2017 ACM Awards: Surprises and Snubs

The ACM Awards are now in the history books, and as usual, there were some expected winners, as well as a few surprises. 

Written by Chuck Dauphin
2017 ACM Awards: Surprises and Snubs
Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban; Photos via Getty Images

The 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards are now in the history books, and as usual, there were some expected winners, as well as a few that had plenty of shock value for Country fans.

Among the biggest surprises was Thomas Rhett’s win in the Male Vocalist of the Year category. Though nobody is doubting Rhett’s success or his ability, this was the first major award that Chris Stapleton has been nominated for the past few award show cycles that his name wasn’t called as winner. Granted, his album Traveller is almost two years old and he’s about to release new music, but Stapleton has been very much a media darling since his CMA triumph in November 2015. Rhett’s victory can be summed up by the undeniable appeal of his material, led by the success of his ACM Song of the Year, “Die A Happy Man.” One of the evening’s highlights was his performance with Maren Morris on their new collaboration, “Craving You.” It’s going to be very interesting to see just how high Rhett’s star continues to climb in the future!

Another shock was Florida Georgia Line seeing their Vocal Duo win streak be ended by Brothers Osborne. That’s not a reflection on either act, but FGL was one of the most-nominated artists this year, and before the night had ever started, the two had won a pair of trophies: Single of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year. Granted, the ACM and the CMA voters sometimes play copy cat with one another, but I personally felt that Brothers Osborne was still maybe a year away in this field.

One name that I have to say that I was surprised by in his omission during the evening was Keith Urban. His Ripcord album was one of the most musically-adventurous that he has ever recorded, and “Blue Ain’t Your Color” deservedly became one of his biggest hit records ever. The competition was very tough for both Single and Album, but I would loved to have seen Urban walk away with some metal for the trophy case.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: What about Carrie Underwood? While the newest member of the Capitol Records Nashville roster has won a pair of Entertainer of the Year awards from the ACM in the past, her not receiving a single Entertainer prize from either the ACM or the CMA is an omission that should not have taken place. That’s not a swipe at any of the nominees, including Jason Aldean – who won his second straight prize here. But, if you went out and caught Underwood’s Storyteller Tour, you would have seen an artist who raised her game to the highest level yet – and deserved to be rewarded for it. I am sure that Carrie will raise the stakes to new heights as she prepares her first project for Mike Dungan & Co, but you have to wonder -What does she have to do to be recognized in this category?

As far as performances during the evening went, it seemed that there was strength in numbers. Whether it was Keith & Carrie, Thomas and Maren, Reba & Lauren Daigle, or Florida Georgia Line’s feel-good triumph with The Backstreet Boys, there was something for fans of all styles. And, oh yeah…..there was that Faith Hill and Tim McGraw couple. They were pretty bad-ass, weren’t they?