When it comes to the CMA Awards, viewers can expect all of the shocking surprises, snafus, and hijinks that are part and parcel of a live television broadcast. While you won't see Kanye West running on stage to interrupt an acceptance speech or Madonna locking lips with a young pop starlet, the CMA Awards have had their fair share of controversy and uncomfortable moments over the past 50 years. Here are some of the most cringeworthy.
Charlie Rich seemed a little off when he began presenting the Entertainer of the Year Award in 1975. But he really got heated, to say the least, when he read that pop-country singer John Denver had won the night's big award, and proceeded to . For his part, John laughed it off while receiving the award via satellite.
Before the Queen of Country accepted her first Entertainer of the Year Award in 1978, she experienced a major wardrobe malfunction when her dress ! Dolly walked on stage to accept her award with a dark coat in her arms, borrowed from Marianne Gordon, to cover up the rip. She joked to the audience, "My daddy said that's what I get for putting 50 pounds of mud in a five-pound bag."
When Mary Chapin Carpenter sang her unreleased track at the CMAs in 1990, it stirred up quite the controversy. With lyrics like "I don't have a hit in the Billboard charts/ I don't have a limousine that stretches three blocks/ Ready to take me from door to door/ Just like that jacka** I'm opening for/ He doesn't know me; I'm his opening act," since many thought it was a dig at her touring partner, Dwight Yoakam.
When George Jones's name was called as the winner of Vocal Event of the Year in 1993, for his performance of "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," he was nowhere to be found. Instead, his , nervously saying, "He's in the bathroom. I promise I'll have him here in a minute. Somebody find him." PSA to artists: Remember to pay attention to when your category is being announced!
Jaws dropped when Reba McEntire walked on stage wearing a low-cut red dress in 1993 for her performance of with Linda Davis. Even though the song won Vocal Event of the Year, the audience's reaction to the dress led Reba to say that she accidentally wore the garment backwards. Oops?
In 1995, Shania Twain headed down into the audience during her performance of and had no shame about bouncing from lap to lap in a black two-piece ensemble. Embracing and tapping the heads of artists like Johnny Cash, Travis Tritt, and Marty Stuart, Shania proved country music was headed in a sexier direction.
Alan Jackson went behind the Association's back after he found out that George Jones, who was nominated for Single of the Year, refused to perform after being asked to play a cut up version of his song "Choices." Rebelliously, during his performance of "Pop a Top," Alan switched gears and led the band into
Second to the music, the most exciting part of the CMA Awards is seeing what your favorite stars in country music are wearing that year. In 2000, Alan Jackson donned a fringed leather getup complete with hat and boots but missing one important thing: sleeves.
On the other hand, it's possible to overdress for the occasion as well. Ira Dean from Trick Pony found that out the hard way, when he sported a layered look at the 2002 CMA Awards.
It must be tiring for the gentlemen to always wear the same classic suit. But at the 2003 CMA Awards, Jeff Bates decided to take matters into his own hands, donning a very unique embellished jacket.
If there is one thing we know about Shania, it’s that she’s not afraid to push boundaries in her music and in her fashion choices. (Who doesn't remember the men’s dress shirt-corset combo she wore for her “Man I Feel Like a Woman” music video?) But some thought bearing her leopard-print brassiere felt a little too casual for an awards show.
At the 2004 CMA Awards, Big Kenny’s muscle shirt printed with the words "Love Pirate" left everyone a little puzzled. Does he love all pirates? Is this a Pirates of the Caribbean reference to his appreciation for Johnny Depp? Did his map for buried treasure lead him to the CMA Awards? I guess there are just some things we’ll never know.
We can’t fault her for trying, but sadly Lorrie Morgan’s baby pink, bedazzled attire wasn't a hit on the red carpet of the 2006 CMA Awards.
The sequin shorts and ivory overlay Carrie Underwood wore to perform at the 2009 CMA Awards can best be described as a reverse mullet dress—business in the back, party in the front. But if anyone can make the bold look work, it's Carrie!
Faith Hill seemingly became enraged on camera after Carrie Underwood won Female Vocalist of the Year over her at the 40th CMA Awards, after Carrie's name was announced. Faith and her management later said it was just a joke, but the incident shocked viewers and put her under media scrutiny after the awards show.
With rumors flying that Brooks and Dunn were giving their final CMA performance before retiring, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles invited the duo to come on stage to "say a few words" after she and musical partner Kristian Bush won the Best Duo award in 2009. The camera panned to Brooks and Dunn in their seats with a look in their eyes that seemed to say "no thanks," while Ronnie Dunn waved the camera away. But, by all accounts, the duos are "actually good friends" according to . There's nothing like a little friendly competition, right?!
Though part of an impressive music box-themed performance of "Stuck Like Glue," Jennifer Nettles' look skewed a little more Toddler & Tiaras than country star.
Last Man Standing's Tim Allen attended the 2012 CMA Awards in style but left with a foot in his mouth. After Blake Shelton cracked a naughty joke about his then-wife, Miranda Lambert, the actor took things a little too far, not realizing the two were married. He told the full story to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after the show.
Posing here with his now ex-wife, Lacey Buchanan Owen, Jake Owen's choice of a leather-collared, leopard-print suit jacket may have been a little too wild for the CMA Awards.
Hayden Panettiere entered the country scene through her role on CMT's Nashville. But her first appearance at the CMAs seemed a little forced, and some viewers weren't a fan of the faux Southern accent she used during her banter with co-presenters Connie Britton and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Bless her heart!
There's no denying that Sean Combs is a big name in the music industry, known worldwide for both his musical performance and production expertise. Onstage at the 2013 CMA Awards with Kellie Pickler, though, P. Diddy went rogue with a little misplaced self-promotion in the introduction: "I love all kinds of music, and that's why I started my new music network called Revolt."
The first time you make a joke, it’s funny. The second time, you may still get a few chuckles. But when Brad Paisley wouldn’t quit making Obamacare quips during the 2013 CMA Awards onstage and even through song, some viewers were ready to call the doctor to get his funny bone checked.
By 23, Taylor Swift was already a global sensation snagging a number of awards. Even with her immense success, though, some country music fans were surprised to learn that she had been selected for the Pinnacle Award at such a young age. At the time, the only other recipient of this prestigious award had been Garth Brooks, following a lengthy career.
At the beginning of the show, co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood began singing "Duck Lines," a play on Robin Thicke's hit "Blurred Lines," and the crowd cheered as the cast from A&E's Duck Dynasty made a surprise appearance on stage. But things got uncomfortable fast as they started "twerking" along to the music.
It's always fun to see non-country artists share the stage with some of our favorite artists. But things took a turn when Jason Mraz forgot the words during his performance of "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me" with Hunter Hayes in 2013. Jason fumbled until Hunter helped him out with a cue.
During the 2014 CMA Awards, hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood joked about not being able to know if Kenny Chesney's ex Renée Zellweger was in the crowd because she was a "master of disguise." This was in reference to rumors of her recent and dramatic plastic surgery.
Another joke crashed rather than landed in a song about the . The epidemic was a global health crisis in 2014.
The pop-country duets at the CMA Awards are always highly anticipated. However, when Little Big Town teamed up with Ariana Grande to perform "Day Drinking" and "Bang, Bang," it felt a little gimmicky. Perhaps it was the light-up ensembles.
Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley attempted to poke fun at Taylor Swift's departure from country music, relating it to the outcome of that year's midterm elections.
"I take naked selfies all the time," hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood sang in a crack about the celebrity phone hacks in the news at the time. "I'm scared I'll find they've leaked online. I think Blake Shelton's got some of his bare behind."