2013 CMA Awards: Staff Picks & Predictions


They’re as hope-dangling and ridiculous as they’ve ever been, those Country Music Association voters, and the CU staff has picked and predicted their 2013 awards below. Let us know what you think, and check back for our live blog on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST!

Entertainer of the Year

Should Win:

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift

Will Win:

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Blake Shelton – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift

Dan: Sadly, it’s become hard to care about the night’s biggest prize. Swift and Strait are the two I can stomach right now, and neither of them actually had much to do with the country scene this past year—the former because she was flexing her pop muscles, the latter because he’s winding down.

Ben: I want to care, but I really don’t. There’s only one artist whom I could have supported unequivocally, and she didn’t get a nomination.

Jonathan: The CMAs have a tendency to lag a few years behind peak commercial trends, so I think Bryan will have to wait another year or two before he takes this award. While Bryan, Aldean, and Shelton could split votes among the bro contingent (presumably, to the benefit of Strait), I think Shelton’s visibility will be enough to earn him another win here.

Tara: This was Carrie Underwood’s year. I’m angry, unsurprised and completely apathetic about the rest of these contenders.

Kevin: Shelton won last year and if anything, his star has only shone brighter this year.  That being said, if I was a CMA voter, I’d leave this category blank.  Carrie Underwood was this year’s Entertainer of the Year.

churchMale Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:

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

Will Win:

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

Dan: Again, pretty indifferent here.

Ben: Church was between albums this year, but he’s the one whom I feel has represented country music the best. With Urban being past his commercial peak, I’m going to give the edge to Luke Bryan for his current red-hot momentum, but I honestly couldn’t care less which of the three dudebros gets it.

Jonathan: I’d replace four-fifths of this lineup with Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, and Chris Young. If Bryan won’t win Entertainer of the Year, this will be his consolation prize.

Tara: I feel a little guilty rewarding Church’s residual awesomeness from Chief over Aldean’s admittedly solid year, but I’m still one redeeming single away from getting over “She’s Country.” Like Jonathan said, though, I think this is where the voters will reward Bryan.

Kevin: I’d give it to Bryan simply because he’s had a good year and has a good voice.  Another Shelton win seems inevitable to me.

KMFemale Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin

Will Win:

  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Miranda Lambert – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Kevin
  • Kacey Musgraves – Tara
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

Dan: Who knows? Voters could give Lambert a record-tying (with Reba McEntire) four-peat, or maybe give Underwood her fourth trophy instead, or maybe give Swift a second one just to be zany, or dismiss the stats entirely and make a surprise investment in Musgraves. I can imagine any of those scenarios playing out.

Ben: I’ll probably be 100% Team Kacey at next year’s ACMs, but right now I want to see Underwood recognized for her incredible Blown Away era. As Dan noted above, this category is difficult to predict this year. I’m going to play it safe and bet on Lambert, but Kelly Clarkson is the only one without a shot.

Jonathan: Since there are far stronger albums than Blown Away in contention for Album of the Year, this is where I’d prefer to see Underwood recognized for the artistic gains she’s made during her current era. Lambert basically told voters to do just that during her acceptance speech for Female Vocalist of the Year during the ACMs a few months back, but it seems doubtful that they will. She seems poised to repeat, even though she’s coming off the most poorly received and lowest selling run of her career. Based on the quality of what was released during the eligibility period, I would have preferred to see Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe, Kellie Pickler, and LeAnn Rimes squaring off against Underwood.

Tara: Just going out on a limb here with Musgraves; it feels like this category is due for a change. Or maybe that change will be a throwback to Underwood? One can hope.

Kevin:  I think Lambert will win out of force of habit, with bonus votes for having the good taste to cover Musgraves and Clark before they both became breakout artists this year. Underwood made the best music and, as always, sang it better than the rest.

lbtVocal Group of the Year

Should Win:

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

Will Win:

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

Dan: I suppose that Little Big Town will repeat—but with “Your Side of the Bed” having doused their white-hot momentum, it’s hard to say for sure. Perhaps voters will finally throw Zac Brown Band the bone, if Brown’s Luke Bryan comments didn’t ruffle too many feathers. [Update: And ditto what Kevin says below.]

Ben: Little Big Town may have lost some steam with “Your Side of the Bed,” but they’re still going into the ring with a platinum album and two big hit singles, and they’re one of the only groups with multiple nominations this year. The trophy is theirs to lose.

Jonathan: Had The Band Perry scored more across-the-board support, I’d say they might have been able to pull off the upset here, but this remains Little Big Town’s to lose. Hopefully, a repeat victory will lend “Sober,” one of the year’s finest singles and arguably a new career-best for LBT, greater momentum at radio.

Tara: Cheers to that, Jonathan. Agreed.

Kevin: The Band Perry had a new album this year that was well-received.  My personal pick is Zac Brown Band, only because I want last year’s Little Big Town win to start a new era in this category of acknowledging the overdue.  Having the Dixie Chicks rack up four wins in five years is one thing.  Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum dominating in the same way robbed the award of its luster.  Last year, it got a little back. Let’s keep it going.

tcwVocal Duo of the Year

Should Win:

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

Will Win:

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

Dan: After years of sluggish Sugarland and shruggish Thompson Square, at least this year’s winning duo will have clear commercial heft behind them. Too bad I’m talking about Florida Georgia Line and not the also-quite-successful Civil Wars.

Ben: Whatever.

