CMA Awards 2011: Official Predictions

Well it’s that time of year again…when every country music fan sits down in front of the TV as country music takes over primetime television for one night. That’s right, Country Music’s Biggest Night has finally arrived! The 45th Annual CMA Awards will air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on ABC tonight and once again ATC is going to offer its predictions of the night’s big winners.

This year finds four artists heading into the night as leading nominees. Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swift each have five nominations, including Entertainer of the Year, and each have a chance to make 2011 the best year of their career. However, in order to do that, they’ll have to overcome some of the genre’s finest superstars in order to make the CMA’s their night as this year’s categories are some of the strongest we’ve seen in recent years. But it’s ATC’s task to attempt to predict how the night will turn out, so as usual you can read who we think should win versus who will win.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Taylor Swift
  • Keith Urban

This year’s Entertainer field includes three previous winners and two first time nominees. CMA voters have a tough choice to make as to who has represented the genre the best in the past year. Do you go with an artist who has made a huge impact on the singles and albums charts all while representing an independent label like Jason Aldean? Do you go with one of the genre’s finest superstars who continues to draw huge crowds and be one of country’s best ambassadors like Brad Paisley? Do you go with the artist who has been everywhere from a judge on a TV show, to the front page of magazines for getting married like Blake Shelton? Or do you go with the genre’s biggest superstar, Taylor Swift?

Who Should Win: Taylor Swift
Who Will Win: Taylor Swift
Dark Horse: Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban

Last year the CMA surprised everyone by selecting Blake Shelton as its Male Vocalist winner. This year they could choose the superstar for a second year in a row, or they can go with the artist who has had the best year of the five, Jason Aldean. Aldean’s My Kinda Party is the best selling album of the year, and his singles have all peaked inside the top 2 on the charts. Not to mention he’s crossed over to the Adult Contemporary chart with his massive duet with Kelly Clarkson. After being overlooked for most of his career, this year is Jason’s year to snag his first CMA award.

Who Should Win: Jason Aldean
Who Will Win: Jason Aldean
Dark Horse: Blake Shelton

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Sara Evans
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

Only one of these five nominated ladies has made multiple appearances in the top five on the singles chart and has sold over one million copies of an album…in a single week. After stirring up controversy in 2009 after she won this award, Taylor Swift is actually going into the night as the most deserving of the nominees. However, I can’t help but hope that the CMA finally give a long and overdue look of acknowledgement to Sara Evans, who has had a big comeback year this year.

Who Should Win: Sara Evans
Who Will Win: Taylor Swift
Dark Horse: Miranda Lambert

Vocal Group of the Year

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

This is yet another competitive category. Last year Lady Antebellum was the clear favorite to win, but this year they have both The Band Perry and Zac Brown Band on their heels. TBP has had arguably one of the biggest country hits of the year with “If I Die Young” while ZBB remains to be a consistent force at radio and in sales. Since Lady A had a more quiet year, I think it’ll come down to The Band Perry and Zac Brown Band for the win.

Who Should Win: Zac Brown Band
Who Will Win: Zac Brown Band
Dark Horse: The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • The Civil Wars
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland
  • Thompson Square

First off thumbs up to the CMA for nominated little known The Civil Wars…kudos! But this is essentially a two horse race, though some might beg to differ. Sugarland has owned this category for the past few years, but after failing to make a dent on the singles chart with any of their The Incredible Machine singles, this year could see the duo lose to first time nominee, Thompson Square. Keifer and Shawna Thompson have had a huge year with their massive breakout hit, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?” which is one of the most played songs of the year.

Who Should Win: Thompson Square
Who Will Win: Sugarland
Dark Horse: Thompson Square

New Artist of the Year

  • The Band Perry
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Thompson Square
  • Chris Young

It pains me to think that Luke Bryan and Chris Young most likely won’t get to win this award since this is their last year of eligibility after receiving nominations last year, though both are deserving of the award. This year’s New Artist is clearly going to be The Band Perry. With the success of “If I Die Young” and “You Lie,” the group has little competition from the four other nominees. But my personal preference is Chris Young who has one of the best voices in country music and is one of the few artists who appreciates the genre’s past.

Who Should Win: Chris Young
Who Will Win: The Band Perry
Dark Horse: Luke Bryan

Single of the Year

  • “A Little Bit Stronger” – Sara Evans
  • “Colder Weather” – Zac Brown Band
  • “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
  • “Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton
  • “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry

Four of these five songs all spent time atop the singles chart, with the Aldean/Clarkson duet peaking at number two. This could go to any of these songs, making this another highly competitive category. The Evans song is the only song by a female artist to spend multiple weeks at number one. The Band Perry tune has been certified triple platinum for over 3 million downloads. “Honey Bee” has been one of the most beloved songs by country fans of the past year. But, only one of those songs has hit number one on the Hot AC chart.

Who Should Win: “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry
Who Will Win: “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry
Dark Horse: “A Little Bit Stronger” – Sara Evans

Song of the Year

  • “Colder Weather” – Zac Brown Band (written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, and Coy Bowles)
  • “Dirt Road Anthem” – Jason Aldean (written by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert)
  • “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry (written by Kimberly Perry)
  • “Mean” – Taylor Swift (written by Taylor Swift)
  • “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter (written by Matraca Berg and Deana Carter)

Whose bright idea was it to include “Dirt Road Anthem” over “Don’t You Wanna Stay” in this category?? Wasn’t a really good one considering “Anthem” is one of the worst songs to hit radio this year. But great job to the CMA for nominating one of the year’s best written songs, “You and Tequila,” which should win. However, The Band Perry’s genre-crossing smash was not only well written, but extremely successful. Look to Kimberly Perry to walk away with her first songwriting CMA.

Who Should Win: “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter (written by Matraca Berg and Deana Carter)
Who Will Win: “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry (written by Kimberly Perry)
Dark Horse: “Mean” – Taylor Swift (written by Taylor Swift)

Album of the Year

  • All About Tonight – Blake Shelton
  • My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean
  • Speak Now – Taylor Swift
  • This Is Country Music – Brad Paisley
  • You Get What You Give – Zac Brown Band

In terms of quality, this year’s lineup of nominees are some of the weakest this category has seen. However, it includes two of the genre’s best selling albums in the Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift sets. My personal favorite is the Jason Aldean album, but it’ll be hard to compete with an album that sold over one million copies in a week and as been certified triple platinum. Look to Swift to claim victory here.

Who Should Win: My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean
Who Will Win: Speak Now – Taylor Swift
Dark Horse: You Get What You Give – Zac Brown Band

Musical Event of the Year 

  • “As She’s Walking Away” – Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson
  • “Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Lorretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert, and Sheryl Crow
  • “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
  • “Old Alabama” – Brad Paisley featuring Alabama
  • “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

It’s rare to have a Musical Event category filled with songs that have actually experienced success on the singles charts. Four of these songs peaked inside the top 2 on the charts, while the other has been a critical darling. My favorite of these five is the Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter song, but this will most likely go to “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

Who Should Win: “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter
Who Will Win: “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
Dark Horse: “As She’s Walking Away” – Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson

Music Video of the Year

  • “Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton
  • “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry
  • “Mean” – Taylor Swift
  • “Old Alabama” – Brad Paisley featuring Alabama
  • “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

My favorite video out of the five is the Kenny Chesney video, but this will probably go to either Shelton or Swift. The Swift video was creative and memorable, while the Shelton video is for one of the biggest hits of his career.

Who Should Win: “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter
Who Will Win: “Mean” – Taylor Swift
Dark Horse: “Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton

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