What you didn’t see on TV at the 2020 CMT Awards

Another week, another country music awards show! It felt like just yesterday we were virtually jet-setting around Nashville, Tenn. for 2020’s ACM Awards, but sure enough, we’re back … for the 2020 CMT Awards! Although the CMTs haven’t quite cornered the market on country awards shows (the CMAs are around the corner — hard to keep up, right?), the Oct. 21, 2020, socially distanced bash held its own, with (some!) big-name performances and inventive new outdoor venues to “boot” (no pun intended).

Pushed back from its original June 2020 air date, the show made up for the delay with a new quarantine-ready awards category, live-streamed performances from beautiful locations (a literal cave in Nashville, anyone?), and appearances from Luke Bryan, Dan + Shay, and Shania Twain. “The performances are going to be the highlight of the show,” actor Sarah Hyland, who co-hosted with singers Kane Brown and Ashley McBryde, told People ahead of the event. “Fans can expect truly epic outdoor performances all over Tennessee.”

With that said, plenty happened off-stage, too — here’s what the cameras missed at the 2020 CMT Awards.

Sarah Hyland taped her segments solo

Although there were a lot of changes to the 2020 CMT Awards, one thing was the same — there were three co-hosts! Last year, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton split hosting duties. And this year saw Sarah Hyland, Ashley McBryde, and Kane Brown in that role. Speaking of the Modern Family alum, what you didn’t see on TV was how she took extra precautions beforehand, not filming any segments with her co-hosts, as People reported. And she had a pretty good reason, too. 

Hyland, who told People that she was “excited and extremely honored to be a part of the show,” had to be extremely cautious with hosting as she is immunocompromised due to her kidney dysplasia. She has received two transplants, receiving the first in 2012 at 21 years old, and by 2016, her body was rejecting the transplant, leading to a second procedure in 2017, according to Entertainment Tonight.

So while the star is doing well now and was in good spirits during the show (she rocked a designer “vote” mask pre-show, btw), the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been an easy road. Luckily, the folks at the CMTs were able to maneuver some off-camera magic to facilitate Hyland’s hosting gig. It all worked out in the end!

Noah Cyrus channeled Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake

In 2020, our hours on the red carpet have been few and far between due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although this part of the award show typically produces the most shenanigans and fashion risks, they don’t translate super well to social distancing guidelines. Thankfully, the CMT Music Awards figured the situation out, or we never would have had the chance to see Noah Cyrus channel early 2000s Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake on the red carpet.

The younger Cyrus sister took to the CMT red carpet in head-to-toe denim, featuring denim heals, patchwork jeans, an oversized jacket, and a denim cowboy hat. The look seemingly referenced one of the most famous red carpet looks of all time, aka Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s appearance at the 2001 American Music Awards. Of course, Cyrus isn’t the first one to replicate the vibe — the ensemble got celebrated by Katy Perry and Riff Raff at the 2014 Video Music Awards. However, Cyrus put her unique spin on the fashion statement, switching the gender roles by rocking a look more reminiscent of Timberlake than Spears. 

The jury is still out as to whether this made Cyrus one of the best or worst dressed of the night, but we got to give the singer props for taking a risk.

Fans might have missed this new category

Additionally to all the other changes to the show, like the lack of audience and socially-distant performances, there was a new award category. Although it barely made its way into the broadcast (blinked, and you missed it!), the CMT Music Awards made history in 2020 with the new “Quarantine Video of the Year” category.

Some of the videos, like Brad Paisley’s “No I In Beer,” were songs that had nothing to do with the pandemic, while others, like Luke Combs’ “Six Feet Apart” and Granger Smith’s winning video, “Don’t Cough On Me!”, dealt with the pandemic head-on. So while fans were waiting for the delayed show, these stars were busy making new art in the comfort of their homes! Pretty cool, huh?

The CMT Awards aren’t the first award show of 2020 to include a category like this — August 2020’s MTV Video Music Awards had a similar category, as well. These categories will (hopefully) be short-lived, but maybe the new distinction and recognition will inspire artists to continue making homemade videos, even when they’re not necessary.

Morgan Wallen returned to the stage after controversy

Two weeks before the CMT Music Awards, rising country star Morgan Wallen found himself mired in controversy when he got dumped from his musical guest spot on Saturday Night Live. Wallen’s invitation got rescinded after a video surfaced less than a week before his scheduled performance of him reportedly partying — maskless — around the University of Alabama. SNL, which has imposed strict coronavirus guidelines for its performers and audiences to ensure they can continue to film live from New York, had no patience for Wallen’s behavior and replaced him with rocker Jack White.

Although Wallen was disappointed in being removed from the show, he apologized via Instagram and accepted his wrong-doing in the situation, calling his actions “shortsighted” and admitted that he put the show in jeopardy. Wallen took the stage for the first time since the controversy with his CMT Awards performance after being nominated for “Best Male Video” for his song, “Chasin’ You.”

All in all, a lot happened on and off stage at the CMTs. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to see what unfolds for the show in 2021 — stay tuned!

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