Country Perspective’s 2016 Male Artist of the Year Nominees

Throughout 2016 we saw many talented male country and Americana artists put out great music. Determining who will win Country Perspective’s 2016 Male Artist of the Year award will be no easy feat. The main guidelines for determining who should win are the following: the quality of music (album/singles) they’ve released in 2016, the impact they have made on the genre over the course of the year and the amount of growth they made as an individual artist.

I will ultimately determine which artist will win, but I also want to hear from you the readers who is deserving of the award. Your comments will be considered for determining who wins and you could possibly sway who should be the winner. So be sure to sound off in the comments! Without further ado the nominees for Country Perspective’s 2016 Male Artist of Year (in alphabetical order):

BJ Barham

BJ Barham Rockingham

The lead singer of American Aquarium delivered gold as he stepped out from the band and released his first solo album. Rockingham is one of the best albums of the year, earning a nomination for Country Perspective’s 2016 Album of the Year Award. It’s an album I certainly feel deserves more recognition than it has received. Barham really proved with this album the type of artist he is, delivering the best material of his whole career and proving that country and Americana fans need to pay attention. He’s one of the best songwriters in country/Americana today and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Chris King

Chris King Animal

In 2014 the Texas-based Americana artist delivered a pretty good debut album in 1983. But this year he delivered a great album, the sophomore release Animal. You could hear in the music that Chris King took many steps forward in both songwriting and production of his music. It felt more like him, a breakthrough of his creativity and vision. Animal was a clear, stark contrast to 1983 and took a risk going in a new sonic direction, but it paid off in spades. King probably showed the most growth I’ve seen out of all the artists I’ve reviewed on the blog. What’s even more promising is this is only his sophomore release and the music from King could get even better.

Eric Church

Eric Church Mr. Misunderstood

Eric Church makes his return to the nomination list for a second straight year. He surprised everyone last year by releasing the stellar Mr. Misunderstood, an album that still holds up quite well after a year. I said in my nomination write-up last year that Church should be a leader in 2016 alongside Country Perspective’s eventual 2015 Male Artist of the Year winner Chris Stapleton. And this proved to be right. I just didn’t expect Church to overwhelmingly exceed my expectations. Church released this year two of the best singles you’ll hear on country radio, with the #1 hit “Record Year” and current single “Kill A Word.” The former was one of the biggest hits in country music this year and just as I predicted in my original review, I think will go on to be a career song for Church. The latter is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year and features one of the best artists in Americana today, Rhiannon Giddens. Church has also taken on a leadership role in the genre, becoming a real advocate for quality music and putting the music in the hands of the fans.

Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson A Sailor's Guide To Earth

Country Perspective’s 2014 Male Artist of the Year winner returns to try to win a second time. His third album and first on major label Atlantic Records, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth has gotten near unanimous praise from critics and fans. This was not an easy feat after delivering the classic Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which set the standards for Sturgill quite high moving forward. In typical Simpson fashion he gave us an album nobody expected and still blew many away. It’s up for our 2016 Album of the Year award and went #1 on the country, folk, Americana and rock album charts. Simpson like Eric Church just mentioned above, also became an outspoken leader in the genre. The normally quiet Simpson spoke out against the industries treatment of older artists such as the late Merle Haggard and called out the politics of the genre. He’s also vowed to become the biggest artist in the genre, as a giant screw you to the industry and labels who told him he couldn’t succeed without them. So this probably won’t be the last time you see Simpson’s name here.

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw Humble and Kind

This is probably the biggest surprise to you the readers, but Tim McGraw absolutely deserves to be nominated. Like Church he did not release a new album this year, but last year. Damn Country Music was a really good album and while it wasn’t amongst the year’s best in 2015, it was certainly full of good music. This year McGraw has released two great songs as singles to country radio, “Humble and Kind” and “How I’ll Always Be.” The former was one of the biggest hits in country music this year and went #1 on country radio and the hot country songs chart. Also like Church’s “Kill A Word,” “Humble and Kind” was the type of song that the world needed in 2016. It’s message is an important one that we could all use. Not to mention this song also helped give more exposure to the talented Lori McKenna, who wrote it herself. It’s the first song to be written solo by a woman writer to reach #1 on the country charts in years. While the new traditionalists of mainstream country are exciting, you can’t forget that McGraw has consistently put out some of the best music on radio in the last few years and one of the few you can count on to do so. 2016 has really put an exclamation point on this.

