Archive for the ‘ACM Awards’ Category

ACM Awards 2014: Final Thoughts

Monday, April 7th, 2014

George StraitThis year’s ACM Awards were mediocre and broverwhemingly male-centric, despite women winning most of the major awards.  As with last fall’s CMA show, the best moment was the final one, when George Strait won Entertainer of the Year.

Here’s a rundown of all the major winners:

Entertainer of the Year

  • Luke Bryan

  • Miranda Lambert

  • Blake Shelton

  • George Strait

  • Taylor Swift

George Strait winning at the ACMs this year was even more surprising than at the CMAs last year, given how the fan-voted element of this award has favored stars with young fanbases in previous years.  King George, indeed. – KJC

While it’s disheartening to see Strait’s mainstream support dwindling, it’s great to see the fans come through for King George. – BF

Even if Strait did unintentionally but hilariously leave Miranda Lambert hanging on her attempted hi-five, it was nice to see the genuine support for Strait’s win among the other artists in attendance. Too bad radio seems to have turned their back on him.  - JK

jason-aldeanMale Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean

  • Lee Brice

  • Luke Bryan

  • Blake Shelton

  • Keith Urban

A repeat win for Jason Aldean helped both hosts go home empty handed, despite the big years both Bryan and Shelton had. – KJC

Miranda Lambert Over YouFemale Vocalist of the Year

  • Sheryl Crow

  • Miranda Lambert

  • Kacey Musgraves

  • Taylor Swift

  • Carrie Underwood

Has there ever been a female vocalist that the ACMs loved more?  Lambert’s fifth consecutive victory snaps Reba McEntire’s four in a row from 1985-1988, though she’d return to the winner’s circle three more times in the nineties.  But even McEntire didn’t dominate the other categories the way Lambert’s been doing. – KJC

Lambert officially owns this category for a half-decade. Can we please get a shake-up in the Female Vocalist race next year? – BF

As I said on twitter: If she’s in the building, Trisha Yearwood is the Best Female Vocalist (unless Connie Smith is also in the building, in which case Trisha would be runner-up). End of discussion. – JK

2013 CMA Music Festival - Day 3Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Big & Rich

  • Dan + Shay

  • Florida Georgia Line

  • Love and Theft

  • Thompson Square

Florida Georgia Line had the biggest year – actually, the only big year – of all the nominees, making their victory the least surprising win of the night. – KJC

Congratulations to Florida Georgia Line on their win for (Only Significantly Successful) Vocal Duo of the Year. – BF

The Band PerryVocal Group of the Year

  • Eli Young Band

  • Lady Antebellum

  • Little Big Town

  • The Band Perry

  • Zac Brown Band

The Band Perry won their first Vocal Group award, with all the votes in before a confetti backlash was able to sway the tally. – KJC

Justin MooreNew Artist of the Year

  • Brett Eldredge

  • Justin Moore

  • Kip Moore

Two Moores and a Brett walk into an ACM ceremony… – KJC

Kacey Musgraves Same Trailer Different ParkAlbum of the Year

  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story…

  • Luke Bryan, Crash My Party

  • Florida Georgia Line, Here’s to the Good Times

  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park

  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom

With the Grammys picking Musgraves and the CMAs picking Shelton, the ACMs broke the tie, picking the best album over the biggest.  Good call. – KJC

Musgraves’ well-deserved victory restores some ACM credibility, though it is ironic that she was the only nominee whom the producers did not grant a performance slot. – BF

She won for Album of the Year and co-wrote the winner of Single of the Year, so we can’t necessarily blame the ACM voters for Musgraves’ lack of a performance: Clearly, the producers of the show had adopted an ethos of “Bros Before Women Who Make Good Music.” – JK

Mama's Broken HeartSingle Record of the Year

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”

  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”

  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”

  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”

  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel”

True, a Song of the Year victory would’ve been sweeter.  But Lambert’s single was still the best of the five, and gave her a third win in this category in four years.  That feat was last accomplished by Willie Nelson, who picked up three in four years back in the eighties, for “Always on My Mind”, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, and “The Highwayman.” – KJC

The “Cruise” phenomenon promised to be hard to beat, but fortunately the voters chose to honor the best record over the biggest. – BF

I really wouldn’t have any reservations at all with Miranda having won this category three times for “Kerosene,” “Gunpowder and Lead,” and “The House That Built Me.” Hers was easily the best nominee of this line-up, though. – JK

IDriveYourTruck_lee_briceSong of the Year

  • “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” – Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matthew Warren

  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary

  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves

  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan

  • “Wagon Wheel” – Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor

With Grammy winner “Merry Go ‘Round” not in the running, the ACM chose to honor last fall’s CMA winner, “I Drive Your Truck.” – KJC

Props to Lee Brice for letting the songwriters have the spotlight for this win. Considering the Song of the Year award purports to honor the year’s best songwriting, it’s been disconcerting that recent years have seen the ACMs shifting the focus from the songwriters to the artists. – BF

Of note: Women won for Album of the Year, Single of the Year, and were two of the three co-writers of the Song of the Year. Yet the genre’s regressive gender politics are as problematic right now as at any point in recent memory. When will we reach a true tipping point with this? – JK

220px-TMG_-_Highway_Dont_Care_coverVideo of the Year

  • The Band Perry, “Better Dig Two”

  • Kacey Musgraves, “Blowin’ Smoke”

  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”

  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”

  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”

  • Carrie Underwood, “Two Black Cadillacs”

The high-octane collaboration between these three superstars earned several nominations, but their only win came in this category. – KJC

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06:  Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban perform onstage during the 47th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 6, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)Vocal Event of the Year

  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends, “Boys ‘Round Here”

  • Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, “Cruise” (Remix)

  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”

  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel”

  • Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert, “We Were Us”

Betting against Miranda Lambert at the ACM Awards is starting to look like a fool’s wager.  This is her first win in this category, and with the other awards she won last night, her total ACM count is now at fifteen. – KJC

2014 ACM Awards: Staff Picks & Predictions

Friday, April 4th, 2014

And they’re back: The 2014 ACM Awards air live on Sunday at 7 p.m. CST, hosted by Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. They’re sure to be enraging or amusing, depending on your bro-country meter. In the meantime, we’ve picked and predicted the awards below – chime in with your thoughts!

Entertainer of the Year

Luke Bryan

Should Win

  • Luke Bryan 
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait - KJC, TS, BF
  • Taylor Swift

Will Win

  • Luke Bryan - KJC, TS, BF, JK
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift

Ben: No, Strait didn’t have the biggest year, but he’s still the only nominee whom I can truly endorse as the face of country music in 2014. At this point the Carrie Underwood snubs have ceased to surprise me.

Jonathan: If his fans’ votes were enough to give him the surprise win last year, there’s no reason to think Bryan won’t repeat, given that his profile only seems to have grown throughout 2013. All five of the nominees are equally sort-of deserving of a win based on relative metrics of commercial stats and quality of their output, while the most obvious, most deserving winner of this award was yet again left off the ballot.

Tara: Strait’s putting on a heck of a farewell tour, and I appreciate the CMA voters for recognizing that last year. I’m doubtful he’ll have that effect on the ACM voter demographic, though; this one’s Bryan’s to lose … but really, truly, belongs to Underwood.

Kevin: Strait’s victory at last year’s CMA Awards was the highlight of the night. But I agree with the consensus. Fan votes have this thing locked up for Bryan.

Male Vocalist of the YearBlake Shelton2

Should Win

  • Jason Aldean – TS
  • Lee Brice
  • Luke Bryan – KJC
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban

Will Win

  • Jason Aldean
  • Lee Brice
  • Luke Bryan – KJC, TS, BF, JK
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban

Ben: Bryan seems to have had the biggest year, but I’m not personally invested in any of these choices.

Jonathan: I’d be more excited about seeing new blood in this line-up if I were in any way impressed with Brice. Just looking at mainstream stars who had hits during the eligibility period, a superior slate of nominees could be culled from Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Easton Corbin, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, and Chris Young.

Tara: I’ll be damned if Aldean hasn’t grown on me over the past few years. His material is still too uneven for me to get behind, but I’ve come to begrudgingly respect his appeal. My guess is his crown will go to Bryan, though.

Kevin: I like the fact that after the endless streak from Paisley, we’ve gotten different winners in the past two years. The only two who haven’t won yet are Brice and Bryan. The latter is the only one at the level to warrant a win at this time.

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kacey Musgraves

Should Win

  • Sheryl Crow
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Kacey Musgraves – KJC, BF
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood – TS

Will Win

  • Sheryl Crow
  • Miranda Lambert – TS, BF, JK
  • Kacey Musgraves – KJC
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

Ben: Lambert’s status as one of this year’s leading nominees indicates that voters still have the hots for her. Her reign will end eventually, but I won’t bet on it happening this time around.

