• 2017 CMA Awards Picks and Predictions

    Welcome to The Shotgun Seat’s 2017 CMA picks and predictions! Contributing this year are Annie Dineen, Markus Meyer, Natalie Schumann, and Lydia Simonetti. It looks to be an interesting show, and we hope you enjoy it, and our selections! The awards take place Wednesday, November 8th at 5:00 PST. Without further ado, here are our predictions!

    Entertainer of the Year

    Will win:

    Garth Brooks

    Keith Urban

    Chris Stapleton

    Luke Bryan – Markus Meyer

    Eric Church – Natalie Schumann, Lydia Simonetti, Annie Dineen

    Should win:

    Garth Brooks

    Keith Urban

    Chris Stapleton

    Luke Bryan

    Eric Church – Markus Meyer, Natalie Schumann, Lydia Simonetti, Annie Dineen

    Markus: A bit of a ‘meh’ category this year. Church and Stapleton continue to put out dynamite material though, and I think Church has a legit shot. I think they’ll play it safe and go Bryan, though.

    Natalie: Eric Church spent the year playing Springsteen-length shows night after night – he deserves it more than anyone in this category (although I wouldn’t be upset if Stapleton nabs it, after his stellar year of touring).

    Lydia: If Eric Church doesn’t win EOTY after his 62 show tour, with no openers and playing 2+ hours per night in sold out venues he may never win.  If anyone wins over performances like that I give up all hope!

    Annie: Agreed with the above! Eric Church had an absolutely insane year – if he doesn’t take it home, I’m not sure what it’d take from another artist to displace a usual EOTY like Luke.

    Male Vocalist of the Year

    Will win:

    Dierks Bentley

    Chris Stapleton – MM, NS, AD

    Thomas Rhett – LS

    Eric Church

    Keith Urban

    Should win:

    Dierks Bentley

    Chris Stapleton – MM, NS, LS, AD

    Thomas Rhett

    Eric Church

    Keith Urban

    Markus: Stapleton’s album is so, so good, and that alone probably wins in a category where pretty much every other artist is between albums.

    Natalie: Stapleton could win this solely from the remnants of the “Tennessee Whiskey” craze, but all voters need to do is look up a video of “Sometimes I Cry” from one of his tour stops. He’s the real deal.

    Lydia: Although I completely agree that Stapleton should win based on his talent, I still think this will go to Thomas Rhett.  His ‘Life Changes’ album is seeing huge success and he’s so popular with the more modern country music fan I think he will take it.

    Annie: I feel a little strange saying it, but I feel like it’s hard to bet against Stapleton here. He’s proven himself to be an insane talent changing the tone of the genre, and his newest releases only reinforce that.

    Female Vocalist of the Year

    Will win:

    Kelsea Ballerini

    Miranda Lambert – MM, NS, LS, AD

    Carrie Underwood

    Maren Morris

    Reba McEntire

    Should win:

    Kelsea Ballerini

    Miranda Lambert – MM, LS, AD

    Carrie Underwood

    Maren Morris – NS

    Reba McEntire

    Markus: Listen, I’ve made fun of Lambert’s excessive and undeserved victories here a lot over the years, but she deserves it this year. The Weight of These Wings is some of the most amazing music produced in the past year. Maybe Underwood, Morris, or Ballerini sneaks a win, but I doubt it.

    Natalie: Lambert has this one in the bag, but if I’m playing devil’s advocate I’d argue that Maren Morris has had a buzzier, more exciting climb to the top this year and has serious vocal chops to back her “My Church” fame.

    Lydia:  Miranda has to win this one. I’m a big fan of Maren and wouldn’t be completely disappointed if she takes it home but I’m hopeful Lambert will be recognized for the solid body of work ‘The Weight of These Wings’ is.  

    Annie: The Weight of These Wings was incredible, hands down. A lot of these other artists have had strong and buzzy years, but I don’t think there’s any beating Miranda here.

    Vocal Group of the Year

    Will win:

    Little Big Town – MM, NS

    Zac Brown Band

    Lady Antebellum – LS

    Old Dominion – AD

    Rascal Flatts

    Should win:

    Little Big Town – MM, NS

    Zac Brown Band

    Lady Antebellum – LS

    Old Dominion – AD

    Rascal Flatts

    Markus: Little Big Town dominates this category when they almost literally do nothing. Have a hard time seeing them not do so in a successful year, though maybe a resurgent Lady A or Old Dominion pull it off.

    Natalie: (Retweet, Markus.) This is Little Big Town’s to lose, and with a fresh album I think they’ll have no trouble notching another win, although Old Dominion has been on the rise and could pull off an underdog win.

    Lydia: I’m thinking Lady A will come home with this win.  They put out a very solid album after a long break filled with solo projects and major life changes. To have come back as strong or dare I say stronger than before should be recognized.  

