ACM Awards To Offer Star-Studded Performances, Comical Co-Hosts

Reba McEntire has hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards solo for over a decade until just last year. In 2011, the ACMs decided to switch things up and add Blake Shelton in as co-host.

This year, on Sunday, April 1, the duo is back together again, and there is sure to be some trouble. Known for his sly sense of humor, April Fool’s Day will no doubt take on new meaning with Shelton as co-host.

Telecast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (8pm ET, delayed PT), performances throughout the night include Shelton, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Chris Young, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts.

Additionally, Zac Brown Band will host the second annual ACM Fan Jam, which will be streamed live during the show. Performances will be shown from ACM New Artist of the Year nominees Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, and Scotty McCreery, as well as a special set by Zac Brown Band.

Steven Tyler (l) and Carrie Underwood at the 2011 ACMs (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Steven Tyler (l) and Carrie Underwood at the 2011 ACMs (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

If last year’s surprise collaborations between Sugarland and Rihanna, Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler, and Zac Brown Band and James Taylor are any indication, 2012’s show is sure to up the ante. With an already top-secret debut of Chesney’s lead-off single to his upcoming album (due June 19) scheduled for the evening’s broadcast, it will be a memorable night.

While each performance is sure to impress, it is perhaps the fan-voted categories that draw the most attention. Will Taylor Swift beat Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton for Entertainer of the Year again? Her latest video urging fans to vote while featuring her cat, Meredith, is pretty convincing.

Meanwhile, ACM New Artist of the Year nominees include Brantley Gilbert (who has already penned several chart-topping hits for Jason Aldean), country heartthrob Hunter Hayes and American Idol darling Scotty McCreery. A tough category no doubt; and given McCreery’s success on fan-voted shows, he is most likely to come out on top.

In addition to the electrifying performances and career gratifying awards, this year the ACMs added a new award to the mix: the ACM Songwriter of the Year. The Boot reports it’s the first time a new category has been added since the ’60s. The nominees include Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, Ben Hayslip, Luke Laird and David Lee Murphy. The men behind hits by Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, Eric Church and many others, this category just may be the most unpredictable.

While Kenny Chesney has the most nominations, 2012 might be Lady Antebellum‘s year again. With the success of their previous album, Need You Now, the trio has been on fire since 2008. A tough contender for Album of the Year, both are in the running alongside Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert and Eric Church. Riding the success of his first ACM win last year as Top New Solo Vocalist, though Church seems like the underdog in this category there’s a good chance he could take it home for his latest release, Chief.

Read more stories about the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards.

Cast your vote for the 2012 ACM Entertainer of the Year and New Artist of the Year!

See the full list of ACM Award nominees.

Going to Las Vegas for the ACMs? Get info on where to stay, eat, drink, and see live music (some of it absolutely free).

Watch the Academy of Country Music Awards live on Sunday, April 1 at 8pm ET (delayed PT) on CBS.

– Annie Reuter, CBS Local

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