The Dove Awards have been beefed up, cut back and moved to Atlanta in the past two decades, all while some question the irony of even awarding excellence in Christian music, a genre that exists to focus on God and not the artists. Now, in 2013, 44 years after they began, the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards returned to Nashville, taking over Lipscomb University's Allen Arena on October 15. While not the show it was in its 1990s heyday, Christian music's biggest night had its moments -- and its misses. Listen to all the winners with our Dove Awards 2013 playlist, and check out our rundown of the best and worst of this year's show below.
What We Liked
Almost all the performances. TobyMac and Diverse City kicked off the night with an energetic version of "Eye On It" that included marching band-style drums taking over the stage. Other standouts were Capital Kings, Rhett Walker Band, Tamela Mann and needtobreathe.
Though it was a little predictable, it was still funny when Franklin warned, "Amy, no twerking!"
Honoring both Bill Gaither and Billy Graham was a classy move. Many may not know that Gaither helped found the Dove Awards, back when the statuettes were carved out of wood.
There seemed to be a greater emphasis on gospel this year, of the contemporary, traditional and Southern varieties.
Winner TobyMac's made an honest backstage admission that he's "just a needy little artist asking God to do something big."
Winner Tamela Mann referred to her husband as her best friend and "baby daddy," not a term you hear much at the Doves.
Laid-back worship leader Matt Redman took home six trophies, making him the top winner of the night. Too bad he wasn't there to accept any of them. TobyMac and Jason Crabb tied for second with four each.
What We Didn't Like
From the beginning, Kirk and Amy seemed mismatched. It was nice to try to represent both gospel and CCM, but Amy is so low-key that instead of playing the straight woman to Franklin's over-the-top energy, she just seemed annoyed. (Then again, who wouldn't be with Franklin yelling "whooooooo!" in your ear?)
The first award of the night wasn't even a Dove! Mandisa was presented with the Uplift Award, a tie-in to UP TV, where the show is airing on October 22.
No rock awards were handed out from the stage. It would have been worth cutting one of the two Gaither tribute performances to make room for Best Rock Album or Song (won by Red and Skillet, respectively).
Speaking of the Gaither tribute, we know Bill Gaither wrote "He Touched Me," a song that nabbed Elvis his only Grammy, but choosing to perform those lyrics in 2013 just seems like a Saturday Night Live sketch waiting to happen.
The awards didn't just move cities this year, they also moved seasons. The spring-to-fall switch changed the eligibility period, making some of the winning albums and tracks feel a little outdated.
The show being live meant that when there were tech issues you had to watch poor Candace Cameron Buré of Full House fame stand on stage uncomfortably before they sent her back to start over.