Jonathan: Brandy Clark LeAnn Rimes Ashley Monroe Kellie Pickler Julie Roberts Holly Williams No? On the brightside, Crow managed to snag the fifth slot instead of either of Blake Shelton’s overpraised “The Voice” winners, but that’s really where the good news ends. It seems premature for Musgraves to win this award, and I’m honestly still not all that enamored of her beyond “Follow Your Arrow.” I’ve been pulling for Underwood of late, but both she and Swift ended this eligibility period with two of their worst singles, so I’d have reservations about seeing either of them win. Lambert seems poised to repeat based on her haul of nominations; as fun as “Mama’s Broken Heart” is, I’d feel better about this streak of hers had it spanned her far superior Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Revolution eras.

Tara: I’m sticking with Underwood for one more cycle, mostly because Musgraves’ charming “Follow Your Arrow” didn’t really make its (relatively small) impact until after the eligibility period. It’s hard to swallow how many of these awards Lambert is racking up between the ACM’s and the CMA’s, but I suspect the trend will continue.

Kevin: Go big or go home. Musgraves is the ACM’s opportunity to definitively position itself as the more substantive country awards show, a status they’ve been flirting with as the CMA’s have moved in the opposite direction. I think she’ll pull it off, and I’ll be happy to see her do it.

Vocal Duo of the YearFGL

Should Win

  • Big & Rich
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line - KJC
  • Love and Theft
  • Thompson Square – TS, JK

Will Win

  • Big & Rich
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line – KJC, TS, BF, JK
  • Love and Theft
  • Thompson Square

Ben: This category remains lame and pointless as ever, but at least I can give credit for the fact that they finally stopped shoehorning in Sugarland.

Jonathan: Thompson Square is the only one of these five acts who released a single that I didn’t absolutely hate during the past year. While that’s an accomplishment of sorts, it’s hardly one that should keep this category from being combined with the Vocal Group race.

Tara: I don’t mind Thompson Square. That’s the best thing I can say about this line-up.

Kevin: I’m not really a fan of any of these acts, so again, I’ll root for variety. Thompson Square has two wins already. Florida Georgia Line had a great year. Give them their due, and then perhaps we can forget they ever happened.

Vocal Group of the YearLittle Big Town

Should Win

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town – TS, JK
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band – KJC

Will Win

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • The Band Perry – KJC, TS, JK, BJF
  • Zac Brown Band

Jonathan: I couldn’t vote against Little Big Town during a year when they released “Sober,” but Zac Brown Band continues to release solid material and remains overdue for recognition. The Band Perry have a run of huge hit singles– the first two of which were as clever and progressive as anything country radio has touched in a minute– to their credit during the eligibility period. Momentum seems to be on their side at the moment, and I think they’ll score the night’s only real upset.

Tara: The Band Perry are walking a skillful line between commercial and creative, and I think they’ll be rewarded. As for me, I’m clinging to Little Big Town at least until the exquisite “Sober” becomes old news.

Kevin: I think that The Band Perry is best positioned to win, but Zac Brown Band is the most overdue.

Ben: I’m torn between picking The Band Perry for having had such a strong year, and picking Little Big Town for releasing one of my favorite singles of 2013. But despite Little Big Town’s recent hot streak, I expect The Band Perry’s commercial stats will net them their first win in this category.

New Artist of the Year2012 CMT Music Awards Rehearsals - Day 1

Should Win

  • Brett Eldredge
  • Justin Moore
  • Kip Moore – KJC, TS, BF

Will Win

  • Brett Eldredge
  • Justin Moore – TS, JK, BF
  • Kip Moore

Jonathan: Of these three, Justin Moore has been building his fanbase for the longest period of time, so it seems logical that he’ll win based on the fan vote.

Tara: I’ve been in Kip Moore’s corner for a few years now, but doubt he’ll take this. True story: Sometimes I think Justin Moore and Brice are the same person.

Album of the Year

Same Trailer

Should Win

  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story…
  • Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
  • Florida Georgia Line, Here’s to the Good Times
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park – KJC, TS, BF, JK
  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom

Will Win

  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story… JK
  • Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
  • Florida Georgia Line, Here’s to the Good Times
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park – TS, KJC, BF
  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom

Ben: Musgraves is the only one deserving of a nomination, let alone a win.

Jonathan: 2013 was an extraordinary year for country music, and that is in no way reflected in this appalling slate of nominees. Musgraves’ album is the only one that belongs in any conversation about the best of contemporary country. But there seems to be some growing consensus that Shelton is owed something more than his own celebrity status, so he’s the most likely winner.

Tara: A  part of me thinks the voters will ride the 2013 Musgraves fan train and use this as an opportunity to show some relevance. But that’s a gamble of a guess, considering the atrocious other nominees.

Kevin: They’ve been more supportive of good art in this category than the CMA’s lately, so I’m thinking Musgraves has this wrapped up, and the ACM will be the tiebreaker between the Grammys and the CMA’s.

Single Record of the YearMama's Broken Heart

Should Win

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart” – KJC, BF, TS, JK
  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel”

Will Win

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise” – TS, BF, JK
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care” – KJC
  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel”

Jonathan: A case could be made for any of these five singles actually winning, but I’ll let my pessimism about the overall nominations carry the most weight here and say that “Cruise” will win. “Mama’s Broken Heart” is only Lambert’s fifth-or-sixth-best single, but it’s easily the class of this field.

Tara: “Cruise” is too big for the voters to ignore, and that’s both depressing and funny. I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Rucker or Brice singles won, but Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” is clearly a cut above the rest with its sharp songwriting and spitting, bullet of a performance.

Kevin: Love the Lambert track, but the star power of McGraw/Swift/Urban seems hard to deny.

Song of the Year

WagonWheel

Should Win

  • “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” – Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matthew Warren
  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves – KJC, TS, BF
  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan
  • “Wagon Wheel” – Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor – JK

Will Win

  • “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” – Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matthew Warren
  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary – TS, JK
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves – KJC, BF
  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan
  • “Wagon Wheel” – Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor

Jonathan: “Wagon Wheel” has become as close to a standard as any song in recent memory, and that generally doesn’t happen just by accident. This is one of the few times when Brandy Clark would be my second choice for a winner. The success of “I Drive Your Truck” propelled Brice to a surprising haul of nominations this year, though, and it’s clear that the song has resonated with a sizable bloc of voters.

Tara: This isn’t an awful line-up. I personally get the most kicks out of “Mama’s Broken Heart,” but I could make a case for all five songs, even the somewhat underrated “Mine Would Be You.” I have a gut feeling “I Drive Your Truck” will win on emotional heft, though.

Kevin: Perhaps it’s overly wishful thinking, but with “Merry Go Round” not in the running, voters have a clear path to rewarding both Musgraves and Clark, along with sending some more hardware Lambert’s way.

Video of the YearTwo Black Cadillacs

Should Win

  • The Band Perry, “Better Dig Two”
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Blowin’ Smoke”
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Two Black Cadillacs” – KJC, TS, BF, JK

Will Win

  • The Band Perry, “Better Dig Two”
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Blowin’ Smoke”
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care” – BF
  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart” – JK, TS
  • Carrie Underwood, “Two Black Cadillacs” – KJC

Jonathan: The video for “Blowin’ Smoke” looks like a reel of B-roll footage from Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, which was an interesting aesthetic choice but was still nowhere near as fun as the Christine homage in “Two Black Cadillacs.”

Tara: I dig the tongue-in-cheek realism of Musgraves’ video and the whimsy of Lambert’s, but Underwood makes the most unexpected, imaginative choice.

Kevin: They’ve got to give Underwood something, right?  I’m not a huge fan of the video, really. The song is awfully suggestive, but doesn’t come right out and say that the two ladies killed the guy. So the video takes that opening and decides, “The car did it!” But at least it’s a video. The others are just YouTube fodder.

Vocal Event of the YearHighway Don't Care

Should Win

  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends, “Boys ‘Round Here”
  • Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, “Cruise” (Remix)
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care” – KJC, JK, BF
  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel” – TS
  • Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert, “We Were Us

Will Win

  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends, “Boys ‘Round Here”
  • Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, “Cruise” (Remix)
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care” – KJC, BF
  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel”
  • Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert, “We Were Us – TS, JK

Jonathan: Hillary Scott’s shrill attempts at singing harmony are the worst part of Rucker’s cover of “Wagon Wheel,” and hopefully the two hip-hop-circa-2003-inspired singles will split votes. “We Were Us” is the worst sounding track of the five– which is really saying something about how we’ve forever lost the Loudness War– but it seems like Lambert is going to have a big night.

Tara: I’ll go with “Wagon Wheel” by default, though its collaboration does it absolutely no favors, as Jonathan said. Even still, it’s far above these other middling to obnoxious (so loud!) singles.

Kevin: Fair warning. If Florida Georgia Line/Nelly win, I’m out. Done. No live blog for me after that!

2014 ACM Nominations

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Blake Shelton Luke Bryan ACMHaving had just enough time to catch our breath after the Grammys, we now find ourselves gearing up for ACM season. This year’s Academy of Country Music Award nominees have just been announced today. Not surprisingly, this year’s nominees are wildly uneven, with “bro country” scoring ample representation. Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw lead with seven nominations each.

