This Sunday, the Academy of Country Music will hand out their awards for 2013. Eric Church leads the way with 7 nominees, followed by Hunter Hayes with 6, and Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift with 5 a piece. Blake Shelton returns to host, with Luke Bryan taking over the female co-host role for Reba. How fitting. All kidding aside, it does say something about the current state of country music that two males are co-hosting. Despite recent pushes from the ladies like Miranda, Carrie, and Taylor, and huge albums this year from Holly Williams, Kacey Musgraves, and Ashley Monroe, it's still a male dominated world. Anyway, I always have considered the ACMs important, but not as legit as the CMAs. An award is an award, but this show is always second fiddle in my book. On with the nominees!!!
Don't Rush- Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill
Easy- Rascal Flatts & Natasha Beddingfield
Feel Like A Rockstar- Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw
Let It Rain- David Nail & Sarah Buxton
The Only Way I Know- Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, & Eric Church
Who Should Win: "Let It Rain" is probably the best written song on the list, but it isn't so much an event as much as just Sarah Buxton doing harmony to David Nail's lead. That's my pick for best song here.
Who Will Win: This is all put a shoe-in for Aldean, Lukey-Luke, and Chief. The three biggest male singers in the business right now on one song? Easy win. It isn't the best written song, but it is decent enough and not deplorable, so I can deal. Anytime Eric wins, I'm happy.
Video of The Year
Creepin'- Eric Church
Tornado- Little Big Town
Wanted- Hunter Hayes
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together- Taylor Swift
The Wind- Zac Brown Band
Who Should Win: This is a tough one. I think "Creepin" might be my favorite song here, and the video is very cool, but I think "The Wind" is the most creative. I'll say Zac Brown Band is the winner here.
Who Will Win: "Tornado" or "Creepin" are the frontrunners. Zac Brown Band is always overlooked at award shows and Taylor swift is flirting with pop too much to win big at this show. Hunter could be a sleeper, but Little Big Town and Church have to be the favorites, I'll give the edge to Eric.
Songwriter Of The Year
Rodney Clawson ("Take A Little Ride", One of Those Nights", "Comin Around", "Get Your Shine On", "Feel Like A Rockstar", "Drunk On You", "Sure Be Cool If You Did")
Luke Laird ("Blowin' Smoke", "One of Those Nights", "Downtown", 1994", "Pontoon", "You", "Drink In My Hand", "Somebody's Heartbreak")
Dallas Davidson ("The One That Got Away", "Boys Round Here", "I Don't Want This Night To End", "Where I Come From")
Shane McAnally ("Neon", "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye", "Mama's Broken Heart", "Come Over", "Merry Go Round", "Fade Into You", "Downtown", "Better Dig Two")
Josh Kear ("Highway Don't Care", "True Believers", "Drunk On You", "Blown Away", "Two Black Cadillacs", "Kissed You Goodnight")
Who Should Win: I included some of the hits co-written by each writer for reference. If one name stands out as the only one with more than one meaningful song, it's because this year mediocrity and shear number of singles is rated higher than talent. Sure, Clawson wrote half of the charts in 2012/2013, but are any of those but one worth a darn lyrically? Shane McAnally is the easy choice here. "Merry Go Round" and "Neon" are two of my favorite songs of the past year, and "Fade Into You" from the Nashville soundtrack is killer.
Who Will Win: I think the Academy will take the high road here and give it to McAnnally. It will be based on the strength of "Merry Go Round", and I'm perfectly ok with that. I say he wins it.
Song of The Year
Woman Like You - Lee Brice (Phil Barton, Johnny Bulford, Jon Stone)
Even If It Breaks Your Heart- Eli Young Band (Will Hoge, Eric Paslay)
Over You- Miranda Lambert (Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton)
Springsteen- Eric Church (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndell)
Wanted- Hunter Hayes (Hunter Hayes, Troy Verges)
Who Should Win: "Over You" really struck a chord with fans this year. It was well written, has a emotional story, and was written by two of the biggest stars. What's not to like? This kind of song is what country music is all about, and it should win easily.
Who Will Win: As I said above, this is an easy win for "Over You" I think "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" is a distant distant second. If Hunter Hayes' sixth grade love note wins, I may throw up.
Single Of The Year
Even If It Breaks Your Heart- Eli Young Band
Pontoon- Little Big Town
Springsteen- Eric Church
Over You- Miranda Lambert
Wanted- Hunter Hayes
Who Should Win: This is tough. Single of the Year is awarded based on radio performance, and all of these did very well. I think quality of song should factor in as well, so my vote would be for "Over You", "Even If It Breaks Your Heart", or "Springsteen". I picked "Over You" last time, so "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" is my final answer.
Who Will Win: "Pontoon" will motorboat to the victory. I am sick to death of this song, but it was a monster hit and certainly feels like a winner here.
