15 Artists Who Have Reasons to Be Happy With This Year’s ACM Nominations

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood is vying to become the first woman in ACM history to win entertainer of the year three times.

This year’s ACM nominations overlap to a large degree with what you saw at the CMA Awards in November and the Grammys in January. The 20 nominees in these four key categories — female and male artist of the year and duo and group of the year — are almost exactly the same as they were at the CMAs. The only difference is that The Highwomen landed an ACM nod for group of the year, edging out CMA finalists Zac Brown Band.

But there are key differences too. Tanya Tucker, who won two of the four awards in the country field at the Grammys, was passed over in the ACM nominations. Garth Brooks, who took entertainer of the year for a record seventh time at the CMAs, is nominated for just one ACM Award: music event of the year for “Dive Bar,” featuring Blake Shelton.

While Tucker and Brooks are bound to be disappointed by their ACM showings, 15 artists (or behind-the-scenes music professionals) have reasons to be happy about this year’s nominations.

1. Carrie Underwood is up for entertainer of the year for the fourth time. She won the award in 2008-09. She’s vying to become the first woman in ACM history to win the award three times. The only other female artist to win twice in the category is Taylor Swift, who took the prize in 2010-11. In addition, Underwood received her 15th nomination for female artist of the year. Only Reba McEntire has amassed more nominations in that category (16).

2. Luke Combs, who won new male artist of the year at last year’s ACM Awards, is up for three awards, including entertainer of the year. If he wins that top award, it will be the fastest trip from a new artist win to entertainer of the year in ACM history. That record is currently shared by Mickey Gilley and Dixie Chicks. Both artists took two years to make the leap. Gilley won entertainer of the year in 1976, two years after being crowned most promising male vocalist. Dixie Chicks won entertainer in 2000, two years after winning for top new vocal duet or group.

3. The Highwomen are up for group of the year. The quartet, consisting of Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires, is vying to become the third all-female group to win in this category. The first two were The Forester Sisters, which won in 1986, and Dixie Chicks, which won three years running from 1998-2000.

4. Dan Smyers of Dan + Shay and three members of Old Dominion each received six nominations—more than anyone else this year. The Old Dominion members to score six nods are Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen and Brad Tursi. Sharing second place, with five nominations each–Morris, Thomas Rhett, Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay, Whit Sellers and Geoff Sprung of Old Dominion, and producer Dann Huff.

5. Miranda Lambert’s Wildcard is nominated for album of the year. Lambert’s last five consecutive studio albums have won in that category. (That gives her the record for most wins in the history of the category.) Lambert is also nominated for music event of the year for leading an all-female remake of Elvin Bishop’s bluesy 1976 classic “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”

6. Keith Urban landed his 13th nomination for male artist of the year. Only two artists have tallied more nominations in the category. George Strait leads with 21. Merle Haggard is second with 14.

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7. Maren Morris‘ GIRL is back in the running for album of the year at the ACMs, after winning album of the year at the CMAs on Nov. 13 but then being surprisingly passed over for a Grammy nomination for best country album. Morris’ previous album, Hero, was nominated in this category three years ago.

8. Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country,” which won single of the year at the CMAs, is nominated in the same category at the ACMs. It’s vying to become the first single to win at both shows since Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man” four years ago. “God’s Country” is also nominated for song and music video of the year. It’s one of only two works to be nominated in all three categories this year. The other is Old Dominion’s “One Man Band.”

9. Pop star Justin Bieber received four nominations for “10,000 Hours,” his genre-bending collaboration with Dan + Shay. The smash is No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and reached No. 4 on the Hot 100.

10-11. Lady Antebellum and Lee Brice are both nominated for single of the year, an award both artists have won before. Lady A, nominated this year for “What If I Never Get Over You,” won 10 years ago for “Need You Now.” Brice, nominated this year for “Rumor,” won five years ago for “I Don’t Dance.” Lady A is vying to become the first group or duo to win twice in this category.

12-13. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus) is nominated for music event of the year. It won in the same category at the CMA Awards and took best pop duo/group performance and best music video at the Grammys on Jan. 26. Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are also nominated since they are credited as co-producers (with YoungKio) of the single. Cyrus received six ACM nominations (but no wins) in his first achy-breaky run at stardom in 1992-93.

14. Shane McAnally is nominated for songwriter of the year. He won the award in 2013 and 2018. If he wins again this year, he’ll become the first three-time winner in the category’s history. He’s currently tied with Dallas Davidson, who won in 2011-12.

15. Dann Huff is nominated for producer of the year. He won the award in 2006, 2009 and 2013. If he wins again this year, he’ll tie Jay Joyce as the only four-time winners in the category’s history. The other nominees are Buddy Cannon, who won in 2005; busbee, the pop and country hitmaker who died on Sept. 29; Michael Knox; and Joey Moi.

The 55th ACM Awards will be broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 5.

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