The 2022 ACM Awards nominations remain ripe for debate as the March 7 broadcast nears.
Every fan is sure to find something lacking from the ballot, whether they're scratching their head over why Dierks Bentley failed to pick up a single nomination for the first time since 2013 or addled that Luke Bryan would've been shut out were it not for Jordan Davis collaboration "Buy Dirt." After all, musical taste is subjective, and there's only five nominees per category.
Don't let the following observations overshadow what all the Academy of Country Music got right in 2022, from Chris Young's seven-nomination haul (including Music Event of the Year for Kane Brown duet "Famous Friends") to Jimmie Allen's Male Artist of the Year consideration.
Entertainer of the Year
A case can be made that all five nominees (Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Miranda Lambert) deserve the evening's top prize. Each choice represents the genre well to popular culture at large while sustaining commercial success on the charts and at the box office. A sixth nominee could be easily justified though, and that slot should go to Bryan, a name absent from the final Entertainer of the Year ballot for the first time since 2012.
Bryan remains one of the faces and voices of country music through everything from his role on American Idol to his (and his whole family's) mastery of churning out hilarious social media content. Beyond those extracurriculars, he shows no signs of stopping as a top-grossing touring and recording act.
Similar cases could be made that Bryan's fellow multi-media celeb Blake Shelton, three-time winner Jason Aldean and 2021 ACM co-host Keith Urban belong on the Entertainer of the Year ballot every single year for being exemplary entertainers associated with yet not confined to country music.
Female and Male Artist of the Year
It always reads like an oversight when Entertainer of the Year nominees fail to make the final Male or Female Artist of the Year ballots. That happened this time around to Underwood and Church.
The Female Artist of the Year field (Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce, Gabby Barrett, Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert) seems complete enough without Underwood. Though Underwood would unquestionably deserve consideration for a sixth slot, an expanded field could instead be used to fix one of this year's most glaring snubs: the complete lack of nominations for 2021 co-host Mickey Guyton.
Church's absence from the final Male Artist of the Year ballot feels like more of an oversight than the Underwood omission. Fellow Entertainer of the Year noms Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton made the cut, as did Allen, Thomas Rhett and Morgan Wallen. Swapping Wallen for Church seems like a no-brainer for a variety of reasons, and it'd free up our theoretical sixth slot for the past year's feel-good story: New Male Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Single of the Year nominee Walker Hayes.
Album of the Year
Another Church snub came in the Album of the Year category. Chief's ambitious triple album project Heart & Soul justifies a six-choice final ballot, as either the Heart or Soul installment would deserve consideration over all five nominees: Pearce's 29: Written in Stone, Rhett's Country Again: Side A, Wallen's Dangerous: The Double Album, Young's Famous Friends and Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall's The Marfa Tapes.
The 57th Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM Awards) take place on Mon., March 7 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The show airs exclusively on Amazon Prime starting at 8 p.m. EST. Check Wide Open Country for full coverage before, during and after the broadcast.
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