The nominations for the 46th Annual Country Music Association Awards were announced Wednesday morning (September 5), and more than any year in recent memory, a changing of the guard was reflected in the finalists. There was no mention of George Strait, Reba McEntire, or Rascal Flatts in the nominations. Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, and Keith Urban -- all usually major factors in the show -- only received one nomination apiece.
Instead, the announcements were a validation of the younger generation of the genre. Eric Church led all acts with five nominations this year. He was tapped for Male Vocalist, Album ("Chief"), and Single, Song, and Video of the Year, all for "Springsteen."
Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert each notched four nominations, including a shared one for Lambert's hit "Over You," which was selected as one of the contenders for Song of the Year. Both artists, who won their respective vocalist categories last year, were nominated once again.
Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Little Big Town, and reigning Entertainer of the Year winner. Taylor Swift each received three nods, as well. Swift, who releases Red next month, will have a chance to snag her third trophy in the category. She's nominated alongside Aldean, Chesney, Paisley, and Shelton.
Shelton will compete for Male Vocalist against Aldean, Church, Urban, and Luke Bryan. Shelton has claimed the award the past two years, while Urban has won it three times in the past.
The Female Vocalist category is bound to cause some conversation. Lambert, Swift, Martina McBride, and Carrie Underwood are all nominated, as is Kelly Clarkson. Though the inaugural "American Idol" winner's biggest success has been in the pop field. She does claim some country cred, having won last year for Musical Event of the Year for her "Don't You Wanna Stay" duet with Aldean. She also released a country version of "Mr. Know It All" to radio earlier this year.
Underwood has won the Female Vocalist trophy three times in the past, but not since 2008. The Female Vocalist nod was her only one of the morning, surprising because of the success of her latest disc, "Blown Away" -- which had the third highest first-week sales tally of any album this year, as well as the chart-topping success of "Good Girl."
In addition to her Entertainer and Female nominations, Swift is also a finalist in the Musical Event category, thanks to her collaboration with the Civil Wars on "Safe And Sound." Among her competition there is Snoop Lion (also Dogg), who is part of the Willie Nelson track "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" along with Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson. Alan Jackson, nominated in the category with Zac Brown for "Dixie Highway," received his 81st career CMA nomination - tying him with George Strait.
Little Big Town, enjoying their most successful year in the industry yet, found themselves in the running for Vocal Group of the Year, as well as Video and Single of the Year for their current "Pontoon." Also nominated in the latter were Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem," Shelton's "God Gave Me You," Church's "Springsteen," and "Home" by Bentley.
"The 46th Annual CMA Awards" will be hosted for the fifth time by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Thursday, Nov. 1 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on ABC.
Check out the list of nominees (incomplete):
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
"Chief," Eric Church
"Four the Record," Miranda Lambert
"Home," Dierks Bentley
"Own the Night," Lady Antebellum
"Tailgates and Tanlines," Luke Bryan
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
Click here for the full list.