Album of The Year
Chief- Eric Church
Red- Taylor Swift
Tailgates & Tanlines- Luke Bryan
Blown Away- Carrie Underwood
Tornado- Little Big Town
Who Should Win: Chief came out almost two years ago, but it's impact was still huge in 2012/2013. It has the most hit singles and is my favorite to listen to on this list, so it is my easy choice. It's nice to see Little Big Town up for this award. Tornado is very strong if you skip over "Pontoon". Red and Blown Away are hardly country, and Tailgates & Tanlines is not terrible, but not superb either.
Who Will Win: I think Eric will take this one, but don't be surprised if Carrie Underwood wins. It will be close between those two, and I don't think the other three have a chance.
New Artist of the Year
Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: Jana Kramer has actually impressed me with some decent songs on her album. Her new single "Whiskey" is pretty darn good for mainstream radio. I think she should win this running away, Brantley is hardly new, and seems to struggle finding radio hits consistently, and Florida Georgia Line are just pretty boy posers who will be waiting tables at Waffle House within 5 years if the world is a fair place. They shouldn't even be sniffing an award, unless its Douchebags of the Year.
Who Will Win: This is a fan vote, so FlaGaLine will cruise (get it??? I just used more creativity in that joke than their whole album combined) to a victory. Think about that. I don't want to live in a world where Florida Georgia Line owns a country music award. I don't think Hank done it this way.
Vocal Group of the Year
Little Big Town
Zac Brown Band
The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Who Should Win: The Zac Brown Band puts out some of the best music on the radio consistently. They have a killer live show, and their new album is a goodn. I wouldn't even think twice, this goes to Zac. Little Big Town is talented too, don't let just "Pontoon" fool you into thinking they are not a great group, but Zac Brown Band is a class above.
Who Will Win: I see Little Big Town taking this one, but if Zac Brown Band had a shot, it would be this year. Close race between those two. The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum were between albums last year so they didn't have huge years, and I think Eli Young Band is still too new on the radar for this big of an award.
Vocal Duo of the Year
Florida Georgia Line
Love & Theft
Big & Rich
Who Should Win: Did Sugarland even put out a song in the past two years? Nominees in this category must be tough to come by. At least Montgomery Gentry had a decent performing single in 2012. Anywho, this is a dying category. Big & Rich had one hit. Thompson Square had one hit. Love and Theft had one hit. Florida Georgia Line had (wait for it) one hit. I don't think anyone should win. Give it to Brooks & Dunn.
Who Will Win: Thompson Square is a pretty safe choice. I don't mean my snarkiness above to sound like I don't like them, because I do. They have good harmony and some decent songwriting skills. I just don't think they had an award worthy year. Florida Georgia Line might sneak up and win this, and if they do and win two awards, the thunderous quake coming from Hank, Waylon, and Cash rapidly turning over in their graves will collapse the entire city of Nashville.
Female Vocalist of the Year
Who Should Win: Miranda and Kacey are the only two who released actual country songs to radio this year. Taylor and Carrie were mining for pop gold and Martina was nowhere to be found. That said, one single does not make you Female Vocalist of the Year, no matter how good it is. So, Kacey gets beat by Miranda this year, but I don't know if that will be the case this time next year.
Who Will Win: I think it's a two horse race between Carrie and Miranda, like usual. I think the edge might go to Carrie this year since Miranda has won a few in a row. Carrie's songs had some great lyrics this year, but the sound didn't have a hint of country. It's too bad, because they were very well written and Carrie sang the crap out of them. Overproduction is bad Carrie!!!
Male Vocalist of the Year
Who Should Win: Eric Church has exploded the past few months, and he is due to finally be the male vocalist of the year. I think this is finally his year, he had a much bigger year than the rest of this list.
Who Will Win: I think Eric will win too. This feels like his year and his show, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him win 3 or 4 awards. The only other competition feels like Blake Shelton. Maybe Aldean, but I doubt it. The fact that guessing second is so hard makes an even stronger case for Eric.
Entertainer of the Year
Who Should Win: Miranda Lambert has done the most work to advance and promote quality country music in this category. She has been traditional, yet modern; badass, yet emotional; steadfast, yet adaptive. I think this would be a big victory for real female country artists if she won. Face it, we have Miranda to thank for all the interest lately in Kacey Musgraves, Ashely Monroe, and Holly Williams. Miranda has been the standard setter for these women, so lets give her the big award and thank her.
Who Will Win: I think the fan vote of this award really takes away from this award. It's an honor, not a popularity contest. I think we might see Luke Bryan win this thing, and that would be a travesty. He is not up to the level of even Jason Aldean or Blake, and nowhere near Miranda. I think Blake is the second choice here after Luke due to The Voice. He is more deserving than Luke, but not as much as Miranda. And never count out Taylor Nation. I still bet on Luke though.
There you have it. The ACMs are on Sunday, April 7th at 8:00! Check em out and see if I'm right, or plain crazy. Comment and discuss my picks! Enjoy the show and Keep It Country Kids!!!!!