ACM Awards Nominations Led by Chris Young, as Morgan Wallen Returns to Favor With Multiple Noms

American Age Official

The nominations for the 2022 Academy of Country Music Awards hold plenty of surprises, including having Chris Young, a performer who has not previously dominated the field, as the frontrunner in this year’s crop. Young, who has never won an ACM Award before, despite picking up nominations going back to 2007 (and who has also never won a CMA trophy), led with seven in nominations that were announced Thursday morning.

The nominations are also notable in giving four nods for the still-controversial Morgan Wallen, who was banned from being eligible for last year’s ACMs in the wake of the scandal over his being seen on video using the N-word. This year’s Academy of Country Music Awards mark the first time since that early 2021 incident that Wallen has been allowed to be nominated for a major country awards show without any restrictions being placed on the board, and Wallen came through in most of the categories in which he would have been eligible, although he missed out on a nom for the top honor, entertainer of the year.

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The entertainer of the year nods went to Eric Church, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton and Carrie Underwood.

The presence of two women in that top category marks a change from the 2021 nominations, in which there were none. Dropping out from last year’s nominated entertainers to make way for Lambert and Underwood were Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett. In one of those peculiarities that is particular to the entertainer of the year category at both the ACMs and CMAs, Church managed to land another nomination for the ACMs’ top prize despite not being put up in any other category.

Following Young’s leading seven nominations, tied for second place with five apiece were Walker Hayes, Lambert and Stapleton. Four performers picked up four nominations each: Wallen, Underwood, Carly Pearce and Jordan Davis.

When it comes to the ACMs, some asterisks must be placed next to nomination totals, since the Academy of Country Music is nearly unique in giving recording artists separate nominations if they also co-produce or co-write their nominated songs or videos. To break down some of the leading nominees: Although Young is credited with seven nominations, they are in four categories: album of the year (for “Famous Friends,” which lands him nods as both artist and producer), single of the year (for the song also named “Famous Friends,” a duet with Kane Brown, with Young again getting writer and producer nods), video of the year (one nomination there) and music event of the year (another two-fer for Young, as performer and producer).

Counting along those same lines, Hayes has five nominations in three categories, while Lambert and Stapleton each have their five in four categories. Among those with four nominations each, Pearce and Underwood are actually up in four separate categories, while Wallen and Davis are up in three categories.

Anyone recording a hit duet has a good shot at getting a leg up in the total number of nominations for the ACMs, as those collaborative tracks are eligible for the vocal event of the year category as well as single and song of the year. It also happens that this year, for the first time, all of the songs nominated for video of the year were duets. That made a big difference this year in landing Young a leading number of nominations, as his duet with Kane Brown, “Famous Friends,” as the only track to get nominated for single, vocal event and video. Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood’s duet “If I Didn’t Love You” also picked up nods in all three of those categories.

Among some stats the Academy pulled out in making the announcement: Women make up 37% of the nominations, far outstripping their representation on country radio. The org pointed out three members of the LGBTQ community coming up among the nominees (TJ Osborne of Osborne Brothers, singer-songwriter Lily Rose and songwriter-producer Shane McAnally).

The ACM Awards will be presented at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium March 2, in what is being described as a historic first, as the first major awards show to be live-streamed exclusively with no broadcast network component. Prime Video picked up exclusive rights to air the two-hour ceremony, which will go out on the Amazon service live at 8 p.m. ET/5 PT without commercials. Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen, both nominees this year, have been announced as co-hosts along with principal host Dolly Parton.

Whether Wallen will be invited to perform on the telecast will remain a matter of some suspense. He remains a divisive figure in the country community, with many believing that Wallen spent more than enough time in the penalty box, and others contending that he fell short of seizing the moment to redeem himself after placing the genre in a bad light. But his “Dangerous: The Double Album” was by far the biggest album of 2021 in any genre, let alone just in the country genre, so the ACMs will be seen as making a statement whether he does or doesn’t get a performing slot. Wallen is having a good career moment at present, in any case: Besides his five ACM nominations, he opened a tour Wednesday night with a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden and has a top 10 single headed toward No, 1 at country radio.

