This story has been updated.
The nominees for the 50th Annual ACM Awards set to transpire Sunday, April 19th were announced Friday morning (1-29) via the ACM’s social network streams. The nominees were originally scheduled to be announced on Tuesday, but presumably because of the big snowstorm foretasted to hit New York City that day, they were moved to Friday, both minimizing the chance the announcement would be buried in the news cycle, and tipping of country fans to how the true mother brain of the country music industry lies farther north than Nashville.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary, this year’s awards will be held in Arlington, TX at AT&T Stadium, also known as the home of The Dallas Cowboys. Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will once again be the hosts, and both the presentation and pre-show festivities are expected to be much bigger affairs to mark the half century mark for the show originally started by Dick Clark and still run by Dick Clark Productions.
Though all country music award shows sit on spurious foundations from the amount of cloistered, behind-the-scenes vote swapping and political horse trading amongst labels, especially the ACM’s, this year seems especially stained since in 2014, artist Justin Moore was nominated for New Artist of the Year when he was clearly ineligible by the ACM’s own stated rules. Exacerbating the concerns with the New Artist category, many of last year’s nominees returned again this year, and out of the eight semi-finalists, there’s not even one woman in an era when extra effort is being put out to emphasize women since they recently have become so bereft from the genre.
Below are the nominees and some quick, knee-jerk thoughts and predictions.
Entertainer of the Year
Yes, Garth’s name deserves to be here, even with his lack of radio play. His current tour is breaking records while his albums sales are rallying to show a solid effort. If he can just get an actual single to radio that stations will play instead of what he wish they would play, he’d be in business.
And don’t act surprised Florida Georgia Line is here. Frankly, I’m surprised they weren’t here in the last cycle. In regards to financial and influential impact, they deserved to be. All the bros are following Florida Georgia Line’s lead. Meanwhile, Blake Shelton is the odd man out.
But this is Luke Bryan’s accolade to lose.
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan – WINNER
- Miranda Lambert
- Florida Georgia Line
Female Vocalist of the Year
This is Miranda’s running away. Carrie mounted a valiant charge with the singles from her Greatest Hits release, but it likely won’t be enough to tackle the mighty Miranda. Good to see Brandy Clark’s name here, but she has absolutely no chance, neither does Martina McBride whose last album wasn’t even country. This is an off album year for Kacey. Maybe next year.
- Brandy Clark
- Miranda Lambert – WINNER
- Martina McBride
- Kacey Musgraves
- Carrie Underwood
Male Vocalist of the Year
Boring list of the same names we could have predicted would be here six months ago. Dierks and Brad Paisley have to feel it’s a victory to just be included here, but this is a race between Blake, Jason Aldean, and Luke Bryan. If the push is for Luke Bryan to win Entertainer of the Year, they may try to give Vocalist of the Year to someone else. Since Aldean got snubbed for the CMA’s, there may be a push to recognize him here. And Shelton is the perennial front runner for this award. Aside from all of that, this is a hard one to call. No outside chance for Church. He’s an album and song guy.
Also note, this category has been stretched to six because male country artists are so top heavy, while the ACM’s continue to struggle finding five women to fill the female slots.
- Jason Aldean – Potential Winner
- Dierks Bentley
- Luke Bryan – Potential Winner
- Eric Church
- Brad Paisley
- Blake Shelton – Potential Winner
Album of the Year
Once again were seeing the forced love for Little Big Town where it’s not deserved. Why are they even included here? Platinum has to be considered the front runner, simply because it’s received so much praise in the last year. However The Outsiders could mount an outside charge with all the rhetoric from Church of how it’s the greatest album ever, and his admiration he has for album awards beyond everything else. There will be pressure to give him something, and this might be it. Also an outside change for Dierks’ Riser. None of these album deserve high praise such as this.
- Old Boots, New Dirt by Jason Aldean
- Pain Killer by Little Big Town
- Platinum by Miranda Lambert – WINNER
- The Outsiders by Eric Church – Other Potential Winner
- Riser by Dierks Bentley
Song of the Year
Good gosh the weak fields keep coming. Since “Follow Your Arrow” won at the CMA’s and nothing else stands out, it has to be considered. Otherwise, this is an incredibly weak and wide open field.
