2012 CMA Awards: Staff Picks & Predictions

While the rest of the country fixates on “Nashville,” the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards air live from Music City with equal drama and ridiculousness November 1 at 7 p.m. CST. The CU staff picked and predicted the awards below. Chime in with your thoughts, and check back for our live blog on Thursday night!

Entertainer of the Year 

Should Win:

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

Will Win:

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

Dan: I’ll probably never be able to fully embrace Aldean, but his impact on the genre remains undeniable, and once in a while he releases something like “Fly Over States” that lends some dimension to his hick-rock formula.

Tara: “Fly Over States” will land on my best-of-2012 list (I’m as surprised as you are), but I just can’t get behind Jason Aldean’s overall brand of country, regardless of his impact. That leaves me with Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift, and only the latter put out music to match her star in the eligibility period. Boring category.

Ben: Sadly, this category just keeps getting harder and harder for me to care about.  I could still see Swift taking it, but an Aldean victory is almost certain to happen sooner or later, and I’m thinking this could be his year.  Blake’s turn will come eventually, but not until after Aldean has had his.

Jonathan: Aldean has yet to release anything I’ve liked even a little bit, but this award has increasingly turned into Nashville’s way to say “thank you” to whoever is bringing the most cash back to Music Row, so Aldean is likely due for a pat on the back. On some level, Shelton’s heightened media presence is its own reward, but he’s the most likely spoiler here, since pop crossover stars like Swift rarely pull off repeat wins.

Kevin: Should win: Carrie Underwood. But since she’s not nominated, I’ll go with Jason Aldean, who has been the biggest country artist this past year. I expect he’ll win, too.

Leeann: While it’s completely baffling to me that Jason Aldean has taken off as he has, I wouldn’t be shocked if he won this award. I, however, feel that it’s far more likely that Taylor Swift will win again.

Female Vocalist of the Year 

Should Win:

  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Miranda Lambert – Leeann
  • Martina McBride
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin

Will Win:

  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Miranda Lambert – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • Martina McBride
  • Taylor Swift – Leeann
  • Carrie Underwood

Tara: I still believe Underwood’s best is yet to come, but she deserves respect from the industry and critics alike for taking the kind of creative, thematic and interpretive risks she took with Blown Away. Maybe come next year she’ll have more influence; this year, the award is still Lambert’s to lose. (And shout out to homegirl Clarkson, who may have no place in this category, but who gave us the best cover of “Go Rest High On That Mountain” that I’ve ever heard.)

Ben: In my perfect world, Carrie Underwood’s solid new music (which was released within this year’s eligibility period) would nab her the trophy.  Miranda had the most radio success this year, and will almost surely emerge victorious, but I simply can’t endorse the idea of rewarding her for releasing two singles that were easily the worst duds of her career.  Footnote:  Country radio seriously needs to start supporting more female artists.

Jonathan: I adore Kelly Clarkson, and, based upon nearly a decade’s worth of concert performances, I’d argue that she has the best taste in country material of any of the women nominated, and I look forward to the day when she finally records a proper country album. But her nomination here is absurd. Fortunately, she’s not really in the running to win. This likely comes down to Lambert and Underwood. In the past, I’ve championed Lambert for her fearless artistic vision, and I’ve been highly critical of Underwood’s grossly over-praised and over-rewarded output. But, this year, I’d prefer to see Underwood recognized for what is far and away her career-best work than to see Lambert win for what is quite obviously her worst. I doubt the voters will agree.

Dan: Ditto the others, pretty much. Underwood’s taste in material has deepened, but what excites me most is that her interpretive abilities have, too. I never used to feel comfortable with those comparisons to the Trishas and Connies of the world. Now I do.

Kevin: It’s all been said. Underwood’s reached new heights of artistry while still maintaining her commercial relevance. I’d call her one of the best,  but that would imply there’s anyone else in her league right now.

Leeann: Miranda Lambert is still my favorite out of these choices and Kelly Clarkson’s nomination is still confusing to me. I think the award is a toss up between Taylor and Carrie in all actuality though.

Male Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:
  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • Blake Shelton – Leeann
  • Keith Urban

Will Win:

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

Tara: Unlike last year’s crop of men, these five at least put out memorable if not entirely thoughtful material in the eligibility period. But Church is the only one who’s had a consistent vision, and what a difference that makes. I don’t see the voters dethroning Shelton, though.