    Annie: I’m not sure I’d pick Old Dominion with a ton of confidence here, but with a buzzy new album and an absolutely rabid fan base thanks to strong opening slots like the Kenny Chesney tour, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they might have a chance at stealing the show here.

    Vocal Duo of the Year

    Will win:

    Florida Georgia Line LS, AD

    Brothers Osborne – MM, NS

    Maddie & Tae

    LoCash

    Dan + Shay

    Should win:

    Florida Georgia Line

    Brothers Osborne – NS, LS, AD

    Maddie & Tae

    LOCASH

    Dan + Shay – MM

    Markus: No one here except Dan + Shay has released an album in the past year, and honestly, I thought it was pretty good, so I guess they get my vote. Back to lukewarm Vocal Duo candidates though, so I guess this is a two horse race between Florida Georgia Line and Brothers Osborne. I’ll give the latter the edge, as they seem to have some momentum in these things.

    Natalie: Brothers Osborne rock my socks and put on a hell of a live show, so they get my vote, but FGL has had a big touring year and could steal the trophy.

    Lydia:  Maddie & Tae??  I think I said this last year too??!!  I digress, Brothers Osborne are IMO the most deserving however,  I think that Florida Georgia Line is going to win.  

    Annie: I’m not mad at Florida Georgia Line, who I expect to take the cake here. I’d love to see Bros. Osborne or Dan + Shay awarded here, but I don’t find it likely.

    New Artist of the Year

    Will win:

    Lauren Alaina

    Brett Young – NS, LS, AD

    Jon Pardi – MM

    Old Dominion

    Luke Combs

    Should win:

    Lauren Alaina

    Brett Young – NS, LS, AD

    Jon Pardi – MM

    Old Dominion

    Luke Combs

    Markus: Pretty decent category, outside of Old Dominion (and even they had a really strong hit single), and while I’m not huge on Alaina, I get the appeal and see the obvious talent. Could go to any of the five really, though Pardi’s nominated a few times at the show so I think he has an edge.

    Natalie: Pardi, Alaina and Old Dominion have all been around the block before and are only just now making hits. Brett Young is truly a new artist, and with his debut #1’s and vocal talent to match, he totally deserves this one. (Luke Combs could give him a run for his money, which would be fine with me.)

    Lydia: I could go for Brett Young or Luke Combs.  My vote goes to Young primarily because he has such a huge following already and is a crowd favorite.  I totally agree with Natalie in that Pardi, Alaina and OD have all been there before and not truly “new artists”.  I’d be happy with either Young or Combs, both solid contenders.  This one will be fun to watch!  

    Annie: Young and Combs have skyrocketed this year. Brett was the first country artist to go Platinum at all this year (he’s now double Platinum) and has notched an insane amount of accolades with his debut project. The latter can be said of Combs as well, but I think Young will edge him out here.

    Album of the Year

    Will win:

    The Breaker, Little Big Town –LS

    From a Room: Volume 1, Chris Stapleton – MM

    The Nashville Sound, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

    The Weight of These Wings, Miranda Lambert – NS, AD

    Heart Break, Lady Antebellum

    Should win:

    The Breaker, Little Big Town

    From a Room: Volume 1, Chris Stapleton

    The Nashville Sound, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – MM

    The Weight of These Wings, Miranda Lambert – NS,  LS, AD

    Heart Break, Lady Antebellum

    Markus: Man, what a category. To be completely honest I haven’t heard Lady A’s yet, but the other four are total homeruns. Isbell’s is probably my favorite by a slight margin, but this is probably Lambert vs Stapleton, and my gut says slight advantage Chris.

    Natalie: They’ve got their work cut out for them. It pains me to give this one to Lambert over Isbell or Stapleton (because, of course, I worship the ground Dave Cobb walks on), but she put together a truly stellar collection of songs that effectively detailed her emotional journey over the past few years while remaining relatable and artistic – never cliche or immature.

    Lydia:  Truly think Miranda Lambert should win this category.  While I really have enjoyed both  The Breaker and Heart Break very much, The Weight of These Wings truly is as Natalie said “a stellar collection of songs that effectively detailed her emotional journey over the past few years while remaining relatable and artistic – never cliche or immature.” (Couldn’t have said it better Natalie)

    Annie: What they said. Do we have to pick just one?

    Single of the Year

    Will win:

    “Dirt On My Boots” by Jon Pardi

    “Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert

    “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt – MM , NS, LS, AD

    “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban

    “Better Man” by Little Big Town

    Should win:

    “Dirt On My Boots” by Jon Pardi

    “Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert – AD

    “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt – NS

    “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban

    “Better Man” by Little Big Town – MM, LS

    Markus: “Tin Man” and “Better Man” rock. The others… Not as much. LBT’s is the perfect mix of artistic excellence and commercial success so I think it would be a good winner. Unfortunately, this probably goes to Hunt’s abomination.

