2013 CMA Awards Nominees, Picks, & Prognostications

CMA-AwardsOn November 6th, the 2013 Country Music Association Awards will transpire once again on ABC, with the nominees being announced this morning. Most surprising is that Kacey Musgraves, along with Taylor Swift, leads all nominees with six total nods. Though Musgraves is probably not a front runner for many of her awards, this speaks to her rising fame and influence. Miranda Lambert landed 5 nominations from both her solo work and her work with the Pistol Annies. Florida Georgia Line received 4 nominations, and Brad Paisley, who will host the show with Carrie Underwood, didn’t receive any for the first time in many years. Hunter Hayes is another name that curiously received no nominations.

Find a complete list of nominees below, along with thoughts, picks, and prognostications.

Entertainer of the Year

Boy, this is a wide open field. Aside from Jason Aldean, any of these folks could win it. Aldean just hasn’t had the solid sales year to leap frog his competitors. The other person at a disadvantage might be Taylor Swift. Since the major singles off her last album Red could all be considered more pop than country (even more pop than from previous years) she may be at a slight disadvantage, but still must be considered a solid contender. Blake Shelton is the reigning winner from last year, and with the continued success of his music and NBC’s The Voice, has to be considered a front runner. Luke Bryan is the reigning ACM Entertainer, and also has to be considered a strong contender. Voters may consider it “Luke’s year” since he’s had some successful singles and a big, influential impact on country music this year.

It is a surprise to see George Strait make this list, but since this is his last year of touring and the last year he will likely be eligible, he may come through with the sympathy vote. 2013 may be the last year an artist that in any way can be construed as traditional will be nominated, and potentially win what is considered the highest annual distinction in country music.

I’m slightly surprised not to see Florida Georgia Line represented here, but the powers that be may feel they’re still too fresh of an act to be considered this year.

  • Blake Shelton
  • Jason AldeanWon’t Win
  • Taylor Swift
  • George Strait
  • Luke Bryan


Male Vocalist of the Year

This is likely a two horse race between Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton. Keith Urban has no chance. Jason Aldean hasn’t seen the strength he saw last year to compete in this field. Eric Church would be the sleeper. It is sort of an off year for him since his last album Chief was released so long ago (July, 2011), and he hasn’t helped himself by flamethrowing so many other artists. But Church can’t be completely ruled out. In the end, Luke Bryan may the the here-and-now winner the CMA is looking for. Brad Paisley gets locked out.

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan – Winner
  • Blake Shelton – Other Strong Contender
  • Keith Urban
  • Eric Church


Female Vocalist of the Year

Once again, just like the ACM’s before them, the CMA’s put Kelly Clarkson in the mix here because of mainstream country’s inability to develop substantive female superstars. Kelly Clarkson has no chance of winning. Neither does Kacey Musgraves, who also got this curious distinction from the ACM’s and is probably not at the same caliber as the other competition. This whittles it down to three. Both Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert had solid years, and of course Taylor Swift outsold everyone. It is probably Swift’s to lose, with Carrie and Miranda offering stiff competition. Why no Ashley Monroe? Was her solo work and her stuff with the Pistol Annies not enough, especially if you’re stretching for names?

  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Miranda Lambert – Strong contender
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Taylor Swift- Winner
  • Carrie Underwood – Strong contender


 Single of the Year

“Cruise” will win this going away, unless backroom block voting propels “Mama’s Broken Heart” to the front of the pack. Just appreciate “Merry Go ‘Round” wasn’t even a Top 10 single. That’s not to discount it; it’s nomination here, and the fact that Kacey has two songwriter credits in this category (the other for “Mama’s Broken Heart), speaks to her current impact on country. By simply being nominated, “Merry Go ‘Round” has won.