Jonathan: Same as it ever was: This category is years overdue to merge with Vocal Group. And the nomination for Sugarland is absurd.

Tara: I can’t decide what’s more amusing: Sugarland’s nomination or Florida Georgia Line’s inevitable win. (Although it does kind of feel like Sugarland is still haunting country radio with that new Band Perry single, no?)

Kevin:  The Civil Wars.  I swear they’re only nominating them so we can feel extra bad when they lose to Florida Georgia Line. (See: Rascal Flatts over Alison Krauss & Union Station, Martina McBride over Dolly Parton and Patty Loveless…)

2013 CMA Music Festival - Day 3New Artist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Lee Brice
  • Brett Eldredge
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Kacey Musgraves – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • Kip Moore

Will Win:

  • Lee Brice
  • Brett Eldredge
  • Florida Georgia Line – Dan, Ben
  • Kacey Musgraves – Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • Kip Moore

Dan: Musgraves is class valedictorian, and Moore’s a solid B+ student, but expect the boys of Florida Georgia Line to cruise in on baseball scholarship and come out on top.

Ben: Musgraves has a chance, but I don’t know if her critical clout will be enough to compete with the “Cruise” phenomenon.

Jonathan: That Musgraves is the night’s leading nominee gives me hope that she can overcome Florida Georgia Line’s commercial heft. That she had the balls to push “Follow Your Arrow” as a proper single puts me firmly in her corner.

Tara: Moore is my personal favorite here, but Musgraves outclasses them all. I’ll throw my optimism in with Jonathan and Kevin.

Kevin:  This is a defining moment for the CMA’s.  Musgraves will help restore their credibility. Florida Georgia Line will destroy what’s left of it.  FWIW, Ricky Skaggs beat Lee Greenwood and Mark Chesnutt beat John Michael Montgomery.  Then again, Rascal Flatts beat Nickel Creek and Terri Gibbs beat Rosanne Cash…

bsalbumAlbum of the Year

Should Win:

  • Little Big Town, TornadoJonathan
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different ParkDan, Ben
  • Blake Shelton, Based On a True Story…
  • Taylor Swift, Red
  • Carrie Underwood, Blown AwayTara, Kevin

Will Win:

  • Little Big Town, Tornado – Ben, Tara
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park – Jonathan
  • Blake Shelton, Based On a True Story…Dan
  • Taylor Swift, Red
  • Carrie Underwood, Blown Away –  Kevin

Dan: Tough call. In recent years, the CMA has coalesced around the album with the most “story” value, whether that story was total domination (Fearless, My Kinda Party) or a respected artist finally hitting pay dirt (Revolution, Chief). Tornado seems like a fit for that second grouping, except that Little Big Town’s pay dirt was already last year. So the field seems open.

Ben: Of the four albums that have any real business being nominated for country awards, I consider the Musgraves set to be the strongest, but my gut says that it’s going to come down to either Shelton or Little Big Town. I’m going to be optimistic and predict an LBT victory.

Jonathan: I’m not nearly as bullish on Musgraves’ album as many others are, but it seems like this is safest place for voters to recognize her distinctive, critically acclaimed work. Tornado is my pick for the most consistently excellent set of this line-up; Red hits some glorious highs, but it’s also wildly uneven and has little business being recognized as a country album.

Tara: Tornado has some really fantastic production, and Blown Away is a stand-out showcase of Underwood’s interpretive abilities. Personal investment puts me in Underwood’s camp, but based on momentum and the fact that Musgraves is new, I think Little Big Town will take this.

Kevin: Musgraves has the most critical support, but Underwood made a much better album, in my opinion. I’m going out on a limb here and saying Underwood will win.  My logic is that she had an incredible year and this is the best category to acknowledge that in.  Also, a debut album has never won this award. There’s always a first time, but Musgraves has a lot of history up against her here.

MirandaMamasBrokenHeartSingle of the Year

Should Win:

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Jonathan, Tara, Kevin
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go ‘Round” – Dan, Ben
  • Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”

Will Win:

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise” – Dan, Jonathan, Ben
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go ‘Round”
  • Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel” – Tara, Kevin

Dan: “Cruise” is the behemoth here, and behemoths tend to win Single.

Ben: Dan said it.

Jonathan: I’d like to think that a record-setting run atop Billboard’s ridiculous mongrel chart would be its own reward, but it probably won’t be.

Kevin:  There have been some goofy winners in the past.  “Elvira.” “Achy Breaky Heart.” “Bop.”  But there aren’t any in the recent past.  I think that “Wagon Wheel” allows the CMA to pick a big mainstream hit that has a bit of alt-country cred, should they decide against a Musgraves sweep.

Tara: I agree with Kevin that “Wagon Wheel” seems like a nice compromise for the voters. I’d be cool with any of the latter three winning, but to me, “Mama’s Broken Heart” has the most momentum from start to finish.

wwSong of the Year

Should Win:

  • “I Drive Your Truck” (Lee Brice) – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” (Miranda Lambert) – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves – Kevin
  • “Merry Go ‘Round” (Kacey Musgraves) – Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne – Dan, Ben, Tara
  • “Pontoon” (Little Big Town) – Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby and Luke Laird
  • “Wagon Wheel” (Darius Rucker) – Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor – Dan, Jonathan

Will Win:

  • “I Drive Your Truck” (Lee Brice) – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary – Dan, Jonathan
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” (Miranda Lambert) – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves
  • “Merry Go ‘Round” (Kacey Musgraves) – Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne – Ben, Tara, Kevin
  • “Pontoon” (Little Big Town) – Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby and Luke Laird
  • “Wagon Wheel” (Darius Rucker) – Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor 

Dan: “Wagon Wheel” is a proven standard, but voters will probably want to go with something newer, and I guess I do, too. There’s a decent chance that Musgraves will get acknowledged here with “Merry Go ‘Round,” but with two co-writes in the pool, her danger is vote-splitting—and if that does happen, I defer to Jonathan’s logic below. Plus, frankly, CMA voters love songs about deceased loved ones.

