Eric Church Wins Top Country Tour, Walker Hayes & Taylor Swift Pick Up Country Wins At Billboard Music Awards

Eric Church country music

In case you didn’t realize it, the Billboard Music Awards are tonight.

It’s fine if you didn’t even know they were taking place, because I had forgotten about them and I don’t know anybody who’s paying attention. But nonetheless, they’re happening.

And Eric Church has already picked himself up some new hardware.

Chief was named the winner of the award for Top Country Tour, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise considering his Gather Again Tour was one of the first major tours to return after the pandemic, kicking off last September and running through 55 cities before wrapping up next weekend at Madison Square Garden.

The Billboard Music Awards are unique in that instead of a subjective voting process to determine the winner, the nominees and eventual winners are determined using a data-driven approach that takes into account streaming, radio airplay, sales and social engagement.

And for the Top Tour categories, Billboard looks at ticket sales to determine a winner, specifically sales between March 26, 2021 (back when hardly anybody was touring) through March 17, 2022.

The other nominees in the Top Country Tour category were Luke Bryan’s Proud to Be Right Here tour, which kicked off earlier than Church’s Gather Again Tour but only consisted of 36 dates that wrapped up last October; and Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show Tour, which had 41 stops during the eligibility period, two more than the 39 stops for the Gather Again Tour during the same timeframe.

Church also had the two of the highest grossing country tours of the past five years, raking in almost $69 million with his 2019 Double Down Tour.

Meanwhile, Taylor Swift also took home a handful of country awards with wins for Top Country Artist, Top Country Album and Top Country Female Artist, and Top Billboard 200 Artist.

Remember, these are data-driven, so it’s no surprise that if you include Taylor Swift in the “country” category, she’s going to run away with it considering the way her fans stream and promote the shit out of her music.

And in what should be a surprise to nobody, Walker Hayes took home the award for Top Country Song, which has been a massive streaming and chart hit despite how insufferable that song is.

The remainder of the awards will be given out on the live ceremony tonight at 8 PM eastern on NBC.

Of course one of the biggest stories surrounding this year’s ceremony is Morgan Wallen‘s return to the awards show stage, the first time he’ll be performing at an awards ceremony since his highly-publicized racial slur controversy last year that resulted in him being blackballed from performing at awards shows since then.

Sean “Diddy” Combs “Uncanceled” Morgan Wallen For The Billboard Music Awards

For executive producer Diddy, it’s about “un-canceling the canceled.”

MRC Live & Alternative (which produces the BBMAs) said they had a “thorough review” ahead of making the decision to book him for the show, releasing a statement that reads, in part:

“We oppose discrimination, harassment, or racism of any kind. We believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect.

After a thorough review and robust discussions internally and with the artist’s team, in which we found a demonstrated and ongoing commitment to meaningful work and outreach, we extended an invitation to participate in this year’s show.”

And now Sean “Diddy” Combs, who is both hosting and serving as the executive producer for the show, is speaking out on the decision to allow Morgan and Travis Scott, another entertainer who’s come under a lot of heat lately for his role in the Astroworld tragedy, to perform on the awards show:

“The mood of the show is about love and forgiveness. As a musical family, none of us are saints; none of us are without things that happen to them in life. So one of the things I’m doing directly is un-canceling the canceled.

That’s breaking news because people haven’t been about uncanceling. But canceling is a trend that needs to stop.”

For Diddy, it’s about giving people who have made a mistake a second chance:

“Morgan [used the N-word] while talking to his boy. People make mistakes. Now we’re moving on with love and respect for everybody that was hurt or affected. It’s time to forgive.

To have Morgan and Travis be able to come back and touch the stage again with the mindset of getting a second chance at life. Everybody in the room is getting a second chance at life, you know, because we’re back inside with no masks on. We need love and I’m excited about celebrating that.”

Of course it’s easy to argue that Morgan’s been “un-canceled” for awhile now, with his album topping the charts for about a million weeks in a row and his Dangerous tour selling out pretty much everywhere he goes.

And earlier this year, Morgan won an ACM Award for Album of the Year during his first appearance at an awards show since the controversy.

The Billboard Music Awards, though, will be the first time he’s taken the stage as a performer at an awards show since the racial slur incident, so I guess that’s one way to look at it.

Either way, you can tune in to see Morgan and all of the other performances tonight.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock