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Top 10 CMA Awards Moments We Can’t Wait to See!

Michael Loccisano, WireImage.com

Country’s biggest night is almost here! The 45th annual CMA Awards air live tonight at 8:00 PM ET on ABC. The Boot counts down what we’re most looking forward to from the star-studded evening.

10. Carrie Underwood’s Costume Changes: Last year, the night’s co-host started the show in black satin pants and a sequined jacket, and — seven beautiful dresses later — ended the night in a floral-topped tutu. (See photos of all her 2010 CMA costume changes here.) Even more mesmerizing than her smoking hot figure in the gorgeous gowns is just how fast she can get in and out of them — and with different hairstyles for each look!

9. Sugarland‘s performance with Matt Nathanson: One of our favorite pop songs of the year was co-written by one of country’s most celebrated duos of the past seven years. Matt Nathanson will perform his new hit, ‘Run,’ with his co-writers on the song, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. And you’ll have the song stuck like glue in your head until at least December. (Watch the three perform ‘Run’ live here.)

8. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s Jokes: “If you’re one of the millions of people who are watching tonight, I know what exactly you’re thinking: where’s ‘Modern Family‘? I’m sorry but we don’t have an adorable middle-aged male couple … well at least since Brooks & Dunn broke up.” That was just one in a barrel of laughs the hosts got last year (read more of their jokes here). Who will they poke fun at this year? We’re guessing no one from Blake Shelton to Kim Kardashian is off limits.

Getty Images for CMT

7. Faith Hills Big Comeback: It’s been five years since Faith has performed on the CMA stage, but the former Female Vocalist of the Year winner is set to return with ‘Come Home,’ the first single from her upcoming album. “I am beyond psyched,” the blond beauty tells Ohio’s Froggy 94.9. So are we, Faith! New to most country listeners, ‘Come Home’ may sound familiar to pop group OneRepublic fans, as the track first appeared on the band’s debut album.

6. Fashion Hits and Misses: Carrie, Taylor, Dierks, and Jennifer Nettles dazzled us with a their designer duds at last year‘s ceremony, but there were also a few unfortunate choices we hope won’t resurface this year. (We’re not going to name names, but tiger print at the CMAs? Really?) Who will establish themselves as red-carpet royalty? Check back tonight at 8:00 PM ET to view our gallery of this year’s biggest fashion hits — and misses.

5. Lionel Richie‘s performance with Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts and Little Big Town: “I’m showing up with my rhinestone boots and my turquoise cape, so just get ready!” Lionel Richie jokes with The Boot. The pop icon has invited three of country music’s biggest acts to perform songs from ‘Tuskegee,’ Lionel’s country duets album of some of his most beloved hits. Fans can expect a mash-up of ‘Stuck on You,’ ‘Deep River Woman‘ and ‘Dancing on the Ceiling.’

Getty Images for Clear Channel

4. More Duets That Prove Country IS Cool: There will be no shortage of appearances by non-country artists, proving that country music is reaching an bigger audience than ever before. Pop legend Kenny Loggins is set to perform ‘Footloose‘ with Blake Shelton for the show’s opening number, while pop-rock starlets Grace Potter and Natasha Bedingfield will sing their duets with Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts, respectively. With big-voiced pop superstar Kelly Clarkson as a strong contender in the Single and Song of the Year categories for her ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay‘ duet with Jason Aldean, country music seems to be everybody’s favorite genre.

3. Surprise Victories: Making our CMA Awards predictions was pretty easy this year in some categories, and a total crap-shoot in others. We’re pretty sure the Band Perry are a shoo-in for New Artist of the Year, but the sibling trio may take the night by storm, potentially taking home Single and Song of the Year for their triple-platinum-selling ‘If I Die Young.’ If our prediction is correct, Kimberly Perry will become one of only three female songwriters to solely pen a CMA Song of the Year-winning tune (a feat previously accomplished by Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles in 2007 with ‘Stay.’) Other categories that are leaving us on the edge of our seats: Album, Video, and the night’s biggest one, Entertainer of the Year.

2. Glen Campbell Tribute: Former Entertainer of the Year winner and all-around American treasure Glen Campbell will be honored with a special collaboration on tonight’s show. Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Vince Gill will perform some of the Rhinestone Cowboy‘s biggest hits, saluting his illustrious career. With his recent Alzheimer’s confession and subsequent retirement, we can think of no better way to show appreciation for one of country music’s most celebrated artists.

Michael Loccisano, WireImage

1. Who Will Win Entertainer of the Year: The Entertainer of the Year category has arguably never been such an even match, with five very deserving artists vying for country music’s top prize. While Brad could very likely take home the trophy for the second consecutive year, industry insiders also acknowledge Jason’s recording-breaking year, Taylor’s unmatched world tour, as well as phenomenal years for Keith and Blake. The one thing we do know: whomever wins will probably do so by just a hair.

Click here for a full list of 2011 CMA Awards nominees, and read our winner predictions here. Tune in tonight at 8:00 PM ET on ABC for the 45th annual Country Music Association Awards!

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