The 44th Annual CMA Awards: Predictions

Blake Boldt | November 9th, 2010

At this year’s CMA Awards, the conversation has largely revolved around who’s missing in the Entertainer of the Year category, including four-time winner Kenny Chesney, defending champion Taylor Swift and format stalwart Carrie Underwood. Otherwise, this year’s nominees are a predictable lot, though there are a few smart picks–Dierks Bentley’s Up on the Ridge and the Alan Jackson/Lee Ann Womack duet, “Till the End,” to name two–on the ballot mixed in with 2010’s commercial heavyweights of country music.

For the most part, this CMA edition is shaping up to be a mere formality. Miranda Lambert, a critical favorite since her 2005 debut, will emerge as the evening’s dominant force on the strength of her third album, Revolution. Her toughest competition exists in the Single of the Year category, where Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” would have to beat an even bigger hit, Lady Antebellum’s cross-format smash, “Need You Now,” to claim the trophy. A nominee since 2007, she’ll likely finish first in the balloting for Female Vocalist, and stands as the favorite in the Video category for either of her two entries.

The Texas singer-songwriter, who celebrates her 27th birthday the day of the ceremony, has openly acknowledged feeling awkward with her inclusion in the Entertainer of the Year category, and a pair of powerhouse groups–Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum–are also relative newcomers to the fold. The safe bet here seems to be the overdue Paisley, who’s lost in this race each year since his debut bid in 2005. Meanwhile, expect country music’s blonde brigade to be represented by Lambert alone. Five-time CMA Award winners Underwood and Swift, both passed over for Entertainer, will go home empty-handed on Wednesday evening after receiving a scant three nominations between them in this year’s derby. It should be a better showing for Lady Antebellum, who looks poised to repeat their victory in the Vocal Group category on the sales strength of their sophomore release, which remained at No. 1 on the country albums chart for the first half of 2010.

The least shocking win will be the retirement prize given to Brooks & Dunn, who will steamroll the steampunk-inspired Sugarland for one last Vocal Duo victory. The second least shocking win will be the Song of the Year award honoring “The House That Built Me,” written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin. And in the Musical Event category, four worthy contenders appear destined to lose to “Hillbilly Bone,” a goofy novelty number that will earn Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins their first CMA honors.

Entertainer of the Year

Lady Antebellum
Miranda Lambert
Brad Paisley
Keith Urban
Zac Brown Band

Will/Should win: Brad Paisley

Male Vocalist of the Year

Dierks Bentley
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Keith Urban

Will win: Brad Paisley
Should win: Dierks Bentley

Female Vocalist of the Year

Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Reba McEntire
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Will/Should win: Miranda Lambert

Vocal Group of the Year

The Band Perry
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Will win: Lady Antebellum
Should win: Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year

Brooks & Dunn
Joey & Rory
Montgomery Gentry
Steel Magnolia

Will/Should win: Brooks & Dunn

New Artist of the Year

Luke Bryan
Easton Corbin
Jerrod Niemann
Chris Young
Zac Brown Band

Will/Should win: Zac Brown Band

Musician of the Year

Paul Franklin – Steel Guitar
Dann Huff – Guitar
Brent Mason – Guitar
Mac McAnally – Guitar
Randy Scruggs – Guitar

Will win: Dann Huff
Should win: Paul Franklin

Album of the Year

Need You Now, Lady Antebellum
Play On, Carrie Underwood
Revolution, Miranda Lambert
Twang, George Strait
Up on the Ridge, Dierks Bentley

Will/Should win: Revolution

Single of the Year

“A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
“The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
“White Liar” – Miranda Lambert

Will/Should win: “The House That Built Me”

Song of the Year

“A Little More Country Than That” – Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress and Wynn Varble
“Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Josh Kear
“The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin
“Toes” – Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, John Driskell Hopkins and Shawn Mullins
“White Liar” – Miranda Lambert and Natalie Hemby

Will/Should win: “The House That Built Me”

