ARLINGTON, Texas — Expecting music at Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards? You should be ready for comedy.
Hosts Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan held a press conference Friday at the AT&T Stadium and offered a preview of what’s to come when the ACMs celebrate their 50th anniversary in Arlington, Texas.
The show, where Miranda Lambert is the lead nominee with eight nominations, will feature 23 performances, including a kickoff from Keith Urban and Eric Church. Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift are among the A-list attendees. The show will air live at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
“I don’t even know who’s singing. That’s just the god’s honest truth,” Shelton said to laughs. “I know Miranda is and I always look forward to that.”
Here’s a breakdown of the banter between Shelton and Bryan, who are hosting the ACM Awards for a third year.
When ACM Awards executive producer R.A. Clark said he thought for a second that the production at the AT&T Stadium looked like the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where the awards show is usually held, Shelton said: “In other words, you’re just using Luke’s normal production.”
“I want something to go wrong today so I know something won’t go wrong during the show,” said Clark, son of the late Dick Clark.
“That will be Blake’s rehearsal,” Bryan replied.
Both stars are nominated for male vocalist of the year.
“We can duke it out right now,” Bryan said when asked who should win.
“I’m going to take the high road here,” Shelton said, “and I say I do.”
Shelton doesn’t hold back when he tells jokes, even if it’s about Taylor Swift or Garth Brooks, two of the seven recipients of the 50th Anniversary Milestone Award.
“Being it’s the 50th, it’s cool we’re going way back and we’re honoring some of these artists that have been here like Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert — digging way back,” he said to laughs.
Other honorees include Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn.
“You’re probably an icon award guy, too, aren’t you?” Shelton asked Bryan. “No, you’re too new.”
But the jokes about Brooks didn’t end there. When a reporter asked if the live performances would be available on iTunes, Shelton said: “I don’t think so. Don’t forget Garth is on this thing, so no way.” (Brooks’ music isn’t available digitally, and he recently launched his own service, GhostTunes, to access his music online.)
At the conference, they announced that the awards show will set a Guinness world record for most attended live awards show ever. When Bryan asked if their picture with the new record would be in the Guinness book, Shelton replied: “It’ll be Garth.”
NBC’s “The Voice” has helped Shelton reach superstar status and Bryan said his friend has changed as a result of his success in Hollywood.
“He’s been getting some facials,” he said. “He’s hydrating early in the morning. He’s exfoliating.”
“I apologize for my tardiness,” said Bryan, who arrived a couple minutes after the press conference began. “It’s a lot of work getting prepared to look better than Blake.”
Shelton didn’t joke the entire time: He said one of his favorite ACM moments was seeing Bryan win the top prize in 2013.
“The coolest thing that I have witnessed ... was when Luke won entertainer of the year,” he said. “Not only did he not expect it, we both kind of expected Taylor (Swift) to win that ... all of a sudden Luke won and I was as surprised and excited as he was. Because I’ve known the guy since he had his first single out.”
Bryan got serious, too.
“We’re just still so amazed, he and I, to have these opportunities and that we made it in country music,” he said.