I’m bumping Carrie from the cover of this slideshow in favor of Reba’s intentional throwback to a 1993 performance. She posted on Insta, “The dress, 25 years later,” in reference to the red outfit that she said got more buzz at the time than any of her CMA wins that night. And so it shall be again, but with a different acronym.

The ACMs marked the first time country music had thrown a party in Las Vegas since the tragic Mandalay Bay shooting. The show opened with a tribute to the victims, but the thing people seemed most buzzy about leading up to it was Carrie Underwood, and when would show her face. The tea: She took a spill at home back in November, I believe, and then in January revealed — via a letter to fans, after posting a covered-up Instagram photo that only revealed her eyes — that she’d had 40-50 stitches put in her face and might look rather different next time they got a look at her. This was followed by a few coy partial-face reveals leading up to her performance at the ACMs. The Washington Post even did a whole Timeline of Carrie Underwood’s Face Hints.

And guess whose face looks totally fine, and the same? Carrie Underwood’s. Which, of course, I am thrilled about for her, although I’m sure she’d have been lovely regardless. And maybe SHE doesn’t think it looks them same; also, I totally understand being freaked out by a really scary thing happening to you, and that it’s very probable her doctors in the immediate aftermath were like, “Well, we can’t PROMISE you’re going to look the same…,” so she likely spent some very nervous nights at home. But where my sympathy wanes is in Carrie turning this whole thing into some kind of coy game, which on Instagram (and by reaching out to offer this information directly to fans, which there is no way anyone as famous as Carrie Underwood would do WITHOUT expecting it to cause a stir) she really seems to have done. As Jessica said, it’s weird to treat your face like an album drop.

Especially because at some point, it clearly became apparent to her that she would not, in fact, emerge from a smoke machine at the ACMs looking like the Phantom of the Opera. That reality then turns the fall, the injury, the fear — all legit, and all worthy of being up-front about — into a long, silly PR stunt, which a) Carrie Underwood does not need, because Carrie Underwood is CRAZY successful and visible, and long will be; and b) is pretty tacky, given that ALSO at some point along this journey, the need to dedicate this show to Las Vegas would’ve become apparent, and the face theatrics rather willfully steal that thunder. I wish she’d just revealed it in an Instagram photo and said, “I can’t wait to sing for you, and to show you I’m okay, but let’s put the focus where it should be: on the victims, their families, and coming together in love in a city that was terrorized.” Done..

Here’s the spoken tribute:


[Photos: RT Gwinn/Mediapunch/REX/Shutterstock , Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock]