Last week we revealed our predictions for Sunday’s ACM Awards ceremony. Now we’ll let you know who we’d actually like to win. We had a number of unanimous predictions, mainly relating to Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, but we’re a bit more divided when it comes to our personal choices.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Brad Paisley: J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope, Meg
George Strait: Razor X
Zac Brown Band
J.R.: I think Brad is about 3 years overdue for an Entertainer of the Year win. He’s one of the best we’ve got.
OH: He apparently puts on a great live show, has a good image, is a popular choice to co-host awards shows himself, and it’s his turn. Actually, as J.R. says, it’s been his turn for a while, and he keeps getting overlooked. Now his commercial star seems to be waning a bit, I hope he doesn’t miss the boat on this award at one of the major awards shows. It’s a shame this category is fan-voted.
Meg: Top tour, great sales & #1s, appearances everywhere – Brad’s been working hard and deserves this.
Razor: This is a pretty underwhelming list of nominees. I don’t think the Zac Brown Band has risen to the level yet where they can be taken seriously as contenders for this award – and the veterans who usually get nominated (Chesney, Urban, Keith, and Paisley) haven’t done anything that spectacular in the past year. For that reason, I’m picking my favorite from this list of entertainers as the person to whom I’d like to see this award given.
TOP MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Brad Paisley: J.R., Meg
George Strait: Occasional Hope, Razor X
Razor: Again, I’m going strictly by personal preference. Strait is the only really decent singer in this group of otherwise weak vocalists.
OH: He’s the best singer of these guys and has the best current album release.
TOP FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Reba McEntire: J.R., Meg, Razor X
Lee Ann Womack: Occasional Hope
Razor: She is simply the best in this group of nominees, and against the odds, has had a resurgence at radio in the past year.
J.R.: Who else would I pick? She did have a great album which was just certified gold and recently released the longest-running chart-topper of her 33 year career and is currently part of the hottest country music ticket on the road right now. This is Reba’s 14th nomination with 7 wins in this category in the past 25 years. That’s impressive.
Meg: She’s had a great year with a super single in ‘Consider Me Gone’ at #1 for 4 weeks, a gold album, and arguably has the best vocals and interpretation out there.
OH: I love her voice the most of the nominees, and although flawed I liked her album the most. I hope her new album is better than the lead single though.
TOP VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Lady Antebellum: Razor X
Little Big Town
Randy Rogers Band
Zac Brown Band: J.R., Meg, Occasional Hope
Razor X: This is yet another set of weak nominees. I’ve been distinctly underwhelmed by Lady A’s choice of material but I really can’t criticize their vocal ability.
J.R.: I am a big fan of Lady A, but neither of their albums have impressed me as much as the ZBB’s debut. Strong musicianship, clever songwriting, and a decidedly neo-traditional sound makes the band one of my favorite current mainstream acts.
OH: I’ve really warmed to this group lately, and their current single ‘Highway 20 Ride’ is one of the best things around at the moment.
Meg: Consistently topping the chart, musical talent, good writers, great entertainers and true to their country roots in sound and style. I really enjoyed their CMT Crossroads with Jimmy Buffett.
TOP VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Brooks & Dunn
Joey + Rory: Occasional Hope, Razor X
Sugarland: J.R., Meg
OH: I’d vote for Sugarland but I really haven’t cared for any of the singles from Love On The Inside. But I just love Joey + Rory’s music, even though it hasn’t had much radio play and they have zero chance of winning in real life.
Razor: They managed to actually make music that sounds fresh and inspired and not a rehash of 80s pop/rock. The same can’t be said for any of the other nominees in this category.
