Nominations for the 52nd ACM Awards were announced this week and there were both unexpected nominees and glaring omissions.
Carrie Underwood returns to the Entertainer of the Year category, scoring her first Entertainer nomination in eight years. The “Church Bells” singer won the top prize in 2008 and 2009. Florida Georgia Line also find themselves back in the Entertainer race after first being nominated in 2014. Luke Bryan, Keith Urban and last year’s winner Jason Aldean round out the category.
“I’ve always thought it’s about, ‘Do you entertain? Can you put on a show?’ I’ve always taken that nomination name so literally,” says Urban, who leads all nominees with seven, of the Entertainer recognition. “I love touring. I’ve done it since I was a little kid. To get that nomination is just an extraordinary feeling.”
But there were some snubs in the category. Garth Brooks, currently on his ongoing World Tour, was a nominee in 2016 (and won Entertainer of the Year at November’s CMA Awards), but was shut out this time, along with last year nominees Miranda Lambert and Eric Church.
Church was also denied a repeat Male Vocalist nomination. He received a sole nomination, for Song of the Year for “Kill a Word,” off last year’s ACM-nominated Album of the Year, Mr. Misunderstood.
There’s also a notable snub in the Vocal Group category: Zac Brown Band is nowhere to be found among the nominees, which include Eli Young Band, Little Big Town, Old Dominion, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum, who take ZBB’s spot from last year.
Thomas Rhett scored his first-ever nomination in the Male Vocalist category. The singer, who won Single Record of the Year at last year’s ACMs for “Die a Happy Man,” competes with Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley and last year’s Male Vocalist winner Chris Stapleton. The ACMs are known for shaking up the categories with new talent like Thomas Rhett: last year, Brett Eldredge was nominated in the category.
But Blake Shelton, who hosted the ACMs from 2011 to 2015, was shut out for the second year in a row, failing to score a single nomination.
The Academy of Country Music Awards air Sunday, April 2nd, at 8:00 p.m. on CBS, live from Las Vegas. Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will host.