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8 thoughts on “Country Perspective’s 2016 Male Artist of the Year Nominees

  1. My vote is a three-way tie between Sturgill, Eric, and Tim. While I wasn’t extremely crazy over Sturgill’s “Sailor’s Guide”, it was still a good album, and I applaud Sturgill’s courage to defend traditional country and the industry’s treatment of older artists. That took guts, and I’m glad Sturgill had the guts to speak the truth. As for Eric Church, he has continued his streak of terrific singles. “Kill a Word” is a great song, and I applaud him for giving incredible artists like Rhiannon Giddens a chance to shine. “Record Year” is also fantastic, and would definitely be included in my top ten best singles of the year. And finally, Tim McGraw has had an incredible year. Tim has stepped up and shown leadership in the genre while many others have failed to. “Damn Country Music” was a very good album, and “Humble and Kind” and “How I’ll Always Be” are fantastic choices for singles (and along with Church’s “Record Year”, both will be included in my top ten best singles of 2016 list). I also applaud Tim for sharing the spotlight with Lori McKenna in regards to “Humble and Kind”.

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  2. Church or McGraw…Church or McGraw….Church or McGraw…

    My List With The Male Artists Of The Year Nominees:
    – Doug Bruce
    – Troy Cassar-Daley
    – Cody Johnson
    – Jesse Raub Jr.
    – Aaron Parker
    – Nestor Andress
    – Mo Pitney

    Church or McGraw…Church or McGraw…Church or McGraw…

    Billboard Country Update (11/28):
    #1 – FGL feat. Tim McGraw (Country Airplay)
    #1 – Miranda Lambert (Top Country Albums)

    Church!
    Eric Church for Male Artist 2016.

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  3. My personal list of male artist of the year nominees:

    -Sturgill Simpson- released a critically-acclaimed album and had the guts to call out the industry for their unfair treatment of veteran country artists.

    -Eric Church- had a great year and continued his streak of quality music from last year. “Kill a Word” and “Record Year” are fantastic songs. I also applaud Eric’s decision to shine a spotlight on great country/Americana artists like Rhiannon Giddens.

    -Tim McGraw- stepped up and showed leadership in the genre of country music, whereas so many artists have failed to do so. “Humble and Kind” and “How I’ll Always Be” are both terrific songs and single choices. Damn Country Music was also a very good album. Tim has been very consistent in the past few years in releasing quality singles and bringing great music to mainstream country radio. Fingers crossed that “Damn Country Music” is released as a single in 2017.

    -William Michael Morgan- another fantastic artist who is helping bring quality music back to mainstream country radio. The album he released this year, Vinyl, was a damn solid true country record from start to finish, and the two singles he released this year, “I Met a Girl” and “Missing” are among the best songs released in 2016 (although “I Met a Girl” was released in 2015, it made a lot of impact in 2016). “Lonesomeville” (from the album Vinyl) is one of the best songs I have heard in quite a while. William Michael also notched his first number one single this year with “I Met a Girl”, which was a victory for traditional country music.

    -Jon Pardi- although his current single, “Dirt on My Boots” is just decent in my opinion, his previous single “Head Over Boots” is fantastic. “Head Over Boots” became Jon’s first number one this year, and because of that, he helped open the door for more traditional country artists to find success, like William Michael Morgan did shortly after with “I Met a Girl”. Jon also released a solid album, California Sunrise, which included incredible songs such as “Cowboy Hat” (fingers crossed this is his next single) and the country-as-all-get-out “She Ain’t In It” (hopefully this is also a single at some point).

    My personal pick would be William Michael Morgan or Tim McGraw.
    I’ve finally decided that my vote for Country Perspective’s Male Artist of the Year will be for Tim McGraw.

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  4. I would go with Eric Church. This is about quality and influence, and he has succeeded in both. He has released two excellent singles in 2016, and even though his album was not straight country, he made it with seven musicians, championing a live/acoustic sound in music that we are sorely lacking. Who knew you could record albums with actual musicians playing actual instruments? Also, like Miranda lambert, my female pick, he gets additional credit for doing all this from the mainstream. It’s harder for him and Tim McGraw to go against the grain from their position on major labels and in the spotlight than for the others. He has taken a real leadership role, and I applaud him for this.

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