We Need To Talk About These 2024 ACM Awards Nominations


Every year as the nominations for country music awards come and go, it’s hard to not fall into a perfunctory attitude about them due to the cyclical and predictable nature of the nominees.

This is made a measure worse now that the meaningless CMT Awards have gone from a passing notion to CBS’s flagship country presentation since they kicked the ACMs to the curb, and the ACMs now broadcast via Amazon Prime. And now the new “People’s Choice Country Awards” bring NBC into the picture, giving country music a ludicrous four awards shows each year.

Even remarking on the ACM Award nominations runs the risk of giving them more attention than they deserve, though they probably deserve more attention than the video-based CMTs, or the upstart People’s Choice Country Awards. Historically, the CMA Awards and the ACMs have been country music’s 1A and 2B awards shows.

But there is a newer category and some interesting wrinkles to the 2024 ACM Awards nominations that deserve comment as the Academy clearly tries to tackle the new reality in country music where independent artists not heard on the radio continue to increase their market share and popularity.

First and foremost, we need to discuss the ACM’s newest category, the “Artist-Songwriter of the Year” that was established in 2022, and seems to have been moved from the “ACM Honors” presentation to the proper ACM Awards for 2024. On it’s face, this could be an excellent category to cover an often overlooked sector of the country music industry.

Whether it was the past greats like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Lucinda Williams and others, or more present artist-songwriters such as Lori McKenna, Caitlyn Smith, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall, or even folks like Jason Isbell, there are artists who also happen to write songs that others make into major hits that never seem to get the proper recognition they deserve.

One cool thing about the Canadian Country Music Association is they have all the big mainstream categories as the CMAs do, but they also have a “Best Alternative Country Album” category, and a “Best Roots Artist” category. This includes the opportunity to highlight artists that aren’t on mainstream radio themselves.

But the nominees for the ACMs “Artist-Songwriter of the Year” award couldn’t be worse. Instead of highlighting the overlooked, it basically reinforces the top names of the genre and gives them even more nominations/awards.

ARTIST-SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:

Zach Bryan
Ernest
Hardy
Chris Stapleton
Morgan Wallen

Sure, you could kind of see someone like Zach Bryan qualifying for this category since he wrote all the songs for his latest self-titled album himself and fits the mold of a pure “songwriter.” Perhaps you could even slip Ernest in there as well since he’s probably more successful as a songwriter than a performer at this point.

But do Entertainer of the Year nominees Morgan Wallen and Chris Stapleton really need to compete for yet another award? As an arena draw himself with major hits on the radio, does Hardy really fit this mold either? Also, Morgan Wallen, Ernest, and Hardy were nominated for this same award last year, and Hardy won it. Are we just going to nominate and award these three dudes indefinitely as long as Morgan Wallen’s at #1?

This was a good idea by the ACMs that was completely squandered by the execution.

The rules for the new artist-songwriter category don’t really stipulate what the ACMs are looking for when it comes to this category. They simply spell out eligibility, which makes such a wide field of possible nominees, basically anybody could get nominated, facilitating the biggest names in the mainstream swooping in for yet another award.

This award is presented to an individual known both as an artist and a songwriter who was the predominate recording artist on at least one song that charted in the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs or Mediabase Country charts during the eligibility period. Nominees will be selected by a Professional Panel of judges whose members are approved by the ACM officers composed of songwriters, publishers, producers, and performing rights organization (PRO) representatives. The Panel will submit five (5) nominees, which will be placed on the final ballot once approved by the Board.

The factors to be considered include, but are not limited to, a commercially released song crediting the songwriter that achieved its highest position in the Top 50 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs or Mediabase Country charts during the eligibility period. If the single was released prior to the eligibility period but achieved its highest charted position during the current eligibility period, it is eligible, unless it appeared on a final ACM ballot.


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The second fail of the 2024 ACM Awards is their New Duo or Group of the Year category. Sometimes this category doesn’t come up at all, but this year it does, while only including three nominees.

NEW DUO OR GROUP OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:

Neon Union
Restless Road
Tigirlily Gold

No offense to any of these groups, but this is just the ACMs working to reinforce the Nashville system. Since you have two more spots, why not also nominate The Castellows who are a quick rising group of dynamic sisters? There’s perhaps no hotter up-and-coming band in country music right now than 49 Winchester, and since their earlier albums were independently released, they still qualify under the ACM’s rules. They’re not exactly 100% country, but the Red Clay Strays are absolutely on fire right now. Why not add them to the category?