- “American Kids” (Rodney Clawson / Luke Laird / Shane McAnally, performed by Kenny Chesney)
- “Automatic” (Nicolle Galyon / Natalie Hemby / Miranda Lambert, performed by Miranda Lambert)
- “Drink A Beer” (Jim Beavers / Chris Stapleton, performed by Luke Bryan)
- “Follow Your Arrow” (Brandy Clark / Shane McAnally / Kacey Musgraves, performed by Kacey Musgraves) – Potential Winner
- “Give Me Back My Hometown” (Eric Church / Luke Laird, performed by Eric Church)
- “I Hold On” (Dierks Bentley / Brett James, performed by Dierks Bentley)
Vocal Duo of the Year
They should make this a pre-telecast award since the winner is so obvious, and move a more compelling competition to the primetime slot.
Florida Georgia Line – WINNER
Maddie & Tae
The Swon Brothers
Vocal Group of the Year
Ugh. None of these bands deserve anything. But Little Big Town has been receiving such a big push from their label, including getting inducted into the Grand Ole Opry of all things, enough votes will be swapped in their favor to pull off the victory. Lady Antebellum with a new album out also has an outside chance, but don’t even come close to deserving it. Zac Brown Band is the best band represented here, but hasn’t released an album in nearly three years. This category needs some new blood badly.
- Little Big Town – Winner
- Lady Antebellum – Other Potential Winner
- Rascal Flatts
- The Band Perry
- Zac Brown band
Single Record of the Year
Why all this love for Chesney’s “American Kids”? It makes you think they’ll give him an award for something even if he doesn’t deserve it. “Dirt” really should be a Song of the Year nominee, and it arguably would be a stronger contender than any of them. With both it’s commercial and critical success, it’s the clear front runner. “Drunk On A Plane” was also real big for Dierks. Consider it a close second. Is it a shame Florida Georgia Line is now winning song categories too? Hey, ironically they were the only ones with the rocks to release a song with depth that wasn’t hackneyed.
- “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney
- “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert
- “Dirt” by Florida Georgia Line – WINNER
- “Drunk On A Plane” by Dierks Bentley – Other potential Winner
- “I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice
Vocal Event of the Year
A few ways this could go. There’s going to be a lot of pressure to give this to “Somethin’ Bad” or “This Is How We Roll” since they were such blockbusters, while “Lonely Tonight” and “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” could split the critical votes. Anybody’s guess aside from “The South” having no chance. Boy have The Cadillac Three been a bust for Big Machine so far.
- “Somethin’ Bad” (Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood“
- “Lonely Tonight” (Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe)
- “This Is How We Roll” (Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan)
- “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” (Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill)
- “The South” (The Cadillac Three featuring Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, & Mike Eli)
New Artist of the Year
These are the semi-finalists. Fans will get a chance to vote, and they’ll be parred down to the finalists before the show. Notice there’s no women on this list. And really who cares who wins this corrupt category since the ACM’s made a mockery of their own rules last year. This list reads like the who’s who of up-and-coming Bro-Country acts who will flame out with the trend halfway through 2015 if they’re lucky.
- Brett Eldredge
- Tyler Farr
- Sam Hunt
- Kip Moore
- Thomas Rhett
- Chase Rice
- Cole Swindell
- Dan + Shay
Video of the Year
The sympathy vote is going to be very strong for Glen Campbell, and without any clear front runner from the rest of the field, Glen could pull away. Was there anything particularly special about any of these other videos, or is this simply another category to acknowledge hit singles? If this is the case, put Florida Georgia Line’s “Dirt” on here. It had a lot more breadth and story than really any of these. Unfortunately even if Campbell wins, this is likely to be a pre-telecast award. If they bumped it to the live portion, it could make a special moment surrounding the ailing Campbell.
- “Drunk On A Plane” by Dierks Bentley, directed by Wes Edwards, produced by Clarke Gallivan
- “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney, directed by Shaun Silva and produced by Don Lepore
- “Cop Car” by Keith Urban, director by John Urbano, produced by Michelle Abnet
- “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell, directed by James Keach and produced by Julian Raymond – WINNER
- “Somethin’ Bad” by Miranda Lambert duet with Carrie Underwood, directed by Trey Fanjoy and produced by Trent Hardville.
Songwriter of the Year
Definitely a list constructed from commercial success as opposed to critical success, which is unfortunate for a category that normally bucks this trend.
- Rodney Clawson
- Ashley Gorley
- Luke Laird
- Josh Osborne
- Chris Tompkins