CMA 2011 Preview: The Jason Aldean Effect (& Predictions)

Back in late July, when Jason Aldean’s country rap mega-hit “Dirt Road Anthem” rose to #1 on the country Billboard charts, I predicted that this would make Aldean a legitimate candidate for Song, Album, and Entertainer of the Year at the 2011 CMA Awards, saying:

Not only is “Dirt Road Anthem” now a #1 single, it has been in the top 5 for two months. This is not a flash in the pan, and Aldean’s album “My Kinda Party” is already the best-selling country album of 2011 so far. Jason Aldean is undeniably a country music superstar, and he, his album, and this song, are serious candidates for top honors at this year’s CMA Awards.

Well lo and behold, when the nominations came out, Jason was up for all the major awards, though officially Song of the Year would go to “Dirt Road Anthem” writers Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert. Sitting here a few days before the 2011 CMA Awards show, I look a little less clairvoyant, and a little more like a master of the obvious, with My Kinda Party and “Dirt Road Anthem” being such commercial blockbusters as the best-selling album and song so far for 2011.

The only question left is, will Jason Aldean and “Dirt Road Anthem” win? Certainly having the best-selling album and song makes these clear front runners in those two categories, and combined they give Aldean a good case for being the the most important male vocalist and entertainer this year. But sheer numbers don’t always make you a shoe-in for the awards.

Taylor Swift’s song “Mean”, with it’s anti-bullying message seems to be garnering a lot of sympathy for Song of the Year, and with her own commercial blockbuster album Speak Now, she has a legitimate shot at the Album & Entertainer awards herself. Remember, this time last year, the big talk about Taylor Swift was how she was “overexposed,” and she was noticeably absent from any of the CMA fanfare after sweeping the awards in 2009. Hypothetically, the payoff for her patience in 2010 is a big night in 2011. Taylor and Jason Aldean are the two artists poised to sweep the awards, setting up a very interesting Aldean vs. Swift storyline throughout the night.

At this point I’m not sure if it matters if Jason Aldean wins or not; the effects of his presence in the CMA nominations have already been felt. His nominations already likely pushed Jamey Johnson out of the CMA picture. And as I pointed out when the nominations came out, Jason Aldean used to be on the outside looking in to the music industry and the awards shows, saying in 2010, “The average fan doesn’t understand how all that stuff works and the industry probably doesn’t want them to.” Now Aldean is the industry, as a bona fide top-tier country music franchise, and so are Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert, and so is country rap.

Just like how Taylor Swift’s big 2009 sweep of the awards caused a dramatic pop-oriented shift in the genre, with established bands like Sugarland going in a more pop direction, and bands like Lady Antebellum breaking through, an Aldean sweep could cause a shift to Aldean’s calling cards of checklist songs and country rap. And a win for the song “Dirt Road Anthem” would all but make the formation of the mono-genre complete.

Saving Country Music’s Official 2011 CMA Predictions:

Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean (1a Taylor Swift)

Album of the Year: Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party

Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton (1a Jason Aldean)

Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert

Song of the Year: Taylor Swift’s “Mean”

Music Video of the Year: Taylor Swift’s “Mean”

New Artist of the Year: The Band Perry

Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum

Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland (should be The Civil Wars)

Single & Musical Event of the Year: None of the Above

Musician of the Year: Sam Bush deserves it.