TOP NEW ARTIST
Luke Bryan: Meg
Joey + Rory: J.R., Occasional Hope
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
American Saturday Night — Brad Paisley (produced by Chris DuBois and Frank Rogers)
Lady Antebellum — Lady Antebellum (produced by Victoria Shaw and Paul Worley)
Play On — Carrie Underwood (produced by Mark Bright)
Revolution — Miranda Lambert (produced by Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke): J.R., Occasional Hope, Razor X
The Foundation — Zac Brown Band (produced by Keith Stegall and Zac Brown)
J.R.: It’s not the major step forward that it’s been hailed as, not to me anyway, but Miranda Lambert’s latest is a mighty fine collection with a handful of truly extraordinary tracks.
OH: None of these records was perfect. I’m going to pick Miranda’s, despite my reservations about the overwhelming production/sound, just as the strongest collection of songs. Paisley’s was pleasant enough but had some of his least interesting material; the Zac Brown Band is fun and interesting but a bit hit and miss for me, but they’d be my second choice. Lady A is polished but dull (and not very country sounding).
Razor: I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t heard any of these albums all the way through, but I’ve at least liked what I’ve heard from Miranda’s album enough to download a few tracks.
SINGLE RECORD OF THE YEAR
‘Need You Now’ — Lady Antebellum (produced by Lady Antebellum and Paul Worley): J.R., Occasional Hope
‘People Are Crazy’ — Billy Currington (produced by Carson Chamberlain and Billy Currington)
‘Red Light’ — David Nail (produced by Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke)
‘Toes’ — Zac Brown Band (produced by Keith Stegall and Zac Brown)
‘White Liar’ — Miranda Lambert (produced by Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke): Meg, Razor X
J.R.: Not much competition for the trio in this race, and their song is head and shoulders above the rest.
OH: The only song of theirs I’ve really liked.
Meg: ‘White Liar’ would be my pick at this point. It’s a great story song, edgy country with great production, and Miranda sings the tar out of it! Being her first #1 helps too!
Razor: A standout in an otherwise lackluster group of nominees.
SONG OF THE YEAR
‘Cowboy Casanova’ — Carrie Underwood; composers: Mike Elizondo, Brett James, Carrie Underwood
‘Need You Now’ — Lady Antebellum; composers: Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott: J.R., Occasional Hope
‘People Are Crazy’ — Billy Currington; composers: Bobby Braddock, Troy Jones
‘White Liar’ — Miranda Lambert; composers: Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert: Meg, Razor X
‘You Belong With Me’ — Taylor Swift; composers: Liz Rose, Taylor Swift
J.R.: I have a hard time believing these are the five best songs written and released in Music City last year, but among my choices, I’ll go with Lady Antebellum’s smash hit again.
OH: The only well written song to be nominated, this is a no-brainer choice.
Meg: For all the reasons above, plus that wonderful twist at the end!
Rob: The only artist and the only song in this category that I can truly say that I like.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
‘Boots On’ – Randy Houser: J.R.
‘Need You Now’ – Lady Antebellum
‘Welcome To The Future’ – Brad Paisley
‘White Liar’ – Miranda Lambert: Razor X
‘You Belong With Me’ – Taylor Swift
Razor: This is a very entertaining video with a cameo appearance by Jamey Johnson.
VOCAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
‘Hillbilly Bone’ — Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins (produced by Scott Hendricks)
‘Honky Tonk Stomp’ — Brooks & Dunn featuring Billy Gibbons (produced by Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride)
‘I Told You So’ — Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis (produced by Mark Bright): Meg, Occasional Hope, Razor X
‘I’m Alive’ — Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews (produced by Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney)
‘Seeing Stars’ — Jack Ingram featuring Patty Griffin (produced by Jack Ingram and Jeremy Stover): J.R.
Meg: This does seem old to be in this category but musically it’s my favorite of the bunch. Great song and nice nod to Randy to have him on it.
OH: I’m not sure it quite works as a duet, but it would be nice to see Randy win another award.
Razor: I’m not a big fan of Underwood’s interpretation of this song, but it’s at least tolerable, while nothing else in this category is.
Who are your favorite nominees? Who would you vote for if you had the chance?