Much like the state of modern country music the 49th annual Academy of Country Music are somewhat of a joke, marred by controversy and shameless rule breaking. Trigger, from Saving Country Music, did an excellent job summing up Justin Moore’s erroneous nomination for New Artist of the Year and exposing the truth behind the ‘fan voting.’ I highly suggest reading these three articles before proceeding further:
Justin Moore Should Be Disqualified from ACM’s “New Artist”
ACM’s Respond to Justin Moore’s “New Artist” Ineligibility
Why The Best Fan Vote for the ACM’s Is No Vote At All
That being said, when the show airs this Sunday on CBS, it promises to be a fun night of modern country music. Here are the nominees. My Should Win / Will Win are predictions below:
Entertainer of the Year
It’s a solid list of deserving nominees who’ve all had a very big year in one-way or another.
Should Win: George Strait – he captured the CMA equivalent last fall in a surprise victory and continues to show all the ‘young guns’ how it’s done on his farewell Cowboy Rides Away Tour. He’s a legend, Country Music Hall of Famer, and the single most consistent artist and performer of the past thirty years. For him to lose would be an injustice.
Will Win: Blake Shelton or Luke Bryan – the show co-hosts are at the height of their popularity, with everything they touch turning to Gold. Bryan surprisingly won last year, so I’m betting Shelton will edge him out, and take home his first such trophy from the ACM. That is, if they don’t give the award to Strait.
Male Vocalist of the Year
I’ll say it again like I do every go-around. WHERE IS DIERKS BENTLEY? He’s a consistent chart topper and record seller and yet he never seems to edge his way into this category. I could understand if Jason Aldean and Lee Brice were superior vocalists, but they’re not. Seriously, what more does a guy have to do?
Should Win: Luke Bryan – his ear for selecting quality songs may need serious tuning, but he’s still far and away the best vocalist of this bunch. I’ve loved his tone since he debuted, now if he’d only record material to match it.
Will Win: Luke Bryan – Blake Shelton has won. The ACM will see that and give the award to Bryan, the biggest star in this bunch by a mile.
Female Vocalist of the Year
It’s always entertaining to see who’s going to fill out this category, in our modern era of females scoring less and less radio airplay. Only Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert deserve to be here, and Lambert is going to win. I can’t think of any other possibility where she’ll lose.
Vocal Duo of the Year
Isn’t it time the Duo and Group categories were combined? This list is the usual farce, with more than half of the nominees here just to fill it out. But that doesn’t matter anyways since Florida Georgia Line will win hands down.
Vocal Group of the Year
An interesting category in that there isn’t a clear winner. Little Big Town have gone without a major hit since early 2013, The Band Perry just can’t sustain adequate buzz with their sophomore album, and Zac Brown Band have all but vanished from public consciousness.
Should Win: Zac Brown Band – for the simple fact they’ve never won
Will Win: Eli Young Band – with insufficient buzz circling the other nominees, Mike Eli and the boys just may have enough momentum to claim the trophy. Plus, it feels like something the ACM, which is a little left of center from the CMA, would do
Should Win: With none showing signs they’ll rise beyond the ‘B-List’ there’s no clear nominee who really deserves this over the other two
Will Win: Justin Moore – the fans aren’t going to care if his nomination violates the rules. They’ll vote for him, the most recognizable name here, anyways.
Album of the Year
Besides the Musgraves album, this is a pretty generic and boring list of big selling albums.
Should Win: Same Trailer Different Park – far and away the only worthy album on this list
Will Win: Here For The Good Times – it remains to be seen if Blake will repeat his CMA victory, but I have a feeling FGL will take this. Their star power is just too big right now
Single Record of the Year
Do I even need to spell it out? “Cruise” is going to win. The End.
Song of the Year
The inclusion of Gary Alan and “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” gives this category a much-needed jolt of fresh energy. The rest are predicable and somewhat boring.
Should Win: “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Musgraves, Shane McAnally, and Brandy Clark – need I say more?
Will Win: “I Drive Your Truck” – the winner of the CMA will claim another victory here, too
Video of the Year
Finally, a category trying to be somewhat artistic even though none of these clips are classics.
Should Win: “Highway Don’t Care” – for the message of texting while driving so horrifyingly played out
Will Win: “Highway Don’t Care” – easily the most poignant clip of the bunch
Vocal Event of the Year
This is a lazy award with nominees (“Wagon Wheel???”) that hardly count as ’collaborations’ at all.
Should Win and Will Win: “We Were Us” – was it loud? Yes. But Lambert and Keith Urban’s duet was a fresh, catchy, and paired up two singers who’d never previously sung together. It’s everything this award was designed for.