Conner's CRANKIN CMA Picks and Predictions

 Photo From Showbiz Junkies

Photo From Showbiz Junkies

It's time again for yet ANOTHER country music awards show. Does anyone else think it's kind of odd that country music is the only genre that hosts it's own awards show where only artists of that genre can be in the running? Is the genre fading out of relevancy with the pop culture surrounding award shows like the Grammys and Billboard Awards and is now fighting to remain relevant through all sorts of television appearances like CMA Awards, ACM Awards, CMA Christmas etc.? Or, is it just that country music is a genre that likes to party at any chance it can get? I think that sounds more likely. 

 Photo From Daily Mail

Photo From Daily Mail

The nominees for the 52nd Annual CMA Awards were announced to the world this week live from Luke Bryan's latest addition to Lower Broadway, Luke's 32 Bridge Kitchen + Drink. Also, I guess that's how you know you've made it in country music now, is to have a freaking bar on Lower Broadway. Anyways, the nominees were announced with few surprises. Of course, no women were nominated for the coveted Entertainer of the Year category (FREAKING REALLY CMA??? ARE YOU EVEN TRYING ANYMORE???). But for the most part, the nominees were about what you would expect. Read on to see the list of nominees, our predictions for what we think will take home the big win, and our personal picks for what we think SHOULD take home the big win.

 Photo From Now Playing Nashville

Photo From Now Playing Nashville

Musician of the Year:

Nashville has always been a town built on musicians. So to receive a nomination in this category is about as high of an honor as it get's. These may not be household names, but check the liner notes for just about any album that's come out in the past ten years and you'll see these names all over. These are the hired guns. The guys who have honed their craft so well, people ask them to come add something to a song and they lay down exactly what was needed in one take. These are the unsung heroes of the Nashville music industry, so I'm glad that the CMA's can take a second to honor them properly.

Jerry Douglas - Dobro

Paul Franklin - Steel Guitar

Dan Huff - Guitar

Mac McAnally - Guitar

Derek Wells - Guitar

Prediction: JERRY DOUGLAS - DOBRO

This guy is the real deal. I'm talking like the realest of deals. He's played on over 1600 albums in his lifetime and played with everyone from Ray Charles to Garth Brooks. He's a diverse player and a crucial piece of the Nashville music puzzle.

Personal Pick: MAC MCANALLY - GUITAR

Although I know Jerry Douglas would be a totally acceptable recipient of this award, part of me is rooting for Mac. The reason for this being, he's a longtime member of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band, and Jimmy Buffett is largely responsible for who I am today...

 Photo From ABC Action News

Photo From ABC Action News

Music Video of the Year:

"Babe" - Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift

"Cry Pretty" - Carrie Underwood

"Drunk Girl" - Chris Janson

"Marry Me" - Thomas Rhett

"Tequila" - Dan + Shay

Prediction: "BABE" - SUGARLAND FT. TAYLOR SWIFT

After a long hiatus of T-Sweezy from country music, and a longer hiatus of Sugarland from music at all, they joined forces to make a perfectly smooth summer pop song that is just as catchy as swine-flu. The music video looks to have about at least a million dollar budget and I think the folks over at CMA will do anything to keep Swifties in there circle. For these reasons, I think this will be the winner. 

Personal Pick: "DRUNK GIRL" - CHRIS JANSON

Chris Janson shut down Broadway to shoot the incredibly touching video for his song "Drunk Girl". I personally think this is one of the most important songs to hit country radio in a long time, and the music video only makes it more poignant. In my mind, it deserves all the accolades in the world.

 Photo From The Boot

Photo From The Boot

Musical Event of the Year:

"Burning Man" - Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne

"Dear Hate" - Marin Morris ft. Vince Gill

"Drowns the Whiskey" - Jason Aldean ft. Miranda Lambert

"Everything's Gonna Be Alright" - David Murphy & Kenny Chesney

"Meant to Be" - Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

Prediction: "DEAR HATE" - MAREN MORRIS FT. VINCE GILL

This has all the makings of award-winning material. You've got the blending of a classic country legend, and a new face on the scene who is sure to be on route to her own legendary status. On top of that, you've got a song about the importance of love at a time when the world needs it most. Need I say more?

Personal Pick: "BURNING MAN" - DIERKS BENTLEY FT. BROTHERS OSBORNE

All I can say is that this song straight up rocks. I've never gotten deep into Dierks Bentley's discography, but I've listened to this album multiple times, and this song is the fiery cornerstone that holds it all together. You've got Dierks slaying it with some of his best writing to date, and you've got some of the most ripping guitar solos in country music from one of country musics best guitar players, John Osborne. There aren't enough fire emojis in the world to describe how I feel about this crankin' tune.

