2010 CMA Awards Picks & Predictions

It's that time of year again as the Country Music Association is ready to hand out awards to the stars at their 44th annual gala in Nashville, TN.  Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the event which is presented here with our predictions and picks for every category.

Musician of the Year

  • Paul Franklin – Steel Guitar
  • Dann Huff – Guitar
  • Brent Mason – Guitar
  • Mac McAnnally – Guitar
  • Randy Scruggs  - Guitar

This is, without a doubt, the category that fans like the least.  But that doesn’t mean that any of them don’t deserve to be nominated here or that the industry itself doesn’t care about who wins.  While all are extremely talented artists in their own rights, I think it’s a shame that Tom Bukovac isn’t nominated here.  With that being said, I wouldn’t mind if any of these guys win, honest.

Will Win: Mac McAnally

Should Win: Any.

Music Video of the Year (goes to artist and director)

  • White Liar – Miranda Lambert & Chris Hickey
  • Water – Brad Paisley & Jim Shea
  • The House That Built Me – Miranda Lambert & Trey Fanjoy
  • Need You Now – Lady Antebellum & David Mcclister
  • Hillbilly Bone – Blake Shelton Feat. Trace Adkins & Roman White

This category will likely go to Lady Antebellum or Miranda Lambert’s songs.  It is possible – in fact – that Miranda’s song’s cancel each-other out and give the award to Lady Antebellum. Paisley’s video was actually the best creative video of these five and that could give it an edge. 

Will Win: “The House That Built Me”

Should Win:  “The House That Built Me”

Musical Event of the Year

  • “Bad Angel”  - Dierks Bentley featuring Miranda Lambert & Jamey Johnson
  • “Can’t You See” – Zac Brown Band featuring Kid Rock
  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
  • “I’m Alive” – Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews
  • “Till The End” – Alan Jackson  with Lee Ann Womack

There certainly have been weaker years than 2010 and while I love the Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews pairing, I just don’t see the song winning this award which can also be said about “Can’t You See.”  In all honestly, the night is going to belong to Miranda Lambert and while this means she’s likely to win the Album of the Year award from Dierks Bentley, this category here gives the CMA voters a chance to recognize the fantastic Up on the Ride album while also giving ‘Ran and Jamey awards as well.  The Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack duet will get its fair share of voters as well, particularly from the traditionalist camp while “Hillbilly Bone” will garner some love as it’s the only song on this list with the status of being a multi-week chart-topping hit.  That probably makes “Hillbilly Bone” the top contender with “Bad Angel” for this trophy.

Will Win:  “Hillbilly Bone”

Should Win:  “Bad Angel”

Song of the Year (award goes to songwriters)

  • White Liar – Natalie Hemby & Miranda Lambert
  • Toes – Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, John Driskell Hopkins, Shawn Mullins
  • “The House That Built Me”  - Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin
  • “Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Josh Kear
  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Rory Feek, Don Poythress, Wynn Varble

Once again we find a category with a great selection of mainstream hits.  Each song is well written from the late-night booty call song “Need You Now” to the simile-laden “Little More Country Than That” to the tear-inducing “House That Built Me.”  Each song on this list was a #1 hit, which isn’t always the case in this category.  While I love all of them, there really is no way that any song wins here other than “The House That Built Me,” a song that is universally loved by all of the Nashville music community, even the members that aren’t in the country industry. 

Will Win:  “The House That Built Me”

Should Win:  “The House That Built Me”

Album of the Year  (award goes to artists, producers and record label)

  • Need You Now – Lady Antebellum – Lady Antebellum, Paul Worley (Capitol Nashville)
  • Play On – Carrie Underwood – Mark Bright, Max Martin (19/Arista Nashville)
  • Revolution – Miranda Lambert – Frank Liddell, Mike Wrucke (Columbia Nashville)
  • Twang – George Strait  - Tony Brown, George Strait (MCA Nashville)
  • Up On The Ridge – Dierks Bentley – Jon Randall Stewart (Capitol Nashville)

This is another fantastically tight category with critically praised albums from Lambert and Bentley joining legend George Strait (who seems to get here each year he releases a record), the latest from country diva Carrie Underwood and the year’s top-seller from Lady Antebellum.  In all honesty, this is a three horse race between Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Bentley.  It’s possible that Bentley could sneak in and steal this one away from ‘Ran and Lady A if the voters were undecided on who to vote for.  In all honesty, 2010 seems to be the year where ‘Ran has finally joined the upper echelon of country stars after two other great records and a string of Top 5 and chart-topping hits.  Lady A, for their part have already sent four singles from Need You Now to the charts with the first three all major hits. 

Will Win:  “Revolution

Should Win:  “Revolution

Single of the Year (award goes to artist, producers and record label)

  • A little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin, Carson Chamberlain (Mercury)
  • “Hillbilly Bone – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, Scott Hendricks (Reprise)
  • “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum, Paul Worley (Capitol Nashville)
  • “The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert, Frank Liddell, Mike Wrucke (Columbia)
  • “White Liar – Miranda Lambert, Frank Liddell, Mike Wrucke (Columbia)

Each of these singles were big #1 records and the only real surprise nominee here is perhaps “Hillbilly Bone” but it was undoubtedly a big record.  I actually like each of these songs and I could see the traditionalists seeing something about “A Little More Country Than That” to pick it over the other four here and there’s no doubt the two tracks from Miranda may cancel each-other out like they could in the other categories where they’re nominated as well but I just don’t see this happening.  In the end, I think that it comes down to “Need You Now” and “The House That Built Me” with “Need You Now” winning the single award after the songwriters justly earned the songwriter award for “House.”

