It's never the greatest sign when the highlight of an awards show is the joke about country artists withering away if they don't all get together every few weeks.
But that wasn't going to stop one-woman juggernaut Carrie Underwood from ringing in the inaugural American Country Awards with a leading six wins, including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Play On and Single of the Year by a Female Artist for "Cowboy Casanova."
"We have had the most amazing year out on the road," Underwood said in thanks, collecting the final bright, shiny Fender Stratocaster (the ACA trophy of choice) of the night.
"Of course, we wouldn't be doing anything if it weren't for the people sitting out there in that audience, so to everyone that came out to see us and anybody else out here—you guys are awesome," she concluded, a nod to the fans who decided on each and every award handed out tonight.
Underwood's other honors included Female Artist of the Year, Touring Artist of the Year and Music Video of the Year by a Female Artist for "Cowboy Casanova."
Lady Antebellum, the six-time Grammy nominee of the bunch, was next in the field with four wins, including Group/Duo of the Year and, all for "Need You Now," Single of the Year, Single of the Year by a Group/Duo and Music Video of the Year by a Group/Duo.
"First and foremost we want to say a huge thank you from the bottom of our heart to the fans," exclaimed Lady Antebellum's only lady, Hillary Scott.
Alas, the winning trio and Underwood remained mum as far as performances went, perhaps resting their pipes after what's already been a long country-music award season.
The CMAs (or ACMs, or CMTs) it wasn't, but 'twas a valiant effort for the only country-music award show that couldn't get Kid Rock.
As basso-profundo host Trace Adkins promised, the inaugural ACAs contained way more performances than anything else, with most trophies being doled out before the cameras started rolling.
And with only two hours to do the broadcast honors, the artists just went ahead and performed the songs they won for, mercifully killing two birds with one stone.
Adkins and Blake Shelton shared Music Video of the Year (overall and by a Male Artist) honors for "Hillbilly Bone," with Adkins opting to speak for his duet partner, even though Shelton's name was first on the ballot.
"He'd like to thank his label, Warner Music, Miranda, country radio, God and me," Adkins deadpanned, wisely putting Shelton's fiancée, Miranda Lambert, before himself.
Florida native Easton Corbin was named Breakthrough Artist of the Year and, as he was inaugurated as the first ever American Country Award winner with not an acceptance speech but a quick Q&A with Nancy O'Dell, it flashed onscreen that "Little More Country Than That" had been named Single of the Year by a Breakthrough Artist and Music Video of the Year by a Breakthrough Artist.
(Which is not to be confused with Best Single and Best Video by a Female Artist, a Male Artist, a Duo or Group or just Single and Music Video of the Year in general. Yikes, that's thorough!)
Rascal Flatts was presented with the Decade Award for their glut of No. 1 hits in the '00s, and Alan Jackson was honored with the Greatest Hits Award.
"I love America, and country music has always been America's real music," the relatively elder statesman said. "And I'm just so honored to be a part of it for all these years."
Here's the complete list of winners from the first-ever American Country Awards:
Artist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Male Artist of the Year: Brad Paisley
Female Artist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Duo or Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Easton Corbin
Album of the Year: Play On, Carrie Underwood
Single of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
Male Artist Single of the Year: "Why Don't We Just Dance," Josh Turner
Female Artist Single of the Year: "Cowboy Casanova," Carrie Underwood
Duo or Group Single of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
Breakthrough Artist Single of the Year: "Little More Country Than That," Easton Corbin
Touring Artist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Music Video of the Year: "Hillbilly Bone," Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins
Male Artist Video of the Year: "Hillbilly Bone," Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins
Female Artist Video of the Year: "Cowboy Casanova," Carrie Underwood
Duo or Group Video of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
Breakthrough Artist Video of the Year: "Little More Country Than That," Easton Corbin
Decade Award: Rascal Flatts
Video Visionary Award: Toby Keith