The 2019 CMA Award nominees were announced Wednesday (8-28) morning, and those hoping for country music to have it’s “woke” moment with multiple women nominated for Entertainer of the Year, and Lil Nas X dominating everything else will be sorely disappointed. However the nominations did have some surprising moments, including Luke Bryan, Kane Brown, and Jason Aldean not being nominated for anything, and some quality up-and-coming names getting some recognition. Maren Morris also was the most nominated with 6 total nods, so this helps with the concerns of country’s women being overshadowed, even if she is a true contender for only one or two of them.
As for the snubs, Bro-Country is out, and the controversy swirling around Kane Brown about just how he came up can’t be shaken. Some will claim racism, but his second record has also done very surprisingly poorly.
Here are some knee jerk reactions. ALSO NOTE: The winners picked are NOT Saving Country Music’s choices, they are simply predictions. See descriptions for more detailed opinions. The awards will be on November 13th on ABC.
Entertainer of the Year
Carrie Underwood breaks the male-dominated monopoly on this category over the last few years, as she should. Since this has basically become a touring award, she deserves to be right up there with the rest after the numbers she’s tallied behind her Cry Pretty Tour 360. Eric Church also gets his due as a nominee, even if you would only give him an outside chance to win unless voters deem it is “his year.” For the love of God, don’t let Keith Urban 2-peat here. What an abomination of the country music record books he somehow won last year. Everyone is tired of giving Stapleton awards, though he deserved the nomination. But if you consider it as a touring award, it’s Garth’s to lose.
Garth Brooks – Potential winner
Carrie Underwood – Potential winner
Album of the Year
Holy hell what a weak field. If you’re an independent music fan, fall to your knees and be thankful a list like this does not represent your top tier of listening habits. In the current “climate,” there will be a desire by some to vote for Maren Morris, but Cry Pretty would be the more solid choice if we simply want to award a woman. But Eric Church has been a favorite of this category over the years. This is the award he wants, and he’ll trade all his Entertainer votes to get it if he can. And out of this field, he probably deserves it. His latest single “Monsters” proves that.
Center Point Road, Thomas Rhett
Cry Pretty, Carrie Underwood – Other Potential Winner
Dan + Shay, Dan + Shay
Desperate Man, Eric Church – Winner
Girl, Maren Morris
New Artist of the Year
This is arguably the strongest New Artist field in the last 15+ years. All of these artist could, and probably should get it, including Morgan Wallen and his mullet. Cody Johnson has arrived. Ashley McBryde deserves any award she’s nominated for, though is probably an outlier due to lack of commercial performance. Midland is good, but is better to compete in the group category. Carly Pearce doesn’t feel new at all, but wouldn’t be a bad pick here either. This is a toss up.
Single of the Year
This is “God’s Country” to lose. It’s the mammoth country single of 2019, like it or not. Lord don’t just give it to Stapleton just because he’s Stapleton. It will hurt his reputation due to the backlash more than it will help. “Girl” would be the “woke” option, but is a bland, monotone, non-country song that doesn’t deserve it.
“Burning Man” – Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne
“Girl” – Maren Morris
“God’s Country” – Blake Shelton – Winner
“Millionaire” – Chris Stapleton
“Speechless” – Dan + Shay
Song of the Year
“Rainbow” is the best song in the field by a long shot. Voters love Musgraves as they’ve evidenced over the years. But it’s taken us this long to get to a Luke Combs nomination, and the tear he’s on, he’s bound to win something. And once again, “God’s Country” is the big song of 2019. Competition is tough here.
“Beautiful Crazy” – Luke Combs – Potential winner
“Girl” – Maren Morris
“God’s Country” – Blake Shelton – Potential winner
“Rainbow” – Kacey Musgraves – Should win
“Tequila” – Dan + Shay
Female Vocalist of the Year
If Carrie Underwood is up for Entertainer of the Year, then this should be hers to lose. But with the attention Maren Morris receives, and the love voters have for Kacey Musgraves, they could emerge as dark horses. It’s a reset year for Miranda, so fans shouldn’t be mad if she’s not a contender here. And Ballerini? Few people can name you two songs from her still.
Maren Morris – Other Potential Winner
Carrie Underwood – Winner
Male Vocalist of the Year
Luke Combs is far and away the biggest country music artist at the moment, and arguably the biggest breakout star in the history of the genre. Truth be told, he probably also deserves Entertainer of the Year too.
Luke Combs – Winner
Vocal Group of the Year
Midland has a real good shot at this. Lady Antebellum is struggling with their relaunch, Zac Brown is struggling even harder with his, and Little Big Town isn’t doing anything relevant at the moment. Old Dominion is the only other one with a shot.
Little Big Town
Midland – Potential Winner
Old Dominion – Potential Winner
Zac Brown Band
Vocal Duo of the Year
Sweet to see Brooks & Dunn nominated here, but they won’t win. Neither will Maddie & Tae, though they deserve it most simply from the strength of “Die From A Broken Heart.” Florida Georgia Line are has been’s. Award shows love Brother’s Osborne, but have they done enough in 2019? (hasn’t hurt them in previous years.) Unfortunately, it looks like this is Dan+Shay’s to lose.
Brooks & Dunn
Dan+Shay – Winner
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae – Should win
Musical Event of the Year
“Old Town Road” will win this, if for no other reason than to get the rest of the world off of country music’s back. Should it win? The song has been a monster, so whatever. This is the CMA’s “also ran” category, so people shouldn’t consternate too much one way or the other. The other thing going for “Old Town Road” is it’s a pretty weak field. That “Brand New Man” remake was a banger and did well, but in no way defined 2019. The controversy around “Old Town Road” did.
“All My Favorite People”- Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne
“Brand New Man” – Brooks & Dunn and Luke Combs
“Dive Bar” – Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton
“Old Town Road (Remix)” – Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus – Winner
“What Happens In A Small Town” – Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell
Video of the Year
Video of the Year rarely has anything to do with the actual video, and is usually treated as a secondary song category for ones the CMAs want to highlight, but not for Song of the Year or Single of the Year. Under this premise, expect it to go to Kacey Musgraves for “Rainbow,” or perhaps Maren Morris with the emphasis on women.
Eric Church – “Some Of It”
Blake Shelton – “God’s Country”
Maren Morris – “GIRL” – Other Potential Winner
Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow” – WINNER
Dierks Bentley & Brothers Osborne – “Burning Man”
Musician of the Year
Paul Franklin played all that badass steel guitar on the new Midland record. Cool to see Jenee Fleenor get a nomination here. Mac McAnally usually wins this by default.