Picking the CMA Nominees: Album of the Year

This year’s eligibility period runs from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. In those twelve months, there have been some solid albums released, and while there isn’t a wealth of treasures to choose from, there are enough good albums to round out this category.

Here are the five albums that I would nominate for Album of the Year:

Joey + Rory, The Life of a Song

The past twenty years have brought several excellent breakthrough albums by groups, especially those by Sugarland, Little Big Town, Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio, and Big & Rich. This set by Joey + Rory is better than all of them, and is selling quite well despite limited airplay.

Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song

It’s been nominated for ACM’s trophy and for the Best Country Album Grammy, but Johnson’s best shot at winning has always been with the traditional-leaning CMA voter membership. If both Sugarland and Taylor Swift secure a nod, he’s a shoo-in.

Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights

We’re knee-deep in cover albums by veteran artists, but this is one of the best. Voters may be more likely to cite Lee Ann Womack’s latest, if they’re planning on nominating a traditional female at all, but this is the better album.

Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night

If Paisley were to win this, it would be deserved, as it’s possibly the best album of his career. His penchant for releasing albums in June might work against him, but hopefully voters will have a chance to live with this album before they fill out their ballots.

Sugarland, Love on the Inside

One of the best mainstream country albums of the decade, in my humble opinion.  It’s certainly the first album since Home that I can listen to from start to finish and is wholeheartedly embraced by country radio. Okay, maybe since Live Like You Were Dying or Fireflies.  But gosh, have there been few albums this decade that fit both descriptions.

What five albums do you think should be nominated this year?


  1. I either like or love every album on your list. I’ve even grown into the Sugarland album. I’d love it if this was the final ballot, but i’m pessimistic

  2. There’s few others that I’d even consider making it up there. Taylor Swift has a good chance just due to her sales. Zac Brown Band is another. Hopefully Kenny Chesney doesn’t get one.

  3. I like your list. I don’t have a problem with any of those being on the ballet. I think Taylor Swift deserves a nomination aswell. Her Fearless album proved that she has a strong place hold for country and pop music in the future.

  4. Since you’re asking which albums I think SHOULD be nominated, I would include Lee Ann Womack’s Call Me Crazy. (And I do think she’ll get the nomination over Patty Loveless.) I don’t think Joey + Rory will get the nomination though. It will probably go to Taylor Swift. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum or Zac Brown Band in this category due to sales. Finally, Sugarland is definitely my favorite act of the last five years or so. It took awhile but they’ve grown on me. They are consistently sooooo good!

  5. I like that list, I’m pretty sure they won’t exclude TS though (even though they should imo). So I could see her replacing Patty or J+R. You can never count out the go to people, like Keith, and ZBB also has put out a solid album.

    I am loving Brad’s new one the more I listen to it, but it came out at the end of the eligible peroid or was it, wow I just checked and it came out on the final day the 30th. If it had longer on the charts I could see it taking the award, since he is a house hold name.

    Jamey Johnson will def get the nom and maybe is the most deserving of the award but there is just not enough commercial success for the members to vote for it.

    Now if TS does get the nom I could see her taking it, even though I don’t think in any way does the album itself deserve it. Yes it is a huge it (with a specific very young demographic), yes she wrote all the songs. BUT there is not much to be said about an album where almost every song is about the same topic told through a different story, which also is the same as her previous album. So if she does win I will have lost all faith in the CMA members!!!

    Sugarland has the possibility of the lock on this one. It has had huge sales, it was #1 for numerous weeks, and it is a well written and put together album. It has the content and the commercial success to go with it!

    I better not see the Flatts album in there that would be just wrong!

  6. Excellent list Kevin, the only one I would probably switch is Kathy’s Coal for the Sugarland album…Not sure if Coal is eligible though.

  7. Jamey Johnson’s album has sold about 200,000 more than Lee Ann Womack’s album that won in 2005, and he did it in a tougher retail market. I think he’s got a great shot at winning, especially given the traditional route that voters have gone in this category so often this decade. (Womack, Paisley, Strait, Jackson, O Brother, Cash, Dixie Chicks.)

  8. Good picks, I wish they were the offical nom’s, but the CMA’s like to add commerical success’s and not strictly critical. In past years, Rascal Flatts ‘Me and My Gang’ got nominated, and last year Carrie Underwood ‘Carinival Ride’ so I would expect to see ‘Fearless’ on there.
    -Fearless – Taylor Swift
    -Call Me Crazy – Lee Ann Womack
    -That Lonesome Song – Jamey Johnson
    -American Saturday Night – Brad Paisley
    -Love On The Inside – Sugarland

  9. I think the Paisley record will ‘miss’ the list and the ones on this list will be

    Taylor Swift – “Fearless”
    Sugarland – “Love On The Inside”
    Jamey Johnson – “That Lonesome Song”
    Zac Brown Band – “The Foundation”
    Lee Ann Womack – “Call Me Crazy”

    I’d love to see Joey+Rory on this list but I just really doubt it’ll happen.

  10. Here’s what I’d like:

    Joey + Rory, The Life Of A Song
    Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
    Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
    Sugarland, Love On The Inside
    Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy

    With Zac Brown Band and Trace Adkins serving as solid alternates. As with the ACM ballot, I like the Taylor album and expect it to be nominated, but I’d rather see it rewarded in a pop context.

