CMA Awards Predictions

The night all of country music has been waiting for is finally here! Tonight, the CMA Awards celebrates its 50th anniversary with a show that has been promised to be a spectacular tribute to the past 50 years of country music. Living legends, former CMA winners, and today’s superstars will all take the stage to pay homage to country music’s incredible past. In addition to the slew of performances, there will be a few awards handed out to recognize the best in the past year of country music.

This year’s winners are extremely tough to predict because the categories are so tight that the award could go to any one of the five nominees! But, as is tradition, I’ll do my best to predict who should walk away with a coveted trophy tonight.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Garth Brooks
  • Luke Bryan
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban

Should Win: Carrie Underwood

Will Win: Carrie Underwood

There isn’t an artist in today’s country music that is as long overdue to win this award than Carrie Underwood. In fact, she should have already received her first nomination well before this year! With this being the first time voters can vote for her to take home this award, I’m thinking they’ll finally award the superstar with her first win in this category.

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood

Should Win: Carrie Underwood

Will Win: Carrie Underwood

This should finally be the year the Miranda Lambert streak ends especially since she hasn’t released any new music in the past year, other than “Vice” which was released outside the eligibility period. That should clear the way for Carrie Underwood to regain her Female Vocalist crown!

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Eric Church
  • Tim McGraw
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

Should Win: Dierks Bentley or Eric Church

Will Win: Chris Stapleton

Dierks Bentley and Eric Church both released two of the year’s best albums this year, and are both long overdue for their first wins in this category. However, Chris Stapleton has been on a massive roll since stunning the world during last year’s ceremony, even earning nominations for songs that didn’t experience much success at radio. Because that wave of momentum has yet to slow down, look to Stapleton to claim his second straight Male Vocalist trophy.

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Should Win: Little Big Town

Will Win: Little Big Town

Little Big Town have been on such a massive high since last year’s “Girl Crush” that there’s no way this award goes to anyone but them. However, their night could potentially be spoiled by an upset by Old Dominion, who have been riding a successful wave of momentum at radio as well as a headlining tour. But, I wouldn’t bet against the quartet.

Vocal Duo of the Year 

  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Joey + Rory
  • Maddie & Tae

Should Win: Joey + Rory

Will Win: Florida Georgia Line

When the nominations were revealed, I was surprised to see that Joey + Rory’s Hymns That Are Important to Us did not receive an Album of the Year nomination especially since it is one of the year’s best albums. Had they received that nomination, I think they would have definitely had an even bigger chance at pulling off the upset here. Though I still have a sliver of hope that they’ll win, I expect to see FGL win once again despite releasing some of the worst music out of the five nominees.

New Artist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Maren Morris
  • Old Dominion
  • Cole Swindell

Should Win: Brothers Osborne

Will Win: Kelsea Ballerini

This category is one of the toughest to predict because it could very well go to one of the new leading ladies of country music. Kelsea Ballerini is coming in hot with 3 straight number one singles while Maren Morris comes in as one of the night’s leading nominees. This one could go either way, but my money is on Kelsea Ballerini to walk away with this year’s award. Sidenote: why are we still considering Cole Swindell as a new artist 3 years after his first single was released?

Album of the Year

  • Black – Dierks Bentley
  • Hero – Maren Morris
  • Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church
  • Ripcord – Keith Urban
  • Storyteller – Carrie Underwood

Should Win: Storyteller – Carrie Underwood

Will Win: Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church

This is yet another incredibly difficult category to choose from! The albums from Dierks, Eric Church, and Carrie Underwood are three of the year’s best albums and easily some of the best albums of their careers. Bentley and Underwood have been nominated in this category a few times before, but Eric Church is the only one of the three that has won it before and that would tilt voters his way. Though I am rooting for Underwood, I am choosing Eric Church to claim his second win in this category.

Single of the Year

  • “Die a Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw
  • “My Church” – Maren Morris
  • “Nobody to Blame” – Chris Stapleton
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church

Should Win: “Record Year” – Eric Church

Will Win: “Die a Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett

This category, unlike the Song of the Year category, usually recognizes the year’s biggest hits. That said, out of the five nominated singles, Thomas Rhett’s single achieved the most success with an unbelievable run at radio as well as massive sales. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eric Church or Chris Stapleton walk away with the upset here. But I predicted it would win months ago, and I’m sticking to the Thomas Rhett single to win.

Song of the Year

  • “Burning House” – Cam, Tyler Johnson, Jeff Bhasker
  • “Die A Happy Man” – Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett, Joe Spargur
  • “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde
  • “My Church” – busbee, Maren Morris

Should Win: “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna

Will Win: “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna

Three of these songs or lyrical masterpieces that are the epitome of what contemporary country music should be. Two, are songs that received massive radio airplay and could’ve contended for Single of the Year (though one was left out of that category). One of these songs, however, is written by arguably the best songwriter in today’s country music who could be the first woman in CMA history to win this award two years in a row. Lori McKenna should ready her acceptance speech.

Musical Event of the Year

  • “Different for Girls” – Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King
  • “Home Alone Tonight” – Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild
  • “The Fighter” – Keith Urban (featuring Carrie Underwood)
  • “Think of You” – Chris Young (duet with Cassadee Pope)
  • “You Are My Sunshine” – Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton

Should Win: “Different for Girls” – Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King

Will Win: “You Are My Sunshine” – Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton

The CMA might be looking for a way to honor Morgane Stapleton, the wife of Chris Stapleton, with her very first CMA award this year. Based off last year’s highly acclaimed performance that featured her as much as it did Justin Timberlake and her husband, I wouldn’t be surprised if they industry gives this away to the couple.

Music Video of the Year

  • “Burning House” – Cam; Directed by Trey Fanjoy
  • “Fire Away” – Chris Stapleton; Directed by Tim Mattia
  • “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw; Directed by Wes Edwards
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church; Directed by John Peets and Reid Long
  • “Somewhere on a Beach” – Dierks Bentley; Directed by Wes Edwards

Should Win: “Burning House” – Cam; Directed by Trey Fanjoy

Will Win: “Burning House” – Cam; Directed by Trey Fanjoy

The video for Cam’s “Burning House” is a visually stunning masterpiece that beautifully depicts the story of the song. Trey Fanjoy does an incredible job at directing the video and should be rewarded with a win here. This would be her first win in this category since 2010 when she won for directing Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me.”


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