Chime in with your thoughts below. Country Universe’s Staff Picks and Predictions will be unveiled the week of the show. Tune into the live broadcast on Sunday, April 6 at 8:00 p.m. EST to see who will emerge victorious this year.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Lee Brice
  • Luke Bryan
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Sheryl Crow
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Big & Rich
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Love and Theft
  • Thompson Square

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band

New Artist of the Year

  • Lee Brice
  • Brett Eldredge
  • Tyler Farr
  • Justin Moore
  • Kip Moore
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Parmalee

Album of the Year

  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story…
  • Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
  • Florida Georgia Line, Here’s to the Good Times
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom

Single Record of the Year

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel”

Song of the Year

  • “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” – Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matthew Warren
  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves
  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan
  • “Wagon Wheel” – Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor

Video of the Year

  • The Band Perry, “Better Dig Two”
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Blowin’ Smoke”
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Two Black Cadillacs”

Vocal Event of the Year

  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends, “Boys ‘Round Here”
  • Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, “Cruise” (Remix)
  • Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum, “Wagon Wheel”
  • Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert, “We Were Us”

Songwriter of the Year

  • Rhett Akins
  • Rodney Clawson
  • Ashley Gorley
  • Luke Laird
  • Shane McAnally

Producer of the Year

  • Mark Bright
  • Dann Huff
  • Michael Knox
  • Frank Liddell
  • Paul Worley

Bass Player of the Year

  • Mike Brignardello
  • Kevin “Swine” Grantt
  • Mark Hill
  • Michael Rhodes
  • Glenn Worf

Drummer of the Year

  • Chad Cromwell
  • Fred Eltringham
  • Shannon Forrest
  • Greg Morrow
  • Lonnie Wilson

Guitar Player of the Year

  • Jeff King
  • Troy Lancaster
  • Brent Mason
  • Rob McNelley
  • Jerry McPherson

Piano/Keyboards Player of the Year

  • Tony Harrell
  • John Jarvis
  • Charlie Judge
  • Tim Lauer
  • Gordon Mote

Specialty Instrument Player of the Year

  • Glen Duncan
  • Larry Franklin
  • Jim Hoke
  • Danny Radar
  • Bryan Sutton

Steel Guitar Player of the Year

  • Dan Dugmore
  • Paul Franklin
  • Steve Hinson
  • Russ Pahl
  • Scotty Sanders

2013 ACM Awards: Staff Picks and Predictions

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

acm_awards_2013

The stars are converging on Las Vegas this weekend as the industry gears up for this year’s ACM Awards.  We at Country Universe have been busily poring over this year’s list of nominees, picking and predicting the winners while getting ready for all the live-blogging madness Sunday night.

This year Luke Bryan replaces Reba McEntire as Blake Shelton’s co-host, and we have a roster of live performers that includes everyone from Eric Church and Hunter Hayes to Kelly Clarkson and Jewel.  On top of that, Shania Twain will return to present at the ACM Awards for the first time in a decade, and we look forward to a historic collaboration between George Strait and Garth Brooks as the two modern genre legends pay tribute to the late ACM executive producer Dick Clark.

Who would you most like to see emerge victorious at this year’s ACM Awards?  Share your picks and predictions in the comments section below.  Tune in to the live telecast tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern/ 7:00 Central on CBS, and be sure to drop by Country Universe for our live blog.  Meanwhile, our friends at Engine 145 will be hosting a live blog of their own, so feel free to pay them a visit as well.

Entertainer of the Yeartaylor-swift-2012-acm-awards-press-room-01

Should Win:

  • Jason Aldean - Kevin
  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert - Tara
  • Blake Shelton - Dan
  • Taylor Swift - Jonathan, Ben, Leeann

Will Win:

  • Jason Aldean - Tara, Kevin
  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton - Leeann
  • Taylor Swift - Jonathan, Ben, Dan

Leeann:  As far as I know, Taylor Swift had the highest tickets sales in 2012, so she remains a force to be reckoned with.  I, however, wouldn’t be surprised to if Blake Shelton won based on his high profile due to The Voice.  Then again, I also wouldn’t be too surprised to see Jason Aldean win based on the fact that he sold out Madison Square Garden in under 10 minutes.  I can’t imagine.

Kevin:  I’m going out on a bit of limb here by picking Aldean as the likely winner, but seeing him sell out Madison Square Garden in ten minutes indicates to me that his fan base is quite motivated.  I really think that Swift is going to suffer among the industry voters for going blatantly pop, and I suspect it will be enough to push them into Aldean’s camp.  Carrie Underwood, of course, is the real Entertainer of the Year. She’s just not nominated.

Jonathan:  It’s impossible, really, to envision Swift, the biggest star in this line-up by several orders of magnitude, losing an award that’s partially fan-voted.  And, even though I don’t think her Red era scans as country as any meaningful way, she’d get my vote, too, as the most compelling entertainer of the lot.  Though it’s worth mentioning that, had she been nominated, Carrie Underwood would’ve been my pick.

Tara:  Let’s try a little positivity – here’s what I still love: “Fly Over States,” the Pistol Annies, and Swift’s drive.  But frankly, I’m not comfortable with any of these artists – based on their current output and presence – representing our industry as EOTY, and that’s quite frustrating.

Ben:  Carrie Underwood would have been my choice without reservation had she been nominated.  But with her out of running, I’d have to shrug it over to either Aldean or Swift, and while neither of them are making music that feels country to me, Swift’s material has generally been more interesting.  Sadly, I still have to second Tara’s closing sentence, as I can’t wholeheartedly endorse any one of these five artists as the face of country music in 2013.

Dan:  So let’s see:  Swift is in full Top 40 mode, Lambert released her three weakest singles back-to-back (pre-“Mama’s Broken Heart”), Aldean and Bryan have totally burrowed into their respective formulae, and Blake Shelton’s best contribution is TV goofery.  I guess I’d be least put off by the goofery being rewarded, but yeah.

Male Vocalist of the YearEric Church

Should Win:

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Dan, Kevin
  • Toby Keith - Leeann
  • Blake Shelton

Will Win:

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Toby Keith
  • Blake Shelton - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Leeann, Dan, Kevin

Jonathan:  Take a Mulligan on this one, ACMs:  Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Darius Rucker, Chris Young.  There, now was that really so hard?

Leeann:  Toby Keith has the best voice of these men, but I have no doubt that Blake Shelton will win it, since this is his time.

Kevin:  I don’t see a way around a Shelton win, though I think Church would have a shot if he wasn’t also nominated for Album, giving voters an easy way to honor both Church and Shelton on the same ballot.

Ben:  Everyone here has a shot except Toby Keith.  From a critic’s perspective, Eric Church is a shoo-in per usual, but I expect the ACM will continue handing unearned trophies to the musically underachieving Blake Shelton.

Dan:  Church please, but I’d be fine if this category ended up rewarding Aldean or Bryan for their success. Just want to see some mix-up.

Tara:  Same ole.

Female Vocalist of the YearCarrie-Underwood-Blown-Away-Tour

Should Win:

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Leeann, Dan, Kevin

Will Win:

  • Miranda Lambert - Tara, Ben, Leeann, Dan
  • Martina McBride
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood - Jonathan, Kevin

Kevin:  Sheer power of wishful thinking?  Perhaps.  But to ignore Carrie Underwood’s stellar year artistically and commercially would be a sin.

Ben:  If there were ever a year in which Carrie Underwood deserved the Female Vocalist trophy, this would be it.  Unfortunately, Underwood’s lack of nominations

in the Entertainer and Single categories suggest that Miranda Lambert remains the current favorite.

Jonathan:  Even if I’ve been slightly disappointed by Underwood’s choices of singles during the eligibility period, I stand by what I said in our CMA picks and predictions last fall:  Whatever substantial limitations she may still have as an artist, Underwood is currently doing what is far and away her career-best work, and I’d like to see her rewarded for that.

Dan:  Or, to ape Jonathan’s mathematical approach from a few award shows back:  “Blown Away” + “Two Black Cadillacs” > “Over You” + “Fastest Girl in Town.”

Tara:  Based on vision, creativity and voice, this is a no-brainer.  I have a hard time picturing anyone dethroning the Lamberts, though.

Leeann:  I honestly won’t be upset if Miranda Lambert wins, because she’s got my favorite voice of the group, but I think Carrie Underwood actually deserves the award.  I’ve been liking her voice more these days and she’s just about always on target for live performances.

 Vocal Duo of the Yearflorida georgia line

Should Win:

  • Big & Rich
  • Florida Georgia Line - Ben? Dan?
  • Love and Theft
  • Sugarland
  • Thompson Square - Tara?

Will Win:

  • Big & Rich
  • Florida Georgia Line - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Dan
  • Love and Theft
  • Sugarland
  • Thompson Square - Leeann, Kevin

Kevin:  Since they won the CMA’s, I’m assuming Thompson Square will follow up with an ACM.  My preference would be completely eliminating the category.

Leeann:  Sugarland hasn’t done anything in the last year and I have absolutely no interest in the others in this category, so my random guess leans toward Thompson Square.

Ben:  Of all these nominees’ recent output, “Cruise” seems to be the hit with the most staying power, so I imagine Florida Georgia Line will be this year’s stand-in while Sugarland remains MIA. Our vocal duos seriously need to step it up.

Jonathan:  I just can’t with this.

Dan:  I love “Cruise,” and even I’m going to be kind of depressed when this happens.

