Tonight is the 51st showing of the Academy of Country Music Awards. The Academy was originally started to give recognition to non-Nashville artists like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, but has since evolved into to the same boot-licking parade that the CMA Awards seem to be. There is already an overcrowded amount of award shows in country music, so the weight of these accomplishments is significantly diminished. The CMA Awards will always be the most prestigious and most meaningful, and the ACM Awards have settled into their number two spot. This year, Luke Bryan returns to co-host. However, his former co-host Blake Shelton has been replaced with Dierks Bentley. In all honesty, Luke was the one who needed replaced. He lacks the charisma for a live event that came natural for Blake. It will be interesting to see how Dierks handles the challenge. There are a slew of performances this year, even more than usual. The usual suspects such as Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Florida-Georgia Line will perform. New artists such as Chris Stapelton, Kelsea Ballerini, and Cam will also perform. Nick Jonas, Katy Perry, and Billy Gibbons of ZZTop will perform as well, because screw country music, that's why. Although Katy Perry will be with Dolly Parton, so there is some hope there. And ZZTop is awesome... but this is a country music award show. Let's get to the picks for the night!
Video of the Year
“Biscuits” – Kacey Musgraves
“Burning House” – Cam
“Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
“Mr. Misunderstood” – Eric Church
“Riser” – Dierks Bentley
Who SHOULD Win: Of this group, "Biscuits" was easily my favorite video. It was fun, fresh, and fit the song well. "Mr. Misunderstood" or "Riser" would be solid choices as well.
Who WILL Win: Eric Church. I know this because the award was already handed out. However, in all honesty, I would have typed "Girl Crush" here because no award show can ignore a made-up controversy. Good job, ACM.
New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year
A Thousand Horses
Maddie & Tae
Who SHOULD Win: This is a country music award show. Only one of these groups is truly country, Maddie & Tae all the way.
Who WILL Win: Well, I take back the compliment I gave the ACM. They already gave this award to the biggest douche canoe group in music. Take the piss-poor rapping of Sam Hunt and the utter lack of self-awareness of Florida-Georgia Line and you have Old Dominion. Ugh. I am shocked these guys won. I didn't see this coming and it is a sad reminder that despite the gains country has made, the remnants of the bro/metro/douche country music still remains.
New Female Vocalist of the Year
Who SHOULD Win: I like Mickey Guyton here. She has talent, but suffers from the fact that she is a female, and modern country labels absolutely cannot properly market female artists, particularly new ones. What a shame.
Who WILL Win: Yet another award that was already handed out. This one I would have nailed. Music Row is trying very very hard to make Kelsea Ballerini Taylor Swift 2.0, but I'm still not feeling it. Yawn, move along, nothing to see here.
New Male Vocalist of the Year
Who SHOULD Win: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
Who WILL Win: Chris Stapleton. I refuse to pick against him, and he hasn't let me down yet. This award was also already handed out (are there even going to be anymore to give tonight?). This wasn't fair. This was like a home run derby featuring four t-ball players and the MLB MVP. Of course Chris won. You could take those other four guys and mix and match them and nobody would know the difference. (In all fairness, Chris Janson isn't that bad, but still...)
Vocal Event of the Year
“Hangover Tonight” – Gary Allan Featuring Chris Stapleton
“Home Alone Tonight” – Luke Bryan Featuring Karen Fairchild
“Raise ‘Em Up” – Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church
“Smokin’ and Drinkin’” – Miranda Lambert Featuring Little Big Town
“Wild Child” – Kenny Chesney With Grace Potter
Who SHOULD Win: "Raise Em Up" is the best song of this group, so that's my pick. What a weak year for duets. Couldn't Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard had gotten a shout out here rather than Gary Allan? The song was so bad that it got him out of his record deal for crying out loud.
Who WILL Win: I have to bet that Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild win for their juvenile, pandering, and mindless song "Home Alone Tonight". What a joke.
Single Record of the Year
“Burning House” – Cam
“Buy Me A Boat” – Chris Janson
“Die A Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett
“Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
“I’m Comin’ Over” – Chris Young
“Take Your Time” – Sam Hunt
Who SHOULD Win: "Burning House" is a fantastic song that should easily mop the floor with these nominees. A debut single from a female artist that performs that well deserves some serious credit. How in the heck did the snooze-fest from Chris Young get nominated? And Sam Hunt is immediately disqualified for not being a country singer.
