Viewers who tuned into last night’s CMT Music Awards were left wondering whether or not they were watching a country music award show.
The fan-voted show kicked off with a number of collaborative performances featuring country stars and others outside the genre, from rockers Cheap Trick to rapper Pitbull.
Keith Urban, Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris started the show off at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. That was followed with an outdoor performance by Billy Ray Cyrus with recent Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick. Then the show went back indoors for a performance by Pitbull, pop singer Leona Lewis and Cassadee Pope — all while Jason Aldean, Nicole Kidman and more watched in the audience.
The performances did not leave fans happy with the show.
“Can someone please explain to me why #Pitbull just performed at the #CMTawards? Wasting time when real county artists could be performing,” one viewer asked.
“Why cut Cam short short to have 5th Harmony ruin a show,” another asked when the “Burning House” singer sang with the pop group.
#CMTawards who else thinks this years cmt awards sucks??? Why all the non country singers?
— Jp (@Jp_Sheehy) June 9, 2016
— Mel_K (@Mel_K) June 9, 2016
Pitbull, Leona Lewis, Cheap Trick, and Billy Ray Cyrus in the first 15 minutes? Are they actively trying to turn off viewers? #CMTawards
— Jake Lopez (@jakelopez) June 9, 2016
Watching the #CMTawards thinking about the rotisserie Hank Williams is on right now cause he’s rolling so hard in his grave 🤔
— Erica Beth (@EricaBeth86) June 9, 2016
— N.B. (@fatmanstrangler) June 9, 2016
Comedian and singer Wheeler Walker Jr. chimed in saying, “Take out the music & the hosts and this show isn’t half bad.”
It wasn’t until Blake Shelton was joined by the Oak Ridge Boys to sing their song “Elvira” did viewers perk up. The “Doing It To Country Songs” singer also took home the first CMT social superstar of year award and joked about drunken tweeting.
“The audience has been dead most of the night till this Blake Shelton/Oakridge boys mashup. That was so fun!” a fan wrote.
— Chance WB Hurst (@ChanceWBHurst) June 9, 2016
— Gator Girl (@GatorGirl2489) June 9, 2016
— Heather Lynn (@HeatherHere85) June 9, 2016
— Dave Bolender (@ONdave) June 9, 2016
Chris Stapleton, who took breakthrough video of the year for “Fire Away,” performed his song “Parachute” alongside his wife, Morgan, much to the viewers’ delight.
“Chris Stapleton! First real country artist performance tonight,” a user tweeted while someone else added, “@ChrisStapleton is by far the best example of bridging old & new country music.”
Another highlight from the night was Tim McGraw’s win for the night’s top honor. He won music video of the year for “Humble and Kind,” ending Carrie Underwood’s four-year-winning streak.
But it was Little Big Town’s performance with Pharrell Williams that was the most talked about moment.
The hit-making producer-rapper-singer, who produced Little Big Town’s new album, performed alongside the Grammy-winning country group.
Little Big Town won group/duo video of the year for their Grammy-winning smash, “Girl Crush.” It was their first-ever CMT win.
“This is a real surprise,” Kimberly Schlapman said onstage, standing next to Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet.
The country world has recently been welcoming of pop stars, and not just onstage: On her popular album “Lemonade,” Beyoncé performs a country original called “Daddy Lessons,” which the Dixie Chicks covered in concert and others in the genre praised. And last year, Justin Timberlake was the highlight of the Country Music Association Awards when he performed alongside Chris Stapleton. Timberlake’s song “Drink You Away” hit the country charts after the performance.
Other performers included top country singers such as Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean.
Erin Andrews and NFL star J.J. Watt hosted the show.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.