THIS WEEK: 2015 CMA Awards Predictions

2015 CMA Awards Prediction

Country Music’s biggest night is this week, which means two things: Predators road games and a little contest called Fantasy CMAs. Casey and I will go head to head with our guesses of who will win at the CMA Awards this year, and we will tweet the results at @runoutnumbers during the broadcast on Wednesday night. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing my choices as my version of a viewing guide, and you are welcome to join in the Fantasy CMA fun by playing against these. Just remember, play clean: no changing your answers during the commercial breaks.

Entertainer of the Year

Last year’s winner Luke Bryan is nominated with Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, and Miranda Lambert.

Who Should Win: If you look at this award as the ambassador of country music, it has to be Garth Brooks. His behemoth tour hit record numbers this year, bringing country music to record audiences-- plus his talent can’t be denied. He has also won this award three times previously. And sure, maybe that’s all to be expected from a superstar greatest hits tour, but would you rather Luke Bryan take the title? Let’s hope not.

Who Will Win: Garth Brooks. Given his year (despite GhostTunes, whatever that was), it’s nearly undeniable.

Female Vocalist of the Year

Last year’s winner Miranda Lambert is nominated with Kelsea Ballerini, Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, and Lee Ann Womack.

Who Should Win: If we are in a vacuum only looking at talent, Lee Ann Womack is queen here. But perhaps I am just excited that she made it in the ring for a fight that is usually simply Miranda vs. Carrie.

Who Will Win: Carrie Underwood. I refuse to choose a side in what I think is a bogus battle between the blondes of Miranda and Carrie, but I think Carrie had the bigger year this year. With hit singles that were bonus tracks on her greatest hits album earlier this year, she now has a new album with another single climbing the chart. “Little Red Wagon” pales in comparison to that, although Miranda is quite deserving of this award, having won it the past five years in a row.

Male Vocalist of the Year

Last year’s winner Blake Shelton is nominated with Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, and Chris Stapleton.

Who Should Win: I think Chris Stapleton should win everything he is nominated for in life, from now until forever. But especially this award. No voice compares.

Who Will Win: Probably Blake Shelton, hopefully not Luke Bryan, in my opinion. Blake has, like his former wife, won this award for five years in a row. So why not make it a sixth to keep things interesting, I guess?

Vocal Group of the Year

Last year’s winner Little Big Town is nominated with Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, the Band Perry, and Zac Brown Band.

Who Should Win: Little Big Town. “Girl Crush” is huge for a reason.

Who Will Win: Little Big Town or Lady Antebellum. I can’t choose. Although for my work pool, I chose Lady A, but mostly just because everyone else chose Little Big Town. I would love to see The Band Perry, consummate professionals and powerhouses that they are, be a clear winner for this award some day.

Vocal Duo of the Year

Last year’s winner Florida Georgia Line is nominated with Brothers Osborne, Dan + Shay, Maddie & Tae, and Thompson Square.

Who Should Win: I prefer Brothers Osborne, but they haven’t even released a full length album yet. (January 15, though, people. Get ready.) And Maddie & Tae have had an incredible year, including playing at LP Field / Nissan Stadium / Wherever the Titans Lose at CMA Fest. I’d be happy with either of them winning, but I don’t call the shots.

Who Will Win: Florida Georgia Line. Again. And maybe forever. They just won’t leave.

New Artist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, Maddie & Tae, Thomas Rhett, and Chris Stapleton are nominated.

Who Should Win: Again, Chris Stapleton. Hardly a “new artist”-- he’s well known as a writer and a musician around Nashville, most notably with The SteelDrivers. If you haven’t listened to his debut solo album Traveller yet, you’re wasting time.

Who Will Win: This will definitely be a Kelsea Ballerini vs. Sam Hunt fight. And I hope it goes to Kelsea Ballerini because she’s a lady and she doesn’t awkwardly half-rap on country radio as much as Sam Hunt does.

Album of the Year

Jason Aldean’s Old Boots New Dirt, Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material, Little Big Town’s Painkiller, Kenny Chesney’s The Big Revival, and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller are all nominated.

Who Should Win: I’m going to go boring and predictable here. Chris Stapleton’s Traveller, with Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material as a close second for my ideal choices.

Who Will Win: Probably Jason Aldean, hopefully Little Big Town? Or the CMAs could pretend like they’re the Grammys for a second and actually go with Chris Stapleton’s album. I feel like he has the best chance in this category.

Single of the Year

Kenny Chesney’s “American Kids,” Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance,” Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time,” and Eric Church’s “Talledega” are all nominated.

Who Should Win: “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town. Watching them perform this song at their album release show at War Memorial Auditorium last year is one of my highlights of living in Nashville so far. Girl group inspired country music? I’m here for it.

Who Will Win: “Girl Crush.” This song is just beautiful, and blew up on radio. Hopefully Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” does not. #EndWhiteCountryRap

Song of the Year

“American Kids” (Clawson/Laird/McAnally), “Girl Crush” (Rose/McKenna/Lindsey), “Like A Cowboy” (Houser/Long), “Like a Wrecking Ball” (Church/Beathard), and “Take Your Time” (Hunt/McAnally/Osborne) are all nominated.

(For those who are wondering why some of these songs are also nominated for Single of the Year-- this category is for songwriting.)

Who Should Win: I’m going with “American Kids” on this one. I think it is the best example of what the listing-American-cliches-for-aesthetic genre can do, and I love it.

Who Will Win: “American Kids” or “Girl Crush.” I’d love either to win. And again, let’s keep Sam Hunt and white semi-rap out of this.

Musical Event of the Year

“Django and Jimmie” by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Lonely Tonight” by Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe, “Raise ‘Em Up” by Keith Urban featuring Eric Church, “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” by Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town, and “Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter are nominated.

Who Should Win: I’m voting “Lonely Tonight” just because of my girl Ashley Monroe. Can she win something, please? She’s amazing.

Who Will Win: “Raise ‘Em Up” is the most solid collaboration on this list, and the biggest on radio. “Wild Child” might actually be bigger on radio, but I will deny it and change the station every time because I find it trite.

Music Video of the Year

“Biscuits” by Kacey Musgraves, “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town, “Girl in a Country Song” by Maddie & Tae, “Little Red Wagon” by Miranda Lambert, and “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood are all nominated.

Who Should Win: I love the “Biscuits” video and will go on record as doing so. It’s campy, it’s a Hee Haw-style throwback, and the song is great. It is simply fun. However, if this category were based off of the unsettling beauty of incredibly attractive 40-somethings singing in semi-slow-mo, “Girl Crush” would win without any competition.

Who Will Win: I think “Biscuits” has a chance! But Carrie’s “Something in the Water” will likely win. The modern dance in a puddle with occasional appearances from a Britney Spears-inspired raincoat win people over, I guess.

Musician of the Year

Last year’s winner Mac McAnally (guitar) is nominated with Sam Bush (mandolin), Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), and Dann Huff (guitar).

Who Should Win: I vote Paul Franklin or Sam Bush, but just because I know their work best. Sam Bush has gone to the same movie as me at the Belcourt more than once, so bonus points for that. And obviously anyone who plays steel is a God in my mind, because I can’t begin to understand how that instrument works, so go Paul.

Who Will Win: It’s anyone’s game. I don’t know the playing field well enough to call this one.

That’s all, folks! Don’t forget to check out our tweets on Wednesday night to see how badly my predictions fail.