Ben: It’s definitely possible that vote-splitting may be turn out to be Musgraves’ undoing in this category, but my guess is that “Merry Go ‘Round” will ultimately overshadow “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and that this will be where she gets her trip to the podium.

Jonathan: I’m all-in for the idea of recognizing brilliant songs that should have been hits a decade ago. Next year, can we get Drive-By Truckers’ “Outfit” or Neko Case’s “Deep Red Bells,” please? This year, I just can’t see the CMA giving an award to Bob Dylan, and, as much as I’d love to see Brandy Clark win, I think the Musgraves co-writes will split votes. Which leaves a frivolous holdover from last year to face off against the only “truck” song in years that’s worth even half a damn. I think the latter pulls off the night’s only real upset.

Tara: Lots of solid choices here; even “Pontoon” has a melody worth respecting. “Merry Go ‘Round” just edges out “Mama’s Broken Heart” for me, but I think the voters will be more pointed with their choice and reward Musgraves for her breakout song.

Kevin: “Merry Go ‘Round” fits in well with previous female writer wins. Distinct point of view, attention to details, and some quiet feminist commentary. My pick is “Mama’s Broken Heart”, which I think is just brilliant. “Line your lips and keep them closed.”  Wow.

blownawayMusic Video of the Year

Should Win:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away” – Ben, Kevin, Tara
  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies, “Boys ‘Round Here”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Downtown”
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Little Big Town, “Tornado” – Dan, Jonathan

Will Win:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away” – Dan, Ben, Jonathan, Kevin, Tara
  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies, “Boys ‘Round Here”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Downtown”
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Little Big Town, “Tornado” 

Dan: The Underwood clip was made to win this award, but I find it silly. Why does she have lie around all sexily on that bed in the tornado shelter?

Ben: Little Big Town’s “Tornado” is also a worthy contender, but Underwood’s “Blown Away” video is an absolute tour de force.

Jonathan: The idea that this could be how the Pistol Annies win a CMA award just makes my teeth hurt. As big a fan of hers as I may be, Miranda’s mugging in the video for “Mama’s Broken Heart” makes her laughable acting gig on Law & Order: Perverts Unit seem measured and subtle by comparison.

Kevin:  Because why shouldn’t there be two winners in this category that give homage to Oz?

Tara: Tornadoes scares the crap out of me.

highwaydon'tcareMusical Event of the Year

Should Win:

  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies, “Boys ‘Round Here”
  • Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, “Cruise” (Remix)
  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush” – Jonathan, Ben, Tara
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care” – Dan, Kevin
  • Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church, “The Only Way I Know”

Will Win:

  • Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies, “Boys ‘Round Here”
  • Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, “Cruise”
  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush”
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care” – Jonathan, Ben, Dan, Kevin, Tara
  • Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church, “The Only Way I Know” 

Ben: Clarkson and Gill made the best record of the lot, but it doesn’t have the commercial muscle to pull off a victory, so I’m giving the edge to McGraw and Company.

Jonathan: Cosigning Ben’s comment, word for word.

Dan: “Highway Don’t Care” is kinda weird and meh, but it’s not “Boys ‘Round Here” and “The Only Way I Know”. For this, I am grateful.

Tara: I swear I’m not throwing this to Clarkson and Gill just because they’re Clarkson and Gill – I can stomach not one of these other songs. Part of me thinks Aldean and co. might take this, but McGraw and co. seems more likely.

Kevin:  “Highway Don’t Care” made me enjoy both McGraw and Swift as singers, not just song pickers/songwriters.  For that alone, the win.

Musician of the Year

Should Win:

  • Sam Bush (Mandolin) – Jonathan, Ben
  • Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar) – Kevin
  • Dann Huff (Guitar)
  • Brent Mason (Guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (Guitar)

Will Win:

  • Sam Bush (Mandolin)
  • Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar) – Jonathan, Ben, Kevin
  • Dann Huff (Guitar)
  • Brent Mason (Guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (Guitar)

Ben: I’ll be all for Paul Franklin next year thanks to Bakersfield, but this year I would like to see Sam Bush get his due.

Jonathan: Bush may not have a MacArthur fellowship like Chris Thile, but his progressive mandolin work is certainly overdue for recognition. Hard to begrudge Franklin, though, as Bakersfield is one of the year’s best albums.

Kevin: Until he wins. I will pick him until he wins. 


  1. I always look forward to this CMA predictions discussion. The CU writers are always insightful…

    I actually think the awards are super competitive this year. Anything could happen. Kind of fun in that sense.

    It is interesting how Little Big Town just keeps holding themselves back by always releasing the wrong songs in the wrong order from their albums. “Sober” is so great. I hope they win album. It’s like they are always a new artist trying to break out.

    The Darius Rucker version of “Wagon Wheel” took all the bite out of it.