The full list of 2022 ACM nominees:

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

  • Eric Church

  • Luke Combs

  • Miranda Lambert

  • Chris Stapleton

  • Carrie Underwood

FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

  • Gabby Barrett

  • Miranda Lambert

  • Ashley McBryde

  • Maren Morris

  • Carly Pearce

MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

  • Jimmie Allen

  • Luke Combs

  • Thomas Rhett

  • Chris Stapleton

  • Morgan Wallen

DUO OF THE YEAR

  • Brooks & Dunn

  • Brothers Osborne

  • Dan + Shay

  • LOCASH

  • Maddie & Tae

GROUP OF THE YEAR

  • Lady A

  • Little Big Town

  • Midland

  • Old Dominion

  • The Cadillac Three

NEW FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

  • Tenille Arts

  • Priscilla Block

  • Lily Rose

  • Caitlyn Smith

  • Lainey Wilson

NEW MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

  • HARDY

  • Walker Hayes

  • Ryan Hurd

  • Parker McCollum

  • Elvie Shane

ALBUM OF THE YEAR [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]

Producers: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Jimmy Robbins, Tony Brown

Record Company-Label: Big Machine Records

Producers: Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure, Matt Dragstrem

Record Company-Label: Big Machine Label Group

Producer: Joey Moi, Jacob Durrett, Charlie Handsome, Matt Dragstrem, Dave Cohen

Record Company-Label: Big Loud Records / Republic Records

Producer: Mark Holman, Corey Crowder, Chris Young, Chris DeStefano

Record Company-Label: RCA Records Nashville

Producers: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall

Record Company-Label: Vanner Records / RCA Records Nashville

SINGLE OF THE YEAR [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]

Producer: Paul DiGiovanni

Record Company-Label: MCA Nashville

Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young

Record Company-Label: RCA Records Nashville

Producers: Walker Hayes, Shane McAnally, Joe Thibodeau

Record Company-Label: Monument Records

Producers: Michael Knox

Record Company-Label: Broken Bow Records; Macon Music, LLC; BBR Music Group, BMG

Producer: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton

Record Company-Label: Mercury Nashville

SONG OF THE YEAR [Awarded to Songwriter(s)/Publisher(s)/Artist(s)]

Songwriters: Morgan Wallen, Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally

Publishers: Big Loud Mountain, Bo Wallace Publishing, Smackborne Music, Sony/ATV Accent, Smackstreet Music, Tempo Investments, Warner Geo Met Ric Music

Songwriters: Jordan Davis, Jacob Davis, Josh Jenkins, Matt Jenkins

Publishers: Anthem Music Publishing II, Bentprop Pub, Big Blue Nation Music, Combustion Five, Jentown, Jordan Davis Music, Smackwork Music, Smack Blue, Kobalt Music Group Music, Universal Music Corporation, WC Music Corp

Songwriters: Cameron Bartolini, Josh Jenkins, Shane Stevens, Walker Hayes

Publishers: Songs of SMACK, Rarespark Media Group, Smackworks Music, Smack Blue, Kobalt Music Group, Holy Graffiti Music, Purplebeatz, WC Music Corp

Songwriters: Adam James, Brett James, Kat Higgins

Publishers: 3 Ring Circus, BMG Platinum Songs, Pompano Run Music, Songs of Brett, WC Music Corp

Songwriters: Jason Nix, Jonathan Singleton, Lainey Wilson

Publishers: Sony/ATV Accent, Sony/ATV Countryside, Spirit Two Nashville, Super Big Music

VIDEO OF THE YEAR [Awarded to Producer(s)/Director(s)/Artist(s)]

Producers: Angie Lorenz, Wes Edwards, James Stratakis

Directors: Alexa Kinigopoulos, Stephen Kinigopoulos

Producer: Jennifer Ansell

Director: Peter Zavadil

Producers: Jil Hardin, Blake Lively, Kathy Palmer, Austin Swift

Director: Blake Lively

Producers: Christen Pinkston, Wesley Stebbins-Perry

Director: Shaun Silva

Producer: Ryan Byrd

Director: Alexa Campbell

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR*(Off Camera Award)

  • Jesse Frasure

  • Nicolle Galyon

  • Ashley Gorley

  • Michael Hardy

  • Josh Osborne

MUSIC EVENT OF THE YEAR [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]

Producer: Paul DiGiovanni

Record Company-Label: MCA Nashville

Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young

Record Company-Label: RCA Records Nashville

Producers: Ross Copperman, Jimmy Robbins, Kelsea Ballerini

Record Company-Label: Black River Entertainment

Producer: Michael Knox

Record Company-Label: Broken Bow Records; Macon Music, LLC; BBR Music Group, BMG

Producers: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

Record Company-Label: Big Machine Label Group, Warner Music Nashville

The 2021 Industry Awards and Studio Recording Awards will be presented to recipients at Academy of Country Music Honors™, a special event held annually in August at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. More details to be announced in coming months.