Ben: I expect that the CMA is going to continue shoving the whole “Blake and Miranda are the new Tim and Faith!” idea down our throats, but Eric Church made the best music of the field by far, and country radio finally decided to get on board with it.  Eric Church deserves this.

Jonathan: Church is the only one of the five who has released any strong material during the eligibility period, though I generally remain a fan of Urban’s. It’s hard to see either of those two men winning, though. Urban’s past his commercial peak, and Church is still too divisive a persona. I also think Aldean’s vocal limitations play against him here – see Chesney, Kenny, and his track record in Male Vocalist races – especially since he’s likely to be recognized elsewhere. That leaves Crest WhiteStrips to take on Shelton. I think Shelton gets another win before Bryan’s inevitable coronation here.

Dan: CMA has developed a bad habit of just voting for the incumbent. But Bryan has the most momentum right now, so what the hey; I’ll mix things up and call it Crest Whitestrips 2012.

Kevin: Gonna go out on a limb and say the best one takes it home this year. They’ve got to be itching to finally acknowledge Eric Church, right? Right???

Leeann: Blake Shelton has had a good year. I suppose he has a good, high profile chance of being rewarded for it.

Vocal Group of the Year 

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

Will Win:

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

Dan: Little Big Town’s album is too new, but their sudden momentum could power them to a spoiler win here anyway, depending on who Capitol gets behind. I’ll support them come ACM time; for now, give Zac Brown Band their freakin’ due.

Tara: Zac Brown Band and Little Big Town both put out stellar new music; the only major difference is timing. I support a ZBB win but won’t be disappointed if/when the “Pontoon”-fueled LBT steals this from the most complacent group in country music.

Ben: Zac Brown Band should win.  Lady Antebellum will win. Déjà vu?

Jonathan: As much as logic points to another indefensible win for the most useless act in popular music, and as much as I want to see Zac Brown Band finally earn their long-overdue recognition, I’m calling this one an upset for the also-long-overdue Little Big Town. That karaoke video for “Pontoon” showed off just how deeply likedthey are by their peers, and now that they have the commercial stats, I think that that pervasive goodwill gives them the edge here.

Kevin: I think the red-hot momentum of Little Big Town could put them over the top. Zac Brown Band’s been my pick for a couple of years, but I really think they’re just treading water at this point.

Leeann: Zac Brown Band is far and away my favorite group of the nominees here, but Little Big Town’s talent is undeniable. I’d be happy if either of them won. I’m afraid Lady A will still win though.

Vocal Duo of the Year

Should Win:
  • Big & Rich
  • Love and Theft
  • Sugarland
  • The Civil Wars – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin, Leeann
  • Thompson Square

Will Win:

  • Big & Rich
  • Love and Theft
  • Sugarland – Leeann
  • The Civil Wars  – Kevin
  • Thompson Square – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara

Ben: Because The Civil Wars are good.

Jonathan: Per usual: Merge this category with Vocal Group to trim the fat. The only act here deserving of the recognition is the one with the longest of long-shots to win.

Dan: La la la.

Tara: So pointless.

Kevin: I’m going out on another limb, this time by thinking that the whole “massive commercial success without radio” thing will give the Civil Wars a Mavericks-style victory. I’d honestly rather be wrong in my predictions than be depressed before the show even airs.

Leeann: I don’t think Sugarland has had a particularly active year, but I think they might still win based on name recognition.

New Artist of the Year

Should Win:
  • Lee Brice – Ben, Tara, Leeann
  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Hunter Hayes – Dan, Kevin
  • Love and Theft
  • Thompson Square

Will Win:

  • Lee Brice
  • Brantley Gilbert – Dan, Ben, Jonathan
  • Hunter Hayes – Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • Love and Theft
  • Thompson Square

Dan: Since none of these artists do it for me, I’d shrug it over to the technically skilled Hayes, who I think could be interesting in the future if he challenges himself to become more than a one-man boy-band. As Sawyer Brown and Keith Urban have proven, sometimes an artist earns their win in this category retroactively.

Tara: Hunter Hayes needs to rein it in a bit, but his chops have potential. Lee Brice needs to find better material, but his performances are believable. “Hard To Love” is one of my favorite guilty pleasures of the year, so I guess I’ll go with the latter?

Ben: Lee Brice strikes me as having the most potential of these nominees, but right now, I think the Brantley Gilbert virus has already spread too far.