    I did not love the Musgraves album as much as others. But I love her and what she’s doing in general. And I would love to see her win something big.

    I know that some feel that Miranda has been overly lauded. But I think she is the one who is pushing the genre forward. Her choice of “Maama’s Broken Heart” and her work with the Pistol Annies are examples. “Mama’s Broken Heart” was a risky choice. Just as some of her past songs have been.

    I know that I’m the only non huge Carrie fan on this site (or probably in the the world), but I just don’t understand why she never gets called out for making what sounds to me like straight up pop/eighties guitar rock. I find her to be too safe and non-forward thinking for my taste. Taylor Swift makes much more interesting pop music but obviously doesn’t have the voice that Carrie does.

    It will be an interesting night. I would not bet money on predictions this year, as I think it’s a really unpredictable list of nominees.

  2. As it has been recently (imho), vocal group is the strongest overall category. I wouldn’t be disappoined if BP won even though I think their debut album is better than their current effort. ZBB would also be a good choice to make up for past snubs.

    For Single & Song, I’d like to see Kacey win. I’d also like her to win album because I don’t care for the rest of the field. Re Same Trailer, I agree with a comment made by Occasional Hope: “I admire the scope and ambition here, but I don’t like the sound very much on most of the tracks.”

    I will continue my practice of recording the show and making ample use of the fast forward button when I watch it.

  3. I am just a bit depressed just reading the nominations. Don’t get me wrong, I do like crossover country, but we need a good shot of traditional country just to make sure it doesn’t go too far. Does anyone think the tide might change soon?

  4. I dont get the love for Musgraves! she does not have succes, #1s, sells, she only have good critics, she is overrated already!!

    Im still so mad at the Underwood snub for Entertainer! If a sold out tour, a 1.5 million album, 4 #1s, SNF theme song, The Sound of Music live show, 1 million donation and even more, sixth time co-hosting the CMAs, perform at the Emmys, 20 magazine covers in one year, a 3 weeks #1 DVD Blown Away Tour, close the CMA music fest, 2 Grammys for Blown Away, Exibition at the country music hall of fame, platinum and multiplatinum singles is not enough then NOTHING will be enough ever! lol

  5. I agree with Zac^^, Carrie has done everything expected in an EOTY award, but not to have at least a nomination in 8 years, after all her accomplishments is beyond comprehension. Maybe a CMA voter or two could print out a reason. Artistically, there is no reason. Other reason, it has to be. If I were a voter that never even voted for a simple nod, I’d have to be almost ashamed.

  6. Not much to add. Great commentary, guys.

    I’ll echo Martin’s comments on Carrie Underwood. She truly bores me silly. Different strokes…

  7. I agree with the person who commented about Miranda Lambert pushing the genre forward. Her work with the Pistol Annies shows a willingness to care about songwriting and about writing more than just the same ol’ same ol’.

    I’d love to see Musgraves do well also, but I don’t think established Nashville is ready for her yet.

    I don’t get the Carrie Underwood or Luke Bryan love. Neither of them are doing anything even remotely original.

    I ADORE The Civil Wars. But they really are not “Nashville” per se, and they are still not speaking, and JPW has clearly indicated he’s done with the act. They will not win anything.

  8. The first thing I’m going to say is it’s downright pathetic that Ashley Monroe is nowhere to be seen in any of these nominations other than as window dressing on “Boys Round Here.”
    I can’t bring myself to care about Entertainer/Male/Duo. I agree with Jonathan about “I Drive Your Truck” pulling the Song Of The Year upset even though I think the “Mama’s Broken Heart”/”Merry Go Round” split will heavily break towards “Mama’s Broken Heart” because of Miranda singing it. “I Drive Your Truck” tied with “Merry Go Round” for the Music Row magazine Song Of The Year award and won NSAI’s Song Of The Year. Single is probably going to “Cruise.” Bleh.
    Musical Event has only 2 songs I can tolerate: “Highway Don’t Care” and “Don’t Rush.” I prefer “Don’t Rush,” which has no chance at winning. I feel like “Highway Don’t Care” is probably going to win this but wouldn’t be shocked if “The Only Way I Know” pulled an upset.
    Little Big Town is going to repeat in Vocal Group, and I’m down with that. With Lady Antebellum’s loss of momentum, The Band Perry has probably moved into 2nd place in that category as far as voting, but I again agree with Jonathan that the lack of nominations for “Better Dig Two” and their album means they’re not going to grab the win this year. I think releasing “DONE.” was a momentum killer, even though it’s made for some fun live performances. Zac Brown Band knows its 0-fer streak since winning CMA New Artist will continue, and has been laughing ever since this year’s Grammy ceremony.
    I agree with Kevin’s assessment of the New Artist award. I feel like the CMAs are going to want to be the 1st to recognize Kacey Musgraves, and this and Album
    @Martin Hyatt In NY:
    I disagree with you about Carrie Underwood being too safe and non-forward thinking. “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs,” while not flawless, were both risky songs. “Blown Away” sounded like nothing on any genre of radio. “Two Black Cadillacs” was a borderline gleeful story of a wife and a mistress conspiring to kill the guy cheating on them both at a time where country radio’s overloaded with overblown machismo and where women are primarily portrayed as nothing more than sex objects meant to bring their men beer.
    I remember reading an interview with Lindi Ortega talking about “Murder Of Crows” (which I love, and I love Ortega’s continued exploration of the macabre in the middle section of her new album), and she laughed about how you weren’t going to hear a female murder ballad on mainstream radio these days. Well, she was wrong. Carrie Underwood had one, and she took it to #1.
    “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs” have lyrical roots in the Southern Gothic ethos, so I think they are country in their own way even if the production is not. Even though I’d have made a few different production decisions, I think both songs are examples of Carrie Underwood taking country to a fresh place. What really won me over was the Grammy medley Carrie Underwood did of the 2 songs. A slowed down acoustic “Blown Away” sounded very country (and better than the studio version), and even the live version of “Two Black Cadillacs” sounded quite country.
    You haven’t listened to the Blown Away album if you think Carrie Underwood is all pop/80s guitar rock. The truth is the album ranges from Southern Gothic pop/rock to country/pop to pure country (where some of the best album cuts land). But the singles from the album all came from the not especially country-sounding side. In case I’m sounding like too much of an Underwood apologist, I think Little Big Town’s Tornado and Kacey Musgraves’s Same Trailer, Different Park are better, more consistent albums from the song quality standpoint. Kacey’s album feels more important to country but I think Little Big Town’s album is of higher overall quality when vocals, melodies, and production are taken into account. But I think Blake Shelton’s no effort mediocirty Based On A True Story has Album Of The Year in the bag.

