CMA Predictions & Personal Picks

Here are our final predictions and comments on the 2006 CMA Awards, which airs live on ABC at 8 Eastern/7 Central on Monday, Nov. 7. Check back at the beginning of the show for live-blogging throughout the night!

Musical Event

  • “Building Bridges” – Brooks & Dunn with Sheryl Crow & Vince Gill
  • “Like We Never Loved At All” – Faith Hill with Tim McGraw
  • “Politically Uncorrect” – Gretchen Wilson with Merle Haggard
  • “When I Get Where I’m Going” – Brad Paisley with Dolly Parton
  • “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” – Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles

Paul
Will Win: Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles
Should Win:
Brad Paisley with Dolly Parton
Comments: Three very strong nominees, qualitatively I would regard Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles as worthy winners, as would be Gretchen Wilson with Merle Haggard. I suspect that ten years from now the Paisley-Parton collaboration will be venerated.

Kevin
Will Win: Brad Paisley with Dolly Parton
Should Win: Faith Hill with Tim McGraw
Comments: Paisley has won in this category twice before, and partnering with a Hall-of-Famer on a #1 single makes for a shoo-in victory. Parton does her best to sweeten up musical white bread, but the record still sounds lifeless to me. The fireworks on the Hill/McGraw collaboration will have me still listening to that record twenty years from now.

Music Video

  • “8th of November” – Big & Rich
  • “Believe” – Brooks & Dunn
  • “Jesus, Take the Wheel” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Kerosene” – Miranda Lambert
  • “When I Get Where I’m Going” – Brad Paisley with Dolly Parton

Kevin
Will Win: “8th of November”
Should Win: “8th of November”
Comments: The CMA has been reluctant to award Big & Rich, but with this year being their third on the ballot, they’re proving to be more than a flash in the pan. Their ambitious clip gives voters a way to acknowledge them without offending the perennial winners in that other category.

Paul
Will Win: “8th of November”
Should Win:
“When I Get Where I’m Going”
Comments:
As a video, “8th of November” was terrific and it is the politically correct choice. I would rate it only a hair behind my “should win” choice. “When I Get Where I’m Going” is a transcendent video. It still chokes me up to see it . Any chance of a tie ??

Song

  • “8th of November” – Big Kenny & John Rich
  • “Believe” – Craig Wiseman & Ronnie Dunn
  • “Jesus, Take the Wheel” – Hillary Lindsey, Brett James & Gordie Sampson
  • “Tonight I Wanna Cry” – Keith Urban & Monty Powell
  • “When I Get Where I’m Going” – Rivers Rutherford & George Teren

Paul
Will Win: either “Believe” or “When I Get Where I’m Going”
Should Win: either “Believe” or “When I Get Where I’m Going”
Comments: I can’t recall the last time I saw so many religiously themed songs nominated. I think “Believe” as a song was better than the performance Brooks & Dunn gave it.

Kevin
Will Win: “Believe”
Should Win: “Jesus, Take the Wheel”
Comments: I have a feeling that this is a race between the “spiritual” hits, and having an artist among the writers will give “Believe” the edge. Personally, I think “Jesus, Take the Wheel” is the best song.

Single

  • “Believe” – Brooks & Dunn
  • “Better Life” – Keith Urban
  • “Jesus, Take the Wheel” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Summertime” – Kenny Chesney
  • “When I Get Where I’m Going” – Brad Paisley with Dolly Parton

Kevin
Will Win: “Jesus, Take the Wheel”
Should Win: “Jesus, Take the Wheel”
Comments: The illuminating vocals of an instant superstar made a great song soar even higher. It was also the biggest hit, so barring an upset from Paisley & Parton, should win this in a walk.

Paul
Will Win: “Jesus, Take The Wheel”
Should Win:
“Jesus, Take The Wheel”
Comments: Carrie Underwood is a superstar in the making – I trust that this is the first of many terrific singles from Ms. Underwood.