Tara:  Have we ever needed new Sugarland music more?

Vocal Group of the Yearlittle big town tornado

Should Win:

  •  The Band Perry
  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town - Tara, Ben, Leeann, Dan, Kevin
  • Zac Brown Band - Jonathan

Will Win:

  • The Band Perry
  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Leeann, Dan, Kevin
  • Zac Brown Band

Jonathan:  So, how’s about we just reallocate the obviously superfluous Vocal Duo trophy to recognize two of the acts nominated in this category?  I am honestly fine with four of the five possible outcomes, but LBT is on a years-overdue roll that looks to continue here.

Leeann:  I think Little Big Town finally has a chance of winning this.

Ben:  I believe Little Big Town has this one in the bag, and I’m perfectly happy with that.  They already won Vocal Group at last November’s CMAs, and with a top-selling album and a number-one hit falling within the current eligibility period, the case is much stronger for an LBT victory at the ACMs.  I don’t see how they can lose.

Tara:  I’m with Jonathan – there are four possible deserved victories here. But Little Big Town stole my heart with Tornado, and I’m digging their time in the spotlight, even if it’s ridiculously overdue.

Dan:  Being real:  Their CMA victory for “Pontoon” and “Pontoon” alone was a little silly.  This one will be based on “Pontoon” plus another #1 hit plus an almost-Platinum album, and that’s delicious.

Kevin:  Now we’re all just going to predict Little Big Town after being burned for not doing so at the CMAs and the Grammys!

New Artist of the YearBrantley Gilbert

Should Win:

  • Florida Georgia Line - Dan
  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Jana Kramer - Ben, Leeann

Will Win:

  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Brantley Gilbert - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Dan, Kevin
  • Jana Kramer

Kevin:  Brantley Gilbert seems popular.  None of them seem award-worthy. Sorry to cop out again, but if I was a voter, I’d leave this category blank, too.

Leeann:  I have no idea who will win, but Jana Kramer is the only one I can remotely stand.

Ben:  All three nominees had solid successes this past year, but Kramer is the one I see as having the most potential.  But fan-voted categories are not based on potential, so Gilbert’s strong internet fan base will likely power-vote him to victory.

Jonathan:  Kramer is the Death Is Not An Option choice, I guess, but I am not at all invested in any of these three acts.

Dan:  FGL are the only ones here who have done anything I actually enjoy, so I’ll gamble on them despite their unbearable first album.

Tara:  Dude, where’s Kip Moore?

Album of the YearChief

Should Win:

  • Carrie Underwood, Blown Away Tara, Ben, Kevin
  • Eric Church, ChiefLeeann, Dan
  • Taylor Swift, Red
  • Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines
  • Little Big Town, Tornado - Jonathan

Will Win:

  • Carrie Underwood, Blown Away - Ben
  • Eric Church, Chief - Jonathan, Leeann, Dan, Kevin
  • Taylor Swift, Red
  • Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines
  • Little Big Town, Tornado - Tara

Leeann:  Eric Church is no longer the underdog and Chief is my favorite nominated album.

Kevin:  With Miranda Lambert not nominated, I’m guessing Eric Church will fill their “honor the cool one in the Album slot” criteria.  Underwood made the best album.

Ben:  Bryan’s album is too uneven, and I don’t feel Swift’s album has any business being nominated at a country awards show.  Any one of the remaining three would make a worthy winner, but I’m hoping and tentatively (read: stubbornly) predicting that voters will recognize Underwood’s recent artistic growth with her second win in this category.

Tara:  I’m going out on a limb with both of these choices.  Blown Away isn’t technically a better album than Chief, but I’d really like to see it get some love, if only to continue to pump creativity and ambition into the Underwood team.  I think there’s a chance that Little Big Town’s heightened profile will give them some legs in this category, though, and I’m cool with that.

Jonathan:  The Church and Little Big Town sets have the best balance between ambition and actual quality of these five albums, and either would be a richly deserving winner.  The bloated Red can be whittled-down to a flat-out brilliant 7-song EP, but even then it’s still a pop record that probably shouldn’t be nominated here on principle.  Church’s CMA win and his overall nomination tally make him the presumptive front-runner, but there isn’t an outcome here that I’d find surprising.

Single Record of the Year

Should Win:LBT pontoon

  • Eli Young Band, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Over You”
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon” - Kevin
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen” - Tara, Ben, Leeann, Jonathan, Dan
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted”

Will Win:

  • Eli Young Band, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Over You” - Leeann
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon” - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Kevin
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen”
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted” - Dan

Leeann:  The CMAs make me hesitate to bet against the Miranda Lambert single, but I vote for “Springsteen.”

Jonathan:  It’s great that he can play so many instruments and all, but Hayes is being grossly over-recognized during the current awards cycle:  I prefer rewarding actual merit to rewarding the potential for merit at some point in the future.  “Springsteen” is the best-produced track here, though the production is also the best attribute of “Pontoon,” which seems like the more likely winner.

Ben:  Quality lyrics with a cool Jay Joyce production gives “Springsteen” an edge in my opinion, but this award could go to any of the five.  My gut prediction is Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” (which incidentally also boasts a cool Jay Joyce production).

Tara:  I could see a surprise win for “Over You” or even for the better (think about that one for a sec) “Wanted,” but my guess is that “Pontoon” will get one last hoorah.

Dan:  It’s going to come down to “Pontoon” and “Wanted,” and just to be different, I’ll guess that the ACM go for the more recent of the two big hits.

Kevin:  “Pontoon” and “Wanted” are career records.   The former was also a career-reviving record, so I give it the edge.

Song of the Yeareli young band even if it breaks your heart

Should Win:

  • “A Woman Like You” – Phil Barton, Johnny Bulford, & Jon Stone (Performed by Lee Brice)
  • “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge & Eric Paslay (Performed by Eli Young Band) - Jonathan, Tara, Dan, Kevin
  • “Over You” – Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton (Performed by Miranda Lambert)
  • “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hynde, & Ryan Tyndell (Performed by Eric Church) - Ben, Leeann
  • “Wanted” – Hunter Hayes & Troy Vergas (Performed by Hunter Hayes)

Will Win:

  • “A Woman Like You” – Phil Barton, Johnny Bulford, & Jon Stone (Performed by Lee Brice)
  • “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge & Eric Paslay (Performed by Eli Young Band)
  • “Over You” – Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton (Performed by Miranda Lambert) – Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Leeann, Dan, Kevin
  • “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hynde, & Ryan Tyndell (Performed by Eric Church)

Jonathan:  “Springsteen” and “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” have been relegated to the status of also-rans throughout the past year’s worth of country awards.  There’s no reason to expect that to change here even though they are, yet again, the best songs nominated.  Thankfully, this is the last major songwriting award Lambert and Shelton will receive for what is far and away the worst-written song in either of their respective catalogues.

Ben:  “Springsteen” and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” are the only two worthy nominees in this field, the former of which has my heart.  But who am I kidding?  “Over You” will win, and I will be bracing myself for one final round of fan-gloating on my review of the song.

Kevin:  My preference is “Even if it Breaks Your Heart,” if only because it works as well as a song as it does as a t-shirt.  “Over You” has the star power, but again, the title sums up my feelings about both stars and their strangely popular song.

Leeann:  Again, I won’t bet against “Over You,” but I think “Springsteen” or “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” are the best of these choices.

Tara:  I hope I’m wrong.

Dan:  :-/

Songwriter of the YearAlready presented off-camera; Dallas Davidson wonDallasDavidson

Should Win:

  • Rodney Clawson
  • Dallas Davidson
  • Josh Kear
  • Luke Laird
  • Shane McAnally - Ben, Leeann, Dan

Will Win:  

  • Rodney Clawson
  • Dallas Davidson - Ben, Leeann, Dan
  • Josh Kear
  • Luke Laird
  • Shane McAnally

Leeann:  Since Dallas Davidson is part of The Peach Pickers machine, I expect him to win, but I like Shane McAnally’s work with Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Lady Antebellum, Chris Young, etc.

Ben:  I’d love to support Josh Kear for having written “Blown Away,” but Shane McAnally’s fantastic work with Kacey Musgraves puts him over the edge.  Still, I’m expecting that the Peach Picker will pull of a repeat victory in this category.

Video of the YearM_LittleBigTownTornadoVid630_103112

Should Win:

  • Eric Church, “Creepin’” - Ben
  • Kacey Musgraves – “Merry Go ‘Round”
  • Little Big Town, “Tornado” - Jonathan, Dan
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted”
  • Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” - Kevin
  • Zac Brown Band, “The Wind”

Will Win:

  • Eric Church, “Creepin’”
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go ‘Round”
  • Little Big Town, “Tornado” - Dan, Kevin
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted” - Jonathan
  • Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” - Ben
  • Zac Brown Band, “The Wind”

Kevin:  Little Big Town’s clip seems the most “artsy,” but I do have to say that the Swift clip wins in my book.  It’s almost like she’s conceding how ridiculous the song and her entire public persona are.

