The CMA’s are upon as once again, so the Keepin’ It Country Staff narrowed down our picks for the night’s biggest awards. Let us know who you agree with!
Entertainer of the Year Nominees: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Taylor Swift
Nicole: It’s not an easy choice here, and there’s definitely the obvious inclusion of George Strait for sentimental reasons, but I have to give this to Blake. He played a huge summer tour, anchors the judging panel on The Voice season after season and put out quite a few huge hits. He’s arguably the biggest thing in country right now so I have to give it to him.
Jessica: Luke Bryan has had a huge year, and I think he’s taken one of the top spots in country music right now. You can’t deny those dance moves!
Jennifer: Luke Bryan – With sold out shows across the country and yet another #1 hit song (despite Zac Brown’s disdain for said song), no one is killing it on radio or on the road quite like Luke.
Jeanna: Blake Shelton or Taylor Swift? Both have really helped broaden the country music audience and impact the genre in such a significant way. Taylor is massive with her sold out tours worldwide and cross-over success. Blake is the face of the genre at the present time, and he has helped put country on the map and bring it to focus with The Voice. Luke Bryan had a big year and is a possibility too. However, I feel like it’s Blake’s time for this right now so I’m giving this one to him.
Male Vocalist of the Year Nominees: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban
Jessica: I think previous winner Blake Shelton will take this one again, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke took it home instead.
Jeanna: Male Vocalist is a battle between Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. Both had hugely successful albums, tours, and radio hits this year, and I think both deserve it. Can we call it a tie? I couldn’t love Blake more, but I feel like we are riding a Luke wave this year a bit so I’m going with Luke.
Jennifer: Blake can do no wrong. I think another his/hers Vocalist of the Year display belongs in the Shelton household.
Nicole: Although Blake’s been on a roll, I’m going to agree with Jeanna and go with Luke. Basically everything he touches turns to gold, so I’m giving him the edge in this category.
Female Vocalist of the Year Nominees: Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood
Nicole: The main two contenders here are clearly Carrie and Miranda, with Kacey being the dark horse. I’d put on my best Taylor Switft “shocked face” if Taylor win this and Kelly has no chance (yet). Although Carrie had a huge hit with all things Blown Away, I’m going to give this one to Miranda yet again. She’s still the industry darling, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Kacey sneak in with a steal.
Jennifer: Miranda Lambert – There is no denying that anything Miranda sings turns to gold. Or multi-platinum in her case.
Jeanna: I cannot resist the urge to say Kelly Clarkson because I just love her, but I know that she’s a dark horse until she puts out her full country album. With that said, I think this category is between Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. I’m a huge Miranda fan, but she’s won it three years in a row. While I’d love to see her tie Reba’s record with four consecutive wins, Carrie had a huge year with her Blown Away album and tour so I think she has this one.
Jessica: Carrie has had a big year with her Blown Away CD, with huge singles such as “Blown Away,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” and “See You Again.” Plus, a sold out tour…I think she’s got it in the bag this year.
Vocal Group of the Year Nominees: The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band
Jennifer: With all their songs about death, The Band Perry had another spectacular year, were out on the road warming up the crowd for Rascal Flatts, and continued to wow us with their family musical jewels.
Jeanna: I’m such a fan of The Band Perry, and I feel that their Pioneer album is one of the best this year and probably underrated. Lady Antebellum is also always a contender and their album is great as well. However, I think Vocal Group will go to Little Big Town. They have really made their mark this last year or so and have been the focus of much attention in Nashville.
Jessica: I think Lady Antebellum could take this, but I would love to see The Band Perry take it, as they’ve had a huge year.
Nicole: Once upon a time, Little Big Town were the underdogs, but they’ve really come into their own since riding the wave of “Pontoon.” Their album is incredible and they’re one of my all-times favorites, so I have to go with them. I’m surprised that no one ever picks Zac Brown Band to win this thing, but they don’t seem to have the same luster as the others.
Vocal Duo of the Year Nominees: Big & Rich, The Civil Wars, Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, Sugarland, Thompson Square
Nicole: Yawn. Florida Georgia Line, no contest.
Jennifer: Florida Georgia Line … “Cruise”, “Shine On”, “Round Here”, and now “Stay” … their catalog speaks for itself.
Jessica: There’s no denying Florida Georgia Line has had a huge year. I think they’ve easily got this one!
Jeanna: I think Florida Georgia Line has this one. “Cruise” was probably the biggest song this year on radio, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t win Vocal Duo.
New Artist of the Year Nominees: Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Kacey Musgraves, Kip Moore
Jennifer: See above. Four amazing country singles, and one crossover remix. These boys are round here for the long haul!
Nicole: There is so much talent in this category but it’s going to come down to critical darling Kacey and commercial success Florida Georgia Line. In this race, I’m going to give it to Kacey by a hair.
Jeanna: This is a tough call. We have a great deal of really talented new artists who I love and think are here to stay, but I’m predicting Kacey Musgraves. She is so talented and Same Trailer Different Park is such an amazing album that received much critical acclaim from the industry.