Album

  • Brooks & Dunn, Hillbilly Deluxe
  • Kenny Chesney, The Road & The Radio
  • Alan Jackson, Precious Memories
  • Brad Paisley, Time Well Wasted
  • Rascal Flatts, Me and My Gang

Paul
Will Win: Me and My Gang
Should Win: Time Well Wasted
Comments:
Paisley is the most versatile major-label performer out there. His albums always contain some surprises and always contain a mix of serious and tongue-in-cheek material

Kevin
Will Win: Time Well Wasted
Should Win: The Road & The Radio
Comments:
The stars are lined up for Paisley to have a big night. He’s a CMA favorite who is overdue. Still, Chesney made the better album. I’m pulling for him but I don’t think he’ll win.

Musician

  • Eddie Bayers
  • Jerry Douglas
  • Paul Franklin
  • Dann Huff
  • Brent Mason
  • Randy Scruggs

Kevin
Will Win: Jerry Douglas
Should Win: Paul Franklin
Comments: Douglas has won twice before and will probably repeat this yaer. As far as who deserves it, for me it comes down to who has been waiting the longest to win, since they are all fantastic. The only two who haven’t won are Eddie Bayers and Paul Franklin; since it’s Bayers’ eighth nomination, but Franklin’s fifteenth, I’m going with Franklin.

Paul
Will Win: Beats me – they are all worthy. Jerry Douglas has the highest profile so he probably wins.
Should Win: All of them.
Comments:
All of these guys have maintained a high level of excellence, basically unvarying from year to year.

Vocal Duo

  • Big & Rich
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Van Zant
  • The Wreckers

Paul
Will Win: Brooks & Dunn
Should Win:
The Wreckers
Comments:
I’m not wild about any of these acts, since I think none of them are especially country. I liked the Wreckers CD better than I liked anything put out by the other acts , so, by default, I’ll say they “should win”. Historically this has been either a weak category or a non-competitive category. This year it’s just a weak category.

Kevin
Will Win: Brooks & Dunn
Should Win: Big & Rich
Comments: I want to say, for the record, that never-ending victors Brooks & Dunn are making the least interesting music of any of the five nominees. While I expect them to take home the award for the fourteenth time in fifteen years, I won’t be smiling when they do. Big & Rich are restlessly creative and ambitious, and deserve the award, but I’d be happy to see any of the other three nominees win over B&D.

Vocal Group

  • Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
  • Little Big Town
  • Lonestar
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Sugarland

Kevin
Will Win: Rascal Flatts
Should Win: Sugarland
Comments: I’d like to see Sugarland win the group trophy this year, then move on to duo in 2007. Rascal Flatts seem likely to win for a fourth time, but they don’t do much for me, and pale in comparison to the other three acts who have won this category four times – The Statler Brothers, Diamond Rio & Dixie Chicks.

Paul
Will Win: Rascal Flatts
Should Win:
either Sugarland or Rascal Flatts
Comments:
I am no fan of Rascal Flatts, who I regard as a country “boy band” (albeit an aging boy band), but their level of success cannot be denied.

Horizon Award

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Little Big Town
  • Sugarland
  • Josh Turner
  • Carrie Underwood

Paul
Will Win: Carrie Underwood
Should Win:
Carrie Underwood
Comments:
Lambert and Turner are also worthy but I expect Ms.Underwood to steamroll them both.

Kevin
Will Win: Josh Turner
Should Win: Carrie Underwood
Comments: I have a sneaking suspicion that voters are going to pick Underwood in two other major categories, and throw their vote toward Josh Turner for Horizon. He’s a staunch traditionalist, and has already proven his mettle with two platinum albums – the only nominee of the five who can claim that, as all other nominees have only released one set.

Female Vocalist

  • Sara Evans
  • Faith Hill
  • Martina McBride
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Gretchen Wilson

Kevin
Will Win: Carrie Underwood
Should Win: Carrie Underwood
Comments: Evans and Underwood are the only two nominees who haven’t won, and while Evans is overdue – this is her sixth nomination – she can’t seem to get enough hits in a row to put her over the edge. I thought she’d win easily in 2006, until “Cheatin’” barely cracked the top ten and “Coalmine” collided with the news of mine disasters and died a quiet death. Underwood is the biggest-seller, best singer and most deserving winner. I’m thinking first time’s a charm.