 Photo From JRfm

Photo From JRfm

Song of the Year:

"Body Like a Back Road" - Sam Hunt

"Broken Halos" - Chris Stapleton

"Drowns the Whiskey" - Jason Aldean ft. Miranda Lambert

"Drunk Girl" - Chris Janson

"Tequila" Dan + Shay

Prediction: "TEQUILA" - DAN + SHAY

Since this song came out, it has been freaking TEARING UP the country music airwaves. It feels like everywhere you go this song is in the background. And you know what, I'm super okay with it. This song has been monumental for the duo, being the ballady hit that I think everyone was waiting for that would take them to the next level. And everyone in the country music world seems to looovvveee it.

Personal Pick: Also, "TEQUILA" - DAN + SHAY

Most of my personal picks differ from what I think will actually win the award, but this is one of the few times where the two will overlap. When I first heard this song, I really didn't think much of it. "Oh it's just the same over-used chord progression everyone uses when they need a country ballad". But this song is so much more than just the basic recycled crap that is so overplayed on country radio. The lyrics to this song are some of the most touching I've ever heard. When you see the title, "Tequila" you think it's gonna be a fun party song. But in reality, it's a heartbreak song that has personally hit me like very few country songs ever have. I truly hope that Dan + Shay will get the proper recognition come awards night for this incredibly special song.

 Photo From YouTube

Photo From YouTube

Album of the Year:

From A Room: Volume 2- Chris Stapleton

Golden Hour- Kacey Musgraves

Graffiti U- Keith Urban

Life Changes- Thomas Rhett

The Mountain- Dierks Bentley

Prediction: GRAFFITI U - KEITH URBAN

Now, there's a lot of heavy competition in this category so I'll explain why I think Keith Urban will win. First of all, I think that just being Keith Urban has a lot to do with it. He is always well-received and very loved around the country music award shows community. Secondly... Actually, no, that first things just about it!

Personal Pick: GOLDEN HOUR - KACEY MUSGRAVES

This isn't just my favorite country album of the year. It's not even just my favorite album of this year. When I first heard this record, I told everybody that it was the best album I had heard since 2016. I know that's not terribly long ago, but you also have to remember how much good music has come out between now and then. I think this album is perfect in every sense of the word. The lyrics, the music, the production, everything about it is so effortlessly flawless. I don't think it will win the big award sadly, just because of all the different sounds she's incorporated that are not so associated with country music. However, everyone needs to know that this album is an absolute masterpiece and belongs in a music fan of any genres record collection.

Special Shout Out: IAN FITCHUK

As previously mentioned in the "Musician of the Year" category, there are lots of unsung heroes in the business that may not be household names, but are equally as important to the music as the artists you know and love. Because of this, I just want to give a special shout out to a man that had his hands in not just one, but two of the "Album of the Year" nominees. Ian Fitchuk. Ian co-wrote and co-produced all of Kacey Musgraves's Golden Hour. On top of that, he laid down all of the bass tracks to Dierks Bentley's The Mountain, as well as most of the keyboard tracks. AND, ON TOP OF THAT, he's probably the nicest guy on the planet Earth. A few months ago, I was walking through the woods with some pals, and I had Ruston Kelly's "Asshole" playing from my phone speaker. Ian was walking with his kids and heard the tune and asked if he could take a picture of us to show to his friend "Rusty". We got to chatting and he told us that he had just done Kacey's record. I told him how much I appreciated the record and how important it was to me and we talked for at least 15 minutes. WHAT A FREAKING COOL GUY Y'ALL. Okay, sorry, my derailed train of thought is back on the tracks now, let's get back to the nominees.

 Photo From Billboard

Photo From Billboard

Vocal Group of the Year:

Lady Antebellum

LANCO

Little Big Town

Midland

Old Dominion

Prediction: LITTLE BIG TOWN

Little Big Town has been all over this year and playing with everybody. They started out taking Kacey Musgraves on the "Breakers" tour and now they just finished their run with Miranda Lambert on her "Bandwagon" tour. They've been killing it this year (as they do every year), the Academy always seems to love them, and I'm thinking this year is their year. 

Personal Pick: MIDLAND

Midland is one of my favorite new acts in the scene right now. Not only are they talented songwriters, musicians, and vocalists, but they just seem like they're the freaking coolest. They seem to be very self-aware of their place in the genre and they own the crap out of it. I'm pulling for these guys in hopes that one day, the four of us will be best friends.

 Photo From People Magazine

Photo From People Magazine

New Artist of the Year:

Lauren Alaina

Luke Combs

Chris Janson

Midland

Brett Young

Prediction: LUKE COMBS

Luke Combs has shaken the foundations of country music with his booming voice and his completely lovable personality. His debut album "This One's For You" killed it on the charts, earned him a couple hit singles, and also led to his INCREDIBLE CMA collaboration with soul artist, Leon Bridges. Luke has entered the scene in such a hard and fast way, and he seems to be connecting with people all around every step of the way. I'm thinking he might just be this years fresh pick!

