Nominees for “The 51st Annual CMA Awards” have been announced, and country music fans are weighing in all over social media with their thoughts on who is included, who isn’t, and who will win when the envelopes are opened in Nashville on Nov. 8.
The field of potential country talent is deep, but with only five nominees in each of the 12 categories, omissions are a certainty and fans are as outspoken on the perceived snubs as they are feeling the love for their favorites. Rare Country has been following the conversation, which is certain to continue through the final round of voting. And because it is an industry-voted award, the outcomes don’t always reflect the fan favorites – as evidenced by both Jason Aldean and five-time CMA Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton being left in the cold. Fans of both superstars have been vocal in their disappointment on social media.
Also absent this year are any females in the Entertainer of the Year category. Miranda Lambert, who was the top nominee this year with five nods, has previously been nominated for Entertainer of the Year three times (2010, 2014, 2015), but not this year. And Carrie Underwood, who was a first-time nominee in the category last year, is also missing.
There was good news for two ladies – an icon and an up-and-comer. Reba McEntire returned to the Female Vocalist category for the first time since 2010, and Lauren Alaina received her first-ever CMA Awards nomination. Alaina landed in the New Artist of the Year category, alongside Luke Combs, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi and Brett Young. With the exception of Old Dominion, everyone in the category is a first-time nominee.
There are a handful of returning favorites including Little Big Town and Keith Urban, who each have four nominations. Little Big Town’s No. 1 hit “Better Man,” which was written by Taylor Swift, was nominated for Song of the Year, which is presented to the songwriters, not the artist. This makes Swift’s second CMA Awards nomination for this category and her first nomination in any category since 2014 when she turned her attention to launching a pop career.
While they are often close in composition, the Single and Song of the Year categories are mirror images of each other this year with nods for “Better Man” (Little Big Town), “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (Urban), “Body Like a Back Road” (Sam Hunt), “Dirt on My Boots” (Pardi) and “Tin Man” (Lambert). Unlike Song of the Year, Single of the Year is presented to the artist and producer.
Eric Church, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett and Chris Stapleton each received three nominations. Church is getting a lot of early attention for his CMA Musical Event of the Year collaboration for “Kill A Word” featuring first-time nominee Rhiannon Giddens.
The CMA Awards has a history of recognizing albums that didn’t resonate with the mainstream, but this year there are three that didn’t notch a single Top 10 hit on the country airplay charts, including one by Americana artist Jason Isbell, an occasional country music critic who recently called the genre “a huge mess.”
Perhaps the most heartwarming surprise was the recognition for a legendary voice in country music. Glen Campbell, who passed away on Aug. 8 after a long, well-documented battle with Alzheimer’s disease, received his first nomination in 40 years for CMA Musical Event of the Year with Willie Nelson for “Funny How Time Slips Away.”
“The 51st Annual CMA Awards” will be hosted for the 10th time by Brad Paisley and Underwood and airs live Nov. 8 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on the ABC Television Network.
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