While Justin Timberlake had a show-stopping moment alongside Chris Stapleton at the 2015 Country Music Association Awards, it was the Backstreet Boys who shined brightly at the 2017 Academy of Country Music Awards.
The boy band had the night’s liveliest moment Sunday in Las Vegas: the fivesome brought the party vibe to life while singing their classic “Everybody (Backstreet Back)” along with duo Florida Georgia Line.
Carrie Underwood and Nicole Kidman were just a few of the audience members at the T-Mobile Arena who felt the nostalgia, sang along and danced excitedly.
The performance hit a new height when Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of FGL joined the Backstreet Boys during their memorable dance routine, earning louder cheers from the crowd.
Before that moment, FGL sang their duet with the boy band, “God, Your Mama and Me.” It was the duo’s third performance at three-hour show, which aired live on CBS.
Though they won two awards, FGL lost the top prize â€” entertainer of the year â€” to Jason Aldean, who also won the honour last year.
“Man, one of the Eagles just gave me an award,” he said, looking to Joe Walsh. “I am so thankful. You guys don’t know how much I love getting up and doing what I do every day.”
FGL, Aldean and Walsh were part of the six separate performances that kicked off the high-energy ACM Awards.
Walsh and co-hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley performed “Johnny B. Goode” in tribute to Chuck Berry, who died last month.
“For the man that influenced every form of music, including country,” Bryan said.
Keith Urban, who had success with his genre-bending, Grammy-nominated album “Ripcord,” was the top nominee with seven, though he walked away empty-handed.
But he shined onstage when he sang the soulful “Blue Ain’t Your Color” with a throwback, black-and-white vibe, while the back of the stage was smoky and bright blue. As he switched to the upbeat, disco-flavoured “The Fighter” â€” where he was joined by Underwood â€” the camera focused on his actress-wife, who sang and danced along.
Miranda Lambert also had a top-notch performance: She earned a standing ovation after she sang the slow, acoustic-sounding “Tin Man” as the crowd watched along seriously while she hit all the right notes and strummed her guitar.
She won album of the year for her double disc, “The Weight of These Wings,” and female vocalist of the year, besting Reba McEntire’s record for most wins in the category.
“I am really so thrilled that I can still lead the charge for women in this business, on any level of this business, singer-songwriters, anybody behind-the-scenes, managers, whatever it is,” Lambert said backstage, winning her eighth consecutive female vocalist trophy. “I am just so thrilled that I can keep pushing forward and making way for other women to do the same thing.”
Thomas Rhett was a multiple winner too. Before he took home song of the year for “Die a Happy Man,” the presenters earned laughs from the audience for mocking the infamous mishap at the recent Academy Awards.
“This is odd. David?” asked “Entertainment Tonight” host Nancy O’Dell, who had the winner’s card in her hand.
“Emma Stone, ‘La La Land,'” magician David Copperfield announced.
Rhett also won male vocalist of the year, beating out Urban, Aldean, Bentley and Chris Stapleton. In his seat, he shook his head after his name was announced.
“I don’t have a whole lot of words except for: Everyone in this category are my idols,” said Rhett, who was teary-eyed and paused throughout his speech. “This is the most amazing award that I’ve ever received in my whole existence.”
Rhett also sang his new collaboration with Maren Morris, who won new female vocalist of the year.
Sam Hunt performed his No. 1 hit, “Body Like a Back Road,” and he went into the audience to sit next to his fiancÃ© to sing the song. Other performers included Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini as well as Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, who sang a new duet.
The music video for “Forever Country,” the medley celebrating the Country Music Association Awards’ 50th anniversary featuring Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and others, won video of the year. Brothers Osborne were double winners, while Jon Pardi and songwriter Lori McKenna also picked up trophies.
Little Big Town won vocal group of the year, beating out Lady Antebellum.
“I just wanna be in Lady Antebellum’s band,” Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman yelled.
“Me too,” screamed fellow member Karen Fairchild.
AP Writer Kristin M. Hall contributed to this report.
Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press