Country singer Eric Church had the most nominations, with seven, for the… (Ed Rode / Associated Press )
As the 48th Academy of Country Music Awards show got underway Sunday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the placement of the word “awards” appeared to be no accident, as it was nearly 50 minutes into the show before the first trophy was handed out to Thompson Square as top vocal duo.
The matter of awards had to wait until after three commercial breaks and seven live music segments from a raft of the evening’s featured performers -- including co-hosts Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan as well as Sheryl Crow, George Strait, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, the Pistol Annies, Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum and Dierks Bentley -- underscoring the importance of the live performance aspect of awards shows.
The other trend at this year’s ACM ceremony had to do with relatively new faces. In the top category of entertainer of the year -- Jason Aldean, Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Shelton and Taylor Swift -- all the nominated artists scored their first hits within the last decade. No artists with careers more than a decade running appeared among album of the year nominees.
PHOTO: Academy of Country Music Awards 2013 | Arrivals
In fact, among the entertainer, album, male and female vocalist, Toby Keith is is the only artist with a career of long-standing to get a nomination (male vocalist), while Martina McBride holds that distinction within the female vocalist roster, underscoring the generational shift that characterized this year’s ceremony.
Eric Church led this year’s nominations with seven, including album, single and song of the year, partly a reflection of the ACM’s process that gives separate nominations in some categories to artists who also write songs. That meant that Church, Lambert and Hayes each doubled up in the song of the year category because they wrote or co-wrote their nominated songs.
Swift and Lambert followed Church with five nominations apiece.
It’s the first round of awards for which Swift’s latest album, “Red,” fell within the eligibility period -- Dec. 1, 2011, to Nov. 28, 2012 -- and it was nominated for album of the year alongside Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away,” Church’s “Chief,” Luke Bryan’s “tailgates & tanlines” and Little Big Town’s “Tornado.” Swift, last year’s entertainer of the year winner, is up again in that category for the fourth consecutive year. A win would give her the category for the third year in a row.
PHOTOS: Academy of Country Music Awards 2013 | Show highlights
Much attention has been focused on the four nominations handed out to Texas newcomer Kacey Musgraves, who, like Lambert before her, came to light as a contestant on the country music reality competition "Nashville Star" during its 2007 season, when she finished seventh.
Musgraves’ latest album, “Same Trailer, Different Park,” has been both a critical and commercial hit, with the title track a hit on country radio.
Show producers opened with an assault of contemporary country’s biggest names, starting with the country hunk pairing of “The Voice” coach Shelton and Georgia emerging star Bryan flanked by Crow, the Pistol Annies, the side project of Shelton’s wife, Lambert, and her cohorts Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley and singer-songwriter-guitarist Paisley.
The ACM was established in 1964 as a West Coast counterpart to the Nashville-based Country Music Assn., which holds its awards ceremony each fall.
Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe and Caitlin Rose take country by storm
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