Zach Bryan Got Screwed: The 2022 CMA Awards Nominations

Congratulations CMA Awards, you had an opportunity to save your relevance. And instead, just like much of the press, you have ignored the biggest cultural phenomenon in country music in 2022.

Zach Bryan probably deserved a nomination for Album of the Year, and maybe even Male Vocalist of the Year. Both of these things were still unlikely to happen, but the CMAs absolutely had to make sure he was nominated for New Artist of the Year. But instead we get the same names we see every year recycled over and over through the same categories, as Zach Bryan’s American Heartbreak continues to be the 2nd biggest title in all of country music, only behind the Morgan Wallen Dangerous blockbuster, his EP Summertime Blues is at #12, and he’s been the #1 songwriter in 2022 for 12 weeks—more than any other writer. But I digress.

The CMA nominations aren’t all bad. Not only does Lainey Wilson land her first ever CMA nomination, she nabs six of them, making her the most nominated artist in the 2022 field. Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce, and Chris Stapleton are right behind with five—also important names from the mainstream. Cody Johnson got four, and Midland received three. And you know who doesn’t have any nominations? Sam Hunt, Kane Brown, Jason Aldean, or Florida Georgia Line. Luke Bryan only has nominations as a guest on a track, despite co-hosting the show this year. It truly is a new day in country music.

Find some knee-jerk reactions the the nominations below. The 56th Annual CMA Awards will be on Wednesday, November 9th on ABC.



ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

Complete toss up. You think Chris Stapleton has to win it one of these years, the women will always be touted highly for this, and Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs are two of the three biggest artists in country music along with Zach Bryan. Tough field.

– Luke Combs
– Miranda Lambert
– Chris Stapleton
– Carrie Underwood
– Morgan Wallen

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR

It’s so good to see the strength of this category after years of weakness, as well as fresh faces like Ashley, Carly, and Lainey. All three of of these women could win it, and deserve it, along with Carrie and Miranda who are always mainstays. Another true tossup. The real story here is Maren Morris was not nominated.

– Miranda Lambert
– Ashley McBryde
– Carly Pearce
– Carrie Underwood
– Lainey Wilson

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR

Cody Johnson proves he’s now made it to the top tier of country musicians with this nomination. Congratulations to him. But it will probably be Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, or ol’ trusty (and tired) Chris Stapleton to win this. Eric Church isn’t a contender here this year.

– Eric Church
– Luke Combs
– Cody Johnson
– Chris Stapleton
– Morgan Wallen

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

A surprisingly weak field. Whose leg is Old Dominion humping to continuously get so many nominations and awards? Humble Quest was a dud. Growin’ Up was a bit disappointing. This opens the door for Miranda, who we know awards shows love, as well as Lainey Wilson, who probably had the critical favorite of the lot. If Lainey wins, it will legitimately ensconce her as a serious, top-tier mainstream artist.

Growin’ Up – Luke Combs
Humble Quest – Maren Morris
Palomino – Miranda Lambert
Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ – Lainey Wilson
Time, Tequila & Therapy – Old Dominion

SONG OF THE YEAR

A surprisingly strong field here. Even “Buy Dirt” isn’t terrible. It feels like a toss up between “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” and “Things a Man Oughta Know,” putting three powerhouse women in the drivers seat for this one. No offense to Chris Stapleton, but let’s just not give it to him as a default, please.

– “Buy Dirt” – Jordan Davis
Songwriters: Jacob Davis, Jordan Davis, Josh Jenkins, Matt Jenkins
– “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” – Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce
– “Sand In My Boots” – Morgan Wallen
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Michael Hardy, Josh Osborne
– “Things A Man Oughta Know” – Lainey Wilson
Songwriters: Jason Nix, Jonathan Singleton, Lainey Wilson
– “You Should Probably Leave” – Chris Stapleton
Songwriters: Chris DuBois, Ashley Gorley, Chris Stapleton

SINGLE OF THE YEAR

C’mon folks, let’s put some more separation between Song and Single of the year. Song of the Year is the substantive creative expression, and Single is the commercial powerhouse. In this case, it should go to “‘Til You Can’t” by Cody Johnson. That song was a monster, and a decent track on top of that.

– “Buy Dirt” – Jordan Davis featuring Luke Bryan
– “half of my hometown” – Kelsea Ballerini (feat. Kenny Chesney)
– “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” – Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde
– “’Til You Can’t” – Cody Johnson
– “You Should Probably Leave” – Chris Stapleton

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR

Goodness, what a waste of a category. Old Dominion will win this, even though they’re the most nondescript vocal group in country music history, and Midland is more deserving and relevant.

– Lady A
– Little Big Town
– Midland
– Old Dominion
– Zac Brown Band

VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR

Wow, an all time low for this category. Can we give it to Brooks & Dunn based off the new Ronnie Dunn solo record? Brothers Osborne will win this by default.

– Brooks & Dunn
– Brothers Osborne
– Dan + Shay
– LOCASH
– Maddie & Tae

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Lainey Wilson will win this. Parker McCollum and Cody Johnson who’ve both been making music down in Texas for a decade will come in 2nd. We say this every year with this category, but it feels especially relevant this year: what is exactly “new” about HARDY, Cody Johnson, and Walker Hayes? Hayes released his first single 12 years ago, and had a Top 10 single five years ago. This category could be helping to affirm fresh blood into the country music industry with artists such as Zach Bryan, Morgan Wade, or Bailey Zimmerman.

– HARDY
– Walker Hayes
– Cody Johnson
– Parker McCollum
– Lainey Wilson

MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR

“Never Wanted To Be That Girl” deserves it, which means it will be that bad Dierks Bentley track with Breland and Hardy that wins.

– “Beers On Me” – Dierks Bentley with BRELAND & HARDY
– “If I Didn’t Love You” – Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood
– “Longneck Way To Go” – Midland (featuring Jon Pardi)
– “Never Say Never” – Cole Swindell (with Lainey Wilson)
– “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” – Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR

This is basically another song category, and mirrors the Musical Event of the Year category too closely. Are we nominating videos, songs, or names? The powerful video for “‘Til You Can’t” is what helped put an exclamation point behind that track. The “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” video wasn’t bad either.

– “I Bet You Think About Me” (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) – Taylor Swift (featuring Chris
Stapleton)
Director: Blake Lively
– “Longneck Way To Go” – Midland (featuring Jon Pardi)
Director: Harper Smith
– “Never Say Never” – Cole Swindell (with Lainey Wilson)
Director: Michael Monaco
– “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” – Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde
Director: Alexa Campbell
– “’Til You Can’t” – Cody Johnson
Director: Dustin Haney

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR

The best field of the CMA Awards always. All these folks are top notch. Also note: Ilya Toshinskiy is part of the ownership group that stepped up to save the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. That deserves a few votes if nothing else.

– Jenee Fleenor, Fiddle
– Paul Franklin, Steel guitar
– Brent Mason, Guitar
– Ilya Toshinskiy, Banjo
– Derek Wells, Guitar

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