2019 CMA Awards Picks & Predictions

The 53rd Annual Country Music Association Awards are fast approaching.  Here are our predicted winners and personal picks!

Entertainer of the Year – Will Win

  • Garth Brooks
  • Eric Church
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Carrie Underwood – KJC, JK
  • Keith Urban

Entertainer of the Year – Should Win

  • Garth Brooks
  • Eric Church
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Carrie Underwood – KJC, JK
  • Keith Urban

JK: My hope for when Underwood takes this– and I believe she will, and she should have a couple of wins in this category already– is that her victory isn’t undercut by people claiming that it was a politically-driven win. She’s earned this many times over. Both Church and, to a lesser extent, Stapleton should win this category at some point, too, but not this year.

KJC: Carrie Underwood is long overdue for this award, and the conditions seems right for her to finally win it this year.  It boggles the mind that if she does finally win, she’ll be only the eighth female act in the 53 years of the CMA Awards to take it home.

Male Vocalist of the Year – Will Win

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Luke Combs – KJC
  • Thomas Rhett – JK
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

Male Vocalist of the Year – Should Win

  • Dierks Bentley – KJC, JK
  • Luke Combs
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

KJC:  Choosing Chris Stapleton again seems unlikely, given he had a fairly quiet year.  I’m rooting for Dierks Bentley, who is way overdue for this award, but I think that the winner will be Luke Combs. He’s had a great year, and he’s more than worthy of the honor.

JK: Rhett’s maddening popularity is never allowed to be its own reward, so I think he’ll get one win here before Combs starts to run the table for a few years. Bentley released the best music of the nominees during the eligibility year, but, sadly, that has never managed to sway CMA, ACM, or Grammy voters to the extent it should have.

Female Vocalist of the Year – Will Win

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris – JK
  • Kacey Musgraves – KJC
  • Carrie Underwood

Female Vocalist of the Year – Should Win

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris
  • Kacey Musgraves – KJC, JK
  • Carrie Underwood

JK: Lambert, as much as I adore her, shouldn’t even have been eligible this year based on the actual criteria; her slot should’ve gone to Brandi Carlile, Reba, or Ashley McBryde. As for the actual winner?  Underwood could repeat– worst-case scenario is that voters consider this an appropriate consolation prize and give Entertainer Of The Year to Urban or Brooks– but I think it’s more likely that Musgraves sneaks out a win for her cross-genre media victory lap this year. I keep betting on Morris to win one of these and keep being wrong, but she is this year’s leading nominee, so she’s certainly in the mix, as well.

KJC:  Like Jonathan, I wouldn’t be shocked if Carrie Underwood repeats in this category, but I think it’s more likely that UMG pushes for a Musgraves win here and puts all of their energy into Entertainer for Underwood. Maren Morris is a threat, but I don’t think she’s got quite enough support to pull off a victory on this level.

Vocal Group of the Year – Will Win

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Midland
  • Old Dominion – JK, KJC
  • Zac Brown Band

Vocal Group of the Year – Should Win

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Midland – JK, KJC
  • Old Dominion
  • Zac Brown Band

KJC: Midland has another opportunity to take an award home, so I think that voters will go with Old Dominion, who have been consistently successful lately.  I’d personally love to see Midland take it.

JK: Midland is the only one of the five bands here who released any music I’ve liked in the last year. Old Dominion, for whatever reason, has emerged as the de facto winner of this category at the CMAs and ACMs; I’d say that’s an embarrassment to the genre, but there sits Zac Brown Band, whose frontman needs to go to the house.

Vocal Duo of the Year – Will Win

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay – JK, KJC
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae

Vocal Duo of the Year – Should Win

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Brothers Osborne – JK
  • Dan + Shay – KJC
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae

JK: It’s inconceivable that Dan+Shay, Rascal Flatts knockoffs extraordinaire, lose this. As ever, Brothers Osborne have my support; glad to see Maddie & Tae back in the mix this year on the strength of their terrific new material.

KJC:  Dan + Shay have yet to win this award, and they’re currently at a high point in their popularity.  They are deserving of their first win in this category.