Jonathan: Absolutely not.

Kevin: Hunter Hayes is the musical equivalent of those memes that show cats doing people things. He’s putting out real country music, and it’s adorable! All joking aside, I’m pulling for real country music wherever I can find it. Hayes is all I’ve got to work with here.

Leeann: I’m really not fond of any of these choices.

Album of the Year
Should Win:
  • Luke Bryan, Tailgates and Tanlines
  • Eric Church, ChiefDan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin, Leeann
  • Miranda Lambert, Four the Record
  • Dierks Bentley, Home
  • Lady Antebellum, Own the Night

Will Win:

  • Luke Bryan, Tailgates and Tanlines
  • Eric Church, ChiefDan, Kevin
  • Miranda Lambert, Four the RecordBen, Tara
  • Dierks Bentley, Home
  • Lady Antebellum, Own the NightJonathan, Leeann

Dan: Everyone but Bentley’s got a shot, but my hopeful guess is that this is where the CMA will reward Church.

Tara: Chief and Four the Record both made big impressions on me last year, but only the former has held up with time. I’ll be optimistic and predict the CMA will reward its reigning Female Vocalist of the Year over its reigning Group of the Year. (I still can’t get over Own the Night winning a Grammy, y’all. Unbelievable.)

Ben: Church’s Chief is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field, but my gut is still predicting a Lambert and Shelton sweep, though there’s still a chance the voters may decide to reward that dreadful Lady A album instead.

Jonathan: Bright side: This is the last major “Album of the Year”-type award Own the Night is eligible to win. Downside: This is the last major “Album of the Year”-type award Own the Night will win, at the expense of far more deserving competition.

Kevin:  I think Chief really made an impression, and I’m betting it was enough of one to win.

Leeann: I  reflexively assume Lady A will win this award at this point, but I’m hoping for a Dierks Bentley or Eric Church win. Dierks Bentley’s album is quality and I feel Eric Church’s album is interesting and fresh.

Song of the Year

Should Win:
  • “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge and Eric Paslay – Dan, Jonathan, Tara
  • “God Gave Me You” – Dave Barnes
  • “Home” – Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson and Brett Beavers – Kevin, Leeann
  • “Over You” – Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton
  • “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell – Ben

Will Win:

  • “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge and Eric Paslay – Dan, Tara
  • “God Gave Me You” – Dave Barnes – Leeann
  • “Home” – Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson and Brett Beavers
  • “Over You” – Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton – Ben, Jonathan
  • “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell  – Kevin

Dan: I think I’m just being optimistic, but maybe the earnest Hoge/Paslay story of struggling for an artistic life will resonate with enough music-industry vets to overcome the bait-ishness of “Over You” and “Home.” Maybe?

Tara: I’d be fine with three of these five winning — and would even argue that, as a composition, “God Gave Me You” is solid — but “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” has the most soul. I’m not entirely sure where the votes will fall on this one, but maybe pop culture’s spotlight on Nashville will mean a win for the songwriters’ anthem?

Ben: I can’t picture this going to anyone but Lambert and Shelton. If the CMA intends to keep working this ridiculous power-couple nonsense, they have created a golden opportunity here, and I highly doubt the song’s awfulness will be any hindrance.

Jonathan: If knowing a song’s tragic backstory is a requirement for finding “meaning” in that song, then its songwriters have failed.

Kevin: I’m hoping the CMA voters sing Shelton and Lambert’s song back to them when filling out their ballots, and pick the strongest singer-songwriter in this race. Bentley’s cut is my personal favorite.

Leeann: I just have a feeling that the bland love song will win, but I’m hoping that the thoughtful  “Home” will prove me wrong.

Single of the Year 

Should Win:
  • Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem” – Kevin
  • Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You”
  • Dierks Bentley, “Home” – Leeann
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara

Will Win:

  • Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem” – Kevin
  • Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” – Ben, Leeann
  • Dierks Bentley, “Home” – Dan, Jonathan, Tara
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen”

Dan: Feels like a toss-up, actually. I’d figure “Home” and “Springsteen” to duke it out, but remember that year when “I Saw God Today” randomly won?

Tara: “Home”’s graceful approach to patriotism is lovely and especially appreciated during this infuriating election season, but the song itself lacks spark. “Springsteen” is the better all-around record, and I think it’ll hold up with time, which is a lot more than I can say about the remaining three songs in the category.