  11. Not only do I see Fearless nominated I can see it winning. Jamie Johnson being a dark horse with the critical acclaim he’s received. Sugarland should definitely get a nomination and I still don’t know why the ACM’s ignored them. Lee Ann Womack and the Zac Brown Band could fill out the rest of the ballot.

  12. Wow I love these picks. I would drop Jamey for Lee Ann Womack, but that’s just my personal preference.

    I agree on the Sugarland album, I can listen to it start to finish, and I usually do every week or so- something very rare for me.

  13. I have a strange and scary feeling that Jason Aldean may get a boatload of nominations and Taylor Swift will sweep the show.

  14. The eligibility period has been fairly bleak as far as real standout albums are concerned.

    What I’d Nominate:
    American Saturday Night, Brad Paisley.
    The Excitement Plan, Todd Snider.
    Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit.
    Sleepless Nights, Patty Loveless.
    That Lonesome Song, Jamey Johnson.

    What I Could Live With That Actually Has a Snowball’s Chance:
    American Saturday Night, Brad Paisley.
    Call Me Crazy, Lee Ann Womack.
    That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy, Toby Keith.
    That Lonesome Song, Jamey Johnson.
    X, Trace Adkins.

    I’d expect Taylor Swift’s Fearless to be nominated here (and for Album of the Year in the Grammys’ general field), but, with the CMA’s historically conservative voter base and with her blatant pop aspirations, I think she’ll have a hard time winning regardless of who else is nominated, even if she’s up against equally middling efforts from Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, and Keith Urban.

  15. Interesting picks…especially with Joey + Rory. However, I don’t see it happening for Joey + Rory this year, even though I absolutely love their album!

    Here are my picks:

    Taylor Swift – Fearless
    She won the ACM with this Album and it’s the biggest selling album of the past year, so I’d say she’s a shoo-in for a nomination.

    Jamey Johnson – That Lonesome Song
    He’s been nominated for both the ACM and the Grammy award so I think he’s also a lock for a nomination, and probably the favorite to win.

    Love on the Inside – Sugarland
    One of the best albums released in the past year and I’m surprised it was shut out by the Grammys and the ACM’s. Hopefully the CMA will recognize it!

    Call Me Crazy – Lee Ann Womack
    Though it wasn’t as great as her 2005 album, it was still better than most of the albums released within the eligibility period and deserves a nomination.

    American Saturday Night – Brad Paisley
    This is the only other album I can think of that not only deserves a nomination, but that actually has a chance at being nominated. The only thing hurting its chances is the fact that it was just released in June. If it can somehow make it to the ballot, it too has a fine shot at winning.

  16. The obvious picks for me are Jamey Johnson for That Lonesome Song, which I think has a genuine shot, and Patty Loveless for Sleepless Nights, which is more of a longshot due to lack of aiplay for any of the singles; then maybe Joey + Rory, although they may be hampered by lack of singles airplay and the fact that it is their debut. Everything else I would consider has flaws (Trace Adkins and Lee Ann Womack, although both their eligible albums have remarkable individual moments) or is lacking commercially. I’m not as impressed by Brad Paisley’s latest as most people, but I could see it getting nominated; the same goes for the Sugarland and Taylor Swift efforts.

  17. I agree with Jonathan’s selections, though the Womack and Sugarland efforts would be my alternates. I expect to see Johnson, Swift, Paisley and Sugarland, and then the CMA has the choice between artistry (Womack, Loveless) and commerce (Rucker, Urban).

  18. Does the CMA have a minimum sales requirement that an album must reach in order to be eligible for consideration? The ACM lowered its requirement in order to nomimate Jamey Johnson’s album. Just wondering because I remember reading the sales figures here not so long ago and some of them — the Womack album in particular — were surprisingly low.

  19. The CMA has no such stipulation, but Womack’s probably hasn’t sold enough to secure a nod. These awards will acknowledge artistry, as long as it brings in some Music Row dough as well (for example, Johnson). Montgomery Gentry had pretty low numbers and were nommed at the ACM, but that voter base is largely made of radio pros and MG had two No. 1 singles last year. That probably also explains the Swift over Johnson decision in the Album race.

  20. Just a quick glance at the last twenty years and there are only a couple albums nominated in this category that didn’t sell at least gold, and they were both “various artist” collections. Also, only one man has won Male Vocalist (Vince Gill) without a No. 1 in the eligibility period and no woman has won the Female crown without a top five single.

  21. You guys know I love Keith Urban and I believe his Defying Gravity will get a nod! To me and a few others think it’s a great album. When I get a chance, I’m going to mention to Keith that on his next album write more about bushhogging and less about his love for his wife (glad he loves her though) or maybe he could write about them driving a yellow (not green) bushhog while out on their farm looking at the moon!! lol! Or maybe something about their new Alpacas they bought! What would rhymn with Alpacas?? Or maybe he could write one titled “welcome to the outback!” Just funning guys, but seriously hope his album gets a nom!

  22. Isn’t Tayor Swift not eligible, she has already been nominated for this album has she not? I do agree that many of the songs on it are good however I just can’t get into her singing, she sure isn’t country, at least this isn’t fan voted so there isn’t a snowball’s chance she’ll win even if she is elligible. Brad Paisley deserves this, and its a real shame that sales are so low on Lee Ann Womak as man that gal sure can sing and theres no doubting she is country all the way. I agree with most others though and I too think Jamey Johnson is awesome, his album is awesome and sure is country!

  23. It isn’t really that funny or original but I see three out of the four major awards being very predictable. Entertainer being the only one up for grabs.


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