it was veterans education rookies all evening lengthy in phrases performances. 

Many the perfect moments for the youthful set got here in too-brief appearances; Lauren Alaina surprised in a brief tribute to the late Dottie West, whereas eleven-year-old Mason Ramsey showcased vocals that deserved extra recognition than simply the transient moments levity with hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood that got to him. 

The different facet the age vary featured a unprecedented acoustic efficiency by a celebrity, and a current Country Music Hall Famer supplying a staggering quantity musicianship to a technology viewers that will have by no means heard his title earlier than tonight. Here's how Billboard ranks every full efficiency from worst to first.

Luke Combs, "She Got the Best Me"

Moments after profitable new artist the 12 months from the CMAs, Combs carried out his present hit in entrance the Bridgestone Arena crowd with an oddly sedate presence. Whether nonetheless overwhelmed by the sentiments that got here with the sooner win, or simply having fun with no matter was within the purple Solo cup he was holding, the younger expertise experiencing an exceptional 12 months on the charts got here f lackluster.

Midland, "East Bound and Down"

The Texas trio inadvertently made a case for nation followers who’ve railed in opposition to the act as inauthentic since they first discovered success, however delivering a tribute to the late Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed with a efficiency the theme to Smokey and the Bandit that felt like a nasty journey to the karaoke bar by the fice employees after a very lengthy day at work. 

Maren Morris, Mavis Staples, Chris and Morgane Stapleton, and Marty Stuart, "Friendship"/"I'll Take You There" Medley

One the few collaborations to flounder on this evening, made extra stunning by the expertise onstage. Some the contributors didn't appear overly conversant in Stapleton's "Friendship", and as soon as Staples and a backing gospel choir took over on "I'll Take You There", you want the producers had simply let the gospel legend take us to church all by her lonesome.

Dan + Shay, "Tequila"

The first entry right here to actually sting. The duo have made a rapid title for themselves inside the nation fold for his or her masterful harmonies, however tonight's efficiency was simply lacking that visible part that may have made their vocals stand out from the pack, as an alternative simply standing principally stationary all through.

Florida Georgia Line & Bebe Rexha, "Meant to Be" 

Hoo boy, the place to begin? The pair nation hitmakers carried out whereas sporting matching white fits that appeared like they have been borrowed from a Backstreet Boys video in 1999, whereas Rexha missed a notice right here and there as soon as she appeared in entrance violinists enjoying a model the monster hit that had been stripped right down to strings. None this labored.

Eric Church, "Desperate Man"

A final minute addition to the lineup performers for this 12 months's CMAs, Church did his greatest to showcase the title monitor f his latest album, however the efficiency felt disjointed. Whether the blame for that goes to lack time for the band to correctly put together, or if it was merely fatigue on everybody's half starting to set in because the three hour mark the ceremony started to shut in, who can say?

Brad Paisley, "Bucked Off"

The singer's first new single in over a 12 months was publicly unveiled for the viewing viewers in opposition to a neon rodeo background. While the honky-tonker performed effectively to the gang, outdoors a welcomed musical shoutout to George Strait on the finish the tune, all the pieces right here simply felt prefer it'd been seen (and heard) earlier than.

Jason Aldean & Miranda Lambert, "Drowns the Whiskey"

Aldean and Lambert have been two the primary performers on the evening, and have been the primary to barely disappoint the viewer in presentation. Sure, some the sweetness the tune has to do with the timelessness the lyrics, however typically you need supply that consists extra than simply two folks standing at a pair microphone stands. Lambert would present a bit of extra spark later within the evening with the Pistol Annies.

Luke Bryan and company, "What Makes You Country"

For the second 12 months the CMAs led f their ceremony with a tribute to a current group capturing victims, adopted shortly thereafter by an all-star efficiency on successful tune. While final 12 months's selection within the Hootie and the Blowfish class "Hold My Hand" felt considerably applicable after a remembrance the Las Vegas victims, Bryan's rollicking nation anthem was a baffling companion to a second silence for these affected by final week's Borderline capturing. A unending collection company (Luke Combs and Chris Janson amongst them) discovered moments within the solar, however the entire thing simply felt ill-timed and a bit of distasteful. 

Pistol Annies, "Got My Name Changed Back"

Just over every week faraway from the discharge their much-anticipated third album Interstate Gospel, the trio (Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley) made a case for being the reply for all those that lament the continued exile the Dixie Chicks from mainstream nation music. If it's potential for one to "shred" on the washboard, Lambert made a case for herself as doing so, as she attacked each the instrument and the tune with a tenacity that was sorely lacking from earlier performances on the evening.

