Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert Lead CMT Music Awards Nominations With Four Each

Women dominate the competition for the top prize. Morgan Wallen was nixed from eligibility, as he was at the recent ACM Awards.

cmt awards country nashville
Verizon / CBS

Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert lead the field of contenders for the 2021 CMT Music Awards with four nods each, in nominations announced by the network Thursday for its June 9 show.

Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini, who were revealed Wednesday as co-hosts for the telecast, can count on some suspense about how they’ll fare as nominees as well as how they’ll perform helming the show, as each came up with three nominations. Also picking up three nods: Little Big Town and Mickey Guyton, the latter a very high-profile figure these days but actually a first-time CMT Awards nominee.

MIA: the biggest country star of the moment, Morgan Wallen, who continues to be put on pause by virtually all country broadcast media in the wake of the N-word scandal in February. Given enduringly huge streams for his current album even with the time-out, Wallen would be considered a leading contender for fan-voted awards if  nominated. But CMT went the same route as last month’s Academy of Country Music Awards in nixing him from the start. “After removing Morgan Wallen from our platforms earlier this year, his videos were deemed ineligible for the 2021 CMT Music Awards,” the network told Variety in a statement.

As might be expected with a network that’s made a point for years of promoting female artists through its Next Women of Country initiative, women fared particularly well in this year’s nominations — not quite in inverse proportion to their fortunes at country radio, but close enough.

Of the 14 initial videos nominated for the video of the year prize, nine are either by female solo artists or include a woman as part of a duet. (That category won’t always be so crowded, as the CMTs allow early fan voting to whittle those 14 down to a manageable five, then three, that are announced going into the ceremony.)

Adding to Morris’ and Lambert’s good fortunes this year is that they’re each nominated twice for video of the year — once as a solo artist and once for a duet. In Lambert’s case, she’s nominated for “Settling Down” on her own and “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” in collaboration with Elle King. (The two of them performed the latter song to open the Academy of Country Music Awards last month.) For Morris, “Better Than We Found It” is her solo shot, and she’s also up with her husband Ryan Hurd for the duet “Chasing After You.” (Their smoldering pairing was also a highlight of the recent ACMs.)

Lambert’s and Morris’ competition in the top category, before fans start shaving it down, include Brown, Ballerini, Guyton, Kenny Chesney, Sam Hunt, Ingrid Andress, Willie Jones and one more duet, the pairing of Keith Urban with Pink (“One Too Many”).

Morris and Lambert not only have the same number of nominations, four, but are equally matched in the same three categories. Besides their double nods for video of the year, each is also up for female video of the year and collaborative video of the year.

CMT points out a high number of artists receiving their first nominations this year — 13 in all — including Guyton, Hurd, Dylan Scott, Hailey Whitters, Hardy, Lainey Wilson, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff, Niko Moon, Noah Cyrus, Parmalee, WIllie Jones and Tyler Hubbard (not counting nods he’s gotten in his day job as a member of Florida Georgia Line).

The show airs live June 9 on CMT and five sister networks, MTV, MTV2, Logo, TV Land and Paramount Network. The live event is usually timed to take place in Nashville on the eve of the CMA Festival, and the show returns to that approximate date this year after being delayed by a few months in 2020, even though the CMA Fest connection is a moot point for 2021 as the festival was canceled months ago.

It hasn’t yet been announced whether the CMT Music Awards will return to their longtime home at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena or settle for a more intimate locale.

The generally high quality of CMT’s nominees is a reflection of initial nominations being selected in-house. From there, everything is fan-voted online, beginning this morning at vote.cmt.com.

In the best video of the year category, the initial crop of 14 nominees will be narrowed down by fans to five, to be announced June 1. A further round of fan winnowing wil see the contenders reduced to three, with that announcement coming June 8. CMT says final voting for the top prize “will be determined via social media” in the day and a half between that and showtime June 9.

The complete list of nominees for the 2021 CMT Music Awards:


Carrie Underwood with John Legend – “Hallelujah”
Dierks Bentley – “Gone”
Elle King and Miranda Lambert – “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Ingrid Andress – “Lady Like”
Kane Brown – “Worldwide Beautiful”
Keith Urban with Pink – “One Too Many”
Kelsea Ballerini – “Hole in the Bottle”
Kenny Chesney – “Knowing You”
Maren Morris – “Better Than We Found It”
Mickey Guyton – “Heaven Down Here”
Miranda Lambert – “Settling Down”
Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris – “Chasing After You”
Sam Hunt – “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90’s”
Willie Jones – “American Dream”


Carly Pearce – “Next Girl”
Gabby Barrett – “The Good Ones”
Kelsea Ballerini – “Hole in the Bottle”
Maren Morris – “To Hell & Back”
Mickey Guyton – “Heaven Down Here”
Miranda Lambert – “Settling Down”


Chris Stapleton – “Starting Over”
Darius Rucker – “Beers and Sunshine”
Kane Brown – “Worship You”
Luke Bryan – “Down to One”
Luke Combs – “Lovin’ on You”
Thomas Rhett – “What’s Your Country Song”


Brothers Osborne – “All Night”
Lady A – “Like a Lady”
Little Big Town – “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”
Old Dominion – “Never Be Sorry”
Parmalee and Blanco Brown – “Just the Way”
Runaway June – “We Were Rich”


Dylan Scott – “Nobody”
Hailey Whitters feat. Little Big Town – “Fillin’ My Cup”
Hardy – “Give Heaven Some Hell”
Lainey Wilson – “Things a Man Oughta Know”
Mickey Guyton – “Black Like Me”
Niko Moon – “Good Time (Ride Along Video)”


Carrie Underwood with John Legend – “Hallelujah”
Chris Young and Kane Brown – “Famous Friends”
Elle King and Miranda Lambert – “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Keith Urban with Pink – “One Too Many”
Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris – “Chasing After You”
Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard – “Undivided”


From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Brooks & Dunn and Luke Combs “1, 2 Many”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Dan + Shay “I Should Probably Go to Bed”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Jimmie Allen and Noah Cyrus “This Is Us”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey “The Other Girl”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Little Big Town “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”
From CMT Crossroads – Nathaniel Rateliff and Margo Price “Twinkle Twinkle”