Ben: I think “Springsteen” is going to be the song with the most staying power.

Jonathan: As fine a single as “Springsteen” is, I just can’t see the CMA rallying behind a song inspired by the Boss, especially not in an election year. Bentley’s thoughtful and relatively subtle brand of patriotism seems like a far safer bet.

Kevin: I think that Aldean’s track is the coolest sounding record of the five. Surface pleasures will suffice.

Leeann: Please not “Dirt Road Anthem”!

Musical Event of the Year 

Should Win:
  • ”Dixie Highway”- Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band
  • ”Feel Like a Rock Star” – Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw
  • ”Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” – Willie Nelson featuring Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson – Dan, Jonathan, Tara
  • ”Safe and Sound” – Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars – Ben, Kevin, Leeann
  • ”Stuck on You” – Lionel Richie and Darius Rucker

Will Win:

  • ”Dixie Highway”- Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band
  • ”Feel Like a Rock Star” – Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw – Ben, Jonathan, Leeann
  • ”Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” – Willie Nelson featuring Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson
  • ”Safe and Sound” – Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars – Dan, Kevin, Tara
  • ”Stuck on You” – Lionel Richie and Darius Rucker

Dan: “Roll Me Up” is a little hoot. But “Safe and Sound” had a higher profile, and it gives CMA a chance to be like, “See? We do appreciate the Civil Wars!”

Tara: Every song but “Roll Me Up” feels like it’s lacking something (in Chesney/McGraw’s case, taste), but I think “Safe and Sound” will have enough commercial clout to nab this one.

Ben:  While I’m always happy to see some Alan Jackson love, “Dixie Highway” just doesn’t match the simple charm of Jackson and ZBB’s previous collaboration.  “Safe and Sound” is just such a cool, haunting record – one that brings out the best in both of the acts involved.  But since “Feel Like a Rock Star” has the biggest names attached, I think it’s an easy call that it’s going to win.

Jonathan:“Safe and Sound” is my favorite track here, but not necessarily because it’s a great collaboration. “Roll Me Up,” on the other hand, is a fun standalone cut that feels like a real event, and I appreciate the self-awareness with which the artists toy with their public personas. But it’s hard to imagine more conservative voters being on-board with the phrase, “CMA award winner Snoop Dogg.” The Chesney and McGraw duet quite rightfully bricked at radio, but it’s still the most likely winner here on star power alone.

Kevin: “Safe and Sound” succeeded in pushing the most  mainstream of artists into an alternative country sound without sacrificing the identity of the duo that helped her get there. Plus it actually worked as a theme song to a movie that didn’t exactly lend itself to easy theming.

Leeann: I’d be fine with any of these except for the one that will probably win.

Music Video

of the Year

Should Win:
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Dan, Ben, Tara, Kevin
  • Kenny Chesney, “Come Over”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Over You”
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
  • Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup”

Will Win:

  • Eric Church, “Springsteen”
  • Kenny Chesney, “Come Over”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Over You” – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Kevin
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
  • Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup”

Dan: The “Springsteen” video is pretty neato. Oh well.

Tara: The video for “Springsteen” is haunting. I dig it.

Jonathan: The Twilight-hued video for “Over You” is every bit as narrativeless, cloying, and shallow as the song itself, so I’m just going to pretend this is a retroactive win for “Kerosene.”

Kevin:  (…Goes to YouTube to watch videos for first time…) Lambert, you had me until the horse. I’m going with Church, mostly because it reminds me of my own childhood and also Poltergeist for some reason.

Musician of the Year 

Should Win:
  • Sam Bush – Jonathan, Kevin
  • Paul Franklin – Ben, Leeann
  • Dann Huff
  • Brent Mason
  • Mac McAnally

Will Win:

  • Sam Bush
  • Paul Franklin
  • Dann Huff – Jonathan, Kevin
  • Brent Mason
  • Mac McAnally – Ben, Leeann

Ben: It’s Paul Franklin’s turn… and it has been for years now.

Jonathan: It’s not as cool as Chris Thile’s winning a MacArthur Fellowship, but Sam Bush’s nomination for his extraordinary mandolin work is my favorite thing on the entire CMA ballot this year.

Kevin: I can’t vote against the mandolin. I just can’t.

Leeann: I continue to root for the steel guitar.


  1. I really want Taylor Swift for 2012 Entertainer Of The Year. She really deserves it! Her new album RED, sold more than 1 million copies in ONE WEEK. She’s by far, the most succesful country Artist in 2012.

