10 Most Memorable Moments From The ACM Awards

(Left) Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/(Right) CBS

This year’s ACMs were jam-packed with unforgettable moments that people will be talking about for a long time to come. From show-stopping performances to surprise award wins, there was certainly no shortage of standout moments at this year’s ceremony. 

When you take into the consideration that the ACMs were only three hours long, it’s hard to believe that so many incredible moments could happen in such a short amount of time.

In celebration of one of the most exciting ACM Awards we’ve ever seen, here’s our list of the top ten moments from this year’s ceremony, in no particular order.

1. When Blake Shelton Surprised Luke Bryan During His Opening Number

After several years of hosting the ACMs with Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton stepped down from his co-hosting duties this year. Bryan invited his other good friend, Dierks Bentley, to fill Shelton’s spot, and was planning on performing his new single “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day” with his new co-host as the show’s opening number. But just before Bentley was supposed to go on stage, Shelton stole his microphone and surprised Bryan in front of the entire crowd. 

It was great to see these two buddies together again!



2. When EVERYONE Tried To Take Credit For Chris Stapleton’s Success

Chris Stapleton‘s fame has exploded over the course of the past few months, but the “Fire Away” singer has been an important fixture in the songwriting community for years. He’s written countless hits for many other country artists, and during the ACMs  some of those artists stood up to take credit for helping Stapleton achieve his current superstar status.

Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, and even Bryan and Bentley tried to take credit for Stapleton’s fame in one hilarious moment that eventually got the entire crowd involved. 

3. When Chris Stapleton Thought He Was Going To Get “Girl Crushed”

Proving that all the credit for his success rests within himself, Stapleton surprised everyone, including himself, when his song “Nobody to Blame” was selected as Song of the Year. Stapleton was up against many other hit songs, including Cam‘s “Burning House” and Little Big Town‘s Grammy Award-winning smash hit “Girl Crush.” Knowing what he was up against, Stapleton was stunned that his song was chosen against all the others, especially Little Big Town’s.

Stapleton expressed such feelings in his speech, saying “You’ve gotta be kidding me! I thought for sure we were gonna girl ‘Girl Crushed.’


4. When Eric Church Paid Tribute To His Musical Heroes

The music industry has lost many of its greatest artists since last year’s ACMs. Although David Bowie, Glen Frey, Lemmy, and Scott Weiland weren’t country artists, their lives and their work crossed genres. One country artist who looked up to these four men as his musical heroes is none other than Eric Church, who took to the stage to deliver a touching tribute in their memory. Church started off performing his song “Record Year,” which was then interrupted by a DJ who played a quick medley of songs by Church’s four heroes.

Even though the stars Church honored didn’t sing country music, its clear from the way the crowd reacted that they too, admired each of the four artists in the tribute.



5. When Kelsea Ballerini Joined Nick Jonas For An Unforgettable Duet

Prior to the ACMs, Kelsea Ballerini learned she had won the award for New Female Vocalist of the Year. As if that wasn’t good enough for the “Dibs” singer, she then had the chance to perform with pop star Nick Jonas during the awards ceremony. Ballerini admitted that she a huge crush on Jonas when she was younger, so she was really looking forward to their performance, which included a mashup of two of her songs, “Peter Pan” and “Love Me Like You Mean It.” 

Watching Ballerini’s duet with Jonas makes it easy to see why she would consider it a dream come true!


6. When Carrie Underwood Revealed A Hidden Talent

By now, we’re used to watching Underwood deliver mind-blowing performances, she really knocked it out of the park at this year’s ACMs. Underwood chose to sing her latest single “Church Bells,” but she shocked the crowd when she stepped back, grabbed a pair of drumsticks, and started pounding away on the drums. We knew that Underwood could play the guitar, and even the harmonica, but we never would have guessed she had some percussion skills as well!

Needless to say, the crowd went wild for Underwood’s performance, and she definitely deserved it.


7. When Thomas Rhett & His Wife Freaked Out About His “Die A Happy Man” Win

Rhett co-wrote his number one hit, “Die a Happy Man” about his wife Lauren, who he’s known almost his entire life. The two of them met when they were still in elementary school, and after years of being “just friends,” they ended up falling in love. This year, Rhett was nominated for Single Record of the Year at the ACMs for the love song he wrote about his beautiful wife.

When Rhett was announced as the winner at the ACMs, the look and his face, as well as Lauren’s, was absolutely priceless. 


8. When Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, and ZZ Top Rocked The Stage

After winning the award for Female Vocalist of the Year, Miranda Lambert took to the stage with Keith Urban and ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons for one rockin’ performance of ZZ Top’s hit song “Tush.” Lambert proved in the performance exactly why she was chosen as this year’s best female vocalist, and Urban and Gibbons both killed it on their guitars.

Many people are referring to this trio’s performance as the best of the night, and it isn’t hard to see why!


9. When Dolly Parton Was Honored for Coat Of Many Colors

This year, Dolly Parton‘s hit television movie Coat of Many Colors was chosen as the recipient of the Tex Ritter Award. The award is presented to a country-music related movie that was released and/or received a lot of coverage in the year prior. Since Coat of Many Colors was a huge success, and was based off of Parton’s hit song which tells the story of her childhood, we can’t think of a film more deserving of such an honor.

Parton had lots of people to thank in her speech, but she drew special attention to little Alyvia Alyn Lind, the actress who played her in the film, who also happened to be in the audience.


10. When Dolly Parton Performed A Medley With Katy Perry

Pop star Katy Perry looks up to Parton as one of her biggest role models. That’s why Perry was incredibly honored to present the Tex Ritter Award to Parton, but her part in the ACMs didn’t end there. After Parton accepted the award, she joined the stage with Perry to perform a medley of some of her classic hits, including “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” and of course, “Coat of Many Colors.”

It was a fun-filled performance, and one that many will remember for years to come!


Which moment from this year’s ACMs was your favorite?

Want to save this article?

Get this sent to your inbox, plus, get new articles & videos from us every week!

Sponsors / Partners

Interested in becoming a partner?

Contact us for more info

Unapologetically Country

Receive daily updates with the best country music videos, news, and more!