The Country Music Association nominations came out Wednesday, and a few acts were closely bunched when it came to nomination totals. Eric Church and little Big Town led with five each.
Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney scored four apiece, one more than Kacey Musgraves, Sam Hunt and Maddie & Tae.
Church probably has done far better with "The Outsiders" than he ever dreamed. Perhaps the nominations are proof. Church has enjoyed several hits (I remember seeing a story where he thought he had maybe one single from the disc) and perhaps more importantly taken the chance by going up to the arena sized venues to headline. He has not been a punch the clock, same show, different city every night kind of performer either, much to his credit.
Church has proven to be a very capable, invigorating performer and clearly developed since his start. He is well deserving of being nominated for Entertainer of the Year among others.
Little Big Town has had a bit of an up and down career, but clearly has been on the upward trajectory for several years. And having a song like "Girl Crush" doesn't hurt whether the controversy about it was accurate or not. All four LBT members sing well whether taking leads or harmonizing.
As a big fan of Kacey Musgraves, it's refreshing to see her grab some acclaim. "Beauty Material" is an excellent album, so getting nominated for Album of the Year is well deserved.
It was refreshing to see the success of Maddie & Tae in getting three nominations. Of course, an artist only needs one solid hit song to rack up the nominations. Just ask Maddie & Tae. Their debut CD, "Start Here," only came out a few weeks ago, so it wasn't even eligible to be nominated. But when you have a great song like "Girl in a Country Song," which smacks back at bro country and makes a statement - not an easy career move when you are two very young singers trying to make a career for themselves - the nominations hopefully will come. There was no question they would be nominated for New Artist of the Year and Vocal Duo (a category, which typically has very few acts even worthy of being nominated) and Music Video of the Year.
On the other hand, I would have expected Luke Bryan to have more than two nominations given his huge popularity, but getting an Entertainer of the Year nomination was also a big one. Ditto for Florida Georgia Line grabbing only one.
I can't claim to be a big fan of Sam Hunt. For starters, labeling him as a country artist is disingenuous to the genre. As usual, this has nothing to do with quality. He has a good enough soulful vibe, but I'm not hearing anything country from him.
That did not stop Hunt from being nominated three times. Frankly, as long as he's being promoted at country and radio is playing him, the nominations will come.
What was disappointing was the failure of Brad Paisley to be nominated for anything. Then again, about the only area he would have received a nomination as Male Vocalist of the Year. It's hard to argue with the inclusion of Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, Bryan and Church, but picking Chris Stapleton is a surprise.
It's not a question of quality. Stapleton is a great singer and writer, and his album, "Traveller," most definitely is a good one, but I'm not sure he deserved a nod over Paisley.
Too bad that Alan Jackson didn't get nominated for "Angels & Alcohol." Jackson's latest is very solid and puts the country in country music. In this day and age, I would not have expected AJ to be nominated. Shocked would have been more like it.
Garth Brooks has not overwhelmed the charts since the release of his comeback album last year, but he has been a big presence on the concert circuit, having launched his world tour a year ago. The tour has been top rate with Brooks proving that he can do it night in (sometimes twice a night) and night out. So, it's understandable why Brooks was nominated for Entertainer of the Year.
We now must wait until Nov. 4 to see who the winners are, but anyone nominated ought to be quite happy as it's a boost for sales and at least provides somewhat of a career boost. Congrats to those nominated (whether I thought they should be or not).