CMA voters consider whether to nominate ‘Old Town Road’

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Though Lil Nas X has broken chart records and become a streaming juggernaut with his breakout country rap hit “Old Town Road” with Billy Ray Cyrus, the song faces an uphill challenge to get a nomination for a CMA award.

Ballots have gone out for nominations for the Country Music Association Awards, but some voters are struggling to decide how to recognize the musical phenomenon of the year, which has become the longest running No. 1 song in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100.

Billboard decided “Old Town Road” wasn’t a country song and pulled it off country charts early on, but the song made enough of an impact anyway that it became eligible for a number of CMA categories this year, including single of the year and song of the year. CMA voters, which include musicians, producers, songwriters, touring professionals, country radio employees and others, vote in three ballots with the final nominations typically being announced in late August or early September. The award show will air Nov. 13.

But there are already signs that the song isn’t getting wide support. It failed to get enough votes in the major song categories. The song only earned enough votes to be considered in the musical event category on the second ballot, which went out to voters Monday.

Shane McAnally, one of country’s biggest hit-makers who has written for Sam Hunt, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney and more, said he’s been impressed with the way the song has resonated with fans, but it never felt country to him.

“I just think country people do not see that as a country song,” said McAnally, who is co-president of Monument Records and one of three producers on NBC’s song competition series, “Songland.” ‘’Pop listeners think it’s a country song.”