CMA Awards: Hank Williams Jr. and ‘Footloose’ (?) open telecast

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Wait long enough and -- voilà -- a mid-tempo rocker is suddenly a country song. The latest edition of the Country Music Awards opened with Blake Shelton tackling his remake of Kenny Loggins’ ‘Footloose.’ Yet this wasn’t purely promotional, as one would hope that Nashville in 2011 would have more to offer to the pop world than some Hollywood-driven marketing. This was a chance for a duet, and the song’s originator, Loggins, appeared toward song’s end.

Though ghettoized to the song’s final moments, Loggins’ lighter-voiced scratchiness suited the cut better than Shelton’s perfectly chiseled vocals. Yet puzzling award-show openings don’t belong solely to the CMA Awards, and one thing these Nashville-based high-fives have going for them over other award telecasts is a sense of humor.

Credit CMA hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. It was Paisley who mocked ‘Footlose’ as a ‘country classic,’ and Paisley and Underwood then had fun at the expense of Hank Williams Jr., whom ESPN had earlier dumped from Monday Night Football.

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‘You can get drunk and carry on but you can’t compare the president to Hitler,’ went the couple’s brief duet. But no joke stings too hard here at award shows: Williams made a brief appearance at the end of the song to begin his circuit to re-acceptance.

Anticipation was high, however, when Paisley alluded to the country’s economic crisis, yet instead followed Eric Stonestreet’s lead to mock Kim Kardashian. The divorce ballad was cute, but a ‘Modern Family’ star should have known it was too obvious to carry out.

-- Todd Martens