Keith Urban Speaks Up After Controversy Over ACM’s Entertainer Of The Year Award

Late Night With Seth Meyers / YouTube

Issues With The Entertainer Category

The ACM Awards are right around the corner, and fans are eager to see who will walk away with the night’s biggest prize…the Entertainer of the Year Award.

Each year, the Entertainer of the Year Award is given to an artist who proved to be an overall powerhouse in country music that year. While it seems that the “entertainer” part places emphasis on the quality, quantity, and profitability of an artists’ live performances, record sales, radio success, music video success, and pure vocal performance are also considered when the ACM members select a winner.

For the past three years, that winner has been Jason Aldean. This year, the “Rearview Town” singer was named as the ACM’s “Artist of the Decade” for 2010-2019 and has been nominated for Entertainer of the Year once more.

But as much as fans are looking forward to seeing who wins the Entertainer trophy this year, many are calling for change in the category. One of those people is the awards’ host Reba McEntire, who was disappointed with the category after announcing its nominees.

Two Huge Artists Speak Out

For the second year in the row, the Entertainer of the Year nominees are all male artists: Aldean, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, and Kenny Chesney. The last time a female was nominated was in 2017, when Carrie Underwood earned a nod in the category.

When asked what she thought about the lack of women in the category, McEntire made it clear she was not pleased:

It doesn’t make me very happy because we’ve got some very talented women out there who are out there working their butts off,“ she said.

Entertainer of the Year nominee Luke Bryan also spoke out about the category after hearing McEntire’s comments, agreeing that female artists need to be recognized more often for their accomplishments.

He also praised McEntire for speaking out about the issue, saying:

Somebody like Reba has to stand up and say to the Academy of Country Music and all forms of country music award shows. It does get a little bit tricky when it is a naturally male-heavy format. There’s so many women out there that should feel the right to speak up.”

What Keith Thinks Should Change

Now, yet another Entertainer of the Year nominee is speaking out about the category, and he also believes that there is some serious room for change.

That nominee is Keith Urban, who issued a press release calling for change in the ACM’s most prestigious category, specifically pointing out its name. As he explained, the “Entertainer” label makes it seem like it’s all about live performance, but the criteria indicates otherwise:

Well, I know the criteria isn’t purely about live performance,” Urban said, “but I’ve always felt that that’s what it is, otherwise I thought it probably should be called Artist of the Year.”

What Could This Alteration Mean?

If the category were to change its name to Artist of the Year, perhaps that would open the door to more female nominees. While other aspects of an artist’s career besides live performance are considered, live performances still seem to be the main source of focus. 

Someone like Underwood, for example, was not on tour over the past year, but was still a powerhouse in the industry because of her hit album Cry Pretty and her role as host of the CMA Awards.

Or someone like Kacey Musgraves may not have filled stadiums like artists such as Bryan and Urban, but she proved her power through her critically acclaimed, Grammy-winning album Golden Hour and many successful, smaller shows.

If the focus did switch to artistry, like Urban suggested, instead of purely entertaining, maybe the Entertainer of the Year category would finally experience the shakeup that many seem to be wanting.

Though if the ACM follows the CMA’s lead, Urban will be the one taking home the trophy on Sunday night (April 7). He is the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, and gave an emotional speech after making his way on the stage. You can relive that moment below.

What do y’all think of what Urban had to say about the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year category? Do you think a change in the name is called for? If so, what do you think it may mean for future nominees? We’d love to hear your thoughts!