  2. As has become my practice for country awards shows, I will record the show so I can skip the commercials and singers I can’t bear to listen to. Too bad we can’t bring back the 90’s and have Leeann, Dan & Tara return as regular contributors along with Kevin and 1 to 10 Ben.

    I don’t care who wins entertainer, male or female vocalist, vocal duo, album, new artist, event, or video and I don’t know the musicians. For vocal group, the strongest category IMHO, I’d vote for Zac. I like “Home” for song of the year but not for single because of DB’s vocals.

  3. I’m going with the shake up picks (hopeless maybe) but I’m rooting for it to go this way.
    Entertainer: Jason Aldean
    Male vocalist: Luke Bryan
    Female: Carrie Underwood
    Group: Zac Brown
    Duo: ???
    Album: Chief
    Song: Over You
    Single: Springsteen
    Event: Safe and Sound
    Video: Pontoon
    Explanation: Jason had the biggest impact so that’s a no brainer. Carrie deserves FVOY more then she ever did before in my opinion. Giving Eric Church album of the year justifies giving Luke MVOY. They both deserve it. Zac Brown taking a over due Group while giving music video to LBT would be perfect. Song goes to Over you to justify Blake and Miranda losing the Vocalist awards cause lets face it, they’re gonna reward them somehow. Do I even have to explain Springsteen as single!? And then of course giving Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars Musical event just rounds everything out. In this case everybody wins! Lol wishful thinking..

  4. I’m going with the shake up picks (hopeless maybe) but I’m rooting for it to go this way.
    Entertainer: Jason Aldean
    Male vocalist: Luke Bryan
    Female: Carrie Underwood
    Group: Zac Brown
    Duo: ???
    Album: Chief
    Song: Over You
    Single: Springsteen
    Event: Safe and Sound
    Video: Pontoon
    Explanation: Jason had the biggest impact so that’s a no brainer. Carrie deserves FVOY more then she ever did before in my opinion. Giving Eric Church album of the year justifies giving Luke MVOY. They both deserve it. Zac Brown taking a over due Group while giving music video to LBT would be perfect. Song goes to Over you to justify Blake and Miranda losing the Vocalist awards cause lets face it, they’re gonna reward them somehow. Do I even have to explain Springsteen as single!? And then of course giving Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars Musical event just rounds everything out. In this case everybody wins! Lol wishful thinking..

  5. What did Swift release during the eligibility period? Not seeing how she merits Entertainer over Aldean with his hits, tour, etc.

    And how in the heck are Sugarland in Duo? Did they release anything in the past year?

  6. Mandy – Swift’s sales in the past week have no relevance to the discussion as they fall outside of the eligibility period for this year’s CMAs. I don’t think “We Are Never…” was released in the eligibility period either.

  7. Entertainer: Jason Aldean

    Male: Eric Church

    Female: Miranda Lambert

    Group: ZBB

    Duo: Love And Theft

    New: Hunter Hayes

    Single: “Springsteen”

    Song: “Home”

    Album: “Chief”

  8. Entertainer: Taylor Swift
    Male vocalist: Luke Bryan
    Female: Taylor Swift\Carrie Underwood\Miranda Lambert
    Group: Lady Antebellum
    Duo: Civil Wars
    Album: Chief
    Song: Over You
    Single: Springsteen
    Event: Safe and Sound
    Video: Pontoon

  9. Mandy – Those awards were for her success the previous year. Winning an award doesn’t make someone an entertainer. She should win an award for winning awards? Huh?

  10. These are predictions of who will win – not who should
    Entertainer – Jason Aldean
    Female Vocalist – Miranda Lambert
    Male Vocalist – Blake Shelton
    Group – Lady A
    Duo – Thompson Square
    New Artist – Hunter Hayes
    Album – Four the Record
    Song – Over You
    Single – God Gave Me You
    Event – Feel Like a Rockstar
    Video – Over You

  11. Did you really call Lady A one of the most useless acts in music? Wow! So wrong and therefore your picks are useless. Obviously, someone likes Lady considering the number of concert tickets OTN tour sold.

    All 5 group nominees are deserving. However, for the eligibility period, Lady A had the most success. 1.7 million albums sold, played to over a million fans in the U.S., Canada, and abroad, 2 #1 singles, 1 #2 single.