Paul
Will Win: Carrie Underwood
Should Win:
Carrie Underwood
Comments
: My second-favorite female singer this year will never be nominated by the CMA: (1) she doesn’t record for a major label and (2) she isn’t very pretty so she will never get signed by a major label, but if you chance across either of Amber Digby’s CDs do yourself a favor and buy it.

Male Vocalist

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Alan Jackson
  • Brad Paisley
  • Keith Urban

Paul
Will Win: Kenny Chesney
Should Win:
Dierks Bentley
Comments:
Good category. Alan Jackson had a weak year but you can make a strong case for Keith Urban and Brad Paisley as well.

Kevin
Will Win: Brad Paisley
Should Win: Alan Jackson
Comments: Alan stepped out of his comfort zone twice this year, making a gospel album and a pop-flavored collection produced by Alison Krauss – and topped the charts with both albums. His gospel record, despite no airplay, managed to outsell his previous radio-friendly set. However, Paisley is nominated for the sixth time in seven years, and it just feels like this is his year. I expect him to have a big night, topped off with a win in this category.

Entertainer

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Keith Urban

Kevin
Will Win: Kenny Chesney
Should Win: Kenny Chesney
Comments: Sure, Urban won last year, but he didn’t put out another album since then. If voters go by the definition of the award, which encompasses everything from recorded work, live performance and even shaping the image of country music itself, Chesney has it in the bag. He’s breaking Garth’s concert attendance records these days, and hasn’t cooled off at radio or retail. Urban’s been relatively quiet this year, taking a break from the road for a good part of the year. Rascal Flatts could threaten, but history isn’t on their side – Alabama and the Dixie Chicks are the only groups to win this award, and their success was on a much larger scale when they did. My gut says Chesney takes it; my head says he deserves it.

Paul
Will Win: Rascal Flatts
Should Win:
Brad Paisley
Comments:
I don’t think CMA voters really understand this category. I think this award should focus on the performers as live performers. Keith Urban would be my second choice here. One year when Waylon & Willie were both nominated, Mel Tillis was chosen, which was a surprise to many – it shouldn’t have been as Tillis was the superior stage performer at this point in time.

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6 Comments

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6 Responses to CMA Predictions & Personal Picks

  1. JonathanNo Gravatar

    All right… predictions time:

    Entertainer of the Year
    Will Win: Rascal Flatts.
    Should Win: Brad Paisley.
    The stint in rehab will cost Urban his crown– had that happened later in the voting period, he likely would’ve held on, though. Rascal Flatts will win because of their commercial stats, certainly not because they’re the best live entertainers.

    Male Vocalist
    Will Win: Brad Paisley.
    Should Win: Alan Jackson.
    Should Have Been Nominated: Gary Allan.
    Paisley is overdue for a big award or two, and he’s a better singer than he’s often credited for. But Jackson’s _Like Red on a Rose_ album is stunning and shows him to be by far the best vocalist nominated this year… since Allan was snubbed. Again.

    Female Vocalist
    Will Win: Carrie Underwood.
    Should Win: Sara Evans, I guess.
    Should Have Been Nominated: LeAnn Rimes.

    After mulling it over a bit, I think not standing by her man will alienate Evans from country music’s conservative voters– even if she is an ardent supporter of the GOP, and even if she’s a few years overdue to have won this award. Underwood, with her combination of commercial stats, public endorsed pipes, and completely “wholesome” images, is a perfectly safe choice, and I think she’ll pull off the surprising upset. LeAnn Rimes should’ve been nominated for having the best run of her career, both critically and commercially.

    Album of the Year
    Will Win: _Time Well Wasted_, Brad Paisley.
    Should Win: _Time Well Wasted_, Brad Paisley.
    Should Have Been Nominated: _Tough All Over_, Gary Allan.

    Paisley benefits from a likely vote-split between Rascal Flatts’ and Kenny Chesney’s pop albums. That Chesney has, indefensibly, won in this category before gives him a shot, though. Other than Paisley, Gary Allan released the best mainstream country album of the last year.

