Oh CMA’s. How 2020 of you to nominate Justin Bieber for three CMA Awards. Now he can compete with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who won his first in 2019.
Of course, the nominations for the Biebs come via a Dan + Shay collaboration, who deserve attention from country music just about as much as Justin Bieber or Trent Reznor do. But hey, the 2020 CMA nominations aren’t all bad of course. Ashley McBryde received three nominations. You know, just as many as Justin Bieber.
Pontificating on the 2020 CMA Award feels especially dumb and presumptuous in 2020. To be held in the shadow of an American Presidential election that very well could still not be decided by the time the telecast airs, the awards will be a poor distraction from the widespread violence and looting plaguing American streets, regardless of the election outcome, because our society has descended into a real life version of an internet flame war after the gaming of the collective mind by social media algorhythms and legacy media lying to prop up the agendas of the two party system that benefits from endless conflict.
Music should be a distraction and escape from all of this of course. But due to the insistence by many to severely politicize every aspect of American life—especially music—it offers no respite. Many award shows have become nothing more than performative art and a vehicle for signaling, while any semblance of earned achievement or even a modicum of meritocracy has been torn asunder by insatiable mobs trying to destroy people’s lives on Twitter.
Even though the CMA nominated more women than in any time in modern CMA history, the nominations are already being labeled as sexist for not including The Highwomen or Kelsea Ballerini, and racist for excluding Kane Brown. Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown don’t deserve any nominations of course, but they probably deserve them more than Justin Bieber, or Dan + Shay. If The Highwomen wanted some nominations country nominations, maybe they should have made a country record instead of striking the steel guitar out of the mix and ending up with an Americana one.
So yay, here’s your 2020 CMA Award nominees, with some kneejerk predictions. And PLEASE NOTE mob members, stans, and internet trolls, the winners selected are NOT a personal preference. They’re simply a prediction.
Entertainer Of The Year
Luke Combs should win this, and likely will win this, and it’s not even close. No matter the metric you want to bring to this category, Luke Combs far and away surpassed all comers—whether it’s album sales, radio play, touring (before it shut down), and even his acoustic performances during the pandemic, Luke Combs defined country music during the eligibility period for better or worse.
As super excited as everyone is that two women were nominated, in truth this this is likely to parse the vote between the two candidates resulting in neither of them garnering enough votes to win. But if one did win, it would be Miranda with the new record and the amount of nominations she received this year (7 overall). Carrie’s year was last year, and we all know how that went.
All that said, with the way awards have become so performative for organization as opposed to merit-based, all bets are off. Votes could come flooding in for Carrie and Miranda in equal measures, allowing Eric Church to rise as a dark horse. But if anyone but Luke Combs wins, it will expose the award as meaningless at highlighting the biggest “Entertainer” over a give time period.
Luke Combs – WINNER
Album Of The Year
Very cool to see Jon Pardi and Ashley McBryde nominated here, but this is a contest between Luke Combs as the clear commercial front-runner who also received critical praise, and Miranda Lambert’s Wildcard, which will be the critic’s choice in a year the CMA will look to emphasize women.
Heartache Medication – Jon Pardi
Never Will – Ashley McBryde
Old Dominion – Old Dominion
What You See Is What You Get – Luke Combs – WINNER
Wildcard – Miranda Lambert – Other Potential Winner
Male Vocalist Of The Year
Runaway. No contest.
Luke Combs – WINNER
Female Vocalist Of The Year
Interesting two-way race here between two Texas women. Miranda Lambert is the tried-and-true winner of this category, but with the success of “The Bones” and the media obsession with Maren after she flashes side boob on Instagram and then couches herself as a victim when someone complains, she’s a major player here as well.
Miranda Lambert – Potential Winner
Maren Morris – Potential Winner
Vocal Group Of The Year
Ha! Can you imagine how apoplectic American media would go if “Lady A” won anything? Old Dominion will walk away with this in a weak field, even though 99% of Americans couldn’t name you one song from them. Midland probably deserves it, but they’ve had their own PR troubles.
Little Big Town
Old Dominion – WINNER
Vocal Duo Of The Year
Dan + Shay likely wins, but don’t count Maddie & Tae entirely out here. As we saw over numerous years, the CMA was willing to award Brothers Osborne over the much more commercially successful Florida Georgia Line. With the emphasis on women, the success of their song “Die From A Broken Heart,” and their role as critical darlings, Maddie & Tae have a shot here.
Brooks & Dunn
Dan + Shay – WINNER
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae – Other Potential Winner
New Artist Of The Year
Not even close. The man in the mullet wins it running away.
Morgan Wallen – WINNER
Single Of The Year
Considering this as a commercial award, it probably comes down to “The Bones,” and Bert and Ernie with the Biebs since these both were propped up by illegal streaming spins out of European spin farms to a greater extent than anything else during the eligibility period. With the other hardware going to Luke Combs for bigger awards, he doesn’t need this. Gabby Barret also did well with “I Hope,” but it may be too early for her to win an award like this.
“10,000 Hours” – Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber) – Potential Winner
“Beer Never Broke My Heart” – Luke Combs
“Bluebird” – Miranda Lambert
“The Bones” – Maren Morris – Potential Winner
“I Hope” – Gabby Barrett
Song Of The Year
This actually isn’t an entirely terrible field. Instead of treating this as just another Single of the Year slot like the ACMs normally do, there are some decent songs here. “Even Though I’m Leaving” might be Luke Combs’ best. “More Hearts Than Mine” and “I Hope You’re Happy Now” aren’t terrible either. Hard to predict this one, but it feels like it’s between Miranda’s “Bluebird” and Luke Combs.
–“Bluebird” – Written by Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert, recorded by Miranda Lambert – Potential Winner
–“The Bones” – Written by Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz, recorded by Maren Morris
–“Even Though I’m Leaving” – Written by Luke Combs, Wyatt B. Durrette III, Ray Fulcher, recorded by Luke Combs – Potential Winner
–“I Hope You’re Happy Now” – Written by Luke Combs, Randy Montana, Carly Pearce, Jonathan Singleton, recorded by Carly Pearce and Lee Brice
–“More Hearts Than Mine” – Written by Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis, Derrick Southerland, recorded by Ingrid Andress
Musical Event Of The Year
No contest. Look, the CMAs aren’t going to con Justin Bieber into performing if they don’t award him something.
–“10,000 Hours” – Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber) – WINNER
— “Be A Light” – Thomas Rhett featuring Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, Keith Urban
— “The Bones” – Maren Morris with Hozier
— “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” – Miranda Lambert (feat. Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes & Caylee Hammack)
— “I Hope You’re Happy Now” – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice
Musician Of The Year
Jenee Fleenor, Fiddle – WINNER
Paul Franklin, Steel Guitar
Rob McNelley, Guitar
Ilya Toshinskiy, Guitar
Derek Wells, Guitar
Music Video Of The Year
No opinion here, aside from pointing out this has become nothing more than a secondary pre-telecast song category over recent years, so pontificate accordingly.
“10,000 Hours” – Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber)
“Bluebird” – Miranda Lambert
“Homemade” – Jake Owen
“I Hope You’re Happy Now” – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice
“Second One To Know” – Chris Stapleton