Obviously, not every single country star can get a CMA Awards nomination every single year. At some point, they drop off the list for a variety of reasons. It could be that they took a well-deserved break from the road, that they didn’t release any new music, or that they legitimately just weren’t doing their thing at the same level as the folks who were nominated.
It’s hard to look at the entire list of this year’s CMA Awards nominations and not see one mention of Luke Bryan. (Who barely took a night off of his tour and had two massive top five hits in the CMA time frame.)
Or Jason Aldean. (Who also toured his ass off and released the kind of country I never want to put in my rearview mirror.)
Or Kane Brown. (Because he was on country radio stations across the country 24,7. You couldn’t unhear him if you tried.)
Or Chris Young. (Who released easily the best album of his career, Raised on Country.)
Or Kenny Chesney. (Because he took his tour to smaller venues in smaller towns, just to keep things interesting.)
Or Eli Young Band. (Because the band scored their first No. 1 hit in about five years with “Love Ain’t.”)
Or Tim McGraw. (Who released two big hits from his upcoming 15th studio album.)
Or Brad Paisley. (Who graciously stepped aside to let Carrie Underwood host the show without him, and because he brought his good timin’ country music to his fans all over the country.)
Or Lee Brice. (Because there’s a rumor goin’ ’round that he had a No. 1 song with “Rumor.”)
Or Jake Owen. (Because he brought us all “Down to the Honky-Tonk” and then brought that same exact energy to all his shows throughout the year.)
Or Jimmie Allen. (Who gave us his “Best Shot,” and the debut took him to the top of the charts.)
Or Brett Young. (Because he taught us what it would feel like if we could all just stay “Here Tonight.”)
Or George Strait. (Because, George Strait.)
I repeat, George Strait. The man has released an outstanding album Honky Tonk Time Machine, he is still out on the road performing, and he has been the CMA’s entertainer of the year a few times. So why is an artist of that caliber not in at least one category?
The Country Music Association’s Board of Directors maintains that the eligibility for this year’s awards is based on the 12 months from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. The very same 12 months that the artists who didn’t make the cut were touring like crazy and releasing songs that climbed all the right charts. They are all very much alive and are by no means retired or pivoting to another career.
It’s one of those years that makes you just shake your head, and then wonder what next year’s list might look like.