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Chris Stapleton, Dan + Shay, Kacey Musgraves Top ACM Awards Nominations

Chris Stapleton and Dan +Shay emerged as the top nominees as the contenders for the 2019 Academy of Country Music Awards were announced Wednesday, with six nods each. Kacey Musgraves followed closely behind with five, and Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha all claimed four nominations apiece.

The ACMs telecast takes place on CBS April 7, broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Reba McEntire, a frequent co-host of the show, will take over as solo host for the first time this year. The singer took to “CBS This Morning” Wednesday to unveil several of the top categories.

Despite Musgraves having picked up nominations in key categories like album of the year and song of the year, the award for entertainer of the year continues to be culled from an all-male field, as has been common for both the ACMs and the rival CMA Awards most years. The contenders for that top prize in 2019 are Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. Four of those five artists were only nominated in one other category apiece (Stapleton being the exception).

For album of the year, Musgraves’ multiply Grammy winning “Golden Hour” faces a field that includes Dan + Shay’s self-titled album, Eric Church’s “Desperate Man,” Stapleton’s “From A Room: Volume 2” and Bentley’s “The Mountain.”

One of the biggest crossover songs of the year, Florida Georgia Line and Rexha’s “Meant to Be,” is up for both single and song of the year, as is Dan + Shay’s “Tequila.” Other entries for single of the year include Kane Brown’s “Heaven,” Jake Owen’s “Down to the Honky Tonk” and Bryan’s “Most People are Good.” Song of the year has Musgrave’s “Space Cowboy,” Cole Swindell’s “Break Up in the End,” Stapleton’s “Broken Halos” and Russell Dickerson’s “Yours” completing the field.

The ACMs are unlike most awards shows in that they sometimes offer multiple nominations or awards to a single person on a single project, if that individual fulfilled more than one eligible duty — say, as both artist and producer, or both artist and songwriter. Confusingly, perhaps, that’s one reason Musgraves has five nominations even though she’s only up in three categories (because she’s a co-producer on her nominated album and co-writer on a nominated song), or why Dan Smyers of Dan + Shay has a whopping 10 nominations as an individual (because he co-wrote and co-produced all of the duo’s work as well as participating as artist).

If you break it down to the artist who’s nominated in the most categories, then, Dan + Shay is clearly ahead of the pack, with nominations in six categories (duo, album, single, song, video and music event), followed by Stapleton in four (entertainer, male artist, album and song).

Critically hailed newcomer Ashley McBryde is the surprise entrant in the female artist of the year category, where she’s up against Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and Carrie Underwood. The nominees for male artist of the year are Bentley, Stapleton, Urban, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett.

Duo and group of the year are separate categories at the ACMs. In the former division, Dan + Shay is up against Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line, LOCASH and Maddie & Tae. The group category pits Little Big Town against Lady Antebellum, LANCO, Midland and Old Dominion.

The ACMs are also unique in having three separate divisions for best new male artist, female artist and group. For female newcomer, McBryde is up against Danielle Bradbury, Lindsay Ell and Carly Pearce. Best new male artist is between Combs, Jimmie Allen, Jordan Davis, Michael Ray and Mitchell Tenpenny (with the six nominees there indicating a tie). Best new duo or group has only three entries, with High Valley, LANCO and Runaway June.

Among the surprise shut-outs or near shut-outs, Kelsea Ballerini failed to land any nominations. Kane Brown, who is among the top breakouts of the last two years, if not the biggest, got only one, for “Heaven,” the most-played country song of 2018. Rhett, Church and Underwood, three established stars in the genre who had major singles or albums this year, also landed just one apiece.

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