Musical Event of the Year

“Bad Angel” – Dierks Bentley featuring Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson
“Can’t You See” – Zac Brown Band featuring Kid Rock
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
“I’m Alive” – Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews
“Till the End” – Alan Jackson with Lee Ann Womack

Will win: “Hillbilly Bone.”
Should win: “Till the End”

Music Video of the Year

“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
“The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
“Water” – Brad Paisley
“White Liar” – Miranda Lambert

Will/Should win: “White Liar”

1 Ping

  1. [...] Before the fun starts, feel free to refresh you memory of this year’s nominees, and compare your own expections to our own Blake Boldt’s predictions. [...]
  1. Jon
    November 9, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I realize that there’s a measure of people who would rather watch a show featuring music they don’t care for and whine about it than watch one featuring music they do care for and just enjoy it, but let me point out that tomorrow night’s Music City Roots lineup is an excellent one, which you can read about here: and listen to or watch here: . That’s where I’ll be…

  2. Lewis
    November 9, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I now believe that Lady Antebellum will be shut out of winning any awards and this would be a big shock and that The Zac Brown Band will win Vocal Group of the Year. Brad Paisley will get both Entertainer and Male Vocalist while Miranda Lambert gets Female Vocalist, Song (THTBM), Single (THTBM), Video (WL) and Album of the Year. I also predict that Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack will win for “‘Til The End” because in the past few years a huge single like “Hillbilly Bone” doesn’t get Vocal Event of the Year. For Vocal Duo Brooks & Dunn will get this over Sugarland and New Artist goes to Easton Corbin although Zac Brown Band might pull a Mark Chesnutt (who got his award in 1993 when it was called the Horizon Award after having numerous #1’s, Top 5’s and Top 10’s and had been on the charts 3 years at that point) and win this.

  3. AtlantaFan
    November 9, 2010 at 8:55 am

    This was my favorite quote from yesterday’s AP article about the Entertainer controversy:

    “For those who didn’t make it, the sting will quickly pass. As DeMarcus notes, success isn’t always measured by the number of awards you win.

    ‘I’d rather be rich than have a trophy,’ he joked.”

    I’ll be watching the show and hoping that the music is good and the acceptance speeches are short, sweet, and genuine.

  4. stormy
    November 9, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Miranda may not win song of the year, if she splits the votes.

    Jon: I will be watching Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef and Criminal Minds, the later of which frequetly plays music I like.

  5. gloria
    November 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I’d rather see anybody win Male vocalist than Brad Paisley. Blake Shelton has a better voice than he does and his songs are better too. JMO. I really feel the academy set it up in the entertainer category so Brad would win. This year will probably be his last chance. Keith Urban, to me, puts on the best live shows than any of these.

  6. Cutting the Treacle
    November 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I’m betting single and video will go to “Need You Now” – not to Miranda. Otherwise, these predictions seem right, if a little bit of a letdown (Paisley wins).

  7. J.R. Journey
    November 9, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I agree with most everything except the Album of the Year pick. While Revolution is my favorite of the five, I think the commercial juggernaut of Need You Now will eclipse everything else in that race. Otherwise, great picks.

  8. Rick
    November 9, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Is The 9513 going to do a live blog on this broadcast? I have no interest in watching the show, but I would enjoy reading a live blog thread the following day. Hmm…

    Jon, out here on the West Coast we can do both for those so inclined! I will be watching Music City Roots online and then utterly ignoring the CMA’s as I’ll be at a Sara Petite show at The Cinema Bar in Culver City.

  9. Michael A.
    November 9, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I’m pretty much in agreement with you guys about who will and should win, with two minor exceptions. I think Zac Brown Band will pull an upset and win in the Vocal Group category and “Need You Now” may triumph over “The House…” in the Single and Song categories.

  10. Noeller
    November 9, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I just can’t see voters giving ZBB both Best New Group and Best Group. There is zero doubt in my mind that ZBB is the best group going, and IMO, it’s not even close, but I can’t see them winning both.

  11. Leah
    November 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I mostly agree w/ the predictions. I do think that Need You Now will win Single of the Year. Album will be close, but I hope Revolution will win! It got way better reviews than Lady A.

