Miranda Lambert won album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night, the third of her young career, while Jason Aldean won two trophies, including single record of the year for "Don't You Wanna Stay."
Lambert shouted "Seriously?" to her fans as she picked up the trophy for "Four the Record," beating out a field that included Kenny Chesney, the night's top nominee with nine.
"I own every record in this category and I've been listening and listening thinking I'm going to get it," said Lambert, who got a hug from her grandmother and close friends Lady Antebellum before accepting her award. "Every record is amazing, and I'm so thrilled. I will never take this trophy for granted. My albums are my babies. It's what makes me wake up in the mornings."
Celebrated as one of country's hottest young stars, she's always had a special relationship with ACM voters. They're rewarded her time and again.
Lambert's win wasn't the only surprise of the evening. The Eli Young Band's smash "Crazy Girl" brought the Texas quartet its first win in Las Vegas, for song of the year, and it was something of an upset over superstar acts like Chesney and Lady Antebellum (though the trio did win vocal group of the year). EYB lead singer Mike Eli hoped the group's win was an inspiration for people who hope to someday do the same thing.
"I have dreamed this moment my whole life and I can speak for the rest of these guys up here that they have, too," Eli said. "For those of you watching on television, if you're sitting here and thinking, 'I'm dreaming about this moment and I want to be here,' follow your dreams believe in yourself and do it."
It was the second big upset of the awards — Thompson Square took vocal duo of the year over Sugarland in an early award. Other pre-show winners were Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, who won vocal event of the year for their "Don't You Wanna Stay," and Toby Keith for video of the year for "Red Solo Cup."
Carrie Underwood kicked off the night with a hard-charging blast of rock 'n' roll and a sexy black and magenta mini-dress for hew new single "Good Girl," a warning shot to those looking for a lot of twang out of the show.
The ACMs are a celebration of what country has become, with arena rockers like lead nominees Chesney and being joined by a wave of 20-something upstarts like Taylor Swift, Lady A, double nominee Chris Young top new artist nominees Scotty McCreery, Brantley Gilbert and Hunter Hayes, who've incorporated new sounds into the genre.
Swift joins the quartet of country's leading men in the chase for the academy's top award, the fan-voted entertainer of the year. Chesney is going for his fifth win, which would move him into a tie for second most trophies in that category with Alabama behind Garth Brooks' six. Swift is the reigning entertainer of the year.
Reba McEntire and Shelton returned as co-hosts and the Zac Brown Band headlined the ACM Fan Jam, a satellite show at nearby Mandalay Bay where some performances will originate.