Scroll through the full list of the 2017 Billboard Music Awards nominations and you'll notice something missing. Where are the women of country music? Under the five country categories, the only female representation is from the Dixie Chicks (top country tour), Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman from Little Big Town (top country song), and Elle King, who is "featured" in Dierks Bentley's song "Different For Girls" (top country collaboration). That's three (but more like two and a half) nominees out of 23, not to mention all the other noncountry categories. Top country artist? All men. Top country album? Ditto.
While the Billboard Music Awards finalists are based on data — "album and digital songs sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring, and social engagement" — not votes, sexism still exists in the music industry, and the country music industry, specifically, is influenced by some antiquated attitudes about women (and don't even get me started on its diversity problem), which affects all of these so-called scientific metrics from airplay to tour opportunities.
When I recently spoke with Grammy-nominated country singer Cam, she talked about how she pushed back against the pressure to be overly sexualized and fit a certain stereotypical ideal — what Maddie and Tae rail against in "Girl in a Country Song." In April, Maren Morris, who won a Grammy this year, called out this gender inequality in a Lenny Letter post, writing that women are "referred to as 'the tomatoes of a salad'" and describing a time when a guy drunkenly told her at a meet and greet that "girls can't successfully release ballads to country radio."
Well, guess what? F*ck that. Girls are the f*cking croutons, cheese, and lettuce in the salad — so open wide and watch this year's kickass women of country who should have been nominated for a Billboard Music Award this year . . . starting with, aptly, Morris's killer ballad, "Once."