Taylor Swift made a long-awaited return to the country music stage during the '55th Academy of Country Music Awards' Wednesday night with a debut performance of "Betty" from her record-breaking new album Folklore.
The singer's performance at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee marks her first appearance at the ACM Awards in seven years, and fans of the singer were so thrilled to see her return to her country roots. One viewer tweeted: "Something about having Taylor Swift on the stage with just her guitar is so personal," while another fan shared: "The old country Taylor is finally back and she sounds amazing."
Swift still wore some sequins worthy of an appearance on the Billboard Music Awards or VMAs, but her acoustic, stool-seated, harmonica-embellished “Betty” on the bare Opry stage was an otherwise subdued affair, stripped of all the bells, whistles, backup dancers, and giant hydraulic rattlesnakes of her recent awards show performances and stadium tours. Unsurprisingly, with the ACMs’ primetime broadcast being a family-friendly affair, she switched the song’s original caustic line “Would you tell me to go f*** myself” to the radio-edit version “Would you tell me to go straight to hell?”
"Betty" is the first song of Swift's to hit the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot Country Songs since "Red" in 2013, and on Wednesday, the nine-time ACM award-winner reminded everyone where she got her start.
Swift's return wasn't the only reason why the ACM Awards ceremony was historic this year. It was also the first ACMs to take place in the city of Nashville, and the first ACMs to take place during the COVID-19 era.
Originally slated for April 2020 before it was delayed due to coronavirus concerns, the rejiggered telecast, hosted by Urban, aired from three socially distant, iconic Nashville venues: the Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Bluebird Café. Other performers included Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Carrie Underwood, and two reality-show couples: The Voice coaches Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani and recently married American Idol Season 16 alumni Gabby Barrett (who is pregnant with her first child) and Cade Foehner.