Last night was ABC’s annual CMA Fest: Country’s Night to Rock special, and it did pretty great in the ratings. While it did go down from last year’s all-time highs, it was still the 2nd highest total viewers for the program of the past 5 years. It also won in all key demos and was the highest summer telecast of the year for ABC.

ABC has their lock on the Country market, and it shows. The stellar ratings for this country concert special AND the “Oscars of the Country Music World” with their annual CMA Awards in November. This year’s concert hosted the best and the brightest of country music with their crazy good performances, stage presence, and overall fantastic attitudes.

While I am very adamantly against some country artists (cough cough Florida Georgia Line) because of their bro-country music, the special was good about still having some bro-country, but showing all kinds of great country music. I think the best way to showcase the night is to countdown my top 3 performances of the night. (All clips are filmed live from the actual concert back in June, not from the telecast)

3) Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood kicked off the night with their fantastic duet “Somethin’ Bad,” which brings a rock n’ roll and gritty sound to country music. The “Ode to Thelma and Louise” rocked LP Field in Nashville, and that energy was felt 2 months later on our TV screens.

2) Rascal Flatts sang their new single “Payback,” which I find one of their best in ages, but they opened with a rousing a capella version of Pharrell’s “Happy.” Even if you are tired of the song, be sure to check out their version, because it is amazing.

1) Little Big Town, our hilarious hosts for the evening (their CMA Awards Trivia with the show’s hosts, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, was a RIOT), stole the show with their summer anthem “Day Drinking,” accompanied by enough drums to make you want to join the marching band. Even while rain came down in Nashville, they still performed at their absolute best.

I’m am so hoping to see this live next summer, because it looks like such a good ‘ole time. Let me know your thoughts on the night in the comments below and on the discussion boards. I’ll be back with more country coverage this November for the CMA Awards!