Mark Humphrey, file, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Presidential elections are usually serious business, but President Barack Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney are taking a little time for laughs during the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday.
Obama and Romney have taped video segments that will appear as part of the country music award show's opening segment. CMT President Brian Philips said in a statement that each is "in on the joke."
"They're each great sports," he said.
The fun kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on CMT with hosts Toby Keith and Kristen Bell. A host of celebrities from across the entertainment dial are scheduled to appear as well, but they'll be battling for attention with the focus on Obama and Romney.
Chances are Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift will take over the spotlight by the end of the evening, though. It doesn't take a statistician to sort out the latest trends at the CMT Awards, and those two young stars figure prominently.
Here's how the video of the year category has gone from 2007 to 2011: Carrie Underwood. Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift. Carrie Underwood. Taylor Swift.
At last check, none of the category's other nominees has conceded, but it's easy to see the fan-voted writing on the wall. Underwood is nominated twice in the category and is the top nominee with five total. Two-time female video of the year winner Miranda Lambert is next with four nods, and Swift leads a host of stars with three apiece.
Together that trio of stars has won 15 trophies since Underwood first flashed onto the scene at the 2006 awards after winning "American Idol."
Underwood's latest hit, "Good Girl," and her "Remind Me" collaboration with Brad Paisley are up for video of the year. Swift's "The Hunger Games" soundtrack entry "Safe & Sound" with The Civil Wars — a duo happily adopted by Swift's fan base — also is nominated in the category. Lambert's "Over You," her husband Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You," Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem," Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup," Lady Antebellum's "We Owned the Night," ''Easy" by Rascal Flatts with Natasha Bedingfield and "You and Tequila" from Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter round out the category.
The field will be winnowed down to five at the start of the show and fans will then vote for the night's winner.
The awards, though, can sometimes be secondary to the ruckus raised during the show. Things will be amped up this year with a stage set outside the arena where Brad Paisley and Hank Williams Jr. will perform along with Eric Church. And stars scheduled to appear include Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti (better known in country circles as Mr. Ashley Judd), skateboarder Tony Hawk, actresses Ashley Greene and Denise Richards, singer Jordin Sparks and "Idol" contestants Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine.
Many of country's top stars will perform with Chesney, Lady A, Paisley, Lambert's Pistol Annies, Rascal Flatts and Zac Brown Band on the schedule. And Willie Nelson will be joined by Keith, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Jamey Johnson for a special performance of his new song "Roll Me Up."
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