  • “Cruise”; Florida Georgia Line; Produced by Joey Moi; Republic Nashville – WINNER
  • “Highway Don’t Care”; Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban; Produced by Byron Gallimore and Tim McGraw; Big Machine Records
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart”; Miranda Lambert; Produced by Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf, and Chuck Ainlay; RCA Nashville
  • “Merry Go ‘Round”; Kacey Musgraves; Produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves; Mercury Records
  • Wagon Wheel”; Darius Rucker; Produced by Frank Rogers; Capitol Records Nashville


Album of the Year

Don’t get your hopes up folks, Same Trailer, Different Park has no chance, but it is a distinction for Kacey just to be nominated. Tornado by Little Big Town doesn’t have a chance either. From there it is wide open, though it’s hard to see Blown Away winning it because Carrie Underwood seems to be the perrenial runner up at the CMA Awards. This may be one of those where it just comes down to sales.

  • Based on a True Story: Blake Shelton; Produced by Scott Hendricks; Warner Bros. Records – OTHER POTENTIAL WINNER
  • Blown Away: Carrie Underwood; Produced by Mark Bright; 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville
  • Red: Taylor Swift; Produced by Jeff Bhasker, Scott Borchetta, Nathan Chapman, Dann Huff, Jacknife Lee, Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift, Butch Walker, and Dan Wilson; Big Machine Records – WINNER
  • Same Trailer Different Park: Kacey Musgraves; Produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves; Mercury Records
  • Tornado: Little Big Town; Produced by Jay Joyce; Capitol Records Nashville


Song of the Year

“Pontoon”? Please. I have no idea why they are still trying to shove this song down our throats as anything more than a thowaway party song. As it should be, this distinction is usually saved for the deep, sentimental, or inspirational song, and so “I Drive Your Truck” should walk away with it. “Mama’s Broken Heart” is a little too obvious. “Wagon Wheel” is more Single of the Year material, and I’m surprised it is here and not there. “Merry Go ‘Round” would make an interesting pick, but it still feels like an underdog.

  • “I Drive Your Truck,” Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary – WINNER
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
  • “Merry Go ‘Round,” Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne, and Shane McAnally
  • “Pontoon,” Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, and Barry Dean
  • “Wagon Wheel,” Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor


New Artist of the Year

The only reason Florida Georgia Line doesn’t run away with this is if they are slated to win Single and Duo of the year, so block voting decides to give this distinction to someone else. With so many other nominations for Kacey, and so few of them that she is actually in contention for, she will be the close runner up.

  • Lee Brice
  • Brett Eldredge
  • Florida Georgia Line – Winner
  • Kip Moore
  • Kacey Musgraves – Other Potential Winner


Vocal Duo of the Year

No question Florida Georgia Line wins.

  • Big & Rich
  • Florida Georgia Line – Winner
  • Love and Theft
  • Sugarland
  • The Civil Wars
  • Thompson Square


Vocal Group of the Year

Yawn. Zac Brown Band should win. Lady Antebellum or The Band Perry will win. Why aren’t the Pistol Annies here?

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum – Other Potential Winner
  • Little Big Town
  • The Band Perry – Winner
  • Zac Brown Band


Musical Event of the Year

Wide open field here. “Cruise” would be the big commercial winner. “Highway Don’t Care” has a lot of star power. So does “The Only Way I Know.”

  • “Boys ‘Round Here”: Blake Shelton (featuring Pistol Annies); Warner Bros. Records
  • “Cruise”: Florida Georgia Line (with Nelly); Republic Nashville – Contender
  • “Highway Don’t Care”; Tim McGraw (with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban); Big Machine Records – Contender
  • “The Only Way I Know”; Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church; Broken Bow Records – Contender
  • “Don’t Rush”: Kelly Clarkson (featuring Vince Gill) 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville


Music Video of the Year


  • “Blown Away,” Carrie Underwood; Directed by Randee St. Nicholas
  • “Boys ‘Round Here,” Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies; Directed by Trey Fanjoy
  • “Downtown,” Lady Antebellum; Directed by Peter Zavadil
  • “Highway Don’t Care,” Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban; Directed by Shane Drake
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda Lambert; Directed by Trey Fanjoy
  • “Tornado,” Little Big Town; Directed by Shane Drake


Musician of the Year

This is always the hardest award to prognosticate. Since Paul Franklin had his name prominently displayed beside Vince Gill’s on their new Bakersfield album, he should probably be considered a front runner.

  • Sam Bush (Mandolin)
  • Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
  • Dann Huff (Guitar)
  • Brent Mason (Guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (Guitar)
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