    Credit to Miranda Lambert for recording “Mama’s Broken Heart” but to be honest, her version of the song is the 3rd best version I’ve heard after the Kacey Musgraves version and the Brandy Clark version. I prefer Miranda’s singing on the Pistol Annies album because being in a group forces her to rein herself in vocally. It’s such a disappointment how their momentum was stalled by internal discord. We only got “All Kinds Of Kinds” as a single because RCA Nashville yanked “Hush Hush” once the Annies had their blow up. But it sure would’ve been great to have both.
    This year, based on the success of “Mama’s Broken Heart” and the Annies album, it doesn’t feel like a big travesty for Miranda to win Female Vocalist again. But Miranda’s been so overrewarded for 3 singles that are mediocre by anybody’s standards (“Baggage Claim,” “Over You,” and “Fastest Girl In Town”), I’d rather see either Carrie or Kacey win, preferably Carrie because she did the best job of matching quantity (sales, radio success, touring) with quality.

  9. “I don’t get the Carrie Underwood or Luke Bryan love. Neither of them are doing anything even remotely original.”

    Luke Bryan? Agreed. Carrie Underwood? You really can’t sit there and say that “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs” aren’t remotely original, can you?

    Whatever, I guess. Anyways…

    -Agreed on all of the commentary. The EOTY nominees are just a sad bunch — 3 painfully cliché artists, 1 pop artist, and 1 artist that is only, truly there because he announced that he’s done touring in 2014. Mmmm…okay.
    -I really don’t see Underwood winning anything this year, and that’s a damn shame because, unless the ACMs miraculously make some sort of turn-around, the “Blown Away” era will have gone completely unrecognized by the 2 major Country Awards shows. An era as fantastic as this one has been doesn’t deserve such a cold shoulder.
    -That Sugarland nomination is still stupid to all heavens above.
    -Then again, the Duo category having the most nominees (along w/ Music Video) is stupid to all heavens above.

  10. Shauna, I don’t think “Blown Away” or “Two Black Cadillacs” are that original because I think it is just CU trying to channel late 80s/early 90s Reba McIntyre. The problem is, she is no Reba McIntyre. I like both songs well enough, I just don’t think she’s really bringing anything new to the table.

  11. EJC, BA and TBC are not 100% original since every single artist, songwriters, etc., I believe, at some certain levels, is under the influence of each other. But taking a broader look at the country music scene in 2012 (or even 2013), they are one of the rarest bold, boundary pushing and (yet) risky songs (along with Kacey’s and LBT’s Tornado) coming out in the midst of all the mediocrity of Luke Bryan’s, Blake’s, Florida’s or any party/drinking/bee buzz stuff. And also, both Carrie Underwood’s songs received good acclaims and also massive public appeals.

    I’d love to see Carrie taking the award for AOTY once since it might be the last chance for her to win any major award for her huge effort in Blown Away era. However, I just have a hunch that Blake is going to take it, sadly. Kacey’s is great, like a breath of fresh air, but she’s new and the album doesn’t do well commercially (and all awards are now taking the commercial stuff pretty seriously these days).

  12. I hear what you are saying, Hoang. BA and TBC are ‘diffrent.’ However, Carrie Underwood has no songwriting credits for “Blown Away.”

    FTR, I don’t dislike Carrie Underwood. I’ll sing along to her stuff in the car easily enough. I just don’t find her all that forward moving.

    It will be interesting to see how the awards go!

  13. I can’t really add much more to what has already been said. Such a good era from Carrie Underwood, yet she’s not being rewarded. It is what it is, but in the mediocrity that is mainstream country music right now, I don’t see how you don’t nominate and award Underwood for the music she’s put out and what she’s done for country music as a whole. There really isn’t a better representation of a “modern” country artist who still recognizes country of the past. But, what can you do? The fact that every time new nominations come out I don’t expect to see the actual best artists of the year getting nominated is probable a pretty negative thing.

    Also, EJC, when did having a songwriting credit on a hit song become such a requirement? I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone knocked as much as Underwood for not always writing her own songs. A good song is a good song. That’s why there are songwriters. I don’t remember everyone going nuts on Miranda for not writing THTBM. But, I could be wrong.

