A great show last night that pleasantly offered many of it’s surprises in award choices. Nobody expected Keith Urban to be Entertainer of the Year and Kacey Musgraves was far from the odds on favourite to win Album of the Year. Both were incredibly well deserved. As always, fans were buzzing about the performances (twenty in total if we’re not counting the brief 45 second let’s go to commercial performances). There weren’t any bad performances per se, but here’s how I have them ranked starting from the worst.

Mike ranks the CMA Awards performances from best to worst

Kelsea Ballerini “Miss Me More”

While the choreography was impressive – this song isn’t exactly going to end any comparisons between her and Taylor Swift.

Brad Paisley, “Bucked Off”

Always love to see Brad and his band shred off but this song felt more like a filler on a stacked show.

Midland, “East Bound and Down”

Marketed as a tribute to a Hollywood star- it is interesting Burt Reynold’s was never mentioned by name and it took casual viewers a while to pick up on the Smokey and the Bandit tribute.

Jason Aldean & Miranda Lambert, “Drowns the Whiskey”

Nominated for Musical Event of the Year – the performance didn’t pack the same emotional punch that many expected.

Florida Georgia Line & Bebe Rexha, “Meant to Be”

Arguably, the biggest song of the year in any format it was nice to see a new rendition of the song but for two artists who have no doubt been performing this song all year long it felt almost uncomfortable.

Luke Combs, “She Got the Best of Me”

Fresh off a well deserved win for New Artist of the Year it was great to see Combs and his band churning out an authentic Country song.

Kacey Musgraves, “Slow Burn”

With a very well deserved Album of the Year nomination, choosing to go with a slower track late in a three hour show made this drag a little.

Old Dominion, “Hotel Key”

We’re getting into the good stuff now. Old Dominion looked like they were having fun up there- and look for them to take a big leap again this year into headlining territory.

Dierks Bentley & Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man”

Pyro pyro pyro! This was a great performance by both artists and it fit the theme nicely.

Eric Church, “Desperate Man”

Added only last week after Kenny Chesney had to pull out due to a death in the family, this performance felt exactly like what you would expect from an Eric Church concert. Sure it wasn’t quite as exciting as his duet with Lzzy Hale a few years back but it still had the audience loving it.

Thomas Rhett, “Life Changes”

This is what award shows should be about. Starting with a college dorm set (nice poster of your Dad, Thomas) and leading into a full blown marching band appearance, you can’t deny Thomas Rhett made the leap from star to superstar this year.

Luke Bryan and guests (Lindsay Ell, Ashley McBride, Luke Combs, Jon Pardi, Chris Janson, & Cole Swindell) “What Makes You Country”

Luke has really impressed me in recent years and this was no different. Super awesome of him to share the stage with some great up and comers like Lindsay Ell, Ashley McBride and Chris Janson among others.

Pistol Annies, “Got My Name Changed Back”

Maybe Miranda was holding back a bit on her earlier duet with Jason Aldean but she let the fire out with this performance. Along with the other Annies Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, the only thing that could have made this better would be an awkward audience shot of Blake Shelton, who was not in attendance.

Garth Brooks, “Stronger Than Me”

This was a beautiful moment between Brooks and his wife. Loved the stripped down element, but a song like “All Day Long” was just begging to be performed at an award show with a full band. Fortunately, Brooks didn’t lip sync this time around unlike last year.

Maren Morris, Mavis Staples, Chris and Morgane Stapleton, and Marty Stuart, “Friendship”/”I’ll Take You There”

Haha get it. Stapleton and ….Staples? That was easy! (Copyright Staples- the store). This was one of the better received performances from the audience and Maren Morris more than held her own among all the legends on stage.

Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins”

A song we all need to hear performed by a lady who never misses. The backdrop for this performance was as flawless as she was.

Dan + Shay, “Tequila”

This song was massive for Dan + Shay and this performance proved why. Who doesn’t love seeng a burning piano?

Keith Urban, “Never Comin Down”

If there was any doubt why Keith Urban was the Entertainer of the Year, this song quickly erased them. An explosive (literally) performance, even if the song isn’t nearly the strongest in his arsenal.

Ricky Skaggs and Guests (Kentucky Thunder, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart, John Osborne) Medley “Black Eyed Susie”/ “Highway 40 Blues”/ “Country Boy

It’s a wonder the CMA’s don’t give more time to legends as the Hall of Fame medley is always a highlight year after year. This time was no different and hopefully helps the younger generation learn the name Ricky Skaggs.