2018 ACM Nominees’ Big Hits, Misses and Questions

Diving Into the ACM's Official Voting Criteria and Guidelines

When Reba McEntire hosts the 53rd annual ACM Awards, it will be a night to remember.

And like so many other years, the 2018 nominees list still raises a few questions: Why are there only four nominees in some categories and five in others? How did music released outside of the window of eligibility (Nov. 24, 2016-Dec. 31, 2017) make the final cut?

The ACM Awards’ official guidelines and voting procedures are outlined in an 11-page document online, and they spell out exactly how the organization determines its nominees and winners, but there are still questions that need answering.

Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

There is not a name out of place in this category. All are architects of today’s mainstream country sound. But it’s disappointing not seeing Eric Church’s name on the list. He gave his all on his Holdin’ My Own Tour, playing three-hour shows night after night. And if we’re going to nominate a Country Music Hall of Famer, let’s not discount a country icon like Willie Nelson. He is an 11-time ACM award winner and a current nominee for vocal event of the year for “Funny How Time Slips Away” with Glen Campbell. But his career is something everyone strives to have, and he will never retire. In 2017, the 84-year-old artist released two marvelous albums, and his next Last Man Standing arrives April 27. He continues to tour extensively and last year, he launched the new Outlaw Music Festival tour that featured Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow, the Avett Brothers, Margo Price and his son’s band, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. Who does that? But then again, there is still a chance he will be recognized at the 2018 ACM Honors later this year.

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