Los Angeles: With eight total nominations, including one for top prize Entertainer of the Year, Miranda Lambert leads all nominees at this year's 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards. The nominations where announced Friday morning via Twitter, reported Rolling Stone magazine.
Dierks Bentley, whose album Riser was both a commercial and critical success, follows his former touring partner Lambert with seven nominations, including Album of the Year and Male Vocalist.
In a twist, a tie in the latter category necessitated six instead of the customary five ? nominees. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton join Bentley in the Male Vocalist race.
The Song of the Year category also resulted in a six-nominee field: Kenny Chesney's 'American Kids'; Lambert's 'Automatic'; Bryan's 'Drink a Beer'; Kacey Musgraves' 'Follow Your Arrow'; Church's 'Give Me Back My Hometown'; and Bentley's 'I Hold On.'
The ACM nominations are often distinguished by the inclusion of newer artists: Brandy Clark, with little radio airplay, is up for Female Vocalist of the Year, Brothers Osborne and Maddie & Tae compete in Vocal Duo of the Year, and the Cadillac Three appear in the Vocal Event of the Year category for their anthem 'The South.'
But it's the Entertainer of the Year category that best illustrates the ACMs' wild card reputation. Garth Brooks, who returned last year from a lengthy retirement, and Florida Georgia Line, who released just their second album in October, are both up for Entertainer, against perennial nominees Lambert, Bryan and Aldean.
The exclusion of Shelton, who co-hosts the ceremony with Bryan, is a shocker, as is the snub of Church, who has mounted one of the year's most in-demand tours. Both the Entertainer category and the New Artist category winners are determined by fan voting.
The final three New Artist nominees will be announced later, with voting to determine the victor beginning a few days before the show. The Academy of Country Music Awards will take place on April 19 at AT&T Stadium in Texas.