The fiftieth annual Academy of Country Music Awards air tonight, and Country Universe has you covered! Here’s a rundown of all of the major categories, along with some commentary from our writers about who should win, who will, and what the nominations as a whole say about the current state of country music.
Share your thoughts about this year’s show in the comments, and check back for a list of winners when it’s all said and done.
Update: Join the CU crew on Twitter (@CountryUniverse) during the show to share your thoughts as things unfold!
Entertainer of the Year
Garth Brooks – Jonathan
Luke Bryan – Sam
Miranda Lambert – Ben, Kevin
Florida Georgia Line
Miranda Lambert – Jonathan, Ben, Sam, Kevin
BF: I think Lambert is due, but I could get on board with a win for Brooks, whose comeback tour certainly warrants recognition. Those are about the only two possible victories I could swallow.
SG: This is fan-voted, so it really comes down to who can most mobilize their fan base. I give Miranda the nod, simply because she and her husband can both rally the troops. As to who deserves it, it’s hard to deny the impact that Luke Bryan has had on country music, love him or loathe him. He also seems like a fair entertainer, whether it’s shimmying around the stage or falling off them.
Written by Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne
“Take Your Time” is interesting for its combination of rapidly delivered spoken word and warmly sung melody, and for its tentative attempts to acknowledge a woman’s own agency.
The structure borrows heavily from contemporary urban music, and will sound familiar to anyone who has listened to a fair amount of Drake. But Hunt keeps the proceedings grounded enough in country that it doesn’t sound nearly as reductive as it could’ve been.
One hallmark of a great singer is the ability to suspend the listener’s disbelief.
The storyline of “Cop Car” is very far-fetched, one of those Nashville compositions that takes fantastical lengths to try and tell the story of a young couple falling in love. In this case, they’re doing so right after being arrested for trespassing, while in handcuffs in the back seat of a police car.
Keith Urban’s heartfelt delivery and careful choice of what lines to emphasize keep the proceedings grounded. He’s so effective at capturing the feeling of falling in love that the specifics of the event surrounding the moment are appropriately secondary to the emotions at play.
I don’t believe the story, but I believe him.
Written by Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, and Matt Jenkins