When the statuettes are handed out at the 2015 Country Music Association Awards, more than a few deserving artists won’t have a shot to give an acceptance speech.
Snubs are an unavoidable part of any awards ceremony and listed below are some of the acts and tracks that were surprisingly left off of the final 2015 CMAs ballot.
Snubs: Entertainer of the year, male vocalist of the year, single of the year
Jason Aldean has been one of the most consistent hitmakers in country music for a decade — a pattern he continued during the 2015 CMA Awards eligibility period (June 1, 2014 - May 31, 2015). In the past year alone, Aldean has had six songs reach the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and he’s been on the road virtually nonstop since February.
So why has Aldean’s name been left off the list of nominees for CMA entertainer of the year and male vocalist of the year for the past two years running? Compared to 2015 male vocalist of the year nominee Chris Stapleton — whose had one track barely crack the Hot Country top 50 — Aldean would seem to be a no-brainer choice. It’s also surprising Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down” wasn’t nominated for single of the year.
Snub: Female vocalist of the year
This year saw the celebrated comeback of Reba McEntire, one of country music’s most beloved icons. Her 2015 single “Going Out Like That” was acclaimed by critics and spent 16 weeks on the Hot Country Songs chart.
McEntire’s latest album, “Love Somebody,” was released during the 2015 CMA Awards’ eligibility period and debuted atop Billboard’s country albums chart. It was a huge year for Reba but a look at this year’s CMA nominations don’t reflect that.
Snub: Music video of the year
Ever since he started co-hosting the CMA Awards in 2008, Brad Paisley’s record at the show has dipped. From 2000 to 2008, Paisley averaged about five CMA Awards nominations every year and collected nine total wins; from 2008 to 2015, he’s averaged about three nominations every year and has five total wins.
Despite releasing a No. 1 album and an acclaimed hit single during the 2015 CMAs eligibility period, Paisley wasn’t nominated for a single award. “Crushin’ It” could have easily been nominated for single or song of the year honors, but the song’s music video — which Paisley animated himself — likely should have been a shoo-in for a music video of the year nod.
Snub: Single of the year
Paisley’s CMA Awards co-host was also slightly neglected, in terms of nominations this year. Carrie Underwood is up for female vocalist of the year and her hit “Something in the Water” is nominated for music video of the year, but the song itself arguably should have been a nominee for single of the year.
The song was a crossover hit on three separate Billboard charts and won Underwood a Grammy Award for best country solo performance. It’s odd that a song as high profile as “Something in the Water” would be left out at the CMA Awards.
Snub: Album of the year
Blake Shelton is arguably the most identifiable singer in country music today, thanks to his ongoing gig on NBC’s top-rated series “The Voice.” In September 2014, he released “Bringing Back the Sunshine,” a record that proved to be a smash hit across genre lines, topping Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart.
However, Shelton’s album was given no love by CMA Awards voters. “Bringing Back the Sunshine” produced three No. 1 Billboard country singles and a fourth in the top 10 as of press time.
Snub: Single of the year
Tim McGraw has had great success at the CMA Awards during his long career. He’s picked up 11 wins at the show — but is not up for a single trophy this year. McGraw’s latest album “Sundown Heaven Town” was a top seller and was well received by critics. But his single “Shotgun Rider” — released in September 2014 — being left out of single of the year considerations was McGraw’s biggest snub.
Snub: Male vocalist of the year
In October 2015, it’s easy to forget how big of a hit Jake Owen’s “Beachin’” was last summer. The track reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and spent 26 weeks on the list. The follow-up single “What We Ain’t Got” cracked the top 20 in March 2015, capping off a big year for the 34-year-old singer.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.