It's finally here - Country Music's Biggest Night - the 46th Annual CMAs! For country music fans, this is like Christmas morning...with the exception that we have to wait to open our presents this evening. Nonetheless, I am super excited about this year's festivities. There were a lot of artists that had really big years - Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Eli Young Band, Little Big Town, Taylor Swift, etc. In years past there have been lots of nominations "just because," but not this year. The nominees are stacked, the competition is stiff, and the live performance line up is, for a lack of better words, badass.
So, what are my picks for tonights awards? Well, I'm glad you asked. Starting from the bottom of the list to the top, here they are:
Musician of the Year: Dann Huff - He's had a lot of great colabs with artists like Keith Urban and Taylor Swift, to mention a couple. His name has came up quite a bit this year, so I think the ol' Huffster is a safe bet.
Music Video of the Year: "Pontoon" - I'm fairly certain that this one will win. However, "Red Solo Cup" makes me nervous on the grounds that that song was so ridiculous and stupid, for a lack of better words, that it may just edge out Little Big Town. Regardless, I think LBT is going to take this category.
Musical Event of the Year: "Feel Like A Rockstar" - Why Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney haven't teamed up sooner, I don't know. I will say that I wasn't a big fan of the song, but I am a fan of the collaboration. Both Tim and Kenny have great stage presence and a certain star quality that I feel like they could take any song thrown at them and make it rock. "Safe and Sound" with Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars was a great tune and was featured in The Hunger Games soundtrack which gives it some umph, but I think the combined power of Tim and Kenny will win out.
Single of the Year: "Dirt Road Anthem" - I'm going with Aldean on this one. This one was such an anthem, that it has to win. It's got some big competition with "Pontoon" and "Springsteen," and frankly, a big part of me thinks the Eric Church will take Single and Song (I'm actually having a hard time not typing his name out for the winner here), but I'm really, really pulling for Jason and I think that "Dirt Road Anthem" was such a big hit for him that it can take Single of the Year.
Song of the Year: "Springsteen" - Hands down. That song got so much air play everywhere that there is no way that it can't win. "Over You" was a big hit for Miranda, but not as big as "The House That Built Me" so that one's out, Dierks and Blake I don't think had as much air play as "Springsteen" and "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" was a great tune and had a lot of airplay, but I think it just came up a bit shy next to Eric Church's powerhouse.
Album of the Year: "Tailgates and Tanlines" - I had a hard time with this one because honestly, "Cheif," "Four The Record," and "Tailgates and Tanlines" were all awesome albums. I own them all and have played the crap out of each one a million times over, but I think that Luke's garnished the most singles and was the most cohesive of the three. It was his best album by far. "Four The Record" was a great album, but I think "Revolution" was Miranda's best and "Cheif" was good, but I think Luke's got a winner.
New Artist of the Year: Brantley Gilbert - I wavered for a long time between him and Lee Brice, but my gut tells me Brantley. He has co-wrote a bunch of hits - most notably for Jason Aldean - and he just sort of exploded onto the scene all of a sudden, where as Lee has slowly been rising to relevance. He's got two consecutive number one's behind him which makes him a formiddable threat for sure, but I think that Brantley is mini powerhouse ready to go off, so he's got my vote for tonight.
Vocal Duo of the Year: Love and Theft - Without question. Their only competition tonight is Big and Rich, and I don't think that "That's Why I Pray" was enough to give them a win. Love and Theft rose from the "has been" ashes with a rocket strapped to their back called "Angel Eyes," maybe you've heard of it, and now they are back on the map and ripe for the winning!
Vocal Group of the Year: Eli Young Band - I'm going out on a limb here for these guys. They are very talented musicians and songwriters and they had a good year with "Crazy Girl" and "Even If It Breaks Your Heart." They've got some stiff competition with Lady A and Little Big Town in there, but these guys are kind of like Love and Theft. They were and then they weren't and now they are back and with two big hits to boot.
Male Vocalist of the Year: Luke Bryan - This was a hard one. The crowd is screaming out Jason Aldean, but for some reason I think the Luke is the guy to beat here. Count up how many singles he had on country radio and the response they got and I think it all points to him. Jason Aldean is a threat for sure, but I think Luke had a little bit of an extra spark this year to give him the edge...and hopefully, the win.
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert - It took everything in me not to put Taylor Swift, but I think Miranda may have enough in her for one more win this year, based on the fact that she had some big hits and a rockin' album. Taylor is kind of everyone's "it" girl, but I'm going to buck the crowd here and go with Miranda. She was the chick to beat last year and I think she's still got a little of that left in her.
Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean - He's got big competition from Taylor Swift I think, but this is his year. He wants it, he's hungry for it, he's been selling out tour dates and venues left and right. He's had big songs, a big album, and his fans are loyal followers. Plus, he puts on one hell of a show. I've got my money on him.
Be sure to join in the conversation on Facebook (Nebraska's Hot Country Y102) and Twitter (@Y102krny) tonight as we watch what happens during Country Music's Biggest Night!