An asterisk appears next to the two nominations Morgan Wallen has for this year’s American Music Awards. Scroll down far enough and you can find the meaning for that asterisk: It sounds like they’re all but posting his picture at the stage door.
“Morgan Wallen is a nominee this year based on charting,” reads a statement attributed to MRC Live & Alternative. “As his conduct does not align with our core values, we will not be including him on the show in any capacity (performing, presenting, accepting).”
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The statement goes on to suggest that they’re leaving the door half-open, but still aren’t satisfied with the statements the country superstar made since he was caught saying the N-word on video in March.
“We plan to evaluate his progress in doing meaningful work as an ally to the Black community and will consider his participation in future shows,” the statement says.
It also offers an explanation of why the AMAs, as an awards show with nominations based on data and not qualitative judgments, did not feel there was any way to leave Wallen out of his rightfully earned nominations.
“Unique among awards shows, American Music Awards (AMA) nominees are determined by performance on the Billboard Charts and are not chosen by a voting committee or membership organization,” the statement reads. “AMA nominees are based on key fan interactions with music (including streaming, album sales, song sales, radio airplay, social engagement), tracked by Billboard and its data partner MRC Data.”
But, it also notes, “The AMA winners are voted entirely by fans” — which leaves the door wide open for a pair of Wallen wins, since he the most popular album of the year so far in any genre, and its massive success has been unaffected by the shame heaped on him by large swaths of the music industry.
Almost needless to say, the two categories for which Wallen is up — favorite country album and favorite male country artist — are highly likely to be presented on-air.
The AMAs’ decision marks a seeming sweep of Wallen being barred from awards shows this year. He was ruled ineligible at the Academy of Country Music Awards in the spring and CMT Music Awards in the summer.
The Country Music Association issued a split decision and said he could contend in categories that would go both to him and his collaborators, but the org still said he would not be invited to next month’s CMAs. In any case, he’s up for album of the year there.
At the Billboard Music Awards in May, which are data-driven from start to finish, Wallen won three awards out of the six he was nominated for, after also being banned there.
The Grammys, meanwhile, have accepted all his submitted records for the first ballot. There’s been no indication from producers about whether he would be invited to the show if he makes the final run of nominees.
Country radio is not taking the same cues as awards shows, as, after a time-out, his current single “Sand in My Boots” has been added at most of the format’s stations nationally and has currently risen to No. 20 on the airplay chart. His album, which continued to be No. 1 for weeks after the scandal broke, currently sits at No 8 on the Billboard 200 after 41 weeks.
Wallen has been easing back into performing and public life since doing an interview on “Good Morning America” in July for which both he and anchor Michael Strahan were widely panned for insufficiently addressing his followup from the incident and racism in country music generally.
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