Personal Pick: Also, LUKE COMBS

As I said before, there aren't many categories where my personal pick is also the one I think will win, but come on how can you not be pulling for this guy? He's got such a relatable American story. He was just a kid, posting cover videos on YouTube from his dorm room in App State, and now look at where he's come. Not to mention the fact that his voice is just WOW. 

 Photo From Country Fancast

Photo From Country Fancast

Vocal Duo of the Year:

Brothers Osborne

Dan + Shay

Florida Georgia Line

Maddie & Tae

Sugarland

Prediction: SUGARLAND

With Sugarland's hiatus and then grand return to the country music community, I think that the CMA's will definitely be buttering em up to stick around with a win in this category. Plus, they had one of the biggest hits of the summer with T-Sweezy and an album that as far as I heard was, "not the worst".

Personal Pick: BROTHERS OSBORNE

I will say, I'm a little disappointed that these guys didn't get a couple more nominations in a couple more places. I thought that Port Saint Joedefinitely was worthy of an "Album of the Year" nod, and I would have even put "Whiskey, Weed, and Willie" on my list for "Song of the Year" (but of course the CMA community could never have such an edgy title in the running). Needless to say, I think that they have proven themselves to be quite impressive in the country music community, and I can't wait for the community to catch up and realize it.

 Photo From OK! Magazine

Photo From OK! Magazine

Male Vocalist of the Year:

Dierks Bentley

Luke Combs

Thomas Rhett

Chris Stapleton

Keith Urban

Prediction: CHRIS STAPLETON

Alright y'all, I'm just gonna say this. If we're going on vocal talent alone for this category, there is no one else who should win this award until someone better comes along. Period. Will that day ever come? WHO KNOWS??

Personal Pick: Also, CHRIS STAPLETON

Duh, y'all.

 Photo From Brooklyn Vegan

Photo From Brooklyn Vegan

Female Vocalist of the Year:

Kelsea Ballerini

Miranda Lambert

Maren Morris

Kacey Musgraves

Carrie Underwood

Prediction: CARRIE UNDERWOOD

After being hidden from the public eye for months following a nasty fall, Carrie Underwood came back into the public eye swinging. "Cry Pretty" came out as a single just a couple months ago, and it blew peoples minds across the world, including mine. The full album will be coming out closer to the airing of the CMA's and on top of that, Carrie's PREGNANT. And on top of THAT, she's also co-hosting with Brad Paisley for the 11th time. Everything just seems right for her to be taking home this award.

Personal Pick: KACEY MUSGRAVES

Not only was Kacey's album my favorite, but I also think she has one of the most incredible voices to ever grace a microphone. It's just so different from all of the other female country singers out there, it stands out to me in a big way. If she could sing me lullabies every night before I went to sleep, I'm quite certain I would never have a nightmare again. 

 Photo From The Fillmore

Photo From The Fillmore

Single of the Year:

"Broken Halos" - Chris Stapleton

"Drinkin' Problem" - Midland

"Drowns the Whiskey" - Jason Aldean ft. Miranda Lambert

"Meant to Be" - Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

"Tequila" - Dan + Shay

Prediction: "DROWNS THE WHISKEY" - JASON ALDEAN FT. MIRANDA LAMBERT

This is probably the category that I'm most unsure of my prediction in, but just for the shear sake of star-power, I feel like this one might take it home. It's catchy, it's SUPER thematically country, and it combines arguably the two most famous male and female country artists in the game right now. That all sounds like it would make sense, right?

Personal Pick: "TEQUILA" - DAN + SHAY

Refer back to the "Song of the Year" category to refresh on why this song freaking bumps.

 Photo From Sounds Like Nashville

Photo From Sounds Like Nashville

Entertainer of the Year:

Jason Aldean

Luke Bryan

Kenny Chesney

Chris Stapleton

Keith Urban

Prediction: KEITH URBAN

As I mentioned previously, the CMA peeps seem to love Keith. It makes sense though, he's had a super big year. Graffiti Uwas a pretty big album with an even bigger tour. On the tour, he proved himself as a true entertainer, playing around two and a half hours every night. He played songs everyone could sing back at him while still throwing in some deep cuts for the true blue fans.

Personal Pick: KENNY CHESNEY

I don't know why I don't think he'll win over Keith in this category, but something just tells me that he won't and another something tells me that Kenny is truly the one who deserves it. He put out his Songs for the Saints album this year, and donated all of the profits to Hurricane relief efforts in the islands. That's a true entertainer to me. Someone who uses their power in this business to help out people that need it. Additionally, he has literally been FILLING stadiums all around the world on his latest tour. In my mind, Kenny no doubt deserves all the accolades in this category.

 Photo From The Boot

Photo From The Boot

The fun thing about predictions is that I am often wrong. Actually, I would say when it comes to guessing, I am more often wrong than not. Make sure to tune in live November 14th at 7pm central to watch the awards and see how I did with my predictions! I'm sure y'alls creative minds can think up a great drinking game to go along with it...

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Conner Fersner