Midland is the latest beneficiary of a notably generous (maybe overly generous) CMA policy that allows new artists to be nominated twice for new artist of the year. The Texas-based, neo-traditional country trio was nominated last year but lost to Luke Combs. They’re back in the running this year, where they will compete with four first-time nominees: Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce and Morgan Wallen. The 53rd annual CMA Awards will be presented on Nov. 13.
Midland is the 44th artist to receive two nominations for new artist of the year (or its predecessor award, the horizon award) since the award was introduced in 1981. (The name of the award was changed in 2008.)
This is very different from the Grammys’ policy. There, once you’ve been nominated for best new artist, you can never be nominated in that category again.
Is the CMA policy a good one? That depends how you look at it. The two-chances rule allowed such notable artists as Combs, Zac Brown Band and LeAnn Rimes to win the new artist/horizon award. (They all lost on their first try.) Zac Brown Band and Rimes won the Grammy for best new artist before they won the equivalent CMA Award. If the CMA didn’t have the two-chances rule, they would have lost the CMA new artist award and won the all-genre Grammy — which would have seemed odd.
On the other hand, the fact that 44 artists have been nominated twice in this category means 44 other artists weren’t nominated at all. They arguably needed that national exposure more than somebody else needed a second run at the award.
The nine artists who won on their second try are Combs (2018) after losing to Jon Pardi; Brett Eldredge (2014) after losing to Kacey Musgraves; Zac Brown Band (2010) after losing to Darius Rucker; Dierks Bentley (2005) after losing to Gretchen Wilson; Jo Dee Messina (1999) after losing to Dixie Chicks; Rimes (1997) after losing to Bryan White; John Michael Montgomery (1994) after losing to Mark Chesnutt; Tritt (1991) after losing to Brooks; and John Anderson (1983) after losing to Ricky Skaggs.
That leaves 34 artists who lost twice in this category. (We don’t yet know Midland’s fate.) They are Rosanne Cash, David Frizzell & Shelly West, Vern Gosdin, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Terri Clark, Trace Adkins, Lee Ann Womack, Sara Evans, Chely Wright, Nickel Creek, Phil Vassar, Darryl Worley, Julie Roberts, Big & Rich, Miranda Lambert, Sugarland, Little Big Town, Jason Aldean, Rodney Atkins, Kellie Pickler, Luke Bryan, Chris Young, Thompson Square, Lee Brice, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Kelsea Ballerini, Brett Young and Lauren Alaina.
It’s hard to imagine that such enduring country stars as Yearwood, Hill, Twain, Lambert, Little Big Town, Aldean, Bryan and Rhett not only lost in that category, but lost twice! Let that be a lesson to artists who lose awards: It’s not the end of the world.
All but one of these 44 twice-nominated artists were nominated in back-to-back years. The exception is Swindell, who was nominated in 2014 (he lost to Eldredge), wasn’t nominated at all in 2015, and was nominated again in 2016 (he lost to Maren Morris). Go figure.