Tim McGraw is the leading nominee for the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, with seven nods, but he may be going home empty handed on Sunday night. Below are my predictions in the main categories for the April 6 ceremony, which airs on CBS live EDT starting at 8 p.m.
SHOULD WIN: George Strait. Even though some will consider it a sentimental win, he’s still selling out arenas and going out at the top of his game.
WILL WIN: Blake Shelton
Male Vocalist of the Year
SHOULD WIN: It’s a bit of a strange category: Where’s Brad Paisley? Where’s Eric Church? Of this group, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban are the stand out vocalists, with Shelton winning by a nose.
WILL WIN: Blake Shelton
Female Vocalist of the Year
SHOULD WIN: If we’re going solely by voices— and it is a vocalist award— Carrie Underwood, but she seems to have fallen out of favor with voters the last few years.
WILL WIN: Miranda Lambert
Vocal Duo of the Year
Big & Rich
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Love and Theft
SHOULD WIN: Florida Georgia Line. No one else has come close to their success this year. Perennially a weak category, Thompson Square is the other duo that could give them a run for their money
WILL WIN: Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Group of the Year
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
SHOULD WIN: The year’s strongest category, this is a toss up between The Band Perry and Little Big Town and Lady A (although Lady A was dormant for much of the time)
WILL WIN: The Band Perry
Album of the Year
Blake Shelton, ‘Based on a True Story…’ L
uke Bryan, ‘Crash My Party’
Florida Georgia Line, ‘Here’s to the Good Times’
Kacey Musgraves, ‘Same Trailer Different Park’
Tim McGraw, ‘Two Lanes of Freedom’
SHOULD WIN: Kacey Musgraves. “Trailer” is the strongest, most consistent album of the bunch.
WILL WIN: Blake Shelton, “Based on a True Story…”
Single Record of the Year
Florida Georgia Line, ‘Cruise’
Tim McGraw (Feat. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban), ‘Highway Don’t Care’
Lee Brice, ‘I Drive Your Truck’
Miranda Lambert, ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’
Darius Rucker (Feat. Lady Antebellum), ‘Wagon Wheel’
SHOULD WIN: The best written song of the bunch is “I Drive Your Truck” (although this is not a songwriters’ award), and the funnest song in the bunch is “Mama’s Broken Heart,” it’s really a tie.
WILL WIN: “Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line. It was simply unstoppable last year.