Uhh, What?!: 2016 ACM Nominations

The Academy of Country Music Awards are often trying to separate itself from the more respected CMA Awards. Every year, the nominations from both organizations are as different as night and day. This year is no exception as this year’s ACM nominations focus on the commercially successful rather than the critically acclaimed. Eric Church and Chris Stapleton lead the pack with 5 nominations while a host of other artists are right behind with 4. Here’s the complete list along with my initial reaction to each category.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Garth Brooks
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Miranda Lambert

Reaction: No surprises here with these five nominees being top touring country artists last year. I am excited that this year this category won’t be fan voted!

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Eric Church
  • Brett Eldredge
  • Chris Stapleton

Reaction: No Blake Shelton?! Though I support this decision, it is still shocking to see the former co-host left completely off this year’s nomination list. Congrats to first time nominees Brett Eldredge and Chris Stapleton!

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Jana Kramer
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood

Reaction: Where’s Cam?! I’m surprised to see the multiple nominee left out of this category especially after scoring a number one song. Congrats though to first time nominees Kelsea Ballerini and Jana Kramer! Let’s hope the ACMs decide to break the Miranda winning streak this year!

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Joey + Rory
  • Maddie & Tae

Reaction: Big ol’ congrats to Joey + Rory on sliding into this category! With everything they’re currently going through, it’s awesome to see them being honored by the country music community!

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Eli Young Band
  • Little Big Town
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Reaction: This category wins for biggest shocker of this year’s crop of nominees as favorites Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry were left off the list. The exclusion of Lady A and TBP allowed for newcomers Eli Young Band and Old Dominion to sneak into the final five groups. Look to Little Big Town to win this for a third time in the last four years.

New Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Cam
  • Mickey Guyton
  • RaeLynn

Reaction: They could only nominate 4 women?! Really?! Why not add Lindsey Ell, Brandy Clark, Maren Morris, Danielle Bradbury?! This is just another example of women not being given the same opportunities as their male counterparts. With Cam and Kelsea Ballerini reaching the top of the country charts, look for the winner to be one of those two. Also, it’s great to see the talented Mickey Guyton receive recognition here!

New Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Brett Eldredge
  • Chris Janson
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chase Rice
  • Chris Stapleton

Reaction: It should be a rule that if you’ve released two albums then you shouldn’t be considered a “new” artist. That said, I’m surprised to see Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett, former New Artist of the Year nominees, in this category again. Chris Stapleton’s big breakout at last year’s CMA Awards could help him carry momentum into the ACMs, but since the ACMs usually award those that are more commercially successful, it’ll be interesting to see if Stapleton can claim this award.

New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year

  • A Thousand Horses
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Maddie & Tae
  • Old Dominion
  • Parmalee

Reaction: Pretty routine list of nominees here with all of them charting hits in 2015. I would like to see either Brothers Osborne or Maddie & Tae claim this award as they’ve been both commercially successful and critically acclaimed.

Album of the Year

  • I’m Comin’ Over – Chris Young
  • Montevallo – Sam Hunt
  • Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church
  • Tangled Up – Thomas Rhett
  • Traveller – Chris Stapleton

Reaction: 2015 saw widely critically acclaimed albums from Carrie Underwood, Ashley Monroe, Kacey Musgraves, Maddie & Tae, and Cam yet the Academy decided to nominate an all male cast for this category…great job!! With albums from Musgraves and Monroe snagging Grammy nominations, it’s a big surprise to not see either of them (especially Kacey because her debut album claimed this award) in this category this year. Way to stop the female movement, ACMs!

I also have a problem that extremely mediocre albums from Chris Young and Thomas Rhett managed to be finalists in this category. Though albums that experience huge commercial success are normally nominated, both albums failed to make that big of an impact on the charts.

Single Record of the Year

  • “Burning House” – Cam
  • “Buy Me a Boat” – Chris Janson
  • “Die a Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
  • “I’m Comin’ Over” – Chris Young
  • “Take Your Time” – Sam Hunt

Reaction: 6 nominees? This category seems to be extremely overcrowded which hopefully doesn’t hurt perennial favorite, “Girl Crush.” Congrats to Cam for breaking through in this category with her wildly successful smash hit! A little surprised to see Chris Young get so much love from the ACMs for a less than stellar song and album.

Video of the Year

  • “Biscuits” – Kacey Musgraves
  • “Burning House” – Cam
  • “Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
  • “Mr. Misunderstood” – Eric Church
  • “Riser” – Dierks Bentley

Reaction: Glad to see Kacey Musgraves receive a nomination here for her stellar video for “Biscuits.” It’ll be interesting to see who claims the victory here, though I’ll be rooting for Musgraves or Little Big Town.

Vocal Event of the Year

  • “Hangover Tonight” – Gary Allan featuring Chris Stapleton
  • “Home Alone Tonight” – Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild
  • “Raise ‘Em Up” – Keith Urban featuring Eric Church
  • “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” – Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
  • “Wild Child” – Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter

Reaction: No surprises in this category except the inclusion of the Gary Allan/Chris Stapleton tune. After claiming the CMA Award, look to the Keith Urban and Eric Church song to claim the trophy here as well.


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