The nomination for the 51st annual CMA Awards were announced on Sept. 4, and while artists like Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, and Little Big Town racked up multiple nominations, there were more than a few questionable omissions—as well as inclusions—in the nomination process.
Here are the snubs, duds and surprises of the 51st annual CMA Awards nominations.
Entertainer of the Year
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan
- Eric Church
- Chris Stapleton
- Keith Urban
SNUB: Jason Aldean
Man, the CMA must really dislike Jason Aldean. Once again—like in 2014, 2015 and 2016—he didn’t even get a nomination for CMA Entertainer of the Year. Jason, the two-time ACM Entertainer of the Year, had another monster year (the 51st annual CMAs recognize an artist’s work from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017), including releasing his seventh studio album, They Don’t Know, which reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and the all-genre Billboard 200. He also scored No. 1 singles with “Lights Come On,” “A Little More Summertime” and “Any Ol’ Barstool.” Oh, yeah, his Six String Circus Tour and current They Don’t Know Tour routinely draw more than 20,000 fans per show.
Male Vocalist of the Year
- Dierks Bentley
- Eric Church
- Thomas Rhett
- Chris Stapleton
- Keith Urban
SNUB: Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton used to be a shoo-in for Male Vocalist of the Year. He won the award five times between 2010 and 2014. While past accomplishments are no grounds for a nomination in 2017, Blake did enough to earn the nomination this year by scoring the 23rd and 24th No. 1 singes of his career with “A Guy With a Girl” and “Every Time I Hear That Song,” respectively. But alas, perhaps Blake has gone “too Hollywood” in the eyes of voters, with his gig on The Voice and pop star girlfriend. Dude can still croon, though, and that’s what this award is all about.
Vocal Duo of the Year
- Dan + Shay
- Florida Georgia Line
- Maddie & Tae
- Brothers Osborne
Kudos to Locash for finally getting a well-deserved nomination. It’s about time. It should have happened last year.
DUD: Maddie & Tae
As much as I love ’em, Maddie & Tae have no business being nominated this year. I said the same thing when they were nominated for a 2017 ACM Vocal Duo of the Year Award. The only single they released in 2016, “Sierra,” peaked at No. 47 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, and they haven’t released any new music in 2017. The problem with this category is a lack of viable alternatives, but I think I can prove—if you give me enough whiskey—that Brooks & Dunn had a better year than Maddie & Tae. I’m serious.
Musical Event of the Year
- “Craving You” – Thomas Rhett (feat. Maren Morris)
- “Funny How Time Slips Away” – Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson
- “Kill a Word” – Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens)
- “Setting the World on Fire” – Kenny Chesney (with P!nk)
- “Speak to a Girl” – Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
SNUB: “God, Your Mama and Me” — Florida Georgia Line featuring the Backstreet Boys
This is a tricky category because you never know what’s going to end up getting a nomination. It’s a true crap shoot, but Florida Georgia Line and the Backstreet Boys—love ’em or hate ’em—deserved a nomination for “God, Your Mama and Me.” The FGL + BSB collaboration went to No. 1 on the charts and their live performance highlighted the ACM Awards. It was a true “event,” even if you wish boy bands had never been invented.
Album of the Year
- The Breaker – Little Big Town; Producer: Jay Joyce
- From A Room: Volume 1 – Chris Stapleton; Producer: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton
- Heart Break – Lady Antebellum; Producer: busbee
- The Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit; Producer: Dave Cobb
- The Weight of These Wings – Miranda Lambert; Producer: Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf, Eric Masse
SURPRISE: The Nashville Sound — Jason Isbell
Finally, Jason Isbell got a CMA nomination. Props to the CMA for recognizing Jason’s brilliance after ignoring him for so long. He’s the finest singer/songwriter of this generation. Now, try this on for size: The Nashville Sound is probably Jason’s third best album, following Southeastern and Something More Than Free—at least in my opinion.
SNUB: Welcome Home — Zac Brown Band
This is a stacked category, so omitting ZBB’s Welcome Home is only a slight snub, but the album definitely deserved consideration.
Music Video of the Year
- “Better Man” – Little Big Town; Director: Becky Fluke and Reid Long
- “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban; Director: Carter Smith
- “Craving You” – Thomas Rhett (feat. Maren Morris); Director: TK McKamy
- “Vice” – Miranda Lambert; Director: Trey Fanjoy
- “It Ain’t My Fault” – Brothers Osborne; Director: Wes Edwards and Ryan Silver
SNUB: “All Around You” — Sturgill Simpson
There’s no conceivable reason this video didn’t earn a nomination other than Sturgill is getting the ol’ blackball from the CMA.
Single of the Year
- “Better Man” – Little Big Town; Producer: Jay Joyce; Mix Engineer: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce
- “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban; Producer: Dann Huff, Keith Urban; Mix Engineer: Chris Lord-Alge
- “Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt; Producer: Zach Crowell; Mix Engineer: Zach Crowell
- “Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi; Producer: Bart Butler, Jon Pardi; Mix Engineer: Ryan Gore
- “Tin Man” – Miranda Lambert; Producer: Frank Liddell, Eric Masse, Glenn Worf; Mix Engineer: Eric Masse
SURPRISE: “Tin Man” — Miranda Lambert
Sam Hunt has pretty much got this baby wrapped up with “Body Like a Back Road,” but it’s great to see Miranda’s “Tin Man” making the list. While “Tin Man” only peaked at No. 31 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, it’s more than deserving of both a Single and Song of the Year nomination.
SNUB: “A Guy With a Girl” — Blake Shelton
It spent three weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart and deserved consideration.
SNUB: “In Case You Didn’t Know” — Brett Young
It spent two weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart and deserved consideration.
Blake Shelton by Brian Bowen Smith/NBC; Jason Isbell by Michael Wilson/All Eyes Media; Jason Aldean by James Minchin/The Greenroom PR; Sturgill Simpson by Reto Sterchi/Sacks & Co.; Florida Georgia Line by Jason Simanek; Maddie & Tae courtesy Holly Gleason PR;