Country music sure does have a lot of award shows, and I’ve been tuning into them regularly for about a decade now. In that time, though, I took me a while to differentiate between the CMA Awards and the ACM Awards. Because really, they both have the exact same categories and practically nominate the exact same things. As far as I can tell, the ACMs are moreso based on success, rather than the CMAs which generally reward actual musical quality. I think my predictions in this article will be affected by that assumption. Keep in mind that this is one of two award shows on this Sunday, but add WrestleMania to that and I would wear myself out trying to provide predictions for all of this. Also, Jason DeRulo is hosting the iHeartRadio Music Awards; kind of makes me not want to watch them. So no iHeartRadio Music Awards Forecast, but the ACMs are a go. Now I’m gonna go ahead and leave out the awards they’ve already given out ahead of time, like their three New Artist awards (Kelsea Ballerini, Old Dominion, and Chris Stapleton) and Video of the Year (“Mr. Misunderstood” by Eric Church). Let’s see what I’m left with.
Vocal Duo of the Year
Brothers Osborne vs. Dan + Shay vs. Florida Georgia Line vs. Joey + Rory vs. Maddie & Tae
The country station here in Chicago loves playing Dan + Shay; for a song I still don’t have the lyrics memorized to, I’ve heard “Nothin’ Like You” quite a bit the last few months. Same for “Stay A Little Longer” by Brothers Osborne. By comparison, Florida Georgia Line reminded us that “Anything Goes”, Joey + Rory have had an emotionally taxing year, and Maddie & Tae have just been one of my favorite musical discoveries in recent memory. That said, I think you already know who I’m rooting for here.
Who I Want to Win: Obviously Maddie & Tae!
Who Will Win: I think Maddie & Tae have a legitimate shot at victory, but since not everything goes my way, it’ll likely be Dan + Shay or Florida Georgia Line.
Vocal Group of the Year
Eli Young Band vs. Little Big Town vs. Old Dominion vs. Rascal Flatts vs. Zac Brown Band
I have no idea where Old Dominion came from, but they have simply become breakout country darlings, winning the Best New Group Award and garner a ton of radio play. But they’re facing off with a number of other groups who aren’t new to the dancery; Zac Brown Band have been around for years and enjoy continued success, Rascal Flatts are still going after their waning years of relevance, Eli Young Band are also still around, and Little Big Town are bigger than ever. “Girl Crush” has gotten them every award in the book that has country music on their radar.
Who I Want to Win: Little Big Town; still one of my faves.
Who Will Win: Totally Little Big Town.
Male Vocalist of the Year
Brett Eldredge vs. Chris Stapleton vs. Dierks Bentley vs. Eric Church vs. Jason Aldean
So about this Chris Stapleton guy; I think Ive already made it clear that he’s rally talented, mixing soul and country music, winning over the country music world over the past year. Also fantastic is Eric Church; I named him one of the best male artists of last year, and his album Mr. Misunderstood is getting him a ton of love this year. Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley also have their share of supporters while Brett Eldredge is someone I’m still new to.
Who I Want to Win: Eric Church or Chris Stapleton will do.
Who Will Win: Chris Stapleton; the guy is already winning every other award in the book.
Female Vocalist of the Year
Carrie Underwood vs. Jana Kramer vs. Kacey Musgraves v. Kelsea Ballerini vs. Miranda Lambert
Now this is more my speed; female country singers just do it for me. And when it comes to this year’s batch of nominees, I’ve heard Carrie, Kelsea, and Jana received a ton of radio airplay. With exposure from the fine folks at Disney, Kelsea is even taking in the exposure. But Kacey is supremely underrated and I’ve already explained how here. Meanwhile, I don’t even remember if Miranda released anything this year; after “Little Red Wagon”, it seemed like she just disappeared.
Who I Want to win: Kacey Musgraves; she really deserves to be honored.
Who Will Win: Miranda Lambert; this is one streak I’m afraid to bet against.
