As we gear up for the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards, the writing staff of Country Universe have prepared our predicted winners among this year’s nominees. Check out our Personal Picks as well, and share your own predictions in the comments. As always, we’ll be live-blogging the festivities this Sunday, starting at 8 EST.
ACM 2009: Country Universe Predicts the Winners
Entertainer of the Year
- Kenny Chesney
- Brad Paisley
- George Strait
- Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Lynn
- Keith Urban
Kevin: For as much as the industry favors male acts, it’s the female acts who really post the big numbers. I think that the fans having a say will put Underwood over the top, though the industry is certainly behind her, too. The depth and breadth of her appeal warrants the win.
Leeann: I know how zealous Carrie Underwood fans are. So, I’d be shocked if she doesn’t win it. I like the way Lynn said it though.
Dan: You know, I really have no idea. It’s not going to be George Strait, and I probably wouldn’t anticipate a win for Keith Urban this year. At first I was going with Chesney by default, but the arguments for Underwood’s win are too good to ignore, so I’m changing to her.
Lynn: If the fans are truly allowed to have their say…Ms. Underwood, please watch your step on the way up to receive your first Entertainer of the Year award.
Top Male Vocalist
- Kenny Chesney
- Toby Keith
- Brad Paisley – Leeann, Dan, Lynn, Kevin
- George Strait
- Keith Urban
Leeann: I can’t decide between Chesney or Paisley. If I had to choose, I’d guess Paisley, since he’s gotten used to winning this one.
Dan: Tough call. I’ll put it between Paisley and Chesney, and I’ll give Paisley the edge.
Lynn: Paisley by default. Yes, his last album was an instrumental, but he was easily the most visible of these artists over the past year.
Kevin: I could see Strait sneaking in there, but I don’t see how things have shifted in a meaningful enough way to end Paisley’s run.
Top Female Vocalist
- Miranda Lambert
- Heidi Newfield
- Taylor Swift
- Carrie Underwood – Dan, Lynn, Kevin, Leeann
- Lee Ann Womack
Dan: There’s always that chance of a Miranda or Taylor upset, but I think Carrie’s still got this.
Lynn: Given a choice among these ladies over the course of the past year, I can’t imagine this award not going to Underwood.
Kevin: It’s a race between Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, and it’s hard for me to imagine Underwood losing a vocalist race to Swift.
Leeann: I’d be an idiot to predict anyone other than Underwood.
Top Vocal Group
- Lady Antebellum – Lynn, Kevin
- Little Big Town
- Rascal Flatts – Leeann, Dan
- Randy Rogers Band
- The Lost Trailers
Lynn: With previous ACM and CMA wins under their belts, and a big Grammy nod earlier this year, I wouldn’t bet against Lady A for the win. I could be wrong, but I think Nashville is dying to hand this award to a band other than Rascal Flatts, and Lady A is visible, popular and photogenic.
Kevin: I think that voters have finally found an alternative to Rascal Flatts, who have dominated this race for so many years.
Leeann: Lady A could take this one. However, if I want to be safe, I should just predict Rascal Flatts.
Dan: If Lady A hadn’t released such a sluggish second single, they could be posing a serious threat by now. They’ve definitely got a shot, but I’d guess the Flatts still have it.
Top Vocal Duo
- Big & Rich
- Brooks & Dunn
- Joey + Rory
- Montgomery Gentry
- Sugarland – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Lynn
Kevin: This must finally be the year that Brooks & Dunn loses, right? Sugarland is long overdue.
Leeann: Sugarland. They’re clearly the hottest duo right now.
Dan: Sugarland, although Brooks & Dunn could still keep it.
Lynn: Sugarland has the momentum.
Top New Artist
- Julianne Hough- Leeann, Lynn, Kevin
- Jake Owen
- Zac Brown Band – Dan
Leeann: Hough will get this one, because I have a feeling she’s got the strongest and most organized fan base, thanks to a popular television show.
Dan: Fan voting = I have no idea. But just for the sake of having a bet, I’ll say Zac Brown Band. They’re well-liked by audiences; maybe their grassroots support will push them over.
Lynn: Fan voting = Julianne Hough (= Dancing With the Stars = 20 million viewers per week = Lots of Free Publicity).
Kevin: I also think Hough will win because of the nature of her fan base.
Album of the Year
- Back When I Knew It All – Montgomery Gentry
- Carnival Ride – Carrie Underwood
- Fearless – Taylor Swift – Leeann
- That Lonesome Song – Jamey Johnson
- Troubadour – George Strait – Dan, Lynn, Kevin
Lynn: Ditto Dan.
Kevin: The Single/Album races just seem to be going Strait’s way lately.
Leeann: I’ll go out on a limb and predict Taylor Swift. I’m sure the industry wants to give her an award and this is the most plausible way to do it.
Single Record of the Year
- “Gunpowder & Lead” – Miranda Lambert
- “In Color” – Jamey Johnson
- “Johnny And June” – Heidi Newfield
- “Waitin’ On A Woman” – Brad Paisley – Dan
- “You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins – Lynn, Kevin, Leeann
Lynn: I might have to go with Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This.” Admittedly, I have a poor track record when it comes to predicting country music awards shows, but I’d be willing to wager at least…nope, can’t do it, I really am bad at this. Second choice is “Gunpowder & Lead” (although it came out 1 single and a year ago!)
Kevin: I’m torn between Paisley and Adkins. The ACM likes to go with the biggest hit, and I guess that’s “You’re Gonna Miss This.”
Leeann: I guess I predict Trace Adkins. It’s the dullest song of the choices, but the one that seems to tug the hardest on the heartstrings of the assumed average country music listener.
Dan: Paisley’s sentimental hit seems like the strongest bet to me, although I feel a little sheepish with everyone else pulling for Adkins.
Song of the Year
- I Saw God Today – Leeann, Dan, Lynn
Composers: Rodney Clawson, Monty Criswell, Wade Kirby
- In Color – Kevin
Composers: Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller, James Otto
- Johnny And June
Composers: Deanna Bryant, Heidi Newfield, Stephony Smith
- Waitin’ On A Woman
Composers: Don Sampson, Wynn Varble
- You’re Gonna Miss This
Composers: Ashley Gorley and Lee Thomas Miller
Kevin: I’m guessing “In Color” or “I Saw God Today.” It doesn’t help that when Strait won this award, he shared it with Johnson for “Give it Away.” I’ll say “In Color”, though it might result in my defeat in the final tally.
Leeann: I can’t see why “I Saw God Today” won’t win, even if it makes me cringe a little.
Dan: If I had to guess, it’s a race between “Waitin’ on a Woman” and “I Saw God Today,” with “In Color” playing dark horse. I guess I’ll say “I Saw God Today.”
Lynn: I think Strait will pick up an ACM trophy to go with his CMA one for “I Saw God Today.”