Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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Brian Dugger


FGL a lock, others in flux at ACM awards


Brian Dugger

The Blade
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Earlier this week, Florida Georgia Line’s’ Cruise was blasting through the speakers at a Toledo-area restaurant.

That in and of itself isn’t unusual. The song was No. 1 for more than 24 weeks and is the most downloaded country single of all time. But what was unusual was that it was being played in a venue known for its jazz and blues. Within the next half hour, the DJ played two of the duo’s other hits, Round Here and Stay.

It’s been that kind of year for Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley. Everyone wants to play FGL.

So it will be no surprise at all if the longtime friends become the breakout stars of the Academy of Country Music’s awards show April 6, which airs from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand on CBS beginning at 8 p.m.

FGL is nominated in four categories, including in the prestigious Vocal Duo and Album categories.

Hubbard and Kelley are locks in the Vocal Duo category. But let’s take a look at some of the other categories that will be tougher to predict:

Album: The show’s co-hosts, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, are each nominated. Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves, who has five ACM nominations on the night, is also a strong contender with her critically acclaimed album Same Trailer Different Park. And don’t forget Tim McGraw, who had a comeback year as evidenced by his seven nominations. His album Two Lanes of Freedom figures to get a serious look.

This category will come down to Blake Shelton’s Based on a True Story and FGL’s Here’s to the Good Times. If common sense prevails, this will be another lock for Hubbard and Kelley. Their debut album has produced five straight No. 1s. Shelton has three off of his current project. However, human biases always come into play during voting, and the Academy is based in Los Angeles. Shelton has become a Hollywood darling as a coach on the megahit The Voice. This figures to go Shelton’s way.

Female Vocalist: Musgraves is matched up against Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. Lambert always seems to win this category, whether it’s at the ACMs or November’s Country Music Association’s awards. But Musgraves pulled in a Grammy for best album in January, and I have a feeling she’s going to add an ACM award to her trophy case.

Entertainer: Shelton, Bryan, Lambert, Swift, and George Strait square off for the night’s biggest trophy. There’s no debating that Strait is a legend, but he also hasn’t had a No. 1 hit since River of Love in 2009. But then again, he’s in the middle of his farewell tour, and it’s selling out arenas across the country. And he did win Entertainer at the last CMA awards show. But did I mention that they love Shelton out in Los Angeles? Even though the Academy voters mostly consist of artists and label executives who make their living in Nashville, I have to believe that there’s still a little favoritism toward Shelton, who is going to be the night’s big winner.

Brian Dugger’s column on country music appears in The Blade the last Saturday of every month.

Contact Brian Dugger at: or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.

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