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  • Writer's picturejillbrooks

50th Annual CMA Awards: Hits & Misses

Miranda Lambert

Yes, yes, SO MUCH YES! I have always loved Ran in black, and it fits the edgy, rocker vibe she's given off from day one. Her makeup was perfect showcasing a true smokey eye with dramatic winged liner, but I wanted more from her hair all night long. The casual look of the ponytail just didn't make sense with her black lace, mesh and chiffon gown, minimal accessories & gorgeous t-strap studded heels.


Cassadee Pope

 Who told her to wear her hair like that? I couldn't focus on ANYTHING but her slicked back bob. It was stiff as a board and the lines throughout the style and part were messy. Her makeup wasn't great - looked like she was just headed to the grocery store instead of a black-tie event. Her dress was blah and left me craving Cassadee's grit. I normally love CP's risktaking edgy style, but tonight fell flat. Unimpressed.


Hunter Hayes

 Hunter just keeps getting more and more adorable with every red carpet I see! His tux was tailored perfectly and his men's grooming was on point. Loving his new contemporary hair style - a southern pompadour, if you will. Hunter's stylist deserves a raise.



Love their cohesive, edgy style. Every singer's personal style shines through, but it just all works together. Not sure why they're at the COUNTRY MUSIC awards, but they performed Dolly Parton's "Jolene" so I'll let it slide this time. ;)



Initial thoughts are mixed feelings. Matthew Morano designed her multi-colored dress constructed of ribbons and a little sparkle. It perfectly suited Cam's joyful aesthetic. Unfortunately, that's where the joy ended for me. Along with the color yellow, Cam's big, curly hair has become her signature. She arrived on the carpet with a tight French twist - pretty, but just not Cam. I think viewers who aren't super familiar with her will have trouble recognizing her. Bring back the curls, Cam!

VERDICT: Warning

Olivia Newton-John

I love a woman in a perfectly tailored tuxedo on a red carpet, but ONJ's take on the tux didn't quite hit the mark. With teal satin lapels, her look was "costume-y." It felt like she was trying to be country and instead came across a little hokey.

Her adorable bob with messy curls fit her face shape and hair texture just perfectly, but her makeup left a lot to be desired. She was shiny, her foundation was uneven and the look didn't translate well on camera.


Jessie James-Decker

Jessie is always adorable and spot-on with her fashion choices. Jess Southern styled J's hair and makeup and everything felt very fluid. Love this girl's spunk and love seeing it radiate through her red carpet looks.

Verdict: HIT

Carrie Underwood

She played it safe during her arrival to the red carpet, but I don't blame her one bit. This dramatic gown was the perfect amount of "fairytale" meets country superstar. Carrie's styling by Melissa Schleicher was flawless as always. Melissa is a huge part of Carrie's long term success in her personal beauty and fashion.

Verdict: HIT

Of her several outfit changes, her first on-screen look during the opening was SPOT ON. Her adorable pewter one-shouldered minidress showed off those famous legs of hers & balanced her look with a cape on the left shoulder. Her fun blonde bob had a deep side part with big, beachy waves & tucked one side behind her ear. Carrie very rarely makes a misstep, and she proved herself once again.


Second look. Patterned fully beaded green with floral boddess, nude mesh straps and a green offset bow at the neck was just all sorts of wrong. No, just no. Her fashion choices throughout the show are representing the last 50 years of country music, but there's so much more she could have done with this decade. Even Brad seems disappointed.


Carrie's third look was incredible. Gold and silver sequined v-neck dress adorned with a psuedo-cape and gold belt at her perfectly cinched waist. The gold+silver beads, sequins and stones on the skirt made Carrie look like she was literally dripping in diamonds... but somehow staying away from gaudy sparkle. This was one of my favorite looks I've EVER seen on Carrie. She redeemed herself after that second look. Whew!


Carrie's performance look was.... well, just ehh. I feel like I've seen her in this look a million times and there's nothing truly showstopping about it. I don't love it, but I don't hate it.

VERDICT: Warning

Straight up 80's! THIS is what I was hoping to see from Carrie when I heard she was recreating looks from each decade. This short black and purple beaded number is the perfect balance of modern style and 80s inspiration. Wish her heels were taller and strappier - I think the closed-toe pump was a little heavy for the already weighty aesthetic of her clothing choice.

Verdict: WIN

Next up was this stunning garnet beaded gown that hit all the marks. I loved the gown, styling, and the Reba-inspired look (and one liners!) all the way around. I do wish the lip was a deeper wine color, because I think the red-toned color she wore on stage came across a little too pink on camera... but that's just nitpicking because I have a hard time finding ANY problems with Carrie's look 99.9% of the time.

Verdict: HIT

Leopard print gown with matching choker was the perfect cut for Carrie. The high slit showed off those legs, while the dramatic slightly-pointed sweetheart neckline was sexy without being too revealing. Oh, and did you see that golden bronze tan? It really stood out against this printed chiffon and was true perfection.

Verdict: HIT

Same dress. Two looks. Carrie intro'd Lee Greenwood with this adorable gold mini with matching beaded choker cape - my personal fave of the two looks. When she came back on stage to accept her award for Female Vocalist of the Year (YAY Carrie!), the cape was gone, but she didn't lose any sparkle. I did; however, notice the mesh bodysuit more with the cape off. She wore this for modesty during her quick changes and to make sure there weren't any wardrobe malfunctions on stage, but wish she had done without it. I think the fit of this dress could have been better on her. She has an incredible figure but this mini gave her a boxier shape than I'm used to seeing on her. Taking it in at the waist just an inch or so would have been just enough to show off her hourglass figure hiding under all the sequins. (Though if you know anything about alter beaded gowns, her seamstress may have gone on strike. Way to pick your battles, Underwood.)

