Lady Antebellum continued its scorching run on the awards circuit, kicking off the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night by winning group video of the year for the crossover hit "Need You Now."
"Tonight's all about the fans," trio member Dave Haywood said after receiving the belt buckle trophy given to winners. "Thank you fans!"
Lady A was one of four hot young acts who led all nominees with three apiece on the fan-voted awards show. Also nominated for three awards were Carrie Underwood, who took CMT performance of the year, Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean.
A field of 10 video of the year nominees was whittled down at the start of the show with "Need You Now,"
Toby Keith's "American Ride," Miranda Lambert's "White Liar," Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" and Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova" making the cut. The night's winner will be determined by fan texts and voting online during the show.
The CMT Music Awards usually skew lighthearted and with the rowdy Kid Rock hosting, things quickly got interesting.
The good times started immediately when he was joined on stage by surprise guest Hank Williams Jr., who rarely attends awards shows, Trace Adkins, Zac Brown, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Martina McBride and Kellie Pickler for a medley of "Cowboy," "Bawitdaba" and "Good Ol' Boys."
Kid Rock called Williams, "My rockin' rebel father Bocephus," before saying: "Does anybody realize how hard it is to get Bocephus out of the house? I don't think you understand this. The party has just begun."
Taylor Swift took the stage with Faith Hill and said, "Now that's how you start an awards show."
The surprises continued later when "
Saturday Night Live" star Kenan Thompson showed up in a green dress and red wig doing his Reba McEntire impersonation. He sang a few lines of a Reba song, then was joined on stage by McEntire.
"Um, ma'am, I'm in the middle of a song here," Thompson said to McEntire, who also wore a green dress.
"What are you doing?" McEntire asked.
"I'm Reba!" Thompson shouted. "R to the E to the B to the A. Reba!"
Kid Rock smoked a cigar on stage and told a few bawdy jokes, including one aimed at Lady A, "the hillbilly Fleetwood Mac."
"But I don't suspect they do drugs or sleep with each other," he said.
Brooks & Dunn continued to draw attention as they wind down their career together. They won duo video of the year for "Indian Summer" just two months before they perform together for the last time at the end of their "Last Roundup" tour.
Kix Brooks said the win took him and partner Ronnie Dunn by surprise.
"We were not expecting this so much that Mr. Dunn has gone to the restroom — in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I told you you should be here," he said to the camera, aiming his comment at Dunn. "I am not bringing this to you. You're going to have to come and get it. This is the kind of thing that will make them think we're going to break up the duo."
Luke Bryan won breakthrough video of the year for "Do I," a song he wrote with Charles Kelley and Haywood of Lady A.
"The fans are changing my life day in and day out," said Bryan, who won the fan-voted new artist award during April's Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins won collaborative video of the year for "Hillbilly Bone" and Underwood won the performance award for "Temporary Home," which she sang on her CMT special, "Invitation Only: Carrie Underwood."
Fans lined up outside Bridgestone Arena to watch most of country music's biggest stars walk the red carpet. It was an eclectic mix with NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews and the cast of "Jersey Shore" — including Nicole "Snooki" Polzzi, who Kid Rock called "Snookums" — joining a lineup of artists that included most of the nominees.
Some interacted with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Lambert, wearing a shiny sequined dress she compared to a "walking disco ball," drew some of the night's loudest cheers when she showed up with her fiance, Shelton.
"There's no energy like this at any other awards show," Shelton said.