2018 ACM Awards Nominations: 15 Snubs & Surprises

2018 ACM Awards Nominations: 15 Snubs & Surprises

The nomination for the 53rd ACM Awards were announce on March 1, and while artists like Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett, Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris racked up multiple nominations, there were more than a few questionable omissions—as well as inclusions—in the nomination process.

Here are the snubs and surprises of the 53rd annual ACM Awards nominations, which recognized artists’ works from Nov. 24, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2017.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Garth Brooks
  • Luke Bryan
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

SNUB: Florida Georgia Line
I get it, FGL ain’t everyone’s cup of beer, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that they routinely drew more than 20,000 rabid fans per show on their 2017 Smooth Tour, and they scored No. 1 hits with “May We All” and “God, Your Mama, and Me.”

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban
  • Chris Young

SNUB: Blake Shelton
Smooth-crooning Blake dropped another No. 1 album, Texoma Shore, and scored a handful of No. 1 singles, including “Every Time I Hear That Song” and “I’ll Name the Dogs.” Are the Academy voters holding his Hollywood appeal against him?

SURPRISE: Chris Young
It’s a well-earned nomination. This is the category where Chris belongs.

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Reba McEntire
  • Maren Morris
  • Carrie Underwood

SURPRISE: Carrie Underwood
I know I’ll get skewered for this one because it’s blasphemy to say anything negative about Carrie, but she had a largely uneventful 2017. Her Storyteller Tour concluded on Nov. 28, 2016, and she hasn’t released a single since September 2016. She was featured on Keith Urban’s No. 1 hit, “The Fighter,” and played a handful of dates on his Ripcord World Tour, so I guess that was enough to warrant the nomination in the eyes of the voters.

SURPRISE: Reba McEntire
Reba dropped her faith-based album, Sing It Now, in February 2017, and while it didn’t garner much airplay on country radio, it did win a Grammy for Best Roots Gospel Album.

SNUBS: Carly Pearce and Lauren Alaina
Is it too early for Carly or Lauren? I don’t think so, but that means removing a popular name from the list. 

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Locash
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

SURPRISE: Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
While not a duo in the traditional sense of the word, it’s kinda cool Tim and Faith got a nod after dropping their 2017 duet album, The Rest of Our Life, and embarking on their Soul2Soul Tour.

New Vocal Duo/Group of the Year

  • High Valley
  • Locash
  • Midland
  • Runaway June

Locash belongs in the Vocal Duo of the Year category, and they finally earned that nomination this year. Chris and Preston are about as “new” as fossilized dinosaur eggs. In fact, they had a Top 40 single in 2010!

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Midland
  • Old Dominion

SNUB: Zac Brown Band
ZBB released its No. 1 album, Welcome Home, in May 2017, and headlined a tour of the same name that routinely packed venues with more than 15,000 fans.

Single Record of the Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]

“Better Man” – Little Big Town
Producer: Jay Joyce
Record Label: Capitol Records Nashville

“Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt
Producer: Zach Crowell
Record Label: MCA Nashville

“Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton
Record Label: Mercury Records

“Drinkin’ Problem” – Midland
Producers: Dann Huff, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Record Label: Big Machine Records

“I’ll Name The Dogs” – Blake Shelton
Producer: Scott Hendricks
Record Label: Warner Bros.

SNUB:”In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young
The tune spent two weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart and would have been the most successful song of the year if it hadn’t been for Sam Hunt’s smash, “Body Like a Back Road.”

SURPRISE: “I’ll Name the Dogs” – Blake Shelton
Normally, I wouldn’t bat an eye about this nomination, but it feels out of place considering Blake didn’t receive a Male Vocalist of the Year nomination. It’s almost like a pity nomination to get Blake to show up at the awards show.

Song of the Year [Awarded to Songwriter(s)/Publisher(s)/Artist(s)]

“Body Like a Back Road” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Publishers: Universal Music Corp./Sam Hunt Publishing, Highly Combustible Music/I Love Pizza Music,/Songs of Southside Independent Music Publishing/Who Wants to Buy My Publishing/Atlas Music Publishing, Anderson Fork In The Road Music/Smackville Music/Smack Songs LLC, Smack Hits

“Female” – Keith Urban
Songwriters: Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon and Shane McAnally
Publishers: EMI Blackwood Music Inc./Rezolant Music/Plain Jane Songs, Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./A Girl Named Charlie (BMI), Smack Hits/Smack Songs LLC (GMR)

“Tin Man” – Miranda Lambert
Songwriters: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert Jon Randall
Publishers: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Pink Dog Publishing (BMI), Beat Up Ford Publishing (BMI), BMG Platinum Songs (BMI)/SWMBMGBMI/Lonesome Vinyl Music

“Whiskey And You” – Chris Stapleton
Songwriters: Lee Thomas Miller, Chris Stapleton
Publishers: WB Music Corp./New Sea Gayle Music (ASCAP), Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./New Sea Gayle Music (BMI)

SNUB: “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young, written by Brett Young, Trent Tomlinson, Tyler Reeve and Kyle Schlienger
See above.

Album of the Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]

Breaker – Little Big Town
Producer: Jay Joyce
Record Label: Capitol Records Nashville

California Sunrise – Jon Pardi
Producers: Bart Butler, Jon Pardi
Record Label: Capitol Records Nashville

From A Room Vol. 1 – Chris Stapleton
Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton
Record Label: Mercury Records

Happy Endings – Old Dominion
Producer: Shane McAnally
Record Label: RCA

Life Changes – Thomas Rhett
Producers: Julian Bunetta, Jesse Frasure, Dann Huff, Joe London, Thomas Rhett
Record Label: The Valory Music Co.

SNUB: The Nashville Sound — Jason Isbell
The CMA Awards got it right by giving Jason a nomination in 2017, but the ACMs missed the mark. Jason is one the finest singer/songwriters of this generation, and the album is outstanding.

SURPRISE: Happy Endings — Old Dominion
It’s good to see another band in this category and it’s well deserved. OD’s Happy Endings hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and spawned two No. 1 singles, “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” and “Written in the Sand.”

photos by Jason Simanek