Jessica: While I think FGL has a shot at this, I’d love to see Kacey Musgraves take it. She’s a brilliant artist.
Album of the Year Nominees: Little Big Town -Tornado, Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park, Blake Shelton – Based On a True Story…, Taylor Swift – Red, Carrie Underwood - Blown Away
Jeanna: Blake Shelton or Taylor Swift? In my opinion, Taylor gets overly criticized regarding genre lines and the “country” sound. Her Red album is great, and she was super successful again in both the country and pop formats. On the other hand, Blake’s Based on A True Story is also great and has been producing non-stop hit singles for country radio all year. I’m giving this to Blake.
Jennifer: Blake did it again with Based On A True Story… Another album with hit after hit after hit. Any album with the line “hands down best ever make up sex” on it should be recognized; especially when that line somehow gets played on conservative country music radio!
Nicole: For me, this is one of the hardest categories. All of these albums had some GREAT songs, but I’m not sure which jumps out as a clear front-runner. I personally think this one a super-tight race and we might be surprised by the winner. I’m going to give it to Kacey, due to its acclaim, theme and the fact that it’s the most cohesive album.
Jessica: I absolutely love Same Trailer Different Park – it’s my favorite one from this year. Super strong debut from Kacey Musgraves and I hope to see her take this one home.
Single of the Year Nominees: Florida Georgia Line – “Cruise”, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care”, Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart”, Kacey Musgraves – “Merry Go ‘Round”, Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel”
Nicole: I couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing “Cruise” this year on every format. I think they’re easily going to cruise right into another win here.
Jennifer: Not only did Cruise catapult Florida Georgia Line to stardom, but it also resulted in another Nelly collaboration in the country world. Need I say more?
Jeanna: Does “Cruise” have this on lock because of its cross-over success? I’m not so sure… I’m going with “Highway Don’t Care.”
Jessica: I think “Cruise” was definitely the hottest song of the year. it was definitely the song that was always on the radio when I was in my car!
Song of the Year Nominees: “I Drive Your Truck” (Lee Brice) - Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary, “Mama’s Broken Heart” (Miranda Lambert) – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go ‘Round” (Kacey Musgraves) – Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, “Pontoon” (Little Big Town) - Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby and Luke Laird, “Wagon Wheel” (Darius Rucker) - Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor
Jeanna: I know LBT’s “Pontoon” was so popular, but I think Song of the Year is going to “Mama’s Broken Heart” and deservingly so in my opinion.
Jennifer: “Mama’s Broken Heart” was written by Kacey Musgraves and performed by Miranda Lambert. Could two more bad bleep singers collaborate?
Nicole: “I Drive Your Truck” proves that not all truck songs are bad. Although Brice went from “Truck” to “Parking Lot Party” (meh), you can’t deny the impact of “Truck.” I’m going with that as the winner.
Jessica: “Mama’s Broken Heart” – I just love the writing in this song but I have to put “Merry Go ‘Round” in a close second.
Music Video of the Year Nominees: Carrie Underwood – “Blown Away”, Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies – “Boys ‘Round Here”, Lady Antebellum -“Downtown”, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care”, Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart”, Little Big Town – “Tornado”
Jennifer: “Blown Away” is perhaps the most elaborate country music video since Reba blew up a boat in the early 90s. It screams Wizard of Oz with better effects and it has Carrie’s flawless voice to boot.
Jeanna: I think it is either Carrie Underwood for “Blown Away” or Miranda Lambert for “Mama’s Broken Heart.” I’m predicting Carrie.
Jessica: I think the mini-movie for the Blown Away video will take this one.
Nicole: Looks like we all agree on this one. I’m going to give this one to Carrie. “Blown Away” was a great video.
Musical Event of the Year Nominees: Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies – “Boys ‘Round Here”, Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly – “Cruise”, Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill – “Don’t Rush”, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care”, Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church – “The Only Way I Know”
Jessica: This combination was pretty huge – Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban…I’m a big fan of this song and so was radio. I wouldn’t mind seeing “Don’t Rush” take this, but I think the Swift/McGraw/Urban collaboration has this in the bag.
Jennifer: “Highway Don’t Care” – If Tim’s soothing voice and Taylor’s catchy chorus don’t get you, Keith Urban’s ridiculous guitar riffs should lock you in. This song has a little bit of everything (pun intended).
Nicole: There are a lot of contenders in this one, and the votes could go with critical acclaim (Clarkson/Gill), Commercial Success (Blake, Tim, FLAGALine) or Bro-Factor (Jason/Luke/Eric). It’s a tough choice, but I’m going to give this one to Tim, Taylor & Keith although I think there’s a chance Kelly and Vince could nab it.
Jeanna: This category has three very successful songs this year. “Cruise” was huge and I personally love “Boys Round Here,” but I think having Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Taylor Swift on this collaboration is unbeatable and it’s such a great song. I think this is going to “Highway Don’t Care.”
Who do you think will nab the big wins on Wednesday? Which KIC writer do you agree with the most? Make sure to let us know!