ACM Spotlight Series: Song of the Year

For the remainder of our ACM Spotlight Series, I will only be taking a look back at the last 10 years of winners and nominees because I feel I know the past decade of music better than music from 40 years ago. So let’s look at the last ten years of winners and nominees of the ACM’s Song of the Year category.

  • “Cowboy Casanova” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
  • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
  • “White Liar” – Miranda Lambert
  • “You Belong with Me” – Taylor Swift

This year’s nominees include four artists who are enjoying their first Song of the Year nominations while Carrie Underwood nabs her third nomination in this category, but has yet to win. The ACM’s stick to their norm of nominating some of the year’s biggest songs and this year’s crop includes three of the biggest hits of the past year. It’ll be a battle to the finish line to see who will walk away this year’s winner.


  • “Johnny & June” – Heidi Newfield
  • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson
  • “I Saw God Today” – George Strait
  • “Waitin’ On a Woman” – Brad Paisley
  • “You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins

In a year where Heidi Newfield was a surprising leading nominee, the Academy decided to go with the critically acclaimed hit by Jamey Johnson. The song went on to win the CMA award for Song of the Year that fall.


  • “Don’t Blink” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Lost In This Moment” – Big & Rich
  • “Moments” – Emerson Drive
  • “Stay” – Sugarland
  • “Watching You” – Rodney Atkins

Sugarland’s emotional song was clearly the best song in this category and deserved to win the award. Jennifer and Kristian also walked away with the Single of the Year award that same night.


  • “Amarillo Sky” – Jason Aldean
  • “Before He Cheats” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Give It Away” – George Strait
  • “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)” – Rodney Atkins
  • “Would You Go with Me” – Josh Turner

Going into the ceremony, all eyes were on the multi-genre smash hit, “Before He Cheats,” to see if it could sweep the Single and Song awards. However, it was the George Strait hit “Give It Away” that stole Carrie Underwood’s thunder, taking home both awards that night.


  • “Baby Girl” – Sugarland
  • “Believe” – Brooks & Dunn
  • “Jesus, Take the Wheel” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Skin (Sarabeth)” – Rascal Flatts
  • “When I Get Where I’m Going” – Brad Paisley featuring Dolly Parton

In a year where religious songs were among the best written songs, it was the Brooks & Dunn hit that edged out the win in this category, upsetting favorite “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”


  • “American Soldier” – Toby Keith
  • “Bless the Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts
  • “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” – Lee Ann Womack
  • “Live Like You Were Dyin'” – Tim McGraw
  • “Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley featuring Alison Krauss

What has become the career defining song for Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dyin'” swept both the Song and Single of the Year categories during the 2005 awards show beating out the Lee Ann Womack hit as well as the Paisley/Krauss duet.


  • “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” – Alan Jackson featuring Jimmy Buffet
  • “There Goes My Life” – Kenny Chesney
  • “This Kiss” – Faith Hill
  • “Three Wooden Crosses” – Randy Travis
  • “Remember When” – Alan Jackson

In a year where the two Alan Jackson songs most likely ended up cancelling each other out, the critically acclaimed Randy Travis song walked away with the win, beating fan favorites Faith Hill and Kenny Chesney as well.


  • “A Lot of Things Different” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” – Toby Keith
  • “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” – Alan Jackson
  • “Forgive” – Rebecca Lynn Howard
  • “I’m Movin On” – Rascal Flatts

In a bit of an upset, the Rascal Flatts tune beat favorites “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” for the win.


  • “Angels In Waiting” – Tammy Cochran
  • “I Wanna Talk About Me” – Toby Keith
  • “One More Day” – Diamond Rio
  • “Only In America” – Brooks & Dunn
  • “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” – Alan Jackson

During the previous fall CMA awards telecast in 2001, Alan Jackson sang his emotional song about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and instantly struck a chord with Americans all over the country. The following year, Jackson swept the Song and Single of the Year awards at both the ACMs and the CMAs and also won the Grammy award for Best Country Song in 2002.

  • “How Do You Like Me Now?!” – Toby Keith
  • “I Hope You Dance” – Lee Ann Womack
  • “One Voice” – Billy Gilman
  • “The Little Girl” – John Michael Montgomery
  • “We Danced” – Brad Paisley
2001 was Lee Ann Womack’s year as “I Hope You Dance” swept the Song and Single of the Year categories and also won the Vocal Event award.
  • “Amazed” – Lonestar
  • “Breathe” – Faith Hill
  • “Choices” – George Jones
  • “He Didn’t Have To Be” – Brad Paisley
  • “Please Remember Me” – Tim McGraw
Two of the year’s biggest songs were nominated in the Song of the Year category during the 2000 ceremony, but it was the smash hit by Lonestar that swept both the Song and Single of the Year awards that night, beating Faith Hill’s career defining song.

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