Brad Paisley solidified his status as country music's most popular male star at Tuesday night's CMT Awards with three victories, but it was Taylor Swift who captured the night's highest award and was also the talk of blogs and commentators following her collaboration with hip-hop and pop figure T-Pain during the televised ceremony at the Sommet Center.
Swift poked fun at her super-clean image and clearly enjoyed audience reaction to "Thug Story," their spoof on "Love Story." Swift also collaborated with Def Leppard on the show (their joint appearance on CMT's Crossroads series is now on sale as a DVD), and responded to "Love Story's" selection as Video of the Year by thanking the fans for recognizing her "when my parents are here watching." In addition, "Love Story" was also the top choice in the Female Video of the Year.
Comedian Bill Engvall hosted the event, which reflects the choices of country music fans in 10 video categories. Paisley paid tribute to longtime actor and country music fan Andy Griffith, who is featured along with Paisley in "Waitin' on a Woman," the Male Video of the Year winner.
"[Griffith] has changed my life in so many ways," Paisley said, "And to be on film with him — you can imagine what that must be like.”
Paisley teamed with Keith Urban on "Start a Band," which was picked Collaborative Video of the Year. Paisley also shared the CMT Performance of the Year award with Alan Jackson, George Strait and Dierks Bentley for "Country Boy."
"Twenty years ago this week I signed my record deal," Jackson said. "I've made, I think, about 45 country music videos in that time and CMT and all the fans have been there with me ever since."
The Zac Brown Band thanked the fans for the response to "Chicken Fried," winner of the USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year award, saying that without their support "we wouldn't have a life in music." Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" was tabbed the Wide Open Country Video of the Year, while Trey Fanjoy's exhaustive array of credits during the year (including "Love Story") won him the Director of the Year crown.
Sugarland's "All I Want to Do" won them Duo of the Year honors, while Rascal Flatts' "Every Day" captured Group Video of the Year. Kellie Pickler, Darius Rucker and various other performers and groups also performed and presented, but for many people the Swift/T-Pain visual will be a highlight for years to come.
Titans' Collins makes appearance
Tennessee Titans quarterback Kerry Collins made an appearance as a presenter on the CMT Music Awards.
Collins said he has aspirations of writing country music songs, and has collaborated with some Music City songwriters in the past few months while trying to break into the business.
The awards are part of the wrap-up to the weekend of the annual FanFest in Nashville.