  12. Sarah
    November 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    CMA’s lost a lot of validity in my eyes because of this Entertainer of the Year business. Huge disappointment, overseeing the deserving.

  13. WAYNOE
    November 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm


    I honestly cannot disagree on any of your predictions. Very good.

    Now, I will read Thursday who won as I wouldn’t waste even one minute watching such a Choreographed peace of garbage such as the Country My Anus show.

  14. Jo Jo
    November 10, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Really hoping Carrie gets female vocalist!! She deserves it. In my opinion, no one comes close to her vocal ability.

  15. Tim
    November 10, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Carrie Underwood should win female vocalist, but it’s obvious they’re going to give it to Miranda.

  16. ellie
    November 10, 2010 at 11:12 am

    carrie underwood deserves not only a female vocalist win but also entertainer of the year. she was robbed and snubbed so shamefully this year.
    both her tour AND album sales AND success of ALL of #1 singles top miranda lambert. Also, her video “temporary home” is certainly one of the best videos I have seen in a long time.

  17. ellie
    November 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

    seriously? nominating lady antebellum and miranda lambert when during the majority of the eligibility season was opening acts? really?
    wow. besides brad and keith-none of the other nominees are even up to par at ALL compared to previous winners. even taylor swift is more deserving.
    no one has done more for country music in the past years then carrie underwood and yet they snub her and yet take advantage of her to host to bring ratings up. SHAMEEE

  18. Barry Mazor
    November 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Since everybody is so sure about these things and so insidey and all, a question:

    If the CMA is somehow “trying” or even “fixing” to give the Entertainer of the Year (or male/ female vocalist) to Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert, what would be the reasons they would want to do that?

  19. Jon
    November 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

    You know, it seems that no matter how many times it’s pointed out that these awards are given to candidates who may win as little as 20%+1 of the votes cast by thousands upon thousands of people, some folks just don’t get it.

  20. Trish
    November 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    What is up with the CMA’s? How in the world do you nominate Miranda Lambert and even Lady A for Entertainer of the Year. They are all opening acts during the eligibility period. How can they leave out Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, and Kenny Chesney. They are just about the biggest touring acts in country music!!!!

  21. Cutting the Treacle
    November 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    BMazor: “If the CMA is somehow “trying” or even “fixing” to give the Entertainer of the Year (or male/ female vocalist) to Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert, what would be the reasons they would want to do that?”

    Me: If I were trying to come up with a reason for “fixing” the awards, I’d settle on commercial prospects. Maybe the CMA would think Brad Paisley or Miranda Lambert has some untapped commercial potential that a win in a big category could uncork. The CMA is, after all, an industry group. And an industry is commercial. And if Brad can make the leap to filling stadiums and Miranda to filling arenas, that’s a lot of jobs (in other words, I guess I’m saying CMA voters would engage in the kind of calculus that Tony voters are often accused of by the Times).

    That said, this year feels more 1995-ish when lesser-selling acts and works (Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless’s album, Gretchen Peters’s song, the Mavericks, the Tractors) won almost everything.

  22. luckyoldsun
    November 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    BM, CTT–
    Maybe they just think Paisley is “due.” He’s been around a while, been a “credit” to the CMA, presents a good image, would be the popular choice among “traditionalists”, has done charity work, played guitar on other people’s albums, etc.–There could be a lot of reasons that they might want to push for him.

  23. M.C.
    November 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Paisley did sell out Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., this year. He’s had consecutive sell-outs in arenas across the country over the last year, and he had a couple of other huge outdoor shows, including the one in Texas on the water. He’s had more consecutive No. 1s than any of his peers. Why shouldn’t he win Entertainer of the Year? I voted for him, and I think he deserves it.

  24. Fran
    November 10, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Brad Paisley is a wonderful entertainer-amazing talent…clever songwriter…excellent instrumentalist….decent guy all-around. Gets my vote!

  25. maey
    November 12, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I will be happy when the pop singers get out of the country singers world. I did not see anyone on the cmas except maybe reba and alan jackson that qualified as country,

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