In some senses, Sunday night’s ACM awards were just the latest in a long month of country music-themed ceremonies, with a similar lineup of stars and the same songs you’d expect at one of these things. They did have a few things going for them though.

Blake Shelton & Luke Bryant AMC AwardsBlake Shelton [l] and Luke Bryan [r] make the perfect ACM team.

As the only show to be hosted by the Blake Shelton/Luke Bryan duo for the umpteenth time in a row, there was some radorkable banter happening. There were also a couple of lovely nostalgic tributes. Eric Church and Keith Urban offered up a lovely rendition of Church’s collaboration with Merle Haggard, Pledge Allegiance to the Hag. George Strait followed with the appropriate All My Ex’s Live in Texas, his No. 1 hit from 1987, followed by his brand new single, Let It Go.

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Paisley and Darius Rucker closed the night with “Let the Good Times Roll,” a jump blues tune popularized by R&B master Louis Jordan in the ‘40s.

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The best part of the ACMs had to be all of the music. Despite the ample supply of Hollywood celebs in attendance, the Dallas ceremony remained country themed through and through, with few gimmicks and short speeches, leaving plenty of time for each act to play two or three songs in full – that’s pretty rare outside the country scene.