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Aldean wins top prize, Backstreet Boys shine at ACM Awards

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/3/2017 By MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
Jason Aldean accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jason Aldean accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Florida Georgia Line may have lost entertainer of the year to Jason Aldean, but the country duo owned the Academy of Country Music Awards, thanks to some help from the Backstreet Boys.

Jason Aldean accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jason Aldean accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The boy band brought the audience to its feet at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday night, singing their anthemic classic "Everybody (Backstreets Back)," and getting fans such as Carrie Underwood, Nicole Kidman, Tim McGraw and others out of their seats to sing and dance along.

Brian Littrell, from left, Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, and Howie Dorough, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Brian Littrell, from left, Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, and Howie Dorough, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The audience grew even louder as the Florida Georgia Line members danced some of the memorable choreography alongside the five Backstreet Boys. FGL, which performed three times during the three-hour show, also sang its duet with the Backstreet Boys — "God, Your Mama and Me" — before bringing up the high energy.

Tyler Hubbard, center, of Florida Georgia Line, Kevin Richardson, left, and Howie Dorough, right, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Tyler Hubbard, center, of Florida Georgia Line, Kevin Richardson, left, and Howie Dorough, right, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

They also won two awards: single record of the year for "H.O.L.Y." and music event of the year for "May We All" with McGraw.

Kellie Pickler, right, presents Jon Pardi with the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Kellie Pickler, right, presents Jon Pardi with the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The duo helped kick off the ACM Awards, which started with separate performances full of energy, including a tribute to Chuck Berry featuring Joe Walsh, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley. The trio performed "Johnny B. Goode" as audience members got out of their seats.

Lauren Daigle, left, and Reba McEntire perform "Back to God" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Lauren Daigle, left, and Reba McEntire perform "Back to God" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"For the man that influenced every form of music, including country," said Bryan of Berry, who died last month.

Dierks Bentley, left, and Cole Swindell perform "Flatliner" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Dierks Bentley, left, and Cole Swindell perform "Flatliner" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Before that, all of the nominees for entertainer of the year sang their recent hits. A good number of the performers sang more than once during the show on CBS, including Bryan, Underwood, Keith Urban, Bentley, Maren Morris and Aldean, who won entertainer of the year for a second straight year.

Dierks Bentley, left, and Cole Swindell perform "Flatliner" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Dierks Bentley, left, and Cole Swindell perform "Flatliner" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"Man, one of the Eagles just gave me an award," he said, looking to Walsh. "I am so thankful. You guys don't know how much I love getting up and doing what I do every day."

Dierks Bentley, left, and Cole Swindell perform "Flatliner" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Dierks Bentley, left, and Cole Swindell perform "Flatliner" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Urban, who had success with his genre-bending, Grammy-nominated album "Ripcord," was the top nominee with seven, though he walked away empty-handed.

Ronnie Dunn introduces a performance by Reba McEntire and Lauren Daigle at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Ronnie Dunn introduces a performance by Reba McEntire and Lauren Daigle at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

But he shined onstage when he sang the soulful "Blue Ain't Your Color" with a throwback, black-and-white vibe, while the back of the stage was smoky and bright blue. As he switched to the upbeat, disco-flavored "The Fighter" — where he was joined by Underwood — the camera focused on his actress-wife, who sang and danced along.

Lauren Daigle, left, and Reba McEntire perform "Back to God" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Lauren Daigle, left, and Reba McEntire perform "Back to God" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Miranda Lambert also had a top-notch performance: She earned a standing ovation after she sang the slow, acoustic-sounding "Tin Man" as the crowd watched along seriously while she hit all the right notes and strummed her guitar.

Jon Pardi, left, performs "Dirt on My Boots" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jon Pardi, left, performs "Dirt on My Boots" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

She won album of the year for her double disc, "The Weight of These Wings," and female vocalist of the year, beating Underwood, whom she hugged after hearing her name called.