WHO WILL Win: "Girl Crush". The fake controversy they created worked like a charm and made this weird song become a huge hit due to everyone's guilt/fear of being called a homophobe. Sigh.
Song of the Year
Burning House – Cam. Songwriters: Jeffrey Bhasker, Tyler Johnson, Cam
Girl Crush – Little Big Town . Songwriters: Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose
Nobody To Blame – Chris Stapleton. Songwriters: Chris Stapleton, Barry Bales, Ronnie Bowman
Raise ‘Em Up – Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church. Songwriters: Tom Douglas, Jaren Johnston, Jeffrey Steele
She Don’t Love You – Eric Paslay. Songwriters: Eric Paslay, Jennifer Wayne
Who SHOULD Win: Wow. Now this is a pretty solid group. There are some darn good songs here. If I was the one giving this away, I'd have to pick "She Don't Love You". That was a classic country song that should have been a huge huge hit. I wouldn't be upset with "Burning House" either, and "Nobody To Blame" is pretty solid as well.
Who WILL Win: Gosh, I'm scarred to death that "Girl Crush" will win here. If that is so, I will be livid. However, I'm sticking with my strategy to refuse to pick against Chris Stapleton, so he gets my vote here.
Vocal Duo of the Year
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Joey + Rory
Maddie & Tae
Who SHOULD Win: Joey + Rory had a number one album with zero radio support. Tragedy aside, no one else in this category had that kind of success with those kind of odds. Maddie & Tae also have my full support.
Who WILL Win: Another award already handed out. Jeez. Just call this the ACM concert if that's what it's going to be. Anyways, DoucheCanoeX2 wins again. Yawwwwwn.
Vocal Group of the Year
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
Zac Brown Band
Who SHOULD Win: The Turnpike Troubadours.
Who WILL Win: Someone who isn't country.
Album of the Year
I’m Comin’ Over – Chris Young
Montevallo – Sam Hunt
Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church
Tangled Up – Thomas Rhett
Traveller – Chris Stapleton
Who SHOULD Win: Traveller was winning awards based on the critical success alone before it ever became a commercial smash. Now that it was the number one selling album of 2015 by a country artist, I don't see how you could not reward it again here. Mr. Misunderstood was pretty good and deserves the nomination as well. I'm Comin' Over was a bland, generic piece of white bread, and the other two albums are immediately disqualified for not being country.
Who Will Win: I refuse to bet against Chris Stapleton. I would call this award the biggest lock of the night.
Female Vocalist of the Year
Who SHOULD Win: Personally, I feel like Carrie has had a little bit stronger of a year than Miranda, so I would go with her this year. However, it is once again a down-year for the females and that needs to stop. There are so many talented female artists out there, we deserve more than this.
Who WILL Win: Why not. Carrie Underwood knocks Miranda Lambert off of her top spot. It's honestly a coin flip at this point, both deserve it.
Male Vocalist of the Year
Who SHOULD Win: Hey look, A Jason Aldean sighting! Anyways, this is a three horse race for me. Dierks Bentley is one I love, but his latest single is awful so he gets knocked down this year. That leaves it between the Chief and the Traveller. Eric released an album for free to his fan club members and unannounced while asking some of the best in the business to open for him on tour. Chris Stapleton has brought traditional country back to the forefront. Both are already winners in my book, I'll take either. (Also, who does Brett Eldredge have compromising pictures of that he got nominated over Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan???)
Who WILL Win: I refuse to bet against Chris Stapleton.
Entertainer of the Year
Who SHOULD Win: I've been to the Garth show. It is a SHOW. His comeback tour is must see. If Entertainer of the Year truly takes the touring aspect front and center as it used to, Garth can't lose. If you go across the board, Eric Church is pretty solid as well. His surprise album, huge tour, and revolving door of killer opening acts make him very deserving of this as well.
Who WILL Win: Well, Since this is Luke's only shot, he has to be the favorite. That being said, I can't see the ACM and CMA continuing to not give Eric Church much hardware as he shoots to the top, so he is my dark horse pick.
Well, there you have it. The show is probably going to be a train wreck, but there are chances for some nice moments. Keep tuned into Facebook and Twitter for my thoughts as the night progresses!