New Artist of the Year – Will Win

  • Cody Johnson
  • Ashley McBryde
  • Midland – KJC
  • Carly Pearce
  • Morgan Wallen – JK

New Artist of the Year – Should Win

  • Cody Johnson
  • Ashley McBryde – JK, KJC
  • Midland
  • Carly Pearce
  • Morgan Wallen

KJC: Ashley McBryde is the most promising talent in a fairly strong field, but Midland’s commercial success should give them the edge here.

JK: Four perfectly credible, good-to-great new and new-ish acts will, I assume, split the votes among CMA members with taste, clearing the way for the utterly talentless post-Bro with the ironic-or-is-it mullet to win.

Album of the Year – Will Win

  • Eric Church, Desperate Man – JK, KJC
  • Dan + Shay, Dan + Shay
  • Maren Morris, GIRL
  • Thomas Rhett, Center Point Road
  • Carrie Underwood, Cry Pretty

Album of the Year – Should Win

  • Eric Church, Desperate Man – JK, KJC
  • Dan + Shay, Dan + Shay
  • Maren Morris, GIRL
  • Thomas Rhett, Center Point Road
  • Carrie Underwood, Cry Pretty

JK: Church’s album is the only one of the five I voted for when we did our “If We Ran the CMAs” post. A win for Rhett would be a real nightmare, but I think Church has enough clout to pull off the victory.

KJC:  I agree with Jonathan about how this should and will go down.  The CMA has repeatedly chosen to acknowledge Eric Church’s excellent work in this particular category, which is a good call, as he repeatedly makes the best album that they nominate.

Single of the Year – Will Win

  • Dierks Bentley featuring Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man”
  • Dan + Shay, “Speechless” – KJC
  • Maren Morris, “GIRL”
  • Blake Shelton, “God’s Country” – JK
  • Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire”

Single of the Year – Should Win

  • Dierks Bentley featuring Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man” – JK, KJC
  • Dan + Shay, “Speechless”
  • Maren Morris, “GIRL”
  • Blake Shelton, “God’s Country”
  • Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire”

KJC:  Dan + Shay have come up short often at this show, but this year seems like the one in which they’ll have their CMA breakthrough.  “Speechless” is a solid record, but the Bentley/Osborne collab is the best of the five.

JK: Shelton’s pandering single was a massive radio hit and sold well, and it’s been featured prominently in CMA promos; I think its production and Shelton’s performance are both laughably over-the-top, but it seems like the most likely winner here. I’d prefer either “Burning Man” or “Millionaire.”

Song of the Year – Will Win

  • “Beautiful Crazy”
    Written by Luke Combs, Wyatt B. Durrette III, and Robert Williford
  • “GIRL”
    Written by Sarah Aarons, Greg Kurstin, and Maren Morris
  • “God’s Country”
    Written by Devin Dawson, Michael Hardy, and Jordan Schmidt
  • “Rainbow”
    Written by Natalie Hemby, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
  • “Tequila” – JK, KJC
    Written by Nicolle Galyon, Jordan Reynolds, and Dan Smyers

Song of the Year – Should Win

  • “Beautiful Crazy”
    Written by Luke Combs, Wyatt B. Durrette III, and Robert Williford
  • “GIRL”
    Written by Sarah Aarons, Greg Kurstin, and Maren Morris
  • “God’s Country”
    Written by Devin Dawson, Michael Hardy, and Jordan Schmidt
  • “Rainbow” – JK, KJC
    Written by Natalie Hemby, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
  • “Tequila”
    Written by Nicolle Galyon, Jordan Reynolds, and Dan Smyers

JK: I don’t think there’s any way Musgraves walks away with more hardware than Dan+Shay. “Rainbow” is the loveliest composition here by a huge margin and could win, but “Tequila” has been an awards magnet for two full cycles now, and these kinds of make-up nominations are often winners.

KJC:  We shall see if the Grammy afterglow still shines for Kacey Musgraves here.  If it does, the best song will win. If not, “Tequila” will be belatedly acknowledged.