Verdict: HIT

Everything about this look was perfect, and one of my favorite looks of the night. There's nothing bad I can say about this tribute performance or Carrie's queen of country showstopping gown.

Verdict: HIT HIT HIT

Carrie's finale gown wasn't what I expected. I love the idea of a stately ballgown with a dramatic halter and full skirt, but this came across as cheap (when we all know it was anything but!) and the ill-fit didn't help. The V-neck should have been deeper, the waistline moved to her true natural waist, and the hemline should have just grazed the floor. That break in the skirt means it's too long. All in all, good idea. Poor execution.

Verdict: MISS

Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea's red carpet gown was flawless. I loved the fresh graphic print on the gown paired with the classic silloutte. The pink/red/orange combo complements her skin tone so well, and even though her lips are dark, she toned down the hair & makeup look to truly let her dress take center stage.

Verdict: HIT

Overall aesthetic of light, airy went perfectly with her performance of "Peter Pan," but left me wanting more. The whole look was just vanilla all the way around. Hair and makeup wasn't formal enough for the event and the gown lacked something - just some sort of "wow" factor. Kelsea has endless options and can basically handpick her wardrobe from any designer's collection. This plain beige chiffon number just wasn't enough.  Nothing about her look was wrong, but nothing was really right.

VERDICT: Warning

Reba McIntire

I can't believe I am even thinking this - much less saying it out loud. I love Reba, but I don't love Reba's red satin prom dress she wore while performing during the opening - even her accessories (multi-strand diamond bracelet & big statement earrings) screamed prom. Hair and makeup was spot on. Soft, but glam with just the right amount of fancy.. (see what I did there?)  It makes me sad to even write anything negative about my favorite artist of all time, but Reba, maybe it's time for a stylist change. Take a note from Loretta Lynn... THAT'S how you wear a red sparkly gown!

VERDICT: Warning

Elle King

From day one, she's confused me. I've said this girl isn't country from the first time the words came out of her mouth. Her maroon and gold beaded fringe pants with black bustier and blazer trimmed in the same gold beaded fringe was just wrong all the way around. Makeup was costume-y and hair fell flat. For me, it's a no.


Faith Hill

Faith gets it right every single time. Long-sleeved pewter gown featuring a textured black skirt with dramatic peplum and velvet waistband with minimal accessories. She had the brushed back sleek hair and did it RIGHT. So many ladies attempted this look on the red carpet tonight and most of them failed, but Faith nailed it right on the head! A gorgeous smokey eye with pinky-nude lip topped off the look perfectly... and Tim, well, Tim always makes for a gorgeous accessory. He let her shine, but looked dapper enough to remind you he sang the song of the year & to keep his better half from stealing all the spotlight. They're country royalty... and this just reminds us again that Tim & Fath always kill it.


Thomas Rhett

Amazing black crushed velvet jacket with black bow tie fits him perfectly and is truly formal enough for the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic award shows in music history. I've grown to accept his stubble, but wish it was a bit cleaner for this event. Other than that minor detail, Thomas killed it once again.


Maren Morris

The ONLY thing I liked about her on-stage look was her strappy black platform heels. Dress wasn't terrible, but seemed out of place in this crowd. Those crazy tight curls came across a little "finger in a light socket" instead of the edgy, editorial vibe she was aiming for. I was so focused on the hair that I can't even remember the makeup.... or the song.


Honorable Mention Hits:

Raelynn (Lashes by the one and only Jessie Law)

Dierks Bentley

Keith Urban

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum

Lauren Alaina

Canaan Smith

Honorable Mention MISS: 

Maddie & Tae - These girls normally get it just right, but the dark lipstick, dark shadow roots, ill-fitting gowns... just too much. Hard to recognize these beauties without their feminine looks. the floral print paired with deep navy lips ages Tae 10+ years. Better luck next time, ladies.

Chris Lane - mega babe, mega fail on this red carpet look.... but still a mega babe. 🔥

Jennifer Nettles

Kasey Musgraves - Hair and makeup - flawless. Lilac cupcake dress - not so much.

Lennon & Maisey - love Lennon's hair and both girl's makeup. Other than that, there's not much nice to say about this duo's red carpet look.

Gretchen Wilson - FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS, Gretchen. Not time to go to the grocery store. She was invited to celebrate the 50 years of the FVOTY, and she couldn't have looked farther from that. I get it. It's Gretchen, but sometimes even redneck women put dresses on. There were ticket holders in the nosebleeds dressed fancier than GW. If ever there was a time to hire a stylist, it was last night.

Kimberlee Williams-Paisley

Lori McKenna - wrong cut, wrong length. I like the metallic print on Lori, but for someone nominated for Song of the Year, she lacked some glam.

Jamie Lynn Spears

Deana Carter - this. woman. does. not. age. Hair and makeup were okay, but this tank/skirt combo reminds me of the opening credits of Sex and the City... from 20 years ago. The petticoat showing under the skirt? Dreadful. The coral statement pumps scream 2007. Paired with some black heels (pointed toe pump or strappy black stilletos), she could have piled on a few more accessories and this may have even made it on the honorable mention HIT list, but as is: MISS.

Billy Ray Cyrus - there are just no words. The photo speaks for itself.

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