50th Annual ACM Awards Complete Preview


(Tune in Sunday night for Saving Country Music’s LIVE Blog of the ACM Awards)


When: 7 PM Central, 8 PM Eastern Sunday, April 19th, 2015 on CBS. Runs 30 minutes extra because of 50th Anniversary show.

Where: Cowboys (AT&T) Stadium, Arlington, TX.

Hosts: Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan


Watch Those Lips. Lip-syncing may be one of the biggest stories coming out of the 50th ACM Awards. Garth Brooks has already said that if his voice is not up to snuff, he will lip sync, though he said on Saturday his voice was feeling okay. Rascal Flatts embarrassed themselves last year by so clearly lip-syncing, they had to admit to it in the aftermath. Meanwhile the executive producer of the ACM Awards RAC Clark says that “plenty of people” have lip-synced on the ACM Awards over the years. With the extra-daunting environs of Jerry World in Dallas, we’ll have to see who else may call an audible and decide to roll with a pre-recorded track.

Sorry Traditional/Classic Country Fans. Believe it or not, the last few rounds of the ACM and CMA Awards have seen more hat tips to traditional country than one might expect. But for the ACM’s 50th, it looks like those will be few and far between. When you’re touting Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney as “legends” who will be honored, you know how bad it is. About the only things to look forward to is a rumored “Merle Haggard Tribute” during the very beginning to be performed by Eric Church and Keith Urban, but don’t expect much more than a 60 to 90-second medley of hits. There will also be performances by George Strait and Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam presenting an award, and Garth Brooks playing an old guitar owned by Buck Owens (as he possibly lip syncs). It’s a blue telecaster that was given to him by Buck at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield on the day he proposed to Trisha Yearwood in 2005.

Sorry Fans of Female Performers. 15 male acts, and only 4 female acts will make the telecast, including pop performer Christina Aguilera. Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum also have female members, but that is little consolation. So many great female performers could use that opportunity for a boost, but instead the ACM’s are going to B-level male talent like Thomas Rhett and Dan + Shay—the most hard sold act by the country industry in history, hence the Nick Jonas collaboration they are scheduled for. Females were also hampered by the fact that Carrie Underwood still doesn’t feel like she’s in fighting shape after the birth of her son, and will not even be in the audience.

A Light Show to Make Pop Jealous. Glowing wristbands will be handed out to tens of thousands of attendees that will be equipped with batteries and wifi so they will change colors and spell out certain things in the audience at certain times of the presentation. The ACM’s also draped a special tarp over the dome of Cowboys Stadium so that their light show would not be affected by the semi-translucent top. Expect all the bells and whistles to be employed.

Taylor Swift was conned into appearing by being given a Milestone Award so the ACM’s would have additional viewer bait. She’s not scheduled to perform or even present, but let’s see how much the camera favors her (and her awkward dancing).


Artist presenters include: Clint Black, Lee Brice, Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge, Brantley Gilbert, Mickey Guyton, Hunter Hayes, Justin Moore, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, Darius Rucker, Steven Tyler, Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood, Dwight Yoakam, Alabama, and Big & Rich.

Non-artist presenters include: Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O’Dell, actresses Sofia Vergara, Beth Behrs, and Reese Witherspoon, former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman, current Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten and Tony Romo, Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev, Chris Kyle wife and widow Taya Kyle, and Dr. Phil McGraw.


” Eric Church and Keith Urban will open the show with a “dual performance,” possibly including the song “Raise ‘Em Up,” AND potentially a “tribute” to Merle Haggard.

” Rascal Flatts will perform with Christina Aguilera, beginning with the song “Shotgun,” and then transitioning to “Riot.”

” Nick Jonas of the Disney Channel’s Jonas Brothers will be performing with The Jonas Brothers of country, Dan + Shay. Rumors have the pairing only playing the Nick Jonas songs “Jealous” and “Chains.”

” Garth Brooks will perform a “surprise” song, but he’s already said there’s a possibility he will lip sync it.

” Miranda Lambert will perform two songs (likely to make up for a lack of other female performers). She will sing both her current single “Little Red Wagon” and “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

” Martina McBride will sing her hit from 1994, “Independence Day.” It may be the oldest country song we hear all night.

” Brad Paisley will sing “Crushin’ It.” Brad also says he’s been trying to convince George Strait to join him for the performance.

” Brooks & Dunn will do their first televised performance together since 2010.

” Lady Antebellum will sing “Long Stretch of Love.”

” Reba McEntire will be performing “Going Out Like That.”

New Artist of the Year nominees Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, and Sam Hunt, will all perform.

” Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, and Little Big Town (likely “Girl Crush”) will all perform.


***Read Saving Country Music’s Picks & Prognostications

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Garth Brooks
  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Florida Georgia Line


Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Brandy Clark
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood


Male Vocalist of the Year

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
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton


Album of the Year

  • Old Boots, New Dirt by Jason Aldean
  • Pain Killer by Little Big Town
  • Platinum by Miranda Lambert
  • The Outsiders by Eric Church
  • Riser by Dierks Bentley


Song of the Year

  • “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)
  • “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

Brothers Osborne
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae
The Swon Brothers


Vocal Group of the Year

  • Little Big Town
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Rascal Flatts
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown band


Single Record of the Year

  • “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney
  • “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert
  • “Dirt” by Florida Georgia Line
  • “Drunk On A Plane” by Dierks Bentley
  • “I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice


Vocal Event of the Year

  • “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 (finalists)

  • Sam Hunt
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Cole Swindell


Video of the Year

  • “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
  • “Somethin’ Bad” by Miranda Lambert duet with Carrie Underwood, directed by Trey Fanjoy and produced by Trent Hardville.


Songwriter of the Year

  • Rodney Clawson
  • Ashley Gorley
  • Luke Laird
  • Josh Osborne
  • Chris Tompkins


Off Camera Awards

Small Capacity Casino of the Year: Hard Rock Live Biloxi, Miss.
Medium Capacity Casino of the Year: MGM Grand Casino Las Vegas, Nev.
Festival of the Year: Country Thunder USA: East Twin Lakes, Wis.
Nightclub of the Year: Joe’s Bar Chicago, Ill.
Small Capacity Venue of the Year: Ryman Auditorium Nashville, Tenn.
Medium Capacity Venue of the Year: Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, Colo.
Large Capacity Venue of the Year: Hollywood Bowl Hollywood, Calif.
Don Romeo Talent Buyer of the Year : Sally Williams Ryman Auditorium
Promoter of the Year: Ed Warm Joe’s Live
Bass Player of the Year: Glenn Worf
Drummer of the Year: Greg Morrow
Guitar Player of the Year: Tom Bukovac
Piano/Keyboards Player of the Year: Michael Rojas
Specialty Instruments(s) Player of the Year: Ilya Toshinsky
Steel Guitar Player of the Year: Dan Dugmore
Audio Engineer of the Year: Chuck Ainlay
Producer of the Year: Jay Joyce
Songwriter of the Year: Luke Laird

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