Country star Zach Bryan, who was not nominated for any CMA Awards and did not participate in Wednesday night’s telecast, has assured fans he is not crying in his beer about being left out. In fact, he has declared he doesn’t want to be put up by the Country Music Association’s membership for any nominations in the future, either.
“Guys, I don’t and will never want to be considered at the CMAs,” he told fans on Twitter.
“My pride is fine and I appreciate all the love and support,” he added, “and I say it with every ounce of respect to other country artists. Establishments will always be weird.”
It’s not clear whether Bryan’s camp submitted his material for CMA Awards consideration this year or sought a performance slot, or whether he preemptively opted out, although he seemed to strongly suggest that a snub was at play in his absence, and that he intended to return it going forward. Neither his reps nor the CMAs immediately responded to requests for comment.
Although saying his pride didn’t need the validation, Bryan did note that he believes he will be vindicated with the longevity he expects to enjoy. Bryan further tweeted, “In five years, all of these strange outdated systems will claim it was right in front of them the entire time. Truly more fun to laugh at than be butt-hurt over. If these shows and companies wanted to be honest they would have gotten into songwriting and not award-giving. … Any man or woman doing a task solely to be awarded for it shouldn’t be doing the task at all.”
Asked if he truly believed that the CMA winners and nominees are doing it “solely” in pursuit of awards, Bryan tried to establish that he was not knocking those who do benefit in the process.
“No I do not think this. I think there are so many talented artist(s) that deserve (to be) awarded and will be awarded, and some just don’t care enough about a silly tv program to need an award in the first place. … To be clear, I’m not trying to insult the validity of a CMA, I respect any artist who receives one and the existence of them; I’m just saying on a personal level it is not one of my priorities to have awards on a shelf in my home. There’s room for more important things there.”
Does that reference to wanting to keep shelf space clear also mean he would rule out participating in the Grammys process, too? Hardly.
In response to his tweet about needing to to save his shelf space for more important things than trophies, someone wrote back, “Like a Grammy” — perhaps sarcastically, since a Grammy is clearly also an award.
Bryan shot back: “If you compare a Grammy to a CMA I don’t even know what to tell you.”
Indeed, Variety previously reported that Bryan’s camp did submit his material in both country and Americana categories for the Grammy nominations that are due to be announced next week.
His song “Something in the Orange” was submitted for country solo performance and best country song, while “Heavy Eyes” was entered in best Americana performance. As for his album itself, “American Heartbreak” landed in the country album category. Among the handful of all-genre categories, he’s also considered one of the leading candidates to be up for best new artist when the nominees are revealed on Tuesday.
One fan tweeted to him, “Next year can we have a concert outside the CMAs” — perhaps alluding to the year 2017, when Sturgill Simpson busked outside the Bridgestone Arena, making a statement as the awards show went on inside.
Bryan responded enthusiastically: “If I don’t have a show, you have my word on this.”
The singer-songwriter has had one of the biggest breakout country albums of the year, but has kept his distance from the Nashville mainstream and otherwise going his own way — making little effort to have his songs added to radio stations, doing almost no interviews, and being handled out of Warner Records’ coastal offices, not Warner Nashville.
Although his music falls somewhere between mainstream country and Americana, he hasn’t done much to overtly court the theoretically hipper Americana audience, either.
At the moment, Bryan has the No. 2 country album, per Billboard, but on the country airplay chart, his “Something in the Orange” currently sits at No. 39, its peak position so far in its 18-week run on the chart. On the Billboard 200, his “American Heartbreak” album currently sits at No. 11 after spending a number of weeks inside the top 10 and peaking at No. 5.
As for other shutouts at the CMAs, many of Morgan Wallen’s fans were unhappy that he did not win either entertainer of the year or best male vocalist, the two categories he was up for this year after being semi-exiled amid controversy this year.
Although many fans thought he was a shoo-in, given that he is, objectively speaking, the hottest artist in the genre right now, his being coronated with the top prize was by no means seen as a fait accompli among insiders. Even disregarding his controversies, the previous winner for entertainer of the year is always the most presumptive winner the following year, in a category that often has no turnover, which automatically made Luke Combs the frontrunner — although the argument that he eclipsed anything else happening in country in 2022, and almost anything happening in any genre shy of Bud Bunny, is not without weight.
Still, although Wallen’s camp had nothing to say about his not winning, his ex-fiancee, KT Smith, had plenty to say about it on her Instagram Story, perhaps speaking for many family members or associates. “CMA, do better,” Smith wrote in a caption to a photo of their child in front of a TV set running the broadcast. “You robbed the one with the most talent tonight. Truly sickening. … Without a shadow of a doubt, everyone knows Mo was the most talented in that room. But to rob someone of something they so rightly deserve is sickening. I’m glad you got your views this year CMA Awards — but it’s likely that a lot of us won’t be watching again after that.”