2015 CMA Awards Nominees, Picks & Prognostications

CMA-AwardsOn Wednesday morning (9-9), the nominees for the 49th Annual Country Music Association Awards were announced on ABC’s Good Morning America, with the decidedly non-country personalities of Steven Tyler and Kelsea Ballerini helping to make the announcements. The 2014 CMA Awards will happen on Wednesday November 4th on ABC, and will be hosted once again by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

Leading all nominees is Eric Church and Little Big Town with five nominations each. Eric’s heavy load of nominations is not unusual since the rock-oriented country star likes to paint himself as a critical favorite. Little Big Town’s rise continues what is one of the most surprising and well-orchestrated retoolings of a country franchise the genre has ever seen. From their induction to the Grand Ole Opry, to the faux controversy over “Girl Crush” (which is at the heart of the band’s strong nomination showing), the fix is in, and it is in favor of Little Big Town.

Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert both received four nominations. Miranda regularly leads the pack as virtually the only commercially-viable female left in the mainstream aside from Carrie Underwood (who is historically undervalued come awards season), but since it is an off-album year for her, four is still a strong showing. The most surprising name in the nominee ranks might be Chris Stapleton. He comes in with a whopping three nominations, tying with Maddie & Tae, Sam Hunt, and Kacey Musgraves. Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton receive only two noms (again, off album year), and Kelsea Ballerini somehow squeezes out two nominations.

PLEASE NOTE: Just because I predict someone to win does not mean Saving Country Music is rooting for them.



Entertainer of the Year

Two horse race. Once again we find an older act toe to toe with Luke Bryan, with the massive touring appeal of Garth Brooks (previously George Strait) giving voters a tough decision to decide if today’s biggest star is worthy of this distinction. Slight edge to Luke. Also interesting to see Florida Georgia Line is not here. This shows that the Bro-Country backlash is real, and Anything Goes went too far with the band’s singular approach.

Garth Brooks – Possible Winner
Luke Bryan – Probable Winner
Kenny Chesney
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert



Male Vocalist of the Year

I predict this is the year the five-year reign of Blake Shelton is broken. How he made it this long is curious since his albums don’t sell compared to his level of stardom, but the split with Miranda will do him in. This is Luke’s to lose, but Dierks or Eric could also make a strong push.

Dierks Bentley
Luke Bryan – Winner
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Chris Stapleton



Female Vocalist of the Year

Ha, Kelsea. Yay, Lee Ann. This is always the most fun category see announced since the CMA’s have no clue what’s happening with females in the genre these days. It’s an insult to the distinction to see Kelsea’s name there. In the end though, the nominations for this are a formality. There’s only one with a chance.

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert – Winner
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood
Lee Ann Womack



Album of the Year

Yes it’s fun to see Chris Stapleton’s name here, but that’s to stamp down dissent by throwing traditional country fans some red meat. Also cool to see producer Dave Cobb get a nod. Stapleton has absolutely no chance though. With the huge political behind-the-scenes push for Little Big Town, they can’t be counted out of anything, but Kacey Musgraves is also a critical favorite and has to be considered a strong contender here. Outside chance for Aldean.

Old Boots, New Dirt
Jason Aldean
Produced by Michael Knox
Broken Bow

Pageant Material – Potential Winner
Kacey Musgraves
Produced by Kacey Musgraves, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally
Mercury Nashville

Pain Killer – Potential Winner
Little Big Town
Produced by Jay Joyce
Capitol Records Nashville

The Big Revival
Kenny Chesney
Produced by Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney
Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville

Chris Stapleton
Produced by Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton
Mercury Nashville



Song of the Year

“Girl Crush” WILL win either Song of the Year or Single of the Year, and it sucks that it got nominated for both, along with Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and Chesney’s “American Kids” (really?). Come on CMA’s, leave the delineation between Song of the Year as being something special, and Single of the Year being something commercially successful. These song categories just go to show how far we’ve slipped in quality. None of these songs carry any historical meaning, except for I guess “Girl Crush” if you want to count the manufactured controversy behind it. Musgraves’ “Fine” deserved to be here. Blah.

“American Kids”
Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally

“Girl Crush” – Winner, I guess
Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, and Hillary Lindsey

“Like a Cowboy”
Randy Houser and Brice Long

“Like a Wrecking Ball”
Eric Church and Casey Beathard

“Take Your Time”
Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne



Single of the Year

Horrible list. Always love to see Curb Records assert the last of their influence for Lee Brice in these matters. Also funny, “I Don’t Dance” was nominated for Song of the Year last year too. Really any of these could win. It’s an open field here, but none of them deserve it.

“American Kids”
Kenny Chesney
Produced by Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney
Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville

“Girl Crush”
Little Big Town
Produced by Jay Joyce
Capitol Records Nashville

“I Don’t Dance”
Lee Brice
Produced by Lee Brice
Curb Records

“Take Your Time”
Sam Hunt
Produced Zach Crowell and Shane McAnally
MCA Nashville

Eric Church
Produced by Jay Joyce and Arturo Buenahora, Jr.
EMI Records Nashville



New Artist of the Year

Sam Hunt, hands down.Chris Stapleton or Maddie & Tae deserve it.

Kelsea Ballerini
Sam Hunt – Winner
Maddie & Tae
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton



Vocal Duo of the Year

Not even close, especially since Florida Georgia Line got snubbed everywhere else.

Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line – Winner
Maddie & Tae
Thompson Square



Vocal Group of the Year

Duh. The curious coronation of Little Big Town continues.

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



Event of the Year

Cool to see Willie & Merle here. Hell, they may even win it, it’s a pretty open field. I have no clue where this might go. Frankly, even though there’s a lot of great names on this list, excluding Django and Jimmie (which note, is for the album, not the song), these songs are just completely unimpressive.

Django and Jimmie
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
Legacy Recordings

“Lonely Tonight”
Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe
Warner Bros./Warner Music Nashville

“Raise ‘Em Up”
Keith Urban featuring Eric Church
Hit Red Records/Capitol Records Nashville

“Smokin’ and Drinkin’”
Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
RCA Nashville

“Wild Child”
Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter
Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville



Music Video of the Year

Understand this really is more of just another song category. Any could win except for “Little Red Wagon.” Going out on a limb to say “Something in the Water,” but it really could go to anybody. Interesting to note this is all females.

Kacey Musgraves
Directed by Marc Klasfeld

“Girl Crush”
Little Big Town
Directed by Karla Welch and Matthew Welch

“Girl in a Country Song”
Maddie & Tae
Directed by TK McKamy

“Little Red Wagon”
Miranda Lambert
Directed by Trey Fanjoy

“Something in the Water” – Potential winner
Carrie Underwood
Directed by Raj Kapoor



Musician of the Year

Mac McAnally has won this seven years in a row, so either it’s time for him to get bumped, or go with the proven winner.

Sam Bush (Mandolin)
Jerry Douglas (Dobro)
Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
Dann Huff (Guitar)
Mac McAnally (Guitar)

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