CMA Awards ballot: Who should/will win?

USA TODAY - Newcomers made a strong showing among this year's nominees for the Country Music Association Awards, with Kacey Musgraves receiving six nominations and Florida Georgia Line four. Will the rookies dominate Wednesday's awards ceremony (ABC, 8 p.m. ET/PT), or will voters go with favorites like Taylor Swift and Blake Shelton? USA TODAY's Brian Mansfield assesses the field.


Jason Aldean

Luke Bryan

Blake Shelton

George Strait

Taylor Swift

Will/should win: Luke Bryan. Strong arguments exist for any of these five deserving the night's top honor. Barring a sentimental "entertainer of a lifetime" nod for George Strait, though, Bryan's momentum pushes him through this tough field.


Cruise, Florida Georgia Line

Highway Don't Care, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

Mama's Broken Heart, Miranda Lambert

Merry Go 'Round, Kacey Musgraves

Wagon Wheel, Darius Rucker

Will/should win: Florida Georgia Line. Cruise is the second most-downloaded country single ever, behind Lady Antebellum's Need You Now, and has broken chart records set by guys like Eddy Arnold and Hank Williams. Love it or hate it, it defined country this year.


Based On a True Story ..., Blake Shelton

Blown Away, Carrie Underwood

Red, Taylor Swift

Same Trailer, Different Park, Kacey Musgraves

Tornado, Little Big Town

Will/should win: Same Trailer, Different Park. Sales favor Swift's Red, but voters will stretch to consider it country. Instead, they'll reward the depth of songwriting on one of this year's best debuts in any genre.

SONG (award goes to songwriters)

I Drive Your Truck, Lee Brice (Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary)

Mama's Broken Heart, Miranda Lambert (Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves)

Merry Go 'Round, Kacey Musgraves (Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally)

Pontoon, Little Big Town (Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird and Barry Dean)

Wagon Wheel, Darius Rucker (Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor)

Will win: Wagon Wheel. If Kacey Musgraves, nominated for two songs, splits her votes, Darius Rucker's remake of the Old Crow Medicine Show favorite wins Bob Dylan a CMA award, 44 years after he recorded Nashville Skyline.

Should win: I Drive Your Truck. This is an unusually strong category, with each song representing a different strength of country music. The Lee Brice hit, though, combines two great country traditions — grief songs and truck songs — putting a fresh spin on both.


Kelly Clarkson

Miranda Lambert

Kacey Musgraves

Taylor Swift

Carrie Underwood

Will win: Kacey Musgraves. Voters can sometimes get a little overzealous handing out awards to promising newcomers, and this category is due a fresh face.

Should win: Carrie Underwood. In a rough year for women at country radio, Underwood has, ahem, blown away the competition.


Jason Aldean

Luke Bryan

Eric Church

Blake Shelton

Keith Urban

Will win: Luke Bryan. He takes this as a precursor to entertainer of the year.

Should win: Jason Aldean. He's not the best singer of the bunch — that's Blake Shelton or Keith Urban — but he deserves more than he has gotten from the CMA.


Eli Young Band

Lady Antebellum

Little Big Town

The Band Perry

Zac Brown Band

Will win: Little Big Town. Momentum from 2012, when the well-liked vocal quartet won this and top single, carries over into a second year.

Should win: Zac Brown Band. As popular as any other group in this category and probably a bigger live draw.


Big & Rich

Florida Georgia Line

Love and Theft


The Civil Wars

Thompson Square

Will/should win: Florida Georgia Line. As much fun as it'd be to see if a Civil Wars win could bring the estranged duo together again, this one's not even going to be close. If Florida Georgia Line walks away with just one trophy, it'll be this one.


Boys 'Round Here, Blake Shelton (featuring Pistol Annies)

Cruise, Florida Georgia Line (with Nelly)

Don't Rush, Kelly Clarkson (featuring Vince Gill)

Highway Don't Care, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

The Only Way I Know, Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church

Will/should win: Highway Don't Care. Great song + three superstars + two labels = easy win.


Sam Bush (mandolin)

Paul Franklin (steel guitar)

Dann Huff (guitar)

Brent Mason (guitar)

Mac McAnally (guitar)

Will win: Mac McAnally. He's won the past five years, though he appears on few albums other than Jimmy Buffett's and Kenny Chesney's. No reason to think 2013 will be any different.

Should win: Paul Franklin. Think George Strait has been on a lot of hits? This pedal-steel great has probably been on the radio more than any other nominees, in any category.


Blown Away, Carrie Underwood (directed by Randee St. Nicholas)

Boys 'Round Here, Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies

Downtown, Lady Antebellum

Highway Don't Care, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

Mama's Broken Heart, Miranda Lambert

Tornado, Little Big Town

Will/should win: Highway Don't Care. For its combination of sheer starpower, dramatic storytelling and shocking manner of re-contextualizing the song's lyrics.


Lee Brice

Brett Eldredge

Florida Georgia Line

Kip Moore

Kacey Musgraves

Will/should win: Kacey Musgraves. Florida Georgia Line may have put up bigger numbers, but this one will be about image. Pretty, witty and just slightly left-of-center, Musgraves is the kind of artist the Nashville industry likes to have representing the genre.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment