It doesn’t matter if an awards show is transmitted on a traditional broadcast network or a new-fangled streaming platform, one thing remains constant: there will always be snubs and surprises.
And so it was at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards, which were presented on Thursday (May 11) at the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Tex. Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton co-hosted the show. Both are past entertainer of the year winners at this show, which likes to call itself “country music’s party of the year.” Parton took home that award in 1978. Brooks won a record six times between 1991 and 1999.
HARDY and Lainey Wilson were the top winners at the 2023 ACMs, with four awards each, followed by Cole Swindell with three awards and Ashley Gorley with two.
This marked the first time the show has come from Texas since its 50th anniversary celebration in 2015, when it was held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The ACMs made history in 2022 when it partnered with Prime Video and became the first major awards ceremony to exclusively livestream. The show again partnered with Prime Video on an exclusive livestream this year. The full rebroadcast will stream for free on Friday, May 12 on Freevee.
Here are snubs and surprises from the 2023 ACM Awards.
The ACM Awards are produced by Dick Clark Productions. DCP is owned by Penske Media Eldridge, a Penske Media Corporation (PMC) subsidiary and joint venture between PMC and Eldridge. PMC is the parent company of Billboard.
Snub: Luke Combs, Kane Brown, Miranda Lambert
All three of these stars received five nominations, which put them in a tie with Cole Swindell for third place on this year’s nominations leaderboard. (HARDY and Lainey Wilson were this year’s nomination leaders.) But while HARDY, Wilson and Swindell each won multiple awards, Combs, Brown and Lambert went home empty-handed. Lambert, the ACM’s all-time top winner, wasn’t at the show last year when she finally won entertainer of the year for the first time. She was present this year for her 0-5 shutout. That’s how life goes, sometimes.
Surprise: Chris Stapleton
Stapleton seemed genuinely shocked when he won entertainer of the year. This was his fifth nomination in the category. The award comes seven years after he won new male artist of the year. Stapleton is a three-time winner for male artist of the year, which means he qualifies for another award, what the ACM calls its “Triple Crown.”
Stapleton beat last year’s winner, Miranda Lambert; Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean, who have each won three times in the category; and three artists who were each looking for their first entertainer of the year wins – Kane Brown, Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen.
Surprise: Lainey Wilson
Wilson’s Bell Bottom Country took album of the year against some fierce competition. Miranda Lambert, nominated for Palomino, has won five times in the category, more than anyone else in ACM history. Luke Combs, nominated for Growin’ Up, won three years with his previous album, What You See Is What You Get. Wilson’s win is probably sweeter for being unexpected in the company of such heavy hitters.
Wilson also won female artist of the year for the first time, just one year after winning new female artist of the year. That’s the fastest climb from a win for new female artist of the year to a win for female artist of the year since Carrie Underwood also took one year to make that climb 16 years ago.
Semi-Surprise: Michael Hardy (HARDY)
HARDY co-wrote two of the five nominees for song of the year, so his win as artist-songwriter of the year was hardly a shock. But it’s definitely impressive that he beat three of the hottest stars in country music – Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs and Miranda Lambert – as well as Ernest Keith Smith (ERNEST).
Snub: Dolly Parton
Parton is a force of nature, one of the most beloved stars not just in country music, but in all of entertainment. So how was she snubbed? She hasn’t been nominated for female artist of the year since 1989 or entertainer of the year since 1990. George H.W. Bush was president at the time. That’s way too long. Yes, it’s good to make way for new artists, but let’s not forget the veterans, especially when they are still as active and vital as Parton.