Host Dolly Parton, classic country royalty, is about the only traditional thing about Monday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards, a show that’s looking for fresh flow in almost every way.
Parton will be joined by co-hosts Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett – all three will also perform – in a ceremony that switches from network TV to streaming only, with no TV commercials on Amazon Prime Video, and moves from a theater set to the Allegiant outdoor stadium in Las Vegas.
The year’s top nominee is Chris Young, whose seven nominations, including album of the year and single of the year, come in part because he earned dual nominations as an artist and producer.
“I’ve never been the most nominated in anything before,” said Young, who will also be part of two performances, including his hit “Raised on Country.” “So that’s big. And you know, I’d love to win one. I’d love to win them all.
The return of Morgan Wallen, if he attends and wins major awards, could be one of the central moments of the evening. Wallen is back as a four-time candidate after being dropped from last year’s ACM ballot after being filmed using a racial slur. It has been absent from other awards shows since, although it has slowly returned to the spotlight.
His nominations include album of the year for “Dangerous: The Double Album,” which was the most popular album across all genres last year. He also earned nominations for Male Artist of the Year and Song of the Year.
But the Vegas-based ACM Awards have always been more about presentation than trophies, and this year’s Amazon Experience, a fast-track, concert-like format without commercials, will make that truer than ever.
Attracted by the ACM’s reputation for having a fun, inviting and inclusive atmosphere, the streaming giant sought to go beyond the live sporting events it had previously broadcast to connect this with a large audience of fans. country people who listen to Amazon Music.
The show will have a sporty look, with three stages, aerial spider cameras, non-stop action and lots of graphics.
Prizes will be awarded by segments, rather than split between songs, with a 35-minute non-stop block of performances. A post-show edit of the performances only will also be offered.
Co-hosts Barrett and Allen will open the show with a two-song set. Host Parton will perform a song from his upcoming album with fellow Tennessean Kelsea Ballerini.
Honoring ACM Artist of the Year Luke Bryan also has double performances, including his hit “Buy Dirt” with Jordan Davis and a performance of his ballad “Up.” Other performers include Kane Brown, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Maren Morris, Walker Hayes, Thomas Rhett, Blanco Brown, Brooke Eden, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde and BRELAND.
Miranda Lambert has won five nominations, including Artist of the Year, and is now tied with Reba McEntire for her 16th Female Artist of the Year nomination. Walker Hayes, nominated for the first time, also received five nominations, due to Applebee’s viral theme song “Fancy Like”, topping single of the year.
Five-time nominee Chris Stapleton is nominated for Entertainer of the Year, alongside Lambert, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Carrie Underwood.
Along with Morgan, nominees for album of the year include Carly Pearce, Thomas Rhett, Young, Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall.
Two awards were announced in the days leading up to the show. Lainey Wilson was named New Female Artist of the Year and Parker McCollum New Male Artist of the Year. Both will also happen.