    LBT had biggest hit of summer in Pontoon but their album is new.

  12. Taylor Swift had the biggest Tour with Speak Now, more than 1.7 millon of people went to see her in concert. I truly believe that she deserves that award.

  13. …if there was something like a horizon award within the etoy-category jason aldean surely would deserve it. however, since there isn’t, it’ll have to go to taylor swift, who’s the only true global household name of the batch. we’re talking almost “garth-dimensions” here.

    carrie, miranda, taylor – neither wouldn’t deserve to win female vocalist honours.

    eric church should take home the vocalist of the year award – he had a milestone year and grew into a different category of country music stardom.

    zac brown band is long overdue for cma-recognition. it doesn’t get any better than them. choosing anybody else would be seriously missing the principal point of the whole show: rewarding achievement.

    lee brice – new artist of the year? why not. however, that definitely would be an unusually fast climb to the top for him. hunter hayes reminds for some reason me a little too much of bryan white – ugh!

    “home”, “pontoon” or “springsteen” – my favourites could be expressed in one word.

  14. Just wondering why some of you don’t think Chesney will get the entertainer award because of his sales?? Not that I want him to, I was just wondering. He had a huge tour, Taylor did not during the eligibilty time or I’m probably wrong. I personally would like to see Jason Aldean get it. Just tired of Chesney walking away with it all the time.

  15. Gloria: Taylor Swift did tour in the eligibility period. She was doing the final leg of the North American Tour, and then she went to Australia.

  16. For me:
    Entertainer: Jason
    Male Vocal: Luc Bryan
    Female Vocal: Carrie
    Group: Zac Brown Band
    Duo: Civil Wars
    New Artist: Hunter
    Album: Chief-Eric Church
    Song of the year: Springteen
    Single: Pontoon

  17. Mandy and Andy – But not all of Swift’s tour was in the eligibility period, so you can’t count all of the ticket sales for it.

  18. Can someone explain me why Taylor Swift gets so much hate from people? I don’t like her music, but i am not saying: “Oh, she’s a stupid little girl who wrote songs about being in love” all the time…

  19. Great stuff guys! You know what could the CMAs have done and not have it affect any single thing at all? Nominate Kellie Pickler for FVOTY and/or AOTY. Seriously. She’s probably got the best work out of all the mainstream female artists during the past eligibility period and freaking CMAs couldn’t even throw her a bone.

  20. That’s because they can’t see past the dollar signs that is Taylor Swift!! She has caused a lot of great talent not to get noticed because of her obsessed fanatics and her overboard PR people. Why couldn’t she have stayed a sweet little girl that makes cute little music and not hovered over as the savior of country music.

  21. Well, I’ll take my shot at this. I haven’t been as in to country music this year due to it’s dip in quality, but since the local schools are closed right now on the east coast thanks to Hurricane Sandy…I’ve got the time. Just so you guys are forewarned, I included comments with my predictions… so it is a little long.


    Should Win: I can’t say I’m passionate about this race ( or too many others)…I’d say Swift, but she’s been quiet this year. Honestly, the artist who has done my favorite music out of the group this year is Chesney (if you forget “Feels like a Rock Star” ever happened), and he’s won based on touring before. I wouldn’t be astonished if he spoiled and took this…but, he’s probably past his commercial peak too much to do so.

    Will Win: I still say Swift. While Aldean has probably had the best year when you put everything together, I still don’t think voters are going to flock to him. Swift is still probably the biggest act of the five, and despite her lack of touring, I kind of think she wins, mainly because there is not really anyone else who I see the voters going for. Chesney and Paisley have won it in the past for stronger years, and Shelton just doesn’t tour enough b/c of “The Voice”. Again, if anyone steals this from Taylor…based on history, I’d think it would be Chesney, not Aldean.

    Male Vocalist:
    Should Win: Meh. Unlike most of the reviewers, I’m just not on the Eric Church bandwagon yet. I’d probably say Shelton is the best vocalist of the bunch, but I wouldn’t go ballistic if someone beat him out.

    Will Win: Probably Blake again…yet, like a couple of the reviewers, I do have this feeling that Luke Bryan might take it and be the surprise of the night (much like Shelton did in 2010).