Carrie Underwood, "Love Wins"

During an evening when the perennial cohost the ceremony decided to keep away from politics within the opening monologue, Underwood made a case for many highly effective efficiency on the evening by taking up her present single. In an emotional show that surprised these watching, the feminine vocalist the 12 months winner is making a stable case for herself as one the highest feminine abilities in nation music historical past.

Old Dominion, "Hotel Key"

While they might go on to win vocal group the 12 months, Old Dominion takes this spot for being the primary performers on the evening to really look like each having enjoyable and appreciative the second. With a neon lodge signal illuminating the stage, and a tune a couple of one-night stand turning into successful on nation radio, the band makes a robust case for sly grownup themes in lyrics having a spot inside the mainstream viewers.

Kacey Musgraves, "Slow Burn"

On an evening that may see the proficient singer-songwriter go on to win album the 12 months for the critically-lauded Golden Hour on the tenth anniversary her transfer to Nashville, Musgraves made one other robust case for herself being probably the most criminally missed artist in nation at the moment with a sultry rendition the mellow standout monitor from the file. With a backdrop giving f a '70s vibe, and masterful camerawork on the manufacturing facet the ceremony, this might be the second that lastly convinces radio programmers to cease ignoring the vocalist.

Dierks Bentley & Brothers Osborne, "Burning Man"

Performing their hit collaboration inside a hoop hearth onstage, the entertainers proved that a bit of showmanship can go a good distance on a protracted evening. A fantastic option to showcase the strengths all concerned, with nice harmonizing being bookended by blistering guitar work, because of John Osborne.

Keith Urban, "Never Comin Down"

A showstopper efficiency from starting to finish, Urban was one the few to embrace pyro, whereas standing excessive above the stage. This could have been the perfect motive that might be pointed towards as to why Urban would later be named entertainer the 12 months, because the stage setup at this second could function an commercial for Urban's 2019 live performance schedule.

Kelsea Ballerini, "Miss Me More"

The fixed shadow that looms over Ballerini's profession stays Taylor Swift, as many proceed to say the younger nation star's profession so carefully mirrors the latter's at roughly the identical stage that it's uncanny. The efficiency seen right here received't be altering these opinions anytime quickly, as Ballerini was surrounded by 16 dancers performing out a choreographed routine not like any seen tonight. With an upcoming headlining tour on the horizon, the younger singer could also be hinting at an enviornment run within the not too distant future.

Thomas Rhett, "Life Changes"

The first artist the evening to actually embrace the visible part to an awards present efficiency, starting this title monitor to his newest album on the mattress a dorm room set, and ending up surrounded by a full marching band enjoying alongside to his musical embrace the trail his life has gone post-college. Rhett made a reputation for himself up to now 12 months as a real headlining act, and after tonight he ought to at all times be thought of a heavy favourite for an entertainer the 12 months nomination.

Garth Brooks, "Stronger Than Me"

How does an artist thought of one the best his technology maintain his personal in opposition to upstarts as proficient as these seen tonight? By stripping away all the pieces pointless in delivering one the perfect songs he has launched in years, and having what many take into account the second the evening. In unveiling a never-before-heard tribute to his spouse, fellow nation nice Trisha Yearwood, Brooks relied on nothing greater than his personal phrases and an acoustic guitar to captivate the eye the complete enviornment. As tears have been shed by each he and his spouse on the finish the tune, everybody watching realized this was a spotlight reel second in a profession outlined by them.

Ricky Skaggs and Guests, Medley

In a 12 months that included induction into the Country Music Hall Fame, Skaggs launched himself to a technology nation fan watching at house that will have by no means even heard his title earlier than tonight, however would keep in mind it for years to come back with a barnburner a efficiency. In a three-parter that known as to all elements his profession, he started on one finish the stage together with his bandmates in bluegrass outfit Kentucky Thunder on the traditional "Black Eyed Susie", earlier than strolling over and becoming a member of Keith Urban (subbing for an ailing Vince Gill) on his 1983 hit "Highway 40 Blues", after which lastly ending up with Brad Paisley and Marty Stuart on a rambunctious rendition Skaggs' 1985 chart topper "Country Boy". Unlike many tributes that are inclined to happen on awards exhibits, not solely did a legend seem to arguably be in his prime, however was capable of tackle what might arguably be known as probably the most expertise to share one stage in CMA historical past and blow them away.