Jonathan:  Hayes is being promoted so heavily that he’s going to have to win something, and this award is always the safest place for voters to recognize an artist that they feel obligated to vote for.  As much as I love the idea of Mike Judge winning, the animation and the music from the video for “The Wind” just don’t work together.  The stylish and not overly literal video for “Tornado” would get my vote, though I do like the videos for “Creepin’” and “Merry Go ‘Round” too.

Ben:  Church’s “Creepin’” video has a lot of energy and character to it, much like the song itself, but I’m smelling a Swift victory here.

Dan:  No clue, but isn’t it cool when Kim and Phil flash those death glares at the innocent townspeople?


 

Vocal Event of the Yearkelly-clarkson-dont-rush-400x400

Should Win:

  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush” - Jonathan, Tara, Ben, Leeann, Dan, Kevin
  • Rascal Flatts featuring Natasha Bedingfield, “Easy”
  • Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, “Feel Like a Rock Star”
  • David Nail featuring Sarah Buxton, “Let It Rain”
  • Jason Aldean featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church, “The Only Way I Know”

Will Win:

  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush” - Jonathan, Tara, Ben
  • Rascal Flatts featuring Natasha Bedingfield, “Easy”
  • Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw,” Feel Like a Rock Star” - Leeann, Kevin
  • David Nail featuring Sarah Buxton, “Let It Rain”
  • Jason Aldean featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church, “The Only Way I Know” – Dan

Dan:  “Easy” was released in June 2011, off an album from November 2010.  Lol.

Jonathan:  So… Kelly Clarkson is about to have more ACM Awards than Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, and Pam Tillis.  I adore her, but that’s all kinds of wrong.

Kevin:  Because Vince Gill.

Ben:  I rarely support nominees that are not proper duets, but “Don’t Rush” is easily the class of the field.  Plus it’s always nice to see our old friend Vince get a new mantle decoration.

Tara:  Easy choice – just wish it had ended up being a more memorable collaboration.

2013 ACM Nominations

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

acm_awards_2013

After just enough time to catch our breath after the Grammys, this year’s ACM Awards are right around the corner.  The 2013 nominees were announced today, and are presented here with brief commentary from yours truly.  Eric Church leads the pack with seven nominations, followed by Hunter Hayes with six, and Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift with five each.  Please share your thoughts on this year’s nominees in the comments section.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton
  • Taylor Swift

Thoughts:  Luke Bryan’s career momentum culminates in his first Entertainer of the Year nomination, and – in what feels like a historical moment – we have two female solo artists competing in the Entertainer race.

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Toby Keith
  • Blake Shelton

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

Thoughts:  Slim pickings in this category, as usual.  As much as I like Kacey Musgraves, there’s no way a guy could get into the Male Vocalist race on the strength of one Top 20 hit alone.  How about supporting more female artists, country radio?

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Big & Rich
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Love and Theft
  • Sugarland
  • Thompson Square

Thoughts:  Still on board with the argument that the Duo and Group categories should be merged to cut the slack, but wow, this year’s category is almost actually competitive.  Four of these nominees had hits last year, with only Sugarland squeezing in on name recognition.

Vocal Group of the Year

  • The Band Perry
  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Zac Brown Band

New Artist of the Year

  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Jana Kramer

Album of the Year

  • Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
  • Eric Church, Chief
  • Taylor Swift, Red
  • Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines
  • Little Big Town, Tornado

Thoughts:  Is Little Big Town on fire this year or what?  Good to see a well-deserved nomination for Blown Away.  Don’t quite get the rationale for nominating Red.

Single Record of the Year

  • Eli Young Band, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Over You”
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen”
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted”

Song of the Year

  • “A Woman Like You” – Phil Barton, Johnny Bulford, & Jon Stone (Performed by Lee Brice)
  • “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge & Eric Paslay (Performed by Eli Young Band)
  • “Over You” – Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton (Performed by Miranda Lambert)
  • “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, & Ryan Tyndell (Performed by Eric Church)
  • “Wanted” – Hunter Hayes & Troy Vergas (Performed by Hunter Hayes)

Thoughts:  So fed up with all the over-praise for “Over You.”  Tragic back story or not, a monkey could have written that song.  By the way… where’s “Blown Away”?

Songwriter of the Year

  • Rodney Clawson
  • Dallas Davidson
  • Josh Kear
  • Luke Laird
  • Shane McAnally

Video of the Year

  • Eric Church, “Creepin’”
    Produced by Iris Baker
    Directed by Peter Zavadil
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go ‘Round”
    Produced by Perry Bean and Kacey Musgraves
    Directed by Perry Bean
  • Little Big Town, “Tornado”
    Produced by Iris Baker
    Directed by Shane Drake
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted”
    Produced by Stephanie Reeves & Eric Williams
    Directed by Traci Goudie and Patrick Hubik
  • Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
    Produced by John Nguyen
    Directed by Declan Whitebloom
  • Zac Brown Band, “The Wind”
    Produced by Ben Kalina
    Directed by Mike Judge

Thoughts:  It’s nice to see some love for “Merry Go ‘Round,” but why here instead of in the Song or Single categories?

Vocal Event of the Year

  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush”
  • Rascal Flatts featuring Natasha Bedingfield, “Easy”
  • Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, “Feel Like a Rock Star”

ACM Live Blog 2012

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Show starts at 8/7 Central. Hang with us!

Also, if you have any trouble with the live blog client, let us know in the regular comments section!

WINNERS

Entertainer: Taylor Swift

Top Male Vocalist: Blake Shelton

Top Female Vocalist: Miranda Lambert

Top Vocal Group: Lady Antebellum

Top Vocal Duo: Thompson Square

Top New Artist: Scotty McCreery

Album of the Year: Miranda Lambert, Four the Record

Song of the Year: Lee Brice & Liz Rose, “Crazy Girl”

Single of the Year: Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

Vocal Event of the Year: Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

Video of the Year: Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup”

2012 ACM Awards: Staff Picks & Predictions

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Throw on your bedazzled boots – the 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards air live from Las Vegas this Sunday at 8 p.m. EST. The show promises to be a melting pot of performances, with oddball duets like Rascal Flatts and Steve Martin - and no, that’s not an April Fools joke. The CU staff picked and predicted the awards below. Tell us your thoughts, and check back for our live blog on Sunday night!

Entertainer of the Year

Should Win:

  • Jason Aldean
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Taylor Swift – Jonathan, Dan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin, Ben, Sam

Will Win:

  • Jason Aldean – Sam
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Taylor Swift – Jonathan, Dan, Tara, Kevin, Ben

Ben: Okay, so I was going to go with Aldean based on his massive success… but Swift’s music has just been too dang good lately.

Jonathan: Swift is the only one of the five who has released any music I really liked during the eligibility period; that fan voting is part of whatever mysterious algorithm is used to determine the winner of this award helps her case. I recognize that Aldean has a good look at this, too, but I’ll admit to just digging my heels in and refusing to get on board with the idea that he’s considered the standard-bearing artist in country music.

Tara: Swift released some of the best material of her career in the eligibility period, and her star seems as bright as it’s ever been. And while I can’t picture her losing something fan-voted, I wouldn’t be shocked if Aldean snuck up on her, especially given the secret fan / academy vote ratio. I just hope that this time next year, there are a few shake-ups in this category. I’m bored.

Dan: I like Swift the best, but can’t muster the energy to root actively against Aldean like I did with, say, Rascal Flatts.

Kevin:  Aldean vs. Swift, with me erring on the side of the one who made more music that I liked this year.

Sam: Just a hunch, but the Taylor Swift voters might be as fanatical as usual because Carrie Underwood isn’t nominated for this award. That might give Aldean the chance to sneak in.

Male Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Jason Aldean – Dan, Kevin, Sam
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Chris Young – Ben, Jonathan, Tara

Will Win:

  • Jason Aldean – Dan, Sam
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton – Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • Chris Young

Dan: Aldean remains the hottest guy out there by a huge margin, and occasionally puts out something decent like “Fly Over States.” I’ll just keep picking him to win this until he does. La la la.

Ben: Aldean’s success speaks for itself, but I would really like to see Chris Young take this. He released a solid new album, remained a consistent hitmaker at radio, and has made the most music that I’ve actually cared about. But seeing as the industry award voters have been showing a lot of excessive Shelton love as of late, my gut says that Blake Shelton is going to get this. (There are no awards for TV Judge of the Year or Newlywed of the Year, so the ACM will probably give him this one instead)

Jonathan: So let’s talk about Chris Young for a minute. The guy has a fantastic voice, one of the strongest and most distinctive instruments to come down Music Row in a minute, and that alone is enough to elevate him above most of the other men who have scored major airplay in the past couple of years. But the discrepancy between the quality of Young’s vocal performances and the quality of the songs he’s performing is a problem, and here’s yet another instance of an artist with the potential to be really and truly great receiving a thumbs-up from the industry for work that’s just occasionally on the better side of okay. Where’s the incentive for someone like Young to be even better if he’s being recognized now? And what does it say that, despite his wildly uneven material, he’s far and away the class of this particular field of nominees?

Tara: I have to disagree with Jonathan on this one; I find Neon to be a refreshing, neo-traditional gem, more organic than it is uneven. In this stage of Young’s career, I view his body of work as a stepping stone and an indication of potential, and I have no issue with it being rewarded. But it won’t be; Mr. Lambert’s got the entertainment industry on lockdown. And I can’t say I really mind.

