Kanye West did not crash Taylor Swift’s party at this awards show.
In fact, the Country Music Association Awards not only honored Swift on Wednesday — with two live performances (including the prestigious show opener) and four trophies including entertainer of the year — but they took the offensive to poke fun at West barging onto the stage of the MTV awards in September when Swift was accepting her trophy.
At the CMA shindig, co-host Brad Paisley sang new lyrics to a Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings classic: “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Kanye ... cowboys have manners/ they don’t interrupt.”
Well, then Little Jimmy Dickens ain’t a cowboy. Because later in the show, he interrupted Paisley when the latter was making a mock acceptance for video of the year. Dickens waltzed onstage and barked, “Taylor Swift made the best video of all time. You go, girl!”
Responded Paisley: “What kind of security do we have when a 4 (foot) 9, 88-year-old man gets by?”
There was a lot of payback joking about West but just as much love for the 19-year-old Swift, the youngest CMA entertainer of the year who, in the past year, had opened concerts for all the other nominees in that category.
When a shocked Swift accepted the biggest prize, she invited her band onstage for a group hug to help her gain her composure.
Earlier, as she held the top album prize for “Fearless” (the best-selling album in any genre for the past two years), Swift’s mouth was agape in surprise. “You guys, this album is my diary,” she explained. “Thank you for saying you liked my diary. That’s the nicest compliment.”
Then producer Nathan Chapman gave Swift a nice compliment: “She made everyone on the album look like geniuses.”
Swift didn’t look like a genius on the opening number, “Forever and Always.” During this very stagey presentation, the hair-shaking, chair-throwing, pole-sliding leather-pants-wearing teen came across like a shrill rock ‘n’ roll vamp. Later, she completely toned it down, sitting on a stool in a purple dress crooning “15” — the ultimate teen girl emo song — solo on acoustic 12-string guitar.
The strongest performances of the three-hour program came in different flavors: the elegant, sophisticated twang of Sugarland’s “Keep You”; Brooks & Dunn doing the rockin’ “Honky Tonk Stomp” with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons on guitar; the rebel yell of Jamey Johnson on “Between Jennings and Jones” with Kid Rock sitting in; and rocker Chris Daughtry showing a lot of vocal character on the moody “Tennessee Lights” with Vince Gill harmonies.
The evening featured auto racers (Dale Jr.), TV stars (Patricia Heaton) and lots of shout-outs to the troops on Veterans Day, and one great line from Swift when she held the female vocalist trophy: “I want to thank every single person in this room tonight for not running up on the stage.”