STUDIO RECORDING AWARDS

BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • T. Cure

  • Mark Hill

  • Viktor Krauss

  • Jimmie Lee Sloas

  • Glenn Worf

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR

  • Chad Cromwell

  • Fred Eltringham

  • Evan Hutchings

  • Derek Mixon

  • Jerry Roe

  • Nir Z

ACOUSTIC GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Dave Cobb

  • Todd Lombardo

  • Bryan Sutton

  • Ilya Toshinskiy

  • Charlie Worsham

PIANO/KEYBOARDS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • David Dorn

  • Charlie Judge

  • Billy Justineau

  • Gordon Mote

  • Benmont Tench

SPECIALTY INSTRUMENT PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Stuart Duncan

  • Paul Franklin

  • Josh Matheny

  • Mickey Raphael

  • Kristin Wilkinson

ELECTRIC GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tom Bukovac

  • Dan Dugmore

  • Jedd Hughes

  • Rob McNelley

  • Derek Wells

AUDIO ENGINEER OF THE YEAR

  • Brandon Bell

  • Jim Cooley

  • Gena Johnson

  • Jason Hall

  • Vance Powell

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR

  • Buddy Cannon

  • Dave Cobb

  • Ian Fitchuk

  • Dann Huff

  • Joey Moi

INDUSTRY AWARDS

CASINO OF THE YEAR – THEATER

  • Agua Caliente – Rancho Mirage, CA

  • Choctaw Casino – Durant, OK

  • Deadwood Mountain Grand – Deadwood, SD

  • Resorts World – Las Vegas, NV

  • Soaring Eagle Casino – Mt. Pleasant, MI

CASINO OF THE YEAR – ARENA

  • Hard Rock (Live at Etess Arena) – Atlantic City, NJ

  • Laughlin Event Center – Laughlin, NV

  • Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, CT

  • Mystic Lake Casino – Prior Lake, MN

FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR

  • Carolina Country Music Fest – Myrtle Beach, SC

  • Country Thunder – Florence, AZ

  • Faster Horses Festival – Brooklyn, MI

  • Tortuga Music Festival – Ft. Lauderdale, FL

  • Windy City Smokeout Festival – Chicago, IL

FAIR/RODEO OF THE YEAR

  • Auburn Rodeo – Auburn, AL

  • California Mid-State Fair – Paso Robles, CA

  • Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY

  • Minnesota State Fair – St. Paul, MN

  • San Antonio Rodeo – San Antonio, TX

CLUB OF THE YEAR

  • Basement East – Nashville, TN

  • Billy Bob’s – Ft. Worth, TX

  • Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK

  • Coca-Cola Roxy – Atlanta, GA

  • Georgia Theatre – Athens, GA

THEATER OF THE YEAR

  • American Music Theatre – Lancaster, PA

  • Andrew J Brady ICON Music Center – Cincinnati, OH

  • Blue Gate Performing Arts Center – Shipshewana, IN

  • Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL

  • Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN

OUTDOOR VENUE OF THE YEAR

  • Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion – Gilford, NH

  • Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO

  • Saint Augustine Amphitheatre – St. Augustine, FL

  • The Wharf Amphitheater – Orange Beach, AL

  • Whitewater Amphitheater – New Braunfels, TX

ARENA OF THE YEAR

  • BOK Center – Tulsa, OK

  • Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN

  • Dickies Arena – Ft. Worth, TX

  • Ford Center – Evansville, IN

  • Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY

DON ROMEO TALENT BUYER OF THE YEAR

  • Brent Fedrizzi

  • Michelle Romeo

  • RJ Romeo

  • Shawn Radley

  • Todd Boltin

PROMOTER OF THE YEAR

  • Aaron Spalding

  • Adam Weiser

  • Bradley Jordan

  • Brian O’Connell

  • Ed Warm

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