Lauren Daigle, left, and Reba McEntire perform "Back to God" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Lauren Daigle, left, and Reba McEntire perform "Back to God" at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"Carrie can sing me under the table. We've agreed on that," she said onstage. "And I'm glad to see females kicking (butt) these days. I'm so proud to be a part of that. So cheers to all of us girls out there."

Nick Carter, from right, of Backstreet Boys, and from left, Tyler Hubbard, and Brian Kelley, of Florida Georgia Line, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Nick Carter, from right, of Backstreet Boys, and from left, Tyler Hubbard, and Brian Kelley, of Florida Georgia Line, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The night featured comedy, including a play off the Academy Awards mishap during the best picture winner announcement in February.

Hosts Luke Bryan, left, and Dierks Bentley present a performance by Florida Georgia Line and Backstreet Boys at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Hosts Luke Bryan, left, and Dierks Bentley present a performance by Florida Georgia Line and Backstreet Boys at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"This is odd. David?" asked "Entertainment Tonight" host Nancy O'Dell while holding the card with the name of the song of the year winner.

Thomas Rhett poses in the press room with his awards for artist and songwriter for song of the year for "Die A Happy Man," and male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Thomas Rhett poses in the press room with his awards for artist and songwriter for song of the year for "Die A Happy Man," and male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

"Emma Stone, 'La La Land,'" David Copperfield announced, as the audience laughed.

Jon Pardi poses in the press room with the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jon Pardi poses in the press room with the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The real winner was Thomas Rhett for "Die a Happy Man."

Jon Pardi poses in the press room with the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jon Pardi poses in the press room with the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Rhett also won male vocalist of the year, beating out Urban, Aldean, Bentley and Chris Stapleton. In his seat, he shook his head after his name was announced.

Brian Kelley, third from left, and Tyler Hubbard, third from right, of Florida Georgia Line, and from left, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, and Kevin Richardson, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Brian Kelley, third from left, and Tyler Hubbard, third from right, of Florida Georgia Line, and from left, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, and Kevin Richardson, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"I don't have a whole lot of words except for: Everyone in this category are my idols," said Rhett, who was teary-eyed and paused throughout his speech. "This is the most amazing award that I've ever received in my whole existence."

Jason Aldean accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jason Aldean accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Sam Hunt performed his No. 1 hit, "Body Like a Back Road," and he went into the audience to sit next to his fiancé to sing the song. Other performers included Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini as well as Faith Hill and McGraw, who sang a new duet.

Brian Littrell, left, and Nick Carter, second from right, of Backstreet Boys, and Brian Kelley, second left, and Tyler Hubbard, right, of Florida Georgia Line, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Brian Littrell, left, and Nick Carter, second from right, of Backstreet Boys, and Brian Kelley, second left, and Tyler Hubbard, right, of Florida Georgia Line, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The music video for "Forever Country," the medley celebrating the Country Music Association Awards' 50th anniversary featuring Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and others, won video of the year. Brothers Osborne were double winners, while Morris, Jon Pardi and songwriter Lori McKenna also picked up trophies.

Brian Kelley, center, of Florida Georgia Line, Nick Carter, left, and Brian Littrell, right, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Brian Kelley, center, of Florida Georgia Line, Nick Carter, left, and Brian Littrell, right, of Backstreet Boys, perform at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Little Big Town won vocal group of the year, beating out Lady Antebellum, which had just performed on the show.

Miranda Lambert poses in the press room with her awards for album of the year for "The Weight of These Wings," and female vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Miranda Lambert poses in the press room with her awards for album of the year for "The Weight of These Wings," and female vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

"I just wanna be in Lady Antebellum's band," Kimberly Schlapman yelled.

Miranda Lambert poses in the press room with her awards for album of the year for "The Weight of These Wings," and female vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Miranda Lambert poses in the press room with her awards for album of the year for "The Weight of These Wings," and female vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

"Me too," screamed Karen Fairchild.

Jon Pardi, left, accepts the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. Kellie Pickler looks on from right. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jon Pardi, left, accepts the award for new male vocalist of the year at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. Kellie Pickler looks on from right. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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