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She may have lost out to pal Taylor Swift, but Pickler can't stop grinning backstage at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The perky singer, who performed her single "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" during the ceremony, raved about her close relationship with Swift. "We're actually engaged," she joked.
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The 18-year-old phenom brought down the house with her wet and wild performance of "Should've Said No." But Swift, photographed with her mother, Andrea, got serious when accepting the prize for top new female vocalist. "Mom, thank you so much," she said onstage. "I love you. This is for you!"
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They've only had their record deal for a year, but Lady Antebellum is already collecting trophies. The trio – Charles Kelley (left), Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood – nabbed the top new vocal group honor and told PEOPLE they planned to fete their victory in Las Vegas. "We're going to live it up big time," Scott said backstage.
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Underwood has the perfect accessory to match her fuchsia Badgley Mischka dress – her second award for top female vocalist in as many years. Still, she told PEOPLE of winning: "I think when you get used to things, you stop appreciating them. So, I don’t want to get used to anything."
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"We are so humbled and honored," Jay DeMarcus said in accepting with his band the ACM/Home Depot Humanitarian Award for their work with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. "We've been firm believers in if you get, you give back."
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Winning album of the year for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was a total surprise for Lambert, who was up against Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and Rodney Atkins. When she heard her name called, "I think I cussed on camera," Lambert admitted.
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With the No. 1 hit "Just Got Started Lovin' You" under his belt, Otto had reason enough to party at the awards. "I used to have too much fun in Vegas, and I've learned over the years to pace myself," he told PEOPLE. "But tonight is the night I'm going to get a little buck wild."
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JEWEL & JOHN RICH
Jewel says "cheese" with pal John Rich (of Big amp Rich). The singer – who's releasing her first country album, Perfectly Clear, on June 3 – is easily fitting into the Nashville community. "I grew up on a ranch listening to country radio," she said.
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The top new male award winner had a few ideas about where he would display his new trophy. "I might just wear it as a belt buckle!" he joked to PEOPLE. "Or put it on my boot as a boot ornament. I've got size 15, so there’s room."
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Introducing Sarah Buxton! The top new female vocalist nominee told PEOPLE it was a blast to be included in the ceremony. "I'm just enjoying it," she said, "and treating it like I will never be nominated again."
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To win the male vocalist award a second year in a row was validating, the singer said. "All of us as artists are a bit insecure," he admitted, "and you wonder if you’d stand up to the competition when they look back."