  14. Agree that Carrie was snubbed for Entertainer. She damn well desereved it. Words cant describe my wrath, do they wven take notice over her MANY, MANY accomplishments that check all the boxes to qualify for Entertainer (touring, commercial success etc.) I dont care for who wins it now, as someone already posted you have 3 cliche artists, Taylor who is pop (if any hardcore swifties are reading this; as a teenage girl, I love her but the majority of her singles now are blatantly pop), and the only true veteran artist who sadly was only nominated because he annouced his retirement from touring. I truly think that the CMAs refuse to nominate more than one female, and that female has to be Taylor thanks to her commercial success and the $55 million she made this year. Such a shame. The same with most videos these days by male artisa, women only serve as sex toys who please the men and serve beer.

    As much as I hate to admit, FGL will probably will most things they have been nominated for. Cruise had commercial impact, and as much as I HATE THAT SONG, it garuntees them multiple wins.

    Also, while I truly LOVE Kacey, I wouldn’t garuntee her many wins. She is too new of an artist, and based on their commercial success FGL may take new artist (by any chance they wont and Kacey manages to win, it will restore my faith in the CMAs and they might just be redeemed from all the other crap. However, next year I will definitely be on the Kacey bandwagon.

    Hopefully Carrie will take vocalist. She has a hell of a stellar voice. Miranda may probably take it she and Blake are CMA darlings. Although I LOVE HER, I have to admit Taylor just isnt that great of a Vocalist. As I said, Kacey is too new, although next year I’ll be rooting for her. Wtf is kelly doing in this catergory? If the CMAs found it so hard for names, why not Ashley Monroe/Kellie Pickler?

    I agree with everything said about the Civil Wars. They are TRULY AMAZING yet do not get the recognition they deserve. Again, one of many reasons as to why I’ve given up on the major country awards shows (ACMs, CMAs)

  15. More thoughts…

    I don’t know about Underwood’s chances for FVOTY anymore. Does she deserve it? More than anyone else in the category. Does she deserve to join the ranks of Reba McEntire and Martina McBride as a 4-time recipient of the award? More than any other female in the genre. Will she, though? I don’t think so, unfortunately. She clearly has no backing anymore. The general public, media, and critics alike can make endless notes of Underwood consistently getting overlooked all they want; the voting blocks behind the scenes are all that matter in the end. Miranda Lambert, quite evidently, has those blocks clenched in between her teeth. Underwood doesn’t seem to have that anymore, and she seems to almost always be a perennial runner-up at the CMAs and ACMs nowadays. It’s sad and unfortunate, and even with Lambert flat-out saying “Carrie damn well deserved this award,” “I voted for Carrie,” etc. at the ACMs this past April, I don’t think the CMAs will take the hint.

    Hell, we could be looking at this all wrong and both will lose to Musgraves (the leading nominee of the year) of Swift (the Pop singer with the most sales getting bruised and battered by the Country fans as she waltzes back into Nashville). The CMAs and ACMs will keep nominating Swift until she retires simply because she is A) one of the biggest names in the world across all genres, and B) a product of Country music that has grown to exceed any and all boundaries. Of course they’ll flaunt her as much and as often as they can.

    Moving on, if there was a “None of the Above” option for both Entertainer and Male Vocalist this year, as a hypothetical voter, I’d pick those. For EOTY, Jason Aldean (nominated amidst a cheating scandal/divorce, lackluster single sales, and a slower album era), Luke Bryan, and Blake Shelton have all made just as much nonsensical music as they have the past 3-4 years; no artistic progression, no audible movement, etc. Taylor Swift has been too busy swimming with the Pop stars (and even Aldean had to make a notion of Swift “still being welcome in Nashville” during his and Kristen Bell’s opening monologue at the CMT Music Awards back in June), and George Strait is there solely because it’s his last year touring. If they wanted to pay such tribute to Strait, they should’ve given him some honorary trophy with an extra musical tribute and lent the nomination slot to someone who actually deserved it (*ahem*…Underwood). For MVOTY, Aldean, Bryan, and Shelton have all demonstrated, again, nothing worthy of such an award. In a perfect world, either Eric Church or Keith Urban would take this since both have released music with substance (rather than illegal substances). By the same token, though, in a perfect world, Underwood would’ve seen more justice, the Duo category wouldn’t be so damn ridiculous, “Pontoon” wouldn’t have a nomination for Song of the Year, and Justin Bieber wouldn’t have a fanbase after all of his shenanigans. So, let’s see which of the three annoyances will take the cake!

    Album of the Year seems so hard to peg at this point. Little Big Town’s album is absolutely fantastic in all realms, as is Kacey Musgrave’s debut. Musgrave’s has the bigger amount of critical acclaim, but Little Big Town’s album has seen the biggest breakthrough for the five artists nominated. Blake Shelton’s album is both mediocre and half-assed, but it’s also become the biggest-selling album of his career, just barely eclipsing the Platinum landmark. It still stands in the shadows of Taylor Swift’s undeniably-monstrous “Red” and Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”, which was not as big as “Red”, but easily triumphs all four of the other albums nominated in terms of success within the genre. Each album has a case to be made for it. Musgraves has critical acclaim, but also modest radio and sales success. Little Big Town has breakthrough success and sales, but a slowdown at radio and one real hit (“Tornado” is barely played anywhere on radio anymore; the 1.5-year old “Pontoon” made the era what it is). Shelton has decent sales (his own personal best) and 2 #1s, but moot critical praise and mediocre material. Swift has monstrous success, but minimal Country success…and minimal Country material altogether. Underwood has 4 #1s and big sales (both album-wise and singles-wise), but the album is the oldest of the bunch and could be stale in the voters’ eyes. I really don’t know where this category will go, and that excites me.

