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2014 CMA Awards Nominations – Surprises and Snubs

Keith Urban, Brantley Gilbert, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan
Ethan Miller (2) / Rick Diamond / Larry Busacca, Getty Images

The 2014 CMA Awards nominations will no doubt leave plenty of fanbases annoyed upset breathing fire. Many of the same names appear in each of the major categories — there wasn’t too much turnover in 2014 — despite signs that fans are turning toward newer artists like Brantley Gilbert and Florida Georgia Line. One of these artists’ labelmates might have the biggest beef with voters, however.

Tim McGraw was left off the Male Vocalist of the Year nominees list despite, well … despite being Tim McGraw. He’s released two Top 5 singles during the eligibility period, plus the somewhat polarizing ‘Lookin’ for That Girl.’ It’s a comeback year for McGraw, but he will have to wait until April or next November to reap rewards in this category (he did earn two nods in other categories). His new album ‘Sundown Heaven Town’ will be eligible in its entirety then.

Jason Aldean fans may be angry, but 2014 found this superstar between albums. Plus, he’s still somewhat recovering from a major PR disaster and that could be turning some voters off — they’re humans with emotions, after all. He didn’t receive a single nod this year, but that will change next year if ‘Old Boots, New Dirt’ is as good as promised.

Despite three nominations, Luke Bryan may have the most to complain about. ‘Drink a Beer’ and ‘Play It Again’ were huge hits, yet neither were mentioned, even though the ‘Crash My Party’ album earned Album of the Year talk. Keith Urban could have the same complaint, although those who bought both albums will agree ‘Fuse’ is more diverse and satisfying from top to bottom. ‘We Were Us’ did get a Music Event of the Year nomination, and Urban was nominated for Entertainer and Male Vocalist. That’s a very pleasant surprise, as typically once an artist is left off that list, he doesn’t return. See, Tim McGraw fans — there’s hope!

Gilbert has had one of the biggest album debuts of 2014. ‘Just Who I Am’ is pure poetry set to country rock. One feels like he’ll be hard pressed to capture attention of the voters, however, because he’s not on a television show and he’s a little rough around the edges. Those who’ve seen him live and actually listened to the entire album know, though — zero nominees is not a surprise for Gilbert, but it’s certainly disappointing. A few new names would recognize and legitimize a movement that’s no longer a fad. Florida Georgia Line’s time will surely come in 2015.

It shouldn’t be lost that Miranda Lambert‘s Entertainer of the Year nomination is her first in four years. That doesn’t seem possible, but Taylor Swift has held down the spot for women lately. It’s not a surprise. Ignoring her would have been a major snub, and the CMA took note.

Two other women on the 2014 CMA Awards nominees list are definite surprises. Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark had little or no success with country radio, but both are being recognized for their songwriting efforts. Kudos to the voters for thinking outside of the box when it comes to the female acts in country music!

Finally, congrats to well-seasoned stars like Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Vince Gill on their nominations. All three have as much of a chance of winning as the Swon Brothers this year, but it’s good to see them recognized.

The Best of Country Music 2014?

Next: See a Full List of 2014 CMA Awards Nominees

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