Kevin: Picking Aldean as the “should win” solely because he had the biggest year, though I suspect Shelton will win anyway.

Sam: I get the love for Miranda Lambert, but the Blake Shelton love is largely lost on me. Not a fan of Aldean either, but he’s due for this award.

Female Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Sara Evans
  • Miranda Lambert – Dan, Ben, Tara, Leeann, Sam
  • Martina McBride
  • Taylor Swift – Jonathan, Kevin
  • Carrie Underwood

Will Win:

  • Sara Evans
  • Miranda Lambert – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Leeann, Sam
  • Martina McBride
  • Taylor Swift – Kevin
  • Carrie Underwood

Dan: I think Swift has been the strongest solo act this past year, but Lambert released a decent fourth album and a terrific group one. With no place on the ballot to reward Pistol Annies (fix that, CMAs?), this’ll do.

Ben: Swift put out a string of very good singles, but… Four the Record + Pistol Annies = The Miranda Lambert love will be fully justified.

Jonathan: If we’re counting Pistol Annies, then I can absolutely see the case for Lambert and could be convinced to vote accordingly, and I think she still has the momentum to win here. If we’re just looking at solo material, though, I’m unapologetically sticking with Swift’s “Mean” and “Sparks Fly,” which trump anything that the other four women in the category released during the eligibility period. With Underwood having a new album to support and, hopefully, Kellie Pickler getting the recognition she deserves for her latest work, this category should be a hell of a lot more interesting and competitive come CMA time.

Tara: Swift delivered the better material, but Lambert delivered the better performances, Hell On Heels notwithstanding. By my definition of FVOTY, this should go to Lambert. (And I’m stoked for the fall award season, too.)

Leeann:  I have no real reason to believe that the Academy would take this from Lambert this year.

Kevin:  Can you believe that Swift is the only nominee who hasn’t won this yet?  I know Lambert should be the favorite, especially given the ACM’s fondness for her.  But I can’t shake the feeling that she’s lost some momentum with her latest project.

Sam: Miranda will continue to own this category until someone like Carrie Underwood steps up with a new album.

Vocal Duo of the Year

Should Win

  • Love and Theft
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland – Leeann
  • Thompson Square – Dan, Ben, Tara

Will Win:

  • Love and Theft
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland – Dan, Ben, Leeann, Kevin
  • Thompson Square – Jonathan, Tara, Sam

Ben: The Civil Wars are really the only duo I’ve cared about this past year, but they have been stupidly excluded in favor of Love and Theft (who only released one mediocre single in the past year), so I’m going with Thompson Square instead. They’ve been doing well at radio, and their music has not been terribly grating, but I’m pretty sure that the ACM will remain stuck on Sugarland.

Dan: With The Civil Wars absent from ACM’s roster and Sugarland having a messy year across the board, Thompson Square seems like the last band standing. And they’re cute, right?

Jonathan: The song remains the same: This category should’ve been merged with Vocal Group of the Year eons ago to trim the fat. Given that the ACMs are still ostensibly more radio-oriented than the CMAs and that Sugarland have actively alienated radio with the god-awful singles from their god-awful album, I’m going to say that Thompson Square pull off the upset here. Just don’t ask me to hum or even to name more than one of their songs…

Tara: I honestly can’t muster an opinion. What’s Sugarland been up to these days, anyway?

Leeann:  This category isn’t even worth comment this year.

Kevin: Saying somebody should win implies that I think there’s a worthy winner, so I’m just going to say that Sugarland will win.

Sam: No Bellamy Brothers nod? You mean country music actually had five legit nominees for a Duo award this year? Artistically, The Civil Wars and Foster & Lloyd would be the most deserving this year.

Vocal Group of the Year

Should Win:

  • The Band Perry
  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin, Sam

Will Win:

  • The Band Perry – Sam
  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Ben: I’ve tried to hold out hope that the award industries would lay off the ridiculous Lady A adoration, but the CMAs and Grammys have shown me otherwise.

Jonathan: No reason to think the ACMs will break the trend of giving unearned trophies to the C students in the class.

Tara: I remain firmly in ZBB’s corner; the band produced my favorite single of 2011. But I would much, much prefer this award to go to the flavor of the month Eli Young Band than the flavor of the year Lady Antebellum.

Dan: I miss Little Big Town, but this is the first time in recent memory that this category has had five competitive groups. Like Aldean in the Male Vocalist race, Zac Brown Band sell as well as anyone and haven’t won yet, so I’ll probably keep picking them until they do, too. La la la x2.

Leeann: I’d love to see Zac Brown Band take it this year, but I don’t have enough faith that Lady A won’t just keep the award.

Kevin:  Always gonna root for ZBB.  Just losing hope that they’ll ever actually win.

Sam: ZBB is operating on a higher level than any other vocal group, but I’m alright with The Band Perry’s quirkiness getting some recognition.

New Artist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Hunter Hayes – Dan, Tara
  • Scotty McCreery

Will Win:

  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Hunter Hayes
  • Scotty McCreery – Ben, Dan, Jonathan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin, Sam

Dan: Of the three, I think Hayes has the most raw talent (played every instrument on his album!) and could one day be an interesting artist. So, vote of optimism! ;D

Ben: I think this will be between Gilbert and McCreery. My gut says Scotty McCreery “will” win, but this line-up is just too depressing for me to make a case for who “should” win. Dan makes a good point about Hunter Hayes though…

Jonathan: I can’t.

Tara: Uh…I guess this is as good a time as any to confess my love for “Storm Warning.”

Leeann: I don’t even have the heart to choose who I think should win, but I’m guessing the “American Idol” winner will win.

Kevin: New Coke >>>> New Artist of the Year.

Sam: This is fan voted, right? Well, if McCreery’s fans can vote him to win “American Idol”…

Album of the Year

Should Win:

  • Eric Church, ChiefDan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin
  • Miranda Lambert, Four The Record – Sam
  • Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey
  • Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
  • Lady Antebellum, Own The Night

Will Win:

  • Eric Church, Chief
  • Miranda Lambert, Four The Record
  • Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey
  • Jason Aldean, My Kinda PartyDan, Ben, Sam
  • Lady Antebellum, Own The NightJonathan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin

Ben: Eric Church edges out Miranda as my pick, but I’m fairly sure this will go to Aldean, and I refuse to predict that Lady Antebellum will win this.

Jonathan: I liked Lambert’s album exponentially less each time I listened to it, so I stopped listening to all but two of its tracks (“Fine Tune” and “Dear Diamond”) months ago to preserve at least some degree of fondness for it. Church’s album has some significant limitations of its own, but, song-for-song, it’s the strongest set in this line-up. I have no idea what I would ever actually say to a person who believes that Richard Marx’s Repeat Offender Amy Grant’s House of Love Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night scans as a country album in any substantive way, or that it’s the best country album of this or any year. But clearly there are people who do believe that, and recent history says there are enough of them for Lady A to win this.

Tara: It’s a toss up between Lambert and Church for me, with Church’s realized hard-assness giving Chief a slight edge. But it’s Lady A’s to lose – and I’m not sure anything in the industry has frustrated me more than their wins as of late. It’s worse than laughably unfair; it’s potential-threatening. And it has to stop.

Dan: When Church is bad, he’s cringe-worthy. When he’s good, he kicks most of the ass he told you he’d kick.

Leeann: I won’t be surprised if Lady A wins, but I’d love to see Eric Church win for the most interesting album of the bunch. I wouldn’t mind seeing Miranda Lambert win either.

Kevin: I just hope I’m wrong a lot this year.

Sam: Pretty sad when a “good for a Jason Aldean album” album beats out two superior albums from Church and Lambert, but I think that will be the case.

Single Record of the Year

Should Win:

  • Eli Young Band, “Crazy Girl”
  • Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
  • Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup”
  • Chris Young, “Tomorrow”
  • Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter, “You and Tequila” – Ben, Dan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin, Sam

Will Win:

  • Eli Young Band, “Crazy Girl”
  • Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin, Sam
  • Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup”
  • Chris Young, “Tomorrow”
  • Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”

Ben: “Tequila” outclasses most of the field, though “Tomorrow” is also a solid contender. I get the novelty value of “Red Solo Cup,” but Single Record of the Year? Nah…

Jonathan: Even for a novelty song, I thought “Red Solo Cup” was poorly constructed and lazily written, but I kind of hope it wins, if only to prove that this year’s ACMs are just a straight-up farce.

Tara: I don’t love any of these, but “You and Tequila” is the only one I can imagine holding up in ten years.

Dan: Whatever.

Leeann: I can’t even believe “Red Solo Cup” is a contender! I’d love to see Kenny win for one of his best recordings, though I suspect Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson will win due to their cross genre appeal and all.

Kevin: Please let me be wrong a lot this year.

Sam: I will be rooting for “Red Solo Cup” and its inspired idiocy, but this could be part of Jason Aldean’s big night at the ACM.

