The 2018 CMA Awards Nominations: Surprises & Snubs

When the nominations for the 52nd annual CMA Awards dropped, there were a few that left us jumping for joy and others scratching our heads.

Written by Lauren Laffer
The 2018 CMA Awards Nominations: Surprises & Snubs
Jason Aldean, Photo credit: John Russell/CMA; Eric Church, Photo credit: Andrew Wendowski; Luke Combs, Photo by Andrew Wendowski

The nominations for the 52nd annual CMA Awards were announced early Tuesday morning, Aug. 28, by Luke Bryan, Sugarland and Dan + Shay on Good Morning America. The top nominees were expected, with Chris Stapleton leading the pack with five, including a nom for Entertainer of the Year.

While some of the big categories were announced with the typical suspects, there were a few snubs and surprises that caught our eyes. Here’s what we saw…

The Surprises

Luke Combs Hit Us Like A Hurricane: Before we begin, this is a great surprise. Combs earned nominations in both Male Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year, both well-deserved nominations. The singer burst onto the national country music scene after quietly building a strong following in his home state of North Carolina. Since hitting country radio, he’s earned three consecutive No.1 singles, more than a billion streams and has garnered both gold and platinum certifications. Not bad for a debut act!

Body Like A Back Road: This one had us scratching our heads a little bit. While the song was a massive hit for Sam Hunt (it reigned on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for 34 weeks), it also earned two nominations at the CMA Awards last year. There is a reasonable explanation though, as laid out by the CMA Awards nomination criteria.

Jason Aldean: Aldean’s back in it, baby! Fans were shocked when the Georgia native earned zero nominations for the past two years. Though the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year took home the top prize at the competing awards show, he couldn’t get his grip on CMA voters…until now. Aldean earned three nods, including Entertainer of the Year, Single of the Year (“Drowns the Whiskey”), Musical Event of the Year (“Drowns the Whiskey”).


Take Us Back to Church: It’s crazy to think that Eric Church earned no nominations for the 2018 CMA Awards, simply because we always expect him to be in the mix. But according to CMA nomination deadlines, Church missed the cut just by a few weeks. His “Holdin’ My Own Tour,” in which he was the only act, closed just before the eligibility period opened and his single, “Desperate Man,” was released just after it closed. Maybe next year?

Shelton, Swindell and Brooks: Like Church, these three men were surprisingly left off the ballot. Each have made their mark on country music throughout the past year, but it wasn’t enough to win voters over this time around. Don’t even get us started on Dustin Lynch, Scotty McCreery and Brett Eldredge being left out of the mix.

Rising stars: Obviously the major artists have worked so hard to get to where they are, but it’s time to shake things up a bit. What about all of the amazing new talent making headway in the industry? Where are the nominations for Carly Pearce? Or Kane Brown? Even Russell Dickerson and Ashley McBryde? Each of whom have made major waves in the country music landscape this year and deserved to see their names on the ballots.

No Females in Entertainer: The conversation about a lack of women in country music remains one of the most prevalent conversations in present time. While there weren’t many female acts touring the past year (which is a problem in itself), Miranda Lambert did headline two of her own tours and should have certainly been a contender. When will we see more women being offered the same professional opportunities as the likes of Bryan, Aldean and Chesney –especially when they’re working just as hard and are just as talented? The time should be now!

What do you think of this year’s nominees? Tweet us @soundslikenash and let us know!

The 52nd Annual CMA Awards will take place live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.