    Vocal Group of the Year
    Will Win: Rascal Flatts.
    Should Win: Alison Krauss & Union Station (featuring Jerry Douglas).

    Krauss & Co. could pull the upset if Sugarland pulls enough votes away from Rascal Flatts. I just wouldn’t bet on it.

    Vocal Duo of the Year
    Will Win: Brooks & Dunn.
    Should Win: Brooks & Dunn.

    For the past few years, I would’ve given this to Big & Rich, but I think Brooks & Dunn had far stronger material this year. But, as always, this category should’ve been merged with the Best Vocal Group category to cut out the fat.

    Single of the Year
    Will Win: “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” Carrie Underwood.
    Should Win: “Better Life,” Keith Urban.
    Should Have Been Nominated: “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way,” LeAnn Rimes.

    In terms of production values, Urban’s single is a rare example of pop country that’s not embarassing either as “pop” or as “country.” But, with the exception of “Summertime,” which isn’t even one of Chesney’s five best singles of the last year let alone one of the five best singles *period*, this is one of the stronger line-ups the CMAs have had in recent years. Urban could take the win from the biggest radio hit of the bunch if the three Jesus-y songs vote-split.

    Song of the Year
    Will Win: “When I Get Where I’m Going”
    Should Win: “Tonight I Wanna Cry”
    Should Have Been Nominated: “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” Gary Allan.

    Country music generally doesn’t like its men to skew as emo as Urban does on “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” so he’s the long-shot in this category, though I think it’s the best-written song of the bunch. Since the winners of Single & Song of the year don’t always have to match up for the CMAs, I think Paisley’s more traditional song will win here, while Underwood takes Single of the Year. Again, this is another category where Gary Allan was snubbed.

    Musical Event of the Year
    Will Win: “When I Get Where I’m Going,” Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton.
    Should Win: “When I Get Where I’m Going,” Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton.
    Should Have Been Nominated: “Jackson,” Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon.

    Not a particularly strong year for collaborations. I would’ve replaced the gross Wilson & Haggard cut with Phoenix & Witherspoon’s spirited version of “Jackson” from Walk the Line.

    Video of the Year
    Will Win: “When I Get Where I’m Going,” Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton.
    Should Win: “Kerosene,” Miranda Lambert.

    CMA voters have no idea what in the hell they’re voting for in this category, so they usually just go for the biggest single or something obviously sentimental– which is why “When I Get Where I’m Going” will beat Lambert’s fiery video.

    Horizon Award
    Will Win: Carrie Underwood.
    Should Win: Miranda Lambert.

    Underwood’s actually my pick as the weakest, artistically, of the five nominees this year by a good margin, but her commercial impact is impossible to deny. Lambert, on the other hand, is the biggest talent to emerge on a major label in Nashville since The Dixie Chicks. I don’t think Kevin’s prediction of Josh Turner is entirely unreasonable, but I just don’t see that happening. Underwood is already too big a star to lose this award.

    Musician of the Year
    Will Win: Jerry Douglas.
    Should Win: Any of the six nominees.

    Year in and year out, this category puts to shame the other CMA nominees. And I agree that Douglas will likely win because he has the highest profile of the bunch.

  2. Jonathan, my only question is: WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING FOR THIS SITE? We could really use you!

  3. Paul W. DennisNo Gravatar

    I’m with Kevin.

    We need someone in the middle here. Kevin is a modernist, who hallucinates that today’s women of country are making good county music music. I’m a diehard traditionalist who thinks that the music got ruined when they added drums and firmly believes that a song that runs over 3:15 is too long. From your comments, you would seem to bridge the gap nicely

  4. Differences of opinion are hallucinations now? Anyway, I think the 90’s women are making great music. Hasn’t been a new female vocalist, aside from Carrie Underwood, to come along this decade that’s impressed me.

  5. Paul W. DennisNo Gravatar

    Kevin – you need to be able to recognize a tongue planted firmly in cheek – or did you not note my comments about myself ?

  6. You’re a lot funnier than Kix Brooks. I’ll give you that.