    If Lady Antebellum wins Group this year, I’ll be shocked. Zac Brown Band and Eli Young Band can sit back, nice and cozy, knowing that they’ll be clapping for someone else. This all comes down to The Band Perry and Little Big Town, and judging by the amount of nominations across the board that the two bands have individually, I’ll be even more shocked if LBT takes this (despite me wanting TBP to finally take this one home).

    If Kacey Musgraves loses New Artist of the Year to that ungodly, dreadful duo of dweebs, I’ll be up in arms. If Kacey Musgraves loses Single of the Year to that ungodly, dreadful duo of dweebs, I’ll be up in arms.

    With the exception of “Pontoon”, I don’t care where Song of the Year goes.

    I wouldn’t be able to care about the Duo category without laughing amidst thinking about it. FGL will win, we’ll all throw a hissy-fit, etc.

    If any collaboration other than Clarkson/Gill or McGraw/Swift/Urban receive the Musical Event trophy, I’ll be nauseous.

    Music Video is two-thirds competitive this year. Underwood, McGraw/Swift/Urban, Lady Antebellum, and Lambert all gave strong videos. Lambert’s video is the weakest of the four, Lady Antebellum’s is the cheapest-looking of the four, and the McGraw/Swift/Urban video is the most controversial of the four. Underwood gave the strongest video…which is exactly why Shelton/Pistol Annies/”…friends?” will take the award. Because that’s just how the CMAs work; Blackstock & Co. first, Underwood always second-best, even if her work is far ahead of everything that’s nominated.

  16. Oops, meant to say “I’ll be more shocked if Little Big Town DOESN’T take this [Vocal Group trophy]” in that little paragraph. Gotta love the karma of not editing long posts, folks.

  17. I always enjoy CU predictions of country award shows. The staff are always spot-on and in many times, also funny!

    I’ll go with “Cruise” for Single of the Year. Even without the Nelly remix, “Cruise” was undeniably a massive radio and digital hit. Florida Georgia Line also ushered a new era of ‘bro-country’, for better or for worse, through this song. For Song of the Year, I think “Mama’s Broken Heart” is dang well deserving. I think it’s more cleverly written than “Merry Go ‘Round.”

    Little Big Town will repeat with Vocal Group and Florida Georgia Line will take Vocal Duo. I think Kacey Musgraves will take New Artist. Luke Bryan will win Male Vocalist, which I think is well-deserved. While I’m feeling that the CMA voters will make up for their Underwood snubs in the past few years and reward her with her 4th Female Vocalist trophy.

    Musical Event will go to McGraw, Swift, and Urban. The Big Machine team has been aggressively campaigning for this single and I think that it is only in this category that they have a clear chance. For Music Video, I think the CMA would like to reward some other video other than “Tornado” which already won the ACM. So my bet would be “Blown Away” or “Highway Don’t Care.” (Although I feel a bit sad that Taylor’s greatest chances of winning are in these non-televised categories. So we wouldn’t witness her ‘shock face’ this time).

    For Album of the Year, I think Blake Shelton’s is a safe choice. It sold pretty strongly and it’s yielding singles that are hit after hit. The Kacey, Carrie, and Taylor may split the votes, while Little Big Town may not have that strong clout yet to win this category.

    For Entertainer of the Year… oh I forgot I have other important things to do. Making a prediction here is futile. :)

  18. Wow Jonathan-Miranda’s poorest reviewed music? Really. Pretty sure that Four the Record was critically acclaimed and had 2 #1 platinum singles(Over You/MBH)Most LOVED her tour. She has been going since January. We LOVED her in Texas!

    Hope Kasey wins- New Artist(PLEASE God make this happen) and Song- Merry Go Round. Would love for LBT to win Album for Tornado b/c it is an awesome! Not a Fan of Luke’s vocals so either Jason/Blake for Male. Female could go to Miranda or Carrie. Both had great years and good songs. Single- MBH was my fav by far. Liked both Carrie/Miranda’s videos but Carrie gets the edge for all of the special effects. Wouldn’t be surprised if CMA gave Tim McGraw vocal and video b/c it has been so long since he has won. Would have loved to have had a few girls in the catergory but Taylor should win ETOY.

    I do find it funny that no one had problem with Brad and Carrie win every category every year at these award shows but as soon as Miranda or even Blake started to it was WRONG? Carrie is no doubt a talent but if she has the best voice, I guess we just shouldn’t vote and give it to her every year. Seems silly to me. For years Miranda couldn’t get any love at these shows first Carrie, then Taylor and finally she got a few awards. I hope next year Kasey and Ashley will be winning. :)

  19. Carrie has 8 (yes, EIGHT) co-writing credits on the Blown Away album. The fact that she didn’t have a co-writing credit on the Blown Away SINGLE should not detract from her efforts on the rest of the album, which has some stellar cuts on it that were NOT issued as singles. And do you seriously for one minute think that Carrie is not in the same league as Reba McEntire as far as voice quality, #1 singles, exposure are concerned? She could be just as ‘beloved’ if the damned industry would take the stick out of their **ses and get over the fact that she won a contest to get her start.

