With CMA Fest well underway, the party gets even hotter with tonight's (June 4) CMT Awards, emceed by the illustrious and talented Kristen Bell. Enjoying the blockbuster success of Frozen and the latest Veronica Mars entry, the actress and country music lover is taking the reigns solo for the first time ever, returning for her third year. “I find the (awards) to be the best concert I’ve ever been to,” Bell shared with reporters at a press conference on Tuesday (June 3). “I think the lineup, and with the amount of performers, it’s destined to be the best one yet. Just the lineup of performers alone is pretty radical.”
Among the performers is hip-hop superstar Jason Derulo, who is enjoying new-found fame this year with such hits as "Talk Dirty" and his new single "Wiggle." Unconventionally, he will join Florida Georgia Line onstage for the opening number on a re-imagined version of his "Dirty" smash, with special guests to soon be revealed.
John Legend is also set to perform, alongside Jennifer Nettles and Hunter Hayes (on guitar). "He's playing it in a way he's never done before," executive producer John Hamlin said of a new version of "All Of Me." "He wanted to do it as a guitar-driven song this time. So, we asked Hunter Hayes to do an arrangement. John and Jennifer Nettles will duet, with Hunter performing instrumentation."
Fans can also look forward to a special tribute to living legend Alan Jackson for his long 25-year career, to be performed by Kacey Musgraves and Lee Ann Womack. Carrie Underwood will introduce the performance. "We've never honored anyone in this fashion," Hamlins said of the not-to-be-missed moment. "It's time for him."
On handling a live show, Bell revealed that she doesn't really think about it too much, stemmed by extensive background in opera and musical theatre. "Honestly, it doesn't feel like work to me," the actress noted. "It feels like a lot of fun. I get to work with a lot of fun comedy writers and directors, and we come up with really cool bits, which is what I like to do creatively. In truth, what I do during the show is change into a variety of fancy outfits and read a Teleprompter, so it's not the hardest job in America. And I have a front-row seat to an amazing concert, so it doesn't take a lot of convincing to get me to come back."
"We will give away eight awards," Hamlin described during a brief rundown of the show, "two or three in the first hour. There are five stages and three indoor. 74 celebrities, 28 performances. Those are the numbers I'm happy to brag about."
On the opening monologue, "which is so important for this particular awards show," producer Michael Dempsey added that "every year, we try to raise the bar with a really fun comedy open." With Bell's first time hosting alone, "we came up with an idea that was her trying to find a co-host. Everyone knows the app Tinder and how people use that to find their latest date. CMT's version of Tinder is Holler, and that's how Kristen is going to start finding her co-host with all these great cameos. It's super funny with a lot of surprises."
He added, "Kristen leads with a lot of the male domination in country music. But it's time for a woman to take over the reigns of hosting alone on the show."
"We actually have a special guest that will actually be 3,000 miles away but be in a special robot that they can control," Dempsey continued. "It will be brought out on the stage."
On empowering females in country, Bell revealed who she champions most, other than Miranda Lambert–"The House That Built Me" is one of her favorite country songs ever. "I mean, I really like Sara Evans, always have. I think she's a really, really consistent in creating delicous music. I really Kacey Musgraves' song 'Follow Your Arrow.' She's great and has proven her self as great. The message of that song is necessary. There's a lot of fun narratives in country songs, and there are a lot that at the end you go,' oh, that actually has a great meaning.'"
"Lady Antebellum, too. Oh, Carrie Underwood. You don't think of her because she's such a staple. Obviously, her. If there's a dominator, it's Carrie Underwood," Bell gushed. "Talk about also being self-made, as far as a woman is dominated, I think that's a wonderful example."
Other presenters include: Blake Shelton, radio personality Bobby Bones, Eli Young Band, Eric Decker and Jessie James Decker, Jason Aldean, Justin Moore, Musgraves, Keith Urban, Kip Moore, Lindsey Stirling, Lionel Richie, Sara Evans and The Band Perry.
Additional performances will be supplied by Shelton, Brantley Gilbert, Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Jake Owen, Urban, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, and Miranda Lambert.
On the Nationwide Insurance Stage, to highlight newer talent, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Dan + Shay, Danielle Bradbery, David Nail, Thomas Rhett and Tyler Farr will perform their latest hits.
The 2014 CMT Music Awards go live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arean tonight at 8/7c.