    Natalie: When I think “Single” I think radio success, so Sam Hunt takes the cake with this one. As insane as it may sound given the song’s ridiculous lyrics, I think his ability to take a (barely) country song and dominate mainstream country AND pop radio (a la Taylor Swift, circa 2008) is something that deserves to be recognized.

    Lydia: Honestly, it’s a close tie for me between who will win.  I could see both Pardi and Hunt winning this.  I think Sam Hunt’s popularity is so much greater that he prevail.  If I was voting,  the winner would be hands down “Better Man”.  It’s such

    Annie: I LOVE Tin Man. LOVE. What a creative and strong song, powerfully expressed. On the other hand, how can you deny Sam Hunt for his insane success with Body Like A Backroad, which has cemented him as much more than a country star (and, frequently, makes you forget which station you’re listening to).

    Song of the Year

    Will win:

    “Dirt On My Boots” by Jon Pardi

    “Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert

    “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt

    “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban – NS

    “Better Man” by Little Big Town – MM, AD, LS

    Should win:

    “Dirt On My Boots” by Jon Pardi

    “Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert – MM, NS, AD, LS

    “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt

    “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban

    “Better Man” by Little Big Town

    Markus: What a bad group of lyrical compositions for a Song of the Year category. Lambert and LBT are the only remotely worthy winners here, and I think/hope voters will make the right choice.

    Natalie: Totally playing devil’s advocate here, but I could see Urban pulling out a win given the unexpected success and critical acclaim he’s received for “Blue” – a song I personally would rather not hear again ever in my entire life. Lyrically speaking, Lambert (and Jon Randall, Jack Ingram) should win with absolutely flying colors, but I’d also be happy to see Taylor Swift/LBT take it for “Better Man.”

    Annie: Am I the only one who didn’t like “Better Man”? I won’t copy and paste my statements about “Tin Man” from above, but all the heart eyes for that one.  

    Lydia: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE “Tin Man”!!  Did I say I love “Tin Man”??? I’m really hoping it pulls through this one.  “Better Man” and “Blue Ain’t Your Color” both are the front runners I think due to all of the radio success they’ve both had.  The fact that Taylor Swift wrote “Better Man” gives it the best chance to win I think.  

    Musical Event of the Year

    Will win:

    “Craving You” by Thomas Rhett feat. Maren Morris – NS, LS

    “Funny How Time Slips Away” by Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson

    “Kill a Word” by Eric Church feat. Rhiannon Giddens – AD

    “Setting the World on Fire” by Kenny Chesney with P!nk – MM

    “Speak to a Girl” by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

    Should win:

    “Craving You” by Thomas Rhett feat. Maren Morris

    “Funny How Time Slips Away” by Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson

    “Kill a Word” by Eric Church feat. Rhiannon Giddens – MM, NS, AD, LS

    “Setting the World on Fire” by Kenny Chesney with P!nk

    “Speak to a Girl” by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

    Markus: Always have a hard time getting worked up about this category, but I love Church’s and Giddens’ song so I hope they get it. I think it goes to Chesney’s commercial powerhouse though, which is decent enough in its own right, I suppose.

    Natalie: Morris and Rhett are so hot right now, I find it hard to believe they’d give it to anyone else, but deep down I’d love to see Eric Church take it for such a poignant and tasteful song.

    Annie: I agree with Markus on this one, but I’m hoping to will it into being by saying Church will take this.

    Lydia: Ugh, I might shed a tear if “Kill a Word” doesn’t win this!  I know it winning is a total long shot, I just think it’s such a powerful song and performance.  I don’t think the commercial success of the Rhett/Morris combo can be beat here though.  

    Music Video of the Year

    Will win:

    “Better Man” by Little Big Town

    “Blue Ain’t Your Colour” by Keith Urban

    “Vice” by Miranda Lambert – NS, AD

    “It Ain’t My Fault” by Brothers Osborne – MM

    “Craving You” by Thomas Rhett feat. Maren Morris – LS

    Should win:

    “Better Man” by Little Big Town

    “Blue Ain’t Your Colour” by Keith Urban

    “Vice” by Miranda Lambert – AD

    “It Ain’t My Fault” by Brothers Osborne – MM, NS, LS

    “Craving You” by Thomas Rhett feat. Maren Morris

    Markus: Totally admit to not really caring about videos and not really having anything invested in these nominees, but Brothers Osborne’s amused me so I think they should win.

    Natalie: Personally not invested in this category, but given the CMA’s affinity for all things Miranda Lambert, she could probably win here.

    Annie: Lord, I don’t know. Voting Miranda here because in “Vice” she paid for a drink with an earring.

    Lydia: I agree with Markus here, not really a huge fan of the video aspect however I have to pull for Brothers Osborne here because it was at least entertaining.