2017 CMA Awards Opening Monologue Mixes Political Humor, Solemn Remembrances
Unsurprisingly, the pair's monologue started off on a somber note, with Underwood intoning, "Las Vegas. Charlottesville. New York. Sutherland Springs. Historic storms in Texas, Puerto Rico and Florida. This has been a year marked by tragedy."
She and Paisley quickly set the tone for the concert, however, by mentioning the importance of community and family, and the idea that this was a night to come together.
"The best way to honor our fans is to play our music, loud and proud," Paisley said. "Our music lifts people up." He then dedicated the show to "all those who we lost and are healing. We love you, and we will never forget you."
After the solemn beginning, the pair launched into their usual brand of music-geared political banter.. Paisley pretended to be aghast after Underwood told him that the CMA Awards were supposed to be a quote-unquote "politics-free zone" and was faux outraged he wouldn't be able to sing lines such as "way down yonder on the Scaramucci" or "Well, she's gone, gone gone—oh no, she wrote a memoir, Hillary's back."
Paisley received more guffaws, however, when he said he definitely wasn't going to sing, "hold me closer, Bernie Sanders" and "no harper valley DNC." He saved the most clever line for last: "Nor stand by your Manafort."
The political commentary continued, as Paisley then got some pointed digs in at President Donald Trump, sung to the tune of Underwood's "Before He Cheats." He changed the lyrics to reference Trump's habits ("Right now he's in his PJs, watching cable news, reaching for his cellphone" and "asking Siri how in the hell do you spell Pocahontas") and typos ("covfefe") before the pair joined together to sing, with great gusto, "Maybe next time he'll think before he tweets."
Underwood lightened the mood considerably by congratulating Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris for getting engaged, and then mentioned the country baby boom headed by Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman and Thomas Rhett.
The pair then introduced the artists up for Entertainer of the Year by singing Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" while wearing eclipse glasses—a spoof highlighted by them changing the lyrics to "total eclipse of the Garth" before turning to Garth Brooks, who raised his hat in appreciation at the nod. "Don't look directly at him / We're just his friends in low places," Paisley added.
To close out the monologue, the pair then reminisced about ten years hosting together. "We've had so much fun colluding together," Paisley said lightly. After he mentioned last year's monologue, in which he poked gentle fun at Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, the couple suddenly appeared onstage to give them an anniversary gift.
"It's like a going-away present," McGraw quipped, to which Carrie responded, with some confusion, "We're not going anywhere."
Either way, Underwood and Paisley were then presented with Barbie dolls of their own. Hill gently poked fun at Underwood, waving the doll and saying in a high voice, "Hi, I'm Carrie Underwood, I have my own line of clothes."
McGraw invoked the biggest laugh of the monologue, though, when he waved the plastic Paisley and deadpanned, "Hi, I'm Brad Paisley, and I am doing commercials with Peyton Manning, and I'm not half as funny as I think I am." As McGraw left the stage, he got in one more dig at Paisley, quipping, "You might want to check that—it is to scale."
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