Chris Janson Calls CMA Awards Nominations 'Unexpected'

Chris Janson is nominated for his first three CMA Awards, for New Artist of the Year, and both Song of the Year and Video of the Year for his current "Drunk Girl" hit. Although he is honored by the industry recognition, the 32-year-old insists he never imagined he would receive one nod, let alone three.

"They were unexpected and we thoroughly had no idea," Janson tells "We were not prefaced to anything. Sometimes in life, you don't get surprised so easy, but we were so thankful to find out about that New Artist, Song of the Year and Video of the Year for 'Drunk Girl.' It's just a big blessing. It really is. It's validation that the community is paying attention.

"I always say that you dream big, you win big, and you can put dreams together, and you can really shoot for big goals," he adds. "But trophies were never something that I put in those sights until you get nominated for one, and then you really want the trophy."

Although Janson would be happy to walk away with any of the trophies, he admits there's one that would mean the most to him.

"Song of the Year, for sure, for 'Drunk Girl,' just because I do write all my own songs," he concedes. "I only write and sing my own songs, and I take a lot of pride in that, and it's a very humbling factor. Being a songwriter is not easy to do – not everybody gets to do it. There's a very small community of people who get publishing deals in Nashville, just like record deals, and I'm fortunate to have one of those, and have a career doing it.

"Song of the Year is always the thing that people watch on award shows every year. It's like the thing that people look at and they go, 'Man, I wonder what's gonna win that,'" he continues. "And it's usually those kind of songs that win, for the most part, and stand the test of time. They're iconic kind of songs. 'The House That Built Me,' for instance. I wrote 'Drunk Girl' with Tom Douglas, who also wrote 'The House That Built Me,' so we have high hopes but we have normal expectations. What will happen will happen. To be nominated was a big enough deal for me and I just always hope for the best."

"Drunk Girl" was inspired by a commencement speech Douglas gave when his son graduated from high school. Although the three co-writers, including Scooter Carusoe, believed strongly in the message of the song, which says, "Take a drunk girl home / Let her sleep all alone / Leave her keys on the counter, your number by the phone," they weren't sure it was a topic they were ready to address.

"Tom brought the idea to the table, when Scooter and I were in the room," the Opry member recalls. "I'm gonna be frankly honest with you, right off the bat, and he'll tell ut his too. We were both like, 'Yeah, I don't know if we wanna go down that road.' Because first of all, it's very pivotal. It can either go one way or the other. When you're talking about polarizing things in the world, that most people would sweep under the rug, like the situation and the scenario that we wrote into 'Drunk Girl,' it's a story that unfortunately hasn't been told enough I don't think."

Once the men decided to write "Drunk Girl," Janson didn't hold back, even in choosing the song's title.

"The title is very polarizing, so it has scared people along the way as well," he concedes. "If you read it, and then you read back in the history of me, I have a great reputation of having No. 1 drinking songs. So to see a title, 'Drunk Girl,' I know what normal people would think. They would think, 'Oh, it's another party drunk girl song. Ugh, whatever.' But it's not. It really is about doing the right thing in a situation that could go bad. And we're real proud of it."


The 2018 CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, November 14, at 8:00 PM ET on ABC.

Photo Credit: Getty images/Kevin Winter