Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert were the big winners, of course, at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music awards on Sunday.
Bryan, who happened to co-host the night with Blake Shelton, scored the biggest award of the night - Entertainer of the Year.
But Lambert, who richly deserved the honor, didn't do too shabbily herself in winning four trophies. Lambert won the Female Vocalist, Album of the Year for "Platinum" and Song of the Year awards for "Automatic," taking the prize as both the performer and a songwriter of the song.
Bryan, of course, has a lot of popularity among the young country crowd. He's part of the bro-country movement with his buds in Florida Georgia Line. His music is geared towards good times (to wit his various spring break series of discs, which came to an end in March). Let's put it this way - there's not a whole lot of brainpower that one needs when listening to Bryan.
You're not going to hire any cutting edge themes or music from him either. He's a likable, safe kind of guy, whose music is milquetoast.
Lambert, on the other hand, was mighty impressive on "Platinum," a career-shaping tour de force where she explores different types of sounds and themes. She has enjoyed a great year not only commercially, but stepped out on her own and stepped it up as a performer as well.
So with that said, it's too bad that Lambert did not win the big one, perhaps even more of a surprise considering that she was the only female nominated.
Is it ironic or what, though, that Bryan did not win the Best Male award, which went to Jason Aldean? Bryan wasn't even nominated! Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and Eric Church provided the competition. No wonder Aldean said he was "really stunned." In hindsight - since the Entertainer award comes last - he probably is scratching his head even more.
The biggest shocker of the night, though, was the failure of Sam Hunt to win the New Artist award over Cole Swindell. Thomas Rhett also was nominated. Nothing against Swindell or Rhett, though neither excites from a country music standpoint, but Hunt's been burning up the charts and received a lot of attention for months.
I'm not saying that Swindell, a buddy of Bryan, didn't deserve the award. Congrats to him on winning, of course. Prognostication is a difficult proposition.
Lee Brice isn't one I think of as a player at the awards shows, but it was nice to see him win Single Record of the Year for the heartfelt "I Don't Dance," a really good personal love song (he wrote for his wife for their wedding).
Brice certainly had stiff competition from Lambert's "Automatic" and "Dirt" by Florida Georgia Line, probably the best song they've put out. Bentley scored a lot of play with the catchy "Drunk on a Plane." (I liked the melody a lot, but not the story). Kenny Chesney's "American Kids" was also a contender.
Awards decisions are not going to please everyone, and this one was no different. But Bryan and Lambert ought to be quite happy a day later.