Music Video of the Year – Will Win

  • “Burning Man” – Dierks Bentley featuring Brothers Osborne
    Directed by Wes Edwards
  • “GIRL” – Maren Morris – JK
    Directed by Dave Myers
  • “God’s Country” – Blake Shelton
    Directed by Sophie Muller
  • “Rainbow” – Kacey Musgraves
    Directed by Hanna Lux Davis
  • “Some of it” – Eric Church – KJC
    Directed by Reid Long

Music Video of the Year – Should Win

  • “Burning Man” – Dierks Bentley featuring Brothers Osborne
    Directed by Wes Edwards
  • “GIRL” – Maren Morris
    Directed by Dave Myers
  • “God’s Country” – Blake Shelton
    Directed by Sophie Muller
  • “Rainbow” – Kacey Musgraves – JK
    Directed by Hanna Lux Davis
  • “Some of it” – Eric Church – KJC
    Directed by Reid Long

JK: Morris has to win something, right?

KJC: “Some of it” is the best clip, and voters usually pay attention to quality in this race.

Musical Event of the Year – Will Win

  • Garth Brooks & Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar”
  • Brooks & Dunn with Luke Combs, “Brand New Man” – JK
  • Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens in a Small Town”
  • Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road (Remix)” – KJC
  • Maren Morris featuring Brothers Osborne, “All My Favorite People”

Musical Event of the Year – Should Win

  • Garth Brooks & Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar”
  • Brooks & Dunn with Luke Combs, “Brand New Man”
  • Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens in a Small Town”
  • Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road (Remix)” – JK, KJC
  • Maren Morris featuring Brothers Osborne, “All My Favorite People”

KJC:  Remember when CMT and TNN banned “The Thunder Rolls,” and the CMA gave it Music Video of the Year?  Remember when country radio resisted “Independence Day,” “Follow Your Arrow” and “Murder On Music Row,” and the CMA named them Song of the Year?  Well, the industry messed up by rejecting “Old Town Road” while the rest of the world embraced it, and I think that the CMA is going to acknowledge that here.

JK: Billy Ray sings the fire out of his verses, making “Old Town Road” a single that feels like a true collaboration and a true, productive genre hybrid. It’s a shame they’ll present this pre-telecast, depriving us of Lil Nas X’s hilarious and charming acceptance speech. Because I do think it will win; the CMAs aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to seem this current.

Musician of the Year – Will Win

  • Jenee Fleenor (Fiddle) – JK, KJC
  • Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (Guitar)
  • Ilya Toshinsky (Banjo/Guitar)
  • Derek Wells (Guitar)

Musician of the Year – Should Win

  • Jenee Fleenor (Fiddle) – JK
  • Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar) – KJC
  • Mac McAnally (Guitar)
  • Ilya Toshinsky (Banjo/Guitar)
  • Derek Wells (Guitar)

JK: Fleenor’s nomination is a historic triumph in and of itself, but she has artists like Shelton and Jon Pardi singing her praises on social media. By all accounts, artists seem genuinely happy for her: I pointed out the importance of that kind of goodwill all the way back when “Pontoon” catapulted Little Big Town to the A-list. I think the ace fiddler takes it on her first try.KJC: Cool as a win for Jenee Fleenor would and probably will be, I’ll still insist on Paul Franklin finally winning this award.  This is his 28th nomination, people.

 

1 Comment

  1. First, I could go off on an angry dissertation about the Album nominees, but it just isn’t worth it. Suffice it to say, this may be the worst group of nominees in the history of the CMA’s. Outside of a couple of tracks each on the Carrie and Church LPs, there’s just nothing here for me to connect with. I just can’t fully get behind the Church album, sans a couple of the quieter, autobiographical moments (“Monsters”, “Hippie Radio)…the rest of the tracks just feel like style over substance to me. But, I agree that album probably wins due to being so different from the other nominees, which are straight-ahead pop albums, and for at least trying to make an artistic statement. And outside of a few of the tracks on Underwood’s album, there’s nothing particularly memorably on those other albums that are even worth mentioning.

    Regarding EOTY, I will concede that it really sets up well for Carrie, and I am surprised she’s never won this prior. But, I do have this feeling that Garth is going to win again. From what I gather, he’s campaigning hard again, and typically he wins in these situations, as voters cannot get away from his touring prowess. I’m not saying I agree with it, as I look at the EOTY award as more than just touring. But, I could see that happening, and if it does…the CMA’s are going to get a ton of criticism from the media for giving a Garth a 7th EOTY award, given everything else going on with the ceremony. That award announcement, honestly, is probably going to define the night.

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