For anyone sick of the same-old-same-old each awards season, the nominations for the 2016 ACM Awards feel like a cleansing rain. New artists have replaced old in several key categories. Additionally, the structure of the show has changed. Some fanbases may have reason to complain, while others will feel their efforts have been justified. This list of snubs and surprises breaks it down.

2015 was a unique year in that several perennial nominees were between albums. Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban are five that were on the tail-end of promoting no-longer-eligible music. Or, they were on the frontend of promoting not-quite-eligible music. Carrie Underwood may have been snubbed for the latter reason, although it's tough to figure out why Storyteller wasn't nominated in its entirety.

For years, two country groups have made up 40 percent of the Vocal Group category, but both are out in 2016. Three new Male Vocalists replace three superstars we had come to depend on (No Luke Bryan?!) Lockdown categories like Vocal Duo (Florida Georgia Line always wins, don't they?) seem suddenly wide open as an infusion of new duos challenges at a time FGL find themselves asking radio to spin a fifth single from their Anything Goes album.

Suddenly, Eric Church is the favorite to have a big night on April 3. He's nominated in five categories and deserves each one. It's ironic, as Church spent so long on the outside looking in. Now he could be the one to win the night's big honor, Entertainer of the Year. That would be a surprise in the best possible way.

2016 ACM Nominees Announced

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