Song of the Year

Should Win:

  • “Crazy Girl” – Lee Brice & Liz Rose
  • “Home” – Brett Beavers, Dierks Bentley & Dan Wilson – Leeann
  • “Just a Kiss” – Dallas Davidson, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott
  • “Threaten Me With Heaven” – Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Dillon O’Brian & Will Owsley – Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • “You and Tequila” – Matraca Berg & Deana Carter – Dan, Ben, Sam

Will Win:

  • “Crazy Girl” – Lee Brice & Liz Rose
  • “Home” – Brett Beavers, Dierks Bentley & Dan Wilson – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Sam
  • “Just a Kiss” – Dallas Davidson, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott – Kevin
  • “Threaten Me With Heaven” – Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Dillon O’Brian & Will Owsley
  • “You and Tequila” – Matraca Berg & Deana Carter – Leeann

Dan: “Home” has felt like awards bait to me since I first heard it. Me, I’m a “Tequila” guy.

Ben: Ditto to Dan.

Jonathan: As much as I’d like to see Berg and Carter pick up some new hardware, I’d still give the edge to Gill’s song. When “Home” does win, which I agree it will, I’ll just pretend it means that Jason Isbell has finally won a major industry award.

Tara: “Threaten Me With Heaven” is gorgeously written, but I won’t mind if (and when) “Home” takes the award. Country music could use a shot of graceful patriotism.

Leeann: I’m pleased to have three songs that I’d be happy to see win the award this year. I feel like either Chesney or Bentley will rightfully win…I hope so at least.

Kevin:  Pretty please?

Video of the Year

Should Win:

  • Eric Church, “Homeboy”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Just a Kiss”
  • Taylor Swift, “Mean” – Ben, Dan, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin, Sam
  • Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup”
  • Jason Aldean, “Tattoos On This Town”

Will Win:

  • Eric Church, “Homeboy”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Just a Kiss”
  • Taylor Swift, “Mean” – Kevin
  • Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup” – Ben, Dan, Jonathan, Tara, Sam
  • Jason Aldean, “Tattoos On This Town”

Ben: I could actually live with “Red Solo Cup” winning this, but I still enjoy “Mean” quite a bit more.  Plus I kind of hate Lady Antebellum’s video for being nothing more than a glorified iPad commercial.  I also think “Mean” deserved a nomination for Single Record of the Year, so I would like to see it acknowledged here.  Still, I don’t think I can bet against “Red Solo Cup.”

Jonathan: That “Mean” didn’t score the Single and Song of the Year nominations with the ACMs that it has elsewhere seems revealing, with “Red Solo Cup” as the most likely beneficiary. I just hope that the faux gravitas of the “Homeboy” clip doesn’t give it any footing.

Tara: I’m equally disappointed that “Mean” didn’t snag a nomination for Single or Song of the Year. With the video almost as freshly produced as the single, it’s an easy one to root for in this category. I have no inkling as to who will win, but I’ll piggyback off of my co-bloggers on the frat party anthem.

Dan: I could do without how the “Mean” clip ends with a little girl idolizing Taylor Swift, but am I gonna vote against the country music video that had the anti-gay-bullying message? No, I’m not.

Kevin: I think the Swift clip has enough pizazz to triumph in the end over Toby’s YouTube video.

Vocal Event of the Year

Should Win:

  • Aaron Lewis featuring George Jones & Charlie Daniels, “Country Boy”
  • Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
  • Brad Paisley featuring Alabama, “Old Alabama”
  • Brad Paisley duet with Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me” – Tara, Kevin, Ben
  • Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter, “You and Tequila” – Dan, Jonathan, Leeann, Sam

Will Win:

  • Aaron Lewis featuring George Jones & Charlie Daniels, “Country Boy”
  • Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jonathan, Dan, Leeann, Kevin, Sam
  • Brad Paisley featuring Alabama, “Old Alabama”
  • Brad Paisley duet with Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me” – Tara, Ben
  • Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”

Jonathan: The Lewis track is one of the worst singles of the past five years or more, and its nomination is an indication of how deeply modern country music hates the actual traditions and values of the genre.

Tara: As middle-of-the-road as it is, something in the melody of “Remind Me” intrigues me. And I have a random feeling the voters will use this category to reward their dethroned male and female vocalists of the year.

Dan: It’ll be interesting to see if “Remind Me” can unseat “Don’t You Wanna St– oh, who am I kidding. Nothing is interesting anymore.

Leeann: Ugh. I pretty much know that Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson will win, but I’d love to be wrong. Meanwhile, I continue to faithfully root for the Chesney/Potter collaboration.

Kevin: I like my Vocal Events to be full-out Vocal Events, so I’m going for Paisley/Underwood over Chesney with backing vocals from Potter.  The latter pair made the better record, though.

Ben:  I’m with Tara and Kevin.  “You and Tequila” is the best record overall, but that has more to do with Berg and Carter’s songwriting than with Potter’s contributions.  “Remind Me” is the one that feels like an actual event.

Sam: Aldean & Clarkson outscreamed Paisley & Underwood, so they lay claim to the trophy. Chesney and Potter, what were you two thinking by just going out there and singing? Next time, I want to hear some wailing and primal screams, because that’s what makes for a successful duet these days.

2012 ACM Nominations

Friday, January 27th, 2012

The nominations have been announced for the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards.

Kenny Chesney leads with nine nominations.   Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, and Brad Paisley follow.

Check out the entire list of nominees here.

ACM Picks & Predictions

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

And some amount of us will be live-blogging the show tomorrow at 8 pm/7 central. Join!

Entertainer of the Year

Picks

  • Jason Aldean
  • Toby Keith
  • Miranda Lambert – Dan
  • Brad Paisley – Leeann, Tara
  • Taylor Swift – Kevin
  • Keith Urban

Predictions

  • Jason Aldean
  • Toby Keith
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Brad Paisley
  • Taylor Swift – Dan, Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • Keith Urban

Kevin: With three of the genre’s biggest entertainers left off the list – Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, and Zac Brown Band -  the field is clear for Taylor Swift, the only act of the six that truly was an Entertainer of the Year this year.

Dan: I’m mostly just Entertained by this bizarro Toby Keith nomination. But that’s why the ACMs are the Golden Globes of country music. Of the six, I’ll pick Lambert, who’s helped reinvigorate the mainstream creatively and now outsells many of the big guys. I’d be OK with Swift, too, though she’s carved out such a unique niche in popular music that it’s hard to think of her as “representing” a particular genre in the way this award suggests. With the fan vote still intact, I could see this going lots of ways, but I’ll guess Swift.

Leeann: Since Underwood isn’t in the running, Swift’s equally enthusiastic fan base seems most likely to push the votes her way.

Tara: I’d like to eventually support Lambert, but I’m not sure she’s fully formed as an entertainer just yet. Then again, this category seems to be morphing into something different than it used to be. Paisley and Urban are the consummate entertainers, Swift is a phenomenon, Aldean is a rising star and Keith, well, I’m as entertained as Dan is. It feels a little “take your pick”…and I guess my pick is Paisley. Now that Underwood’s voters are out of the picture, though, I think Swift will take this, with Paisley or Aldean as a close second.

Top Male Vocalist of the Year

Picks

  • Jason Aldean – Dan, Kevin
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton – Leeann
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban – Tara

Predictions

  • Jason Aldean – Dan
  • Brad Paisley – Leeann, Tara
  • Blake Shelton – Kevin
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Kevin: Too many repeat winners up against two newbies. I still find Shelton’s CMA victory ridiculous, and Aldean is long overdue for industry recognition.

Dan: But look – where’s Toby here?! Love you, ACMs! I’m thinking Aldean for this one, too. He’s not my favorite, but he does have his own thing going, and maybe the Academy has noticed that he moves lots of units and Blake Shelton doesn’t.

Leeann: While I’d love to see Shelton take it this year, since he somehow got nominated, I’m guessing it’ll reflexively go to Paisley again.

Tara: Lately I’ve been inexplicably craving Keith Urban: even the Urban-lite music of his past two albums excites me more than some of the stuff on the air right now. I think the voters will stick with the familiar, though, and reward Brad for the 61st time.

Top Female Vocalist of the Year

Picks

  • Miranda Lambert – Dan, Leeann
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Tara
  • Lee Ann Womack

Predictions

  • Miranda Lambert – Dan, Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Lee Ann Womack

Kevin: I think the Lambert victory lap will continue, but Underwood’s the only one with recent output that  I regularly listen to.

Dan: Lambert over Swift for the same reasons I mentioned in my Entertainer blurb.

Leeann: The Academy loves them some Miranda Lambert and, presumably, nothing in particular has happened in the last year to change that. So, this award is hers to lose.

Tara: Lambert is probably the best representation of the genre’s current momentum and direction, – and I think the voters will act on that, – but Underwood deserves some sort of recognition for her stellar Play On tour. This award is pretty much her last shot.

Top Vocal Group of the Year

Picks

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town – Dan, Kevin
  • Randy Rogers Band
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band – Leeann, Tara

Predictions

  • Lady Antebellum – Dan, Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • Little Big Town
  • Randy Rogers Band
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band

Kevin: I would be happy with LTB, ZBB, or TBP.

Dan: I mean, wouldn’t it be lovely to see Little Big Town rewarded just for being Little Big Town all these years? Back in reality, though, Lady A will fly a yawn cloud to the podium while Zac Brown Band and The Band Perry continue creeping up from behind.