  20. “I do find it funny that no one had problem with Brad and Carrie win every category every year at these award shows but as soon as Miranda or even Blake started to it was WRONG? Carrie is no doubt a talent but if she has the best voice, I guess we just shouldn’t vote and give it to her every year. Seems silly to me. For years Miranda couldn’t get any love at these shows first Carrie, then Taylor and finally she got a few awards. I hope next year Kasey and Ashley will be winning. :)”

    …actually, plenty had a problem with it and lots of people grew tired of them winning. It was exciting when Miranda won a ton of awards at the ACMs in 2010 — that was really her first pick-up round that spawned what these past 4 years have consisted of.
    However, voting with Country awards has completely turned into politics, as evidenced through tons and tons of sources and voting blocks, and it’s all come into the favor of Lambert and Shelton. It’s aggravating because A) they haven’t made the music that deserves as many accolades as they’ve received, and B) Paisley and Underwood both released far better bodies of work in the past year than both Lambert and Shelton COMBINED.

  21. Am I the only one here who’s indifferent about Carrie Underwood not making the “Entertainer of the Year” field this time around?

    Look, “Blown Away” was an improvement over her previous records, but it still was only modestly above-average for me. “Good Girl” was absolutely overrated (same repackaged lyrical themes about a cowboy cassanova type up to no good) and “Blown Away” didn’t impress me either in that it was way too glossy and her vocals were too processed. “Two Black Cadillacs”, in fact, was the only single I thoroughly enjoyed………and besides that the only other tracks that have stood out quite well are “Wine After Whiskey” and “Do You Think About Me”.

    She’s still finding herself, and she continues to sound better as she enters veteran status as a recording artist…………but it doesn’t ensure or guarantee her an accolade.

    I say this with respect, of course…………but I can’t help but feel while it is understandable why many feel she has been snubbed in that she didn’t get so far as a nomination……..that they are nonetheless viewing the disappointment through fandom goggles to varying extents.

    At the end of the day, as much as I personally like both of them less, Taylor Swift has eclipsed Carrie Underwood this calendar year in terms of commercial results, and despite inferior sales and touring revenue, Blake Shelton’s cult entertainment personality makes him the all-around force to be reckoned with. Both have stronger cases for Entertainer of the Year anyway, in my opinion.

  22. @Noah
    I agree with you regarding Carrie. I also appreciate the fact that her fan base is so loyal. At the end of the day, it might just come down to a matter of different taste. But everything about her music feels manufactured to me. When she sings about something dark, I feel like oh, it’s Carrie Underwood singing about something dark, but it doesn’t feel dark.

    I also agree about Blake. While I get annoyed with his musical choices, he has become a household name. He’s great on The Voice. I think he’s the Entertainer of the Year. Even though he’s not favorite musical artist in that category.

  23. Underwood and Swift should both be nominated for the EOTY award.

    Noah – it’s very easy to call Underwood’s lack of a nomination a snub WITHOUT filtering it through fandom goggles. The stats speak for themselves. In the modern era, every major solo female artist (Reba, Shania, Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert) and group/duo (Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, The Judds) have either received a nomination or won the trophy.

    Taylor Swift is much more popular then Underwood in every way. She’s had two CDs sell more than 1 million copies in their opening weeks and is selling out stadiums at a level only seen by Kenny Chesney, as far as country acts go. By going pop she’s cornered the tween market in two different generes and is reaping the rewards for it. Plus, her songs are far more interesting than Underwood’s both lyrically and from a production standpoint. Red is far superior then Blown Away in every aspect.

    I just don’t get why Underwood remains the only solo female country superstar not to get a nomination for the genere’s top honor in the modern era. Her singles continue to perform spectacularly at country radio, and she’s getting mainstream exposure Taylor Swift could only dream of – could you imagine Swift playing Maria in The Sound Of Music or singing the Sunday Night Football theme? Plus, like others have said before me, she hosts the damn show! The CMA must respect her in some way.

    There’s no denying Taylor Swift is the bigger star and a virtual shoo-in for the top award every year. It’s just sickening there isn’t room for both of them in the category. They each deserve it, just for different reasons.

  24. It isn’t like Underwood has to win. The nomination could be token for all anyone cares. But a nomination would stop all this snubbing nonsense. Seriously, what more does she need to do in order to score a nod here?

  25. *Yawn* Who the hell are these people? How did Jason Effing Aldean actually become a viable contender for Entertainer of the Year? Is anyone even trying anymore?

    As for Carrie Underwood, her snubs are especially curious. How can she be such a well-liked and respected, high-profile figure in the industry, but shut out of the awards? I have no idea what the behind-the-scenes politics are, but someone must have a serious vendetta against her to so consistently keep her left on the outside looking in like this.

    I find Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert more frequently interesting, but there’s something to be said for Carrie Underwood’s consistency. Hell, Alan Jackson has a whole shelf full of awards for doing the same thing year-in, year-out. I don’t even understand what the voters want out of Carrie Underwood that she hasn’t given them at one point or another (and yes, here I’m addressing the macro issue of her snubs, not just the micro level of this year).

    I wasn’t even going to tune into the broadcast, but I checked the performers and there are just enough that I still like (and have heard of) that I’ll slog through it. If nothing else, I’m always game for a George Strait performance.

    Whatever. Bring on 2014 and the return of Garth Brooks!

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Dean Dillon to Receive BMA Icon Award; Musicians Hall of Fame Announces 2014 Inductees; Album Releases - Engine 145

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.