The 45th Annual CMA Awards, country music’s equivalent to the Grammys, will air Nov. 9 on ABC. The performance-packed show already has a number of potential water cooler moments, including Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill’s salute to Glen Campbell; Lionel Richie singing a number of his hits with top country artists (all of whom appear on his forthcoming country album); the past and present meeting in Blake Shelton and Kenny Loggins’ duet on “Footloose, ” and appearances by Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, American Idols’ Scotty McCreery, Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. No Gwyneth Paltrow repeat performance though.
In between the singing, they’ll give away a few awards. Here are my predictions for the winners. It’s a tough year with no clear front runner in many categories (I left out vocal group since Sugarland is a lock). Tune back here the night of the show as I’ll be blogging the proceedings live.
Single of the Year (award goes to artist and producer)
“A Little Bit Stronger,” Sara Evans
“Colder Weather,” Zac Brown Band
“Don’t You Wanna Stay,” Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
“Honey Bee,” Blake Shelton
“If I Die Young,” The Band Perry
“If I Die Young” has a lock on song of the year, but I don’t know if it has the same hold on single in this very competitive category. Plus, I don’t understand why “Dirt Road Anthem” isn’t on this list as it would be my winner. All the songs were huge hits and my favorite is “Colder Weather,” but probably only because it would have made a great James Taylor tune (loved his duet with ZBB on it, by the way). Shelton’s performance on the sweet, uncomplicated “Honey Bee” is classic country.
Winner: “Honey Bee,” Blake Shelton
Album of the Year
“All About Tonight,” Blake Shelton
“My Kinda Party,” Jason Aldean
“Speak Now,” Taylor Swift
“This Is Country Music,” Brad Paisley
“You Get What You Give,” Zac Brown Band
This is between “My Kinda Party,” which has stayed in the top 5 of the Billboard country albums chart for a full year and really marked Aldean’s breakthrough, and “Speak Now,” which started out incredibly strong (1 million its first week) and has still sold tremendously well. I don’t know if an artist on an indie label has ever won this award so Aldean may be the first to do so, however, we think Swift will prevail.
Winner: “Speak Now”
Song of the Year (award goes to songwriters)
“Colder Weather” (Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey and Coy Bowles)
“Dirt Road Anthem” (Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford)
“If I Die Young” (Kimberly Perry)
“Mean” (Taylor Swift)
“You And Tequila” (Matraca Berg and Deana Carter)
Nice batch of tunes and it’s nice to see some not so usual names here among the songwriters. “You and Tequila” is my personal favorite here, but there is no denying the impact that “If I Die Young” has had in terms of its poignancy and potency: “The sharp knife of a short life...”
Winner: “If I Die Young”