Get out your git-tars and cowboy hats, it’s time for country music’s biggest night. The 47th CMA Awards will air live at 8 p.m. on ABC tonight, and for the sixth straight year, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood serve as your hosts. Here are five things you'll want to watch for:
1. Veterans versus Newbies. Who will walk home with the most hardware? Rookies like Kelly Musgrave and Florida George Line each received multiple nominations, but can they beat out familiar faces like Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, and even the “King of Country,” George Strait as they vie for the top honors? And yes, at age 23, we’re calling Taylor Swift a CMA Awards veteran. The songstress already has seven wins through 21 nominations and is set to receive the prestigious Pinnacle Award this year.
2. Collaborations. With so many artists scheduled to perform, the collaborative possibilities should be unforgettable. Dave Grohl will take the stage with Zac Brown Band. We’ll see Jason Mraz perform with Hunter Hayes. We’re sure to see some special duets like Keith Urban with Miranda Lambert, but what other surprise pairings could we see? Could Jason Aldean play with Darius Rucker? Might the Band Perry, Rascall Flatts and Little Big Town join forces to create one supergroup? What would be your ultimate country collaboration?
3. Stars of stage… and screen: In addition to a star-studdeded lineup of musicians presenting (Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, Kellie Pickler) many TV stars will be on hand as presenters for tonight’s awards. Among them: "Pretty Little Liars’" Lucy Hale, "Duck Dynasty" personalities Willie & Korie Robertson and Jase & Missy Robertson, and Connie Britton and Charles Esten of "Nashville." Robin Roberts, who was honored during this year's ESPY's, will also present.
4. Florida Georgia Line. Their breakout crossover hit “Cruise” is the second most downloaded country single ever. What’s more, it defines summer in Dixie—for 2013, at least. The South Georgia water never sounded so tempting.
5. Carrie Underwood’s costume changes. The American Idol champion and Sunday Night Football rookie wore 12 different dresses while hosting last year’s show—and looked stunning in all of them. As long as she’s on stage, we could watch the whole show on mute and it would still be hours well spent.