Album of the Year
I’m Comin’ Over (Chris Young) vs. Montevallo (Sam Hunt) vs. Mr Misunderstood (Eric Church) vs. Tangled Up (Thomas Rhett) v. Traveller (Chris Stapleton)
I’m shocked to see the Chris Young album here; I’ve barely heard a thing about it. Not saying it’s a bad album; just that I’m shocked that it popped up here. The rest of the albums I’ve heard a great deal about or listened to. As expected, Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt really add a mix of outside influences. Not my cup of tea, but it’s getting them results. It’s Stapleton and Church’s albums I see myself personally still listening to even a portion of down the road.
Who I Want to Win: Chris Stapleton; I’ve made it clear his album is worth checking out.
Who Will Win: Chris Stapleton; this guy’s been on a roll and it will continue.
Single of the Year
“Burning House” (Cam) vs. “Buy Me A Boat” (Chris Janson) vs. “Die A Happy Man” (Thomas Rhett) vs. “Girl Crush” (Little Big Town) vs. “I’m Comin’ Over” (Chris Young) vs. “Take Your Time” (Sam Hunt)
Three of these songs were Top 40 hits in Billboard; the almost R&B-leaning “Girl Crush”, the talk-singing smash “Take Your Time”, and “Thinking Out Loud” soundalike “Die A Happy Man”. Meanwhile, “Burning House” earned Cam enough airplay to reach another plateau of her career. I have not been able to get into that Chris Jansen song since I don’t really have the desire to spend money on such a luxury; but it’s a hit for him, so there’s that. I do prefer the Chris Young song over that, and I’ve only heard it a couple of times in the last few months.
Who I Want to Win: “Girl Crush”; I’m glad that became such a big hit for the group.
Who Will Win: Either “Girl Crush” or “Die A Happy Man”.
Vocal Event of the Year
“Hangover Tonight” vs. “Home Alone Tonight” vs. “Raise ‘Em Up” vs. “Smokin’ and “Drinkin’” vs. “Wild Child”
When I heard that Keith Urban and Eric Church had a collaboration out, I expected something harder than what I heard. Luckily for them, the song was good regardless. I don’t smoke or drink, but Miranda and Little Big Town’s song was so good, it kind of makes me want to give it a try. I certainly prefer it over LBT member Karen’s no-chill song with Luke Bryan. The Gary Allen and Chris Stapleton song has an energy to it while Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter take things down a bit.
Who I Want to Win: Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town.
Who Will Win: Keith Urban & Eric Church; they won this category at the CMA’s; they might win this one too.
Song of the Year
“Burning House” vs. “Girl Crush” vs. “Nobody to Blame” vs. “Raise ‘Em Up” vs. “She Don’t Love You
I actually haven’t listened to this Eric Pasley song completely through until I had to type this; I hope that girl someday finds someone that makes her love again. My guess is that it won’t be Chris Stapleton in “Nobody to Blame” because he did his girl so wrong, she demolished their couple photos. Meanwhile, Cam is willing to burn to death if she can be with her lover, Little Big Town’s take on jealousy is beautiful to listen to, and Eric Church & Keith Urban want me to raise anything I can find. Will Simba do?
Who I Want to Win: “Girl Crush”.
Who Will Win: “Girl Crush”
Entertainer of the Year
Eric Church vs. Garth Brooks vs. Jason Aldean vs. Luke Bryan vs. Miranda Lambert
Maybe I’ve been focusing on stars in other genres too much lately, but a few of these stars are not as visible in my life as they usually are. Miranda is a great performer, but the more controversial the whole Blake/Gwen thing gets, the less I hear Miranda discussed. Same for Luke; he is the reigning champion in this category, but aside from the Karen Fairchild collaboration, I don’t hear as much about him as, say, Sam Hunt. But at the same time, they’re always favorites to win at these shows. Garth Brooks is a a country superstar and Eric Church is just amazing. Jason Aldean hasn’t been on my radar lately, but apparently, he’s still out there putting on shows for his adoring public.
Who I Want to Win: Miranda Lambert or Eric Church would do for me.
Who Will Win: Luke Bryan; there’s no wat his streak is ending her.
What do you think of these predictions? Hit me up on Twitter @FearlessRiOT with your predictions and tune into the ACM Awards this Sunday night on CBS!