    Female Vocalist:

    Should Win: Either Miranda or Carrie. I’ve hated the singles Carrie Underwood has put out in the last year, but I was impressed with some of the ballads on her last album. It’s really nice seeing her take some risks on some more challenging material…I just kinda wish her record company would release her best stuff as singles. While I really pulled for Miranda the past couple of years, her last album was slightly weaker than her past two. I wouldn’t go crazy if either won (or, Taylor for that matter).

    Will Win: Probably Miranda again.

    Vocal Group:
    Should Win: Honestly, when I first heard “Chicken Fried”, I thought the Zac Brown Band would be one hit wonders, ala Heartland. I was a tad wrong on that one. I actually thought “Uncaged” was their best album out of the three they released. They would easily be my pick if I had a vote.

    Will Win: I know LBT has a ton of voter support based on the nominations for “Pontoon”, but I don’t think that alone will get them the win…it’s their first big hit in two years. I’d probably rank The Band Perry’s chances over LBT’s. As much as I like ZBB, I just don’t think they have the voter support. The album nomination is probably a good indicator that Lady A is going to win again. For them to ever lose this category, I think they need to either retire or release an album that is the equivalent of “The Incredible Machine” (i.e., do an album that’s eccentrically bad, rather than mostly forgettable).

    Vocal Duo: I…I can’t…lol. Although I will say, I liked Thompson Square’s song “Glass”, and dug a couple of the Civil Wars’ songs.

    Album of the year:
    Should Win: I listened to most of these albums, and just found myself bored. I will say that I was slightly surprised with Bryan’s album…while it won’t win and wasn’t tremendous, it was still better than I expected it would be. The Miranda album, while not as good as her previous two, would still be my pick…it at least had some highlights that were stronger than the material from the other nominated albums. I know a lot of people are on the Eric Church bandwagon, and more power to them. But, I listened to the album, and his style just doesn’t appeal to me. I think he tries too hard to maintain a certain “badass” image, and that attitude seeps into his music too much for my taste. As “Springsteen” shows, he’s got talent…but there’s just something about his songwriting that I struggle to identify with. I will agree that it’s probably the most distinctive in style and vision among the five albums. Plus, it does have authentic energy, which the Bentley and Lady A albums definitely lack.

    Will Win: Again, I think the voters are going to be divisive with Church’s album. Miranda probably will win again, but if voters are sick of voting for her…Lady A will “Own the night” again. (I know, I know…but lazy pun, for mostly lazy music).

    Single of the Year:

    Should Win: Can’t say I’m that into too many of these. I like the Shelton song, but here is where I think “Springsteen” should be acknowledged. It is the most well-written (at least until the springsteen-like “woah-woahs” that take over near the end of the song…I get that they have a point , but they just annoy me). That being said, the Church song is probably the one that will be best remembered ten years from now, and it deserves to win here.

    Will Win: I think Blake Shelton wins. I do like the song, and it sort of would go hand in hand with Lady A’s “I Run to You” winning, from a few years ago (i.e…the love song beating out songs or artists that are more “rough around the edges” or divisive).

    Song of the Year

    Should Win: I wouldn’t get angry if any of these won. I actually think they chose competent music here

    Will Win: I think “Over You”, a song that I like a little more than most on this site, will probably win. If there is a spoiler, I think it’s Church.

    New Artist:

    Should Win: Like others, I’m not excited about anyone here. Lee Brice and Hunter Hayes probably have the most potential.

    Will Win: I’d say Lee Brice, b/c he’s had the most success at radio.

    Collaboration of the year

    Should Win: While I liked “Safe and Sound, my favorite here is “Dixie Highway”…I don’t think Alan’s done a song in that style in quite a while. That being said, I doubt too many people have heard it, so it probably won’t win. Though, it would be a nice make-up for “As She’s Walking Away” losing this award last year.

    Will Win: I’d be good with “Safe and Sound”, which I think will win…and I’ll give the CMA’s the benefit of a doubt on the Chesney/Mcgraw dud. While they’ve made some questionable decisions lately, I can’t fathom that they’d be stupid enough to reward that song.

    Video of the year:

    Should Win: I think the Miranda video took the most chances, and had some beautiful imagery… so I’d be good with that winning. But, I wouldn’t go crazy if Church, or even Toby took this award.

    Will Win: Miranda will probably win here.

    Musician of the Year

    Should Win: I have no idea, but I’ll take country universe’s cue here. Either seeing the mandolin guy (Sam Bush), or the steel guitar guy who never wins (Paul Franklin) take this would be pretty cool.