Leeann: Randy Rogers Band out of the mix (let’s be realistic), Zac Brown Band is my favorite of the bunch. I expect Lady A to continue their winning streak, however.

Tara: Zac Brown Band released one of my favorite albums of 2010, and I’m digging how fresh their music sounds as of late. I think Lady Antebellum’s awards show ownage will continue, though.

Top Vocal Duo of the Year

Picks

  • The JaneDear Girls
  • Joey + Rory – Leeann
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia – Dan
  • Sugarland – Kevin, Tara

Predictions

  • The JaneDear Girls
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland – Kevin, Dan, Leeann,Tara

Kevin: Who else?

Dan: If we were judging just by singles, Sugarland’s win here would be as deserved as it is inevitable. I don’t feel like rewarding The Incredible Machine, though. I wonder who Thompson Square is going to end up ousting from this category – JaneDear Girls, Joey + Rory or Montgomery Gentry?

Leeann: I know Joey+Rory doesn’t even deserve to win, but they’re honestly the only duo that I like in this category. I’d be a fool to bet against Sugarland, especially (as the others have said) based on their strong singles.

Tara: …I’m going to judge by singles and back Sugarland. Yeah. I don’t know.

Top New Artist of the Year

Picks

  • Eric Church
  • The Band Perry – Dan, Kevin, Leeann, Tara

Predictions

  • Eric Church – Kevin, Leeann
  • The Band Perry – Dan, Tara

Kevin: The whole fan-voted thing makes me think that Church will win, even though The Band Perry is more popular with record buyers.

Dan: I have a little more faith in the Perry siblings’ tastes and talents moving forward. Church’s fans always seem pretty revved up, though; I bet they’ll power him to the win.

Leeann: The Band Perry’s music is at least interesting, but Church has been around longer. So, it’s anybody’s guess.

Tara: The Perrys are almost always spunky and interesting, while Church is only sometimes a legit badass. If we’re rewarding the artist(s) who has the best grasp on his or her potential, I guess I’ll go with the former.

Album of the Year

Picks

  • Dierks Bentley, Up on the RidgeKevin, Leeann, Tara
  • Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
  • Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song - Dan
  • Taylor Swift, Speak Now
  • Zac Brown Band, You Get What You Give

Predictions

  • Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge - Kevin, Tara
  • Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You NowDan, Leeann
  • Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song
  • Taylor Swift, Speak Now
  • Zac Brown Band, You Get What You Give

Kevin: Somebody had to pick up where the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band left off.

Dan: I think Swift made the most consistently strong set here, but Johnson made the most ambitious and unique, and he hasn’t actually won a major album award yet. But Lady A made money.

Leeann: I have a bad feeling about Lady A, but I’d be happy if either Jamey Johnson or Dierks Bentley proved me wrong.

Tara: You Get What You Give is my favorite of the set, but Up On The Ridge is the best. I have a funky/good feeling that the voters will agree with me. (And yes, NARAS, in case you were wondering: I’m still mad at you for what you did with this category.)

Single Record of the Year

Picks

  • Easton Corbin, “A Little More Country Than That”
  • Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away” – Kevin
  • Kenny Chesney, ‘The Boys of Fall”
  • Lee Brice, “Love Like Crazy”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me” – Dan, Leeann, Tara

Predictions

  • Easton Corbin, “A Little More Country Than That”
  • Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”
  • Kenny Chesney, ‘The Boys of Fall”
  • Lee Brice, “Love Like Crazy”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me” – Dan, Kevin, Leeann, Tara

Kevin: I prefer ZBB and AJ on this one, but Lambert’s hit is in the same inevitability league as “I Hope You Dance” and “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Dan: “As She’s Walking Away” and “The House That Built Me” will both hold up over time. My preference here is slight.

Leeann: With the exception of “As She’s Walking Away”, it seems that “The House that Built Me” was set up to win based on the inferior quality of the other nominees. Either that or 2010 really was as bad for country music as I remember.

Tara: Truth be told, I enjoy “As She’s Walking Away” more than I enjoy “The House That Built Me.” But there’s an intangible quality to Lambert’s vocal performance that puts it on a slightly different level for me.

Song of the Year

Picks

  • “A Little More Country Than That” – written by Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress, Wynn Varble; performed by Easton Corbin
  • “As She’s Walking Away” – written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrettey; performed by Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson
  • “The House That Built Me” – written by Tom Douglas, Allen Shamblin; performed by Miranda Lambert – Dan, Leeann, Tara
  • “If I Die Young” – written by Kimberly Perry; performed by The Band Perry – Kevin
  • “Love Like Crazy” – written by Tim James, Doug Johnson; performed by Lee Brice

Predictions

  • “A Little More Country Than That” – written by Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress, Wynn Varble; performed by Easton Corbin
  • “As She’s Walking Away” – written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrettey; performed by Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson
  • “The House That Built Me” – written by Tom Douglas, Allen Shamblin; performed by Miranda Lambert – Dan, Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • “If I Die Young” – written by Kimberly Perry; performed by The Band Perry
  • “Love Like Crazy” – written by Tim James, Doug Johnson; performed by Lee Brice

Kevin: “The House That Built Me” is what Song of the Year awards exist for. But I like the tender melancholy of “If I Die Young” quite a bit more.

Dan: Please just go read the second verse to “Love Like Crazy” and then come back.

Leeann: I can’t imagine that “The House that Built Me” won’t take it, but I do have a funny feeling about “As She’s walking Away.”

Tara: No question here.

Video of the Year

Picks

  • “The Boys of Fall” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
  • “The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Only Prettier” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Stuck Like Glue” – Sugarland – Dan, Kevin

Predictions

  • “The Boys of Fall” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins – Kevin
  • “The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert – Dan
  • “Only Prettier” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Stuck Like Glue” – Sugarland

Kevin: I think the Sugarland clip is the only one that is truly memorable, but this race gives voters the opportunity to hit two B-list stars with one stone.

Dan: I’m still very, very entertained by the “Stuck Like Glue” video. Maybe I shouldn’t be, since it’s about stalking and kidnapping and drugging and stuff. But I am.

Vocal Event of the Year

Picks

  • “As She’s Walking Away” – Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson – Kevin, Dan, Leeann, Tara
  • “Blue Sky” – Emily West featuring Keith Urban
  • “Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, and Miranda Lambert
  • “Cold Beer” – Colt Ford featuring Jamey Johnson
  • “Good to Be Me” – Uncle Kracker featuring Kid Rock

Predictions

  • “As She’s Walking Away” – Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson – Kevin, Dan, Leeann, Tara
  • “Blue Sky” – Emily West featuring Keith Urban
  • “Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, and Miranda Lambert
  • “Cold Beer” – Colt Ford featuring Jamey Johnson
  • “Good to Be Me” – Uncle Kracker featuring Kid Rock

Kevin: As Vocal Events ago, “As She’s Walking Away” ranks with the best of the last ten years.

Dan: This field reminds me of when Heath Ledger was nominated for The Dark Knight. The preordained winner and…some other people.

Leeann: I’m cheating, but ditto to Dan.

Tara: The ZBB/Jackson duet never loses its fiddle-y sparkle. I wonder if ten years from now, I’ll still get warm fuzzies when Jackson starts singing?

2011 ACM Awards Nominations

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Here are this year’s nominees for the ACM Awards. Biggest surprises: Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band not up for Entertainer; Rascal Flatts out of the Vocal Group race; Jason Aldean finally scores major nominations, both Entertainer and Male Vocalist.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Toby Keith
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Brad Paisley
  • Taylor Swift
  • Keith Urban

Top Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Top Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Lee Ann Womack

Top Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Randy Rogers Band
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band

Top Vocal Duo of the Year

  • The JaneDear Girls
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland

Top New Solo Vocalist of the Year

  • Eric Church
  • Easton Corbin
  • Randy Houser

Top New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year

  • The Band Perry
  • The JaneDear Girls
  • Steel Magnolia

Album of the Year

  • Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge
  • Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
  • Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song
  • Taylor Swift, Speak Now
  • Zac Brown Band, You Get What You Give

Single Record of the Year

  • Easton Corbin, “A Little More Country Than That”
  • Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”
  • Kenny Chesney, ‘The Boys of Fall”
  • Lee Brice, “Love Like Crazy”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”

Song of the Year

  • “A Little More Country Than That” – written by Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress, Wynn Varble; performed by Easton Corbin
  • “As She’s Walking Away” – written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrettey; performed by Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson
  • “The House That Built Me” – written by Tom Douglas, Allen Shamblin; performed by Miranda Lambert
  • “If I Die Young” – written by Kimberly Perry; performed by The Band Perry
  • “Love Like Crazy” – written by Tim James, Doug Johnson; performed by Lee Brice

Video of the Year

  • “The Boys of Fall” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
  • “The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Only Prettier” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Stuck Like Glue” – Sugarland

Vocal Event of the Year

  • “As She’s Walking Away” – Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson
  • “Blue Sky” – Emily West featuring Keith Urban
  • “Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, and Miranda Lambert
  • “Cold Beer” – Colt Ford featuring Jamey Johnson
  • “Good to Be Me” – Uncle Kracker featuring Kid Rock

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