Below are some notable snubs and surprises.
SNUB: Tanya Tucker walked away a first-time Grammy winner earlier this year with two wins for best country album for While I’m Livin’ and best country song for “Bring My Flowers Now,” but somehow was passed over in the ACM nominations. Tucker was a favorite of the ACMs in her early years, receiving her first nomination for female artist of the year in 1975 as a 16-year-old, and for seven straight years from 1987-93.
SURPRISE: Justin Bieber. The pop superstar earns his first, second, third and fourth ACM nominations for his work on “10,000 Hours” with Dan + Shay. Perhaps the surprise factor will wear off as country and pop acts co-mingle more and more. After all, pop act Bebe Rexha earned her first four ACM nominations last year for “Meant to Be,” featuring Florida Georgia Line.
SNUB: Despite having one of the most talked about tours and albums of 2019, Miranda Lambert didn’t garner the coveted entertainer of the year nomination. Lambert spent the majority of last year on the road and brought along special guests Morris, Elle King, Pistol Annies, Tenille Townes, Ashley McBryde and Caylee Hammack during her Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour. She may be the most decorated artist in the history of the ACM Awards with 34 trophies to her name, but there is one trophy that is missing in the collection and Lambert was an obvious choice for entertainer of the year this year.
SURPRISE: There’s a rumor going ’round that there has been a five-year drought for Lee Brice at the ACM Awards and that all changes this year. Brice is nominated for single of the year for his massively successful 2019 chart topper “Rumor.” The last time Brice garnered a nomination and award was in 2014 in the same category for his sentimental ballad “I Don’t Dance.”
SNUB: Brown, despite his countless collaborations in 2019, failed to receive any nominations this year. Within the past year “Good As You” hit No. 1 while “Homesick” peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. He also became the 11th country artist to sell out the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A genre bending artist, this past year Brown has been embraced by countless acts like Khalid, who he joined for the remix of “Saturday Nights,” as well as Marshmello who he teamed up with on “One Thing Right.” While Brown’s been recognized with four nods in previous years, it’s unfortunate that one of the genre’s hottest stars won’t be represented at this year’s awards show.
SURPRISE: In their only nod, The Highwomen receive a group of the year nomination, making the constellation of Morris, Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby the first all-female band to receive the honor since the Dixie Chicks in 2002.
SNUB: Jason Aldean, who only last year received the Dick Clark Artist of the Decade Award, received no nominations this year despite releasing hit single, “We Back,” and, albeit late in the year, a new studio album, 9. Aldean has taken home more than a dozen ACM Awards, including three entertainer of the year trophies, since snagging his first win for top male new vocalist in the 2006 ceremonies.
SURPRISE: Blake Shelton’s renaissance continues resulting in a pleasant surprise this year as he garners four nominations, his most since 2014. Three are for “God’s Country,” the intense ode to American soil that earned him a Grammy nomination and a win for single of the year at November’s CMA Awards, while his fourth is for music event of the year for “Dive Bar,” his fun duet with Garth Brooks. Shelton previously won in the latter category in 2009 for “Hillbilly Bone” with Trace Adkins.
The ACM Awards are produced by dick clark productions, which is owned by Valence Media, the parent company of Billboard.
Additional reporting by Paul Grein.