Both the ACMs and the CMAs have a bigger problem when it comes to these Group of the Year and Duo of the Year categories. These fields are so incredibly thin right now, they’re filling them in with duos and bands that aren’t even currently active. That’s also how Brothers Osborne and Old Dominion continue to win these awards year after year, despite their lack of cultural relevance. Combining the Duo and Group categories like they did in the “New Artist” realm would not be a bad idea.

One bright spot is the weak Group of the Year field facilitated Flatland Cavalry finally getting a nomination, which has to feel like sweet validation for a band that started in the Texas/Red Dirt scene.

Another bright spot is the nomination of Zach Bryan with Kacey Musgraves for the song “I Remember Everything.” With the impact this collaboration had and the love Musgraves receives from awards, it will be a strong contender for Music Event of the Year.

But once again, the ACMs are leery of nominating Zach Bryan for Entertainer of the Year, or even Male Artist of the Year. He’s far and away the 2nd biggest artist in country music for the third straight year, and still these awards treat him like the new kid on the block because he’s not on mainstream radio. Zach doesn’t need the plaudits, but the ACMs might need to include artists like Zach Bryan if they want to remain relevant moving forward.

It was also heartening to see Tyler Childers and his video for “In Your Love” nominated for Visual Media of the Year. You just wish Childers would be recognized when there wasn’t an inclusivity box to check off by doing so. Similar to Zach Bryan, Childers continues to be discounted by these awards institutions.

As country music fans continue to diversify their listening habits and favor more independent and non radio-supported artists, these awards shows must follow suit. Otherwise they risk losing their relevancy. Opening up new lanes for songwriters, traditional country artists, up-and-coming artists can help, but not if they get clogged by the same cast of characters from the mainstream.



2024 ACM AWARDS NOMINEES


ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Kane Brown
Luke Combs
Jelly Roll
Cody Johnson
Chris Stapleton
Morgan Wallen
Lainey Wilson

FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Kelsea Ballerini
Ashley McBryde
Megan Moroney
Kacey Musgraves
Lainey Wilson

MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Luke Combs
Jelly Roll
Cody Johnson
Chris Stapleton
Morgan Wallen

DUO OF THE YEAR
Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Maddie & Tae
The War And Treaty

GROUP OF THE YEAR
Flatland Cavalry
Lady A
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Zac Brown Band

NEW FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Kassi Ashton
Ashley Cooke
Hannah Ellis
Kylie Morgan
Megan Moroney

NEW MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Ernest
Kameron Marlowe
Dylan Scott
Conner Smith
Nate Smith

NEW DUO OR GROUP OF THE YEAR
Neon Union
Restless Road
Tigirlily Gold

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Gettin’ Old – Luke Combs
Higher – Chris Stapleton
Leather – Cody Johnson
One Thing At A Time – Morgan Wallen
Rolling Up the Welcome Mat (For Good) – Kelsea Ballerini

SINGLE OF THE YEAR
– “Burn It Down” – Parker McCollum
– “Fast Car” – Luke Combs
– “Last Night” – Morgan Wallen
– “Need A Favor” – Jelly Roll
– “Next Thing You Know” – Jordan Davis

SONG OF THE YEAR
– “Fast Car” – Luke Combs
Songwriter: Tracy Chapman
– “Heart Like A Truck” – Lainey Wilson
Songwriters: Dallas Wilson, Lainey Wilson, Trannie Anderson
– “Next Thing You Know” – Jordan Davis
Songwriters: Chase McGill, Greylan James, Jordan Davis, Josh Osborne
– “The Painter” – Cody Johnson
Songwriters: Benjy Davis, Kat Higgins, Ryan Larkins
– “Tennessee Orange” – Megan Moroney
Songwriters: Ben Williams, David Fanning, Megan Moroney, Paul Jenkins

MUSIC EVENT OF THE YEAR
– “Can’t Break Up Now” – Old Dominion, Megan Moroney
– “Different ‘Round Here” – Riley Green (feat. Luke Combs)
– “I Remember Everything” – Zach Bryan (feat. Kacey Musgraves)
– “Man Made A Bar” – Morgan Wallen (feat. Eric Church)
– “Save Me” – Jelly Roll (with Lainey Wilson)

VISUAL MEDIA OF THE YEAR
– “Burn It Down” – Parker McCollum
– “Human” – Cody Johnson
– “In Your Love” – Tyler Childers
– “Next Thing You Know” – Jordan Davis
– “Tennessee Orange” – Megan Moroney

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Jessie Jo Dillon
Ashley Gorley
Hillary Lindsey
Chase McGill
Josh Thompson

ARTIST-SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Zach Bryan
Ernest
Hardy
Chris Stapleton
Morgan Wallen

© 2024 Saving Country Music