Later this month, Sam Hunt competes for Top Country Album for Southside at the Billboard Music Awards.

It’s an especially gratifying nomination for the “Body Like a Back Road” hitmaker, since making his sophomore record turned out to be particularly challenging.

“I still feel like I’m just now getting into this,” Sam muses, “but I’ve been around now for a few years. And this is my second record, technically, and it took me a little longer than I planned or hoped to get new music out after that first record.”

While Sam’s triple-platinum Montevallo came out in October of 2014, it took him until April of last year to deliver its follow-up.

“I’d always heard your sophomore record is really hard to get finished,” he says. “And a lot of times you’re judged by that record more than your first record, because it’s like, you know, ‘Was the first one just a fluke?’ kind of thing.”

“But, yeah, I’m just happy to be acknowledged,” he adds. “It’s really cool to get that recognition.”

We’ll find out if Sam wins on Sunday, May 23, when the Billboard Music Awards air starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, live from the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.

In the meantime, Sam’s latest Southside hit, “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s,” is just one spot away from becoming his newest #1.

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