2019 CMA Awards Thoughts, Picks And Predictions

cma-awards-53

The 53rd Annual Country Music Association Awards air Wednesday, Nov. 13 on ABC. Below, you’ll find The Musical Divide’s thoughts, picks and predictions for the awards presented.

(Note: Underline = chosen pick)

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

Will win: 

Garth Brooks
Eric Church
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood 
Keith Urban 

Should win:

Garth Brooks
Eric Church – (tie)
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood (tie)
Keith Urban 

Keith Urban somehow won this last year, but considering this is a touring award, it’s hard not to see how either Carrie Underwood or Eric Church are more deserving here. Granted, that speaks to the groundswell of their respective fan bases that they’re willing to fight and declare these artists have had their “moments,” and it’s hard to disagree. I have a bad feeling Urban might repeat his win considering these award shows like to be repetitive and predictable, but considering they’re making a slight effort to include stronger female representation this year (lip service or not), I could see Underwood finally getting her due here. 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Thomas Rhett – Center Point Road
Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty
Dan + Shay – Dan + Shay
Eric Church – Desperate Man
Maren Morris – GIRL

Should win:

Thomas Rhett – Center Point Road
Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty
Dan + Shay – Dan + Shay
Eric Church – Desperate Man 
Maren Morris – GIRL

This category usually lacks in quality, and somehow they’ve set the bar even lower this year. Forget the fact that Reba McEntire or George Strait dropped great albums in their post-radio careers or that the Pistol Annies dropped one of the most critically acclaimed albums of last year – let’s just award nepotism and bland, forgettable pop music masquerading as country. Granted, I’m not about to defend Eric Church as country either, and Desperate Man is far from his best work; but it’s the only notable album here. Church is usually a favorite for this category, so hopefully that’s the case this year. 

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Cody Johnson
Ashley McBryde
Midland
Carly Pearce
Morgan Wallen

Should win:

Cody Johnson
Ashley McBryde
Midland
Carly Pearce
Morgan Wallen

Aside from Morgan Wallen, this is probably one of the best fields of new entrants in years. Granted, none of these names really scan as “new” aside from Ashley McBryde – Cody Johnson is the most obvious example, and Midland and Carly Pearce released their debut albums over two years ago. Still, I have no complaints here, though the fact that Wallen is the most commercially viable artist here with the hits and marketing to boot means no one else really has a chance. But really, there’s an unwritten law somewhere out there that says McBryde should win every award she’s nominated for, in any instance. 

SINGLE OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne – “Burning Man”
Maren Morris – “Girl”
Blake Shelton – “God’s Country” 
Chris Stapleton – “Millionaire”
Dan + Shay – “Speechless”

Should win:

Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne – “Burning Man” 
Maren Morris – “Girl”
Blake Shelton – “God’s Country”
Chris Stapleton – “Millionaire”
Dan + Shay – “Speechless”

“God’s Country” totally deserves this award – and there’s no question that will happen, given its success. Including “Burning Man” is a nice touch, but Dierks Bentley is, sadly, always a dark horse candidate, at best. “Millionaire” is also good, but would not be a fitting candidate for this award. “Girl” is here just for female representation and “Speechless,” well … I’m pulling for the other candidates. 

SONG OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Luke Combs – “Beautiful Crazy” 
Maren Morris – “Girl”
Blake Shelton – “God’s Country”
Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
Dan + Shay – “Tequila”

Should win: 

Luke Combs – “Beautiful Crazy”
Maren Morris – “Girl”
Blake Shelton – “God’s Country”
Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow” 
Dan + Shay – “Tequila”

This certainly isn’t the worst field in the world, though it does include some oddball choices, as always. Still, this category seems more loaded with pure hits than previous years. Of course, when I say “hit,” I’m referring to general public reaction, not to how Kacey Musgraves’s gorgeous “Rainbow” only peaked inside the top 40 at radio. But I wouldn’t be mad at “God’s Country” winning either, considering it is quite good. Otherwise, Luke Combs will likely win this, but he has better songs. Anything but “Girl” or “Tequila” is a win I suppose. 

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood 

Should win:

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood

Considering Carrie Underwood is up for Entertainer of the Year, this award should be a lock, though voters could also be fetching for new blood by picking Maren Morris. In terms of natural talent, this is usually a justifiable award for Underwood to win, so I don’t have much to say here other than that. 

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Dierks Bentley
Luke Combs 
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Should win:

Dierks Bentley
Luke Combs (tie)
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton – (tie)
Keith Urban

Again, there isn’t much to say here – Luke Combs is far and away the biggest country artist right now, so I can’t see how this award will go to anyone else. If we have to defy logic, though, let’s at least not go for Thomas Rhett. 

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Midland 
Old Dominion
Zac Brown Band

Should win:

Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Midland 
Old Dominion
Zac Brown Band

It’s between Midland and Old Dominion, but whereas Midland still mainly appeals to a niche crowd, Old Dominion is on the cusp of achieving their biggest hit yet with “One Man Band.” 

VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR

Will win: 

Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne 
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie and Tae

Should win: 

Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay 
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie and Tae

This, as well as Group of the Year, usually provide the most laughs out of any other categories. I mean, it’s nice to see Brooks & Dunn here, but who are they replacing? Sugarland? Big & Rich? Anyway, as much as I naturally like the Brothers Osborne more than any other duo here outside of B&D and Maddie and Tae (who, sadly, don’t have a shot anyway, let’s be honest), Dan + Shay were, truthfully, the most commercially relevant artists this year. 

MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne – “All My Favorite People”
Luke Combs and Brooks & Dunn – “Brand New Man”
Garth Brooks & Blake Shelton – “Dive Bar”
Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” 
Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell – “What Happens In A Small Town”

Should win: 

Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne – “All My Favorite People”
Luke Combs and Brooks & Dunn – “Brand New Man”
Garth Brooks & Blake Shelton – “Dive Bar”
Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)”
Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell – “What Happens In A Small Town”

This is a bizarre group of songs in general this year, but I like the Luke Combs and Brooks & Dunn collaboration best, by far. But we all know the “bull ridin’ and boobies” song will take this award anyway.

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR

Will win: 

Jenee Fleenor
Paul Franklin
Mac McAnally
Illya Toshinsky
Derek Wells

Should win: 

Jenee Fleenor 
Paul Franklin
Mac McAnally
Illya Toshinsky
Derek Wells

I mean, let’s be honest, Mac McAnally wins this by default every year, but hopefully Jenee Fleenor’s nomination slot isn’t for nothing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it isn’t – fiddle power!

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Will win:

Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne – “Burning Man”
Maren Morris – “Girl”
Blake Shelton – “God’s Country”
Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
Eric Church – “Some Of It”

Should win: 

Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne – “Burning Man”
Maren Morris – “Girl”
Blake Shelton – “God’s Country”
Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
Eric Church – “Some Of It”

I don’t have much to say, other than Eric Church had the best video here.

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