    Will Win: Since Mac McAnally has won this the past hundred times (I might be exaggerating a tad), he’ll probably win again.

  22. I’m sure 100 Proof‘s commercial underperformance was related to a number of factors having to do with the marketing behind it, as well as the state of the current market. We can’t blame it all on Taylor Swift – It’s quite a bit more complicated than that.

  23. I’m sure 100 Proof‘s commercial underperformance was related to a number of factors having to do with the marketing behind it, as well as the state of the current market.

    That, and Pickler being dropped by her label right around the campaigning period guaranteed that 100 Proof will die a very undeserved, lonely death.

  24. May I ask why Ronny Dunn’s “Cost of Living” wasn’t nominated as song of the year? That hit many country fans this year as the absolute truth.

  25. @ Vicki
    According to wikipedia, “Cost of Livin” was released on June 27, 2011 so it probably doesn’t qualify. The wiki article also says that “Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe gave the song an A grade, calling it “a masterpiece that is as timely as it is well written and performed.”

  26. “Cost of Livin'” is a great, spot-on song for our times. The vocal is perfect, the lyrics are memorable and piercing. I clearly remember driving down a local the highway last spring with my dad, who is 76. When the song came on, we just sat there in silence and listened. Then he said, “That’s the truth.” Can’t beat that for a review, as far as I’m concerned, from someone who worked honest and hard making a living and providing for his own. Thanks to Mr. Dunn for that song, and that moment. Too bad the country award shows did not recognize you for this great effort.

  27. @Diamond Same thing happened to me and my parents. We were driving and now Dad is hard of hearing and he stopped in the middle of the sentence and listened as did Mom. You knew right then what a powerful song this was. My Dad was a farmer/milkman/paperman/ truck driver/ etc He did it all to keep his family fed etc. Mom sewed the clothes as we were growing up/canned from the garden corn, green beans, jellies, beets, apples etc. They saved a lot that way. Part of me now, a country girl in a small town in another state, wishes so much like others of that life again.

  28. Ha! Music Video seems to be the one category that we just can’t get right. I seem to recall that none of us predicted last year’s “You and Tequila” victory either.

    For me, “Red Solo Cup” winning Music Video is still easier to swallow than if it had won Single of the Year at the ACMs. The video was what caused the song to take off anyway.

  29. So much for giving the CMA voters the benefit of a doubt that they wouldn’t vote for “Feels like a Rock Star” Although, I guess if a record label is going to pay record stations to play the song on the radio every hour so that it gets a high chart debut, they’re probably also going to vote for it in droves so that it gets an award. That’s good ole bloc voting for you.

    On the flip side, “Red Solo Cup” winning best video is kinda neat. While ridiculous, the video is entertaining.

  30. “Feel like a Rock Star” won because I think voters took the idea of “musical event” to heart this year. Two of the biggest stars of this generation of country music finally coming together to sing a duet is a pretty big deal. Yes, the song was a huge mess and never really had them putting their vocals together but still as far as events go this was big.

    For me, this is a big night for my love of the genre. I will always have a soft spot for country music so I will never completely leave it off my radio but they are pushing limits with me. I am a huge Eric Church fan and have been since he started. This feels like the perfect meeting of events where they have an act that genuinely had a huge year both within the genre and outside the genre. He became a big star this year and flew onto the radar of the pop spectrum. Chief is a big hit as an album and pays tribute to the past while mapping his vision of the future. The CMA’s should reward that tonight and they have the ability tonight to solidfy his place among this current crop of acts. Hopefully, they don’t screw that up

  31. Blake Shelton was selected as Entertainer of the Year which kind of makes me wonder if he won because of his music or because of his appearance on The Voice. Jason Aldean could have easily taken that award. I recorded the CMA’s with my Hopper and with 2,000 hours of recording time I don’t have to rush and watch the show. I’m glad to see that Toby Keith won an award even if it’s something as obscure as Best Music Video. My DISH co-worker said that his reaction to the CMA’s this year in unwarranted but I can completely understand. Toby Keith is a great musician who has barely gotten any recognition in quite some time. I think that Carrie Underwood should have received the award for Female Vocalist. Sorry Miranda, but it’s time for someone else to take the reigns. I’m really happy hear about Toby Keith at least winning one award. He deserved more but hey, I don’t get to pick. Unfortunately Taylor Swift’s new album doesn’t qualify for this year’s award. It was released too late.

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