Will Win:  “Need You Now”

Should Win:  “The House That Built Me”

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Sugarland
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Joey+Rory

While I’d personally love to see Joey+Rory take home this award, they have a lot going against them with the major one being that they’re signed to independent label Sugar Hill/Vanguard Records.  So they’re out.  I love Steel Magnolia as well but I don’t see them taking this award, despite their success with their first two singles this year.  Previous winner Montgomery Gentry just has been too quiet this past year to garner any real reason to win here which means the award is between the group that could win and the duo that will win, Sugarland and Brooks & Dunn. 

Will Win:  Brooks & Dunn

Should Win:  Joey+Rory

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band

For years this award was an easy one to call, giving it to Alabama or Rascal Flatts or Diamond Rio with a few years where a band like Lonestar could possibly take it over. Now there seems to be a renaissance of sorts with each of these Vocal groups worthy of serious consideration for the award.  While The Band Perry has potential to sweep the CMA’s in the future, they’re likely #5 on this list.  Little Big Town returned to the Top 10 with “Little White Church” but as talented as the quartet is, they’re likely #4 on this list with Rascal Flatts just ahead of them, thanks to the juggernauts of the Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum duking it out for the top slot.  It’s really a betting ‘pick-‘em” toss-up that is too close to call.

Will Win:  Lady Antebellum

Should Win:  Lady Antebellum or Zac Brown Band

New Artist of the Year (Formerly the much-better named Horizon Award)

  • Luke Bryan
  • Easton Corbin
  • Jerrod Niemann
  • Chris Young
  • Zac Brown Band

The Zac Brown Band was nominated in this category last year and lost out to Darius Rucker so they very may well take this award in their final year of eligibility for it (you can be nominated for the category twice, if you have never been nominated for the EOTY, or ‘Album’ or ‘single’ or group/duo, male or female vocalist categories).  It’s also really possible for Gold-selling Luke Bryan and my personal favorite here, Easton Corbin, to take the award from the Zac Brown Band as well.  In all honesty, this is quite a strong list of artists with the four male vocalists leaning more towards the traditionalist side of the fence.   In the end this one is likely ZBB’s to lose.

Will Win:  Zac Brown Band

Should Win:  Easton Corbin

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Shelton and Bentley are newcomers this year replacing 2009 members Darius Rucker and Kenny Chesney (who both may return in 2011).  Paisley has won this category the past three years with Urban winning it the three years before that with King George winning 5 times in the 1980s and 1990s.  In all honesty it really does seem like this is Paisley’s category to lose and if we were going strictly on radio success, Shelton would have just as good a chance as Paisley to win the award with Urban hot on their heels.  Bentley likely has been nominated here for his past successes and his fantastic Up On The Ridge album but I just don’t see him pulling out the victory here.  The upset of the day could really be Shelton, thanks to his affiliation with his fiancée Miranda Lambert (who will win multiple times) and the fact that he really could stake claim to being 2010’s best male vocalist. 

Will Win:  Blake Shelton (in an upset)

Should Win:  Brad Paisley

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Reba McEntire
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride

Every woman on this list has won this award in years past, except for Miranda Lambert.  With nine nominations this year, she is the obvious front runner, just like Taylor Swift was last year when she took home the award.  Taylor will not win the award this year and neither will four-time winners Martina McBride and Reba McEntire.  Carrie Underwood, then, provides ‘Ran with her biggest competition – just like she did for Taylor Swift last year.  The biggest thing about this award category is that it will not be controversial like it was last year when many country fans revolted because of the fact that Taylor Swift won this category despite those fans not thinking she shouldn’t have been anywhere near a category with the word ‘vocalist’ in it.  In the end, I think the signs all point to ‘Ran winning this category, leaving Underwood – the most successful artist on country radio over the last 5 years with each one of her singles a Chart-topper – waiting for 2011 to tie Reba & Martina as a four-time winner.

Will Win:  Miranda Lambert

Should Win:  Miranda Lambert

Entertainer of the Year

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Brad Paisley
  • Zac Brown Band
  • Keith Urban
  • Lady Antebellum

Well, here’s the final and biggest category of the 44th Country Music Association Awards, the Entertainer of the Year. What’s interesting about this category is the absence of three of 2010’s biggest concert draws, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith.   The fact that Underwood was passed-over by Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum drew a lot of discussion about as to why the superstar wasn’t nominated but the CMA says that this category isn’t all about concerts as it’s supposed to include ‘ambassador for country music’ which means that Carrie probably should’ve been included here as she certainly is that for she’s co-hosting the dang program after all and is a proud member of the CMA and the Grand Ole Opry. 

With all of that being said, if anyone HAS been to a show featuring any of the acts who are nominated in this category, it’s hard to argue with the placement here.  Urban and Paisley put on fantastic shows, Lambert is kinetic and the Zac Brown Band never leaves the fans wanting more.  Lady Antebellum may be 2010’s biggest ‘ambassador’ so far thanks to Need You Now being 2010’s best-selling country album for most of 2010.  So, how do we rate this final category? Well, I think it’s honestly between six-time nominee (the Susan Lucci of this category) Paisley finally taking home the EOTY trophy or a first-timer like the ZBB or Lambert taking the trophy (with the latter topping off a fantasy-like night). 

Will Win:  Brad Paisley

Should Win:  Zac Brown Band

Well, there you have it, our predictions for this year’s CMA Awards.  Be sure to tune in to ABC TV this Wednesday to see how the show plays out.  Feel free to leave your own comments to let us know what you think will and should happen as well.