The Shotgun Seat 2018 ACM Picks and Predictions

Welcome to The Shotgun Seat’s 2018 ACM Awards picks and predictions post! Four of our writers – Markus Meyer, Lydia Simonetti, Amanda Walsh and Colin Buchinski – will offer their thoughts on this year’s slate of nominees, and what they’re expecting out of the show. Be sure to check it all out for yourself at 7:00 PM Central!

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

Should win:

Jason Aldean  

Garth Brooks

Luke Bryan   – Lydia Simonetti, Colin Buchinski

Chris Stapleton – Markus Meyer

Keith Urban  – Amanda Walsh

Will win:

Jason Aldean  

Garth Brooks – Markus Meyer, Lydia Simonetti, Colin Buchinski

Luke Bryan – Amanda Walsh

Chris Stapleton   

Keith Urban   

Markus: Honestly not the best category this year. I’m rooting for a Stapleton win but my gut says they’ll go Garth. No easy favorite in my mind. Of course, the actual winner should be Eric Church.

Lydia: Luke Bryan always puts on an entertaining show complete with his signature “booty shaking” moves and his very likable personality.  I completely agree with Markus, the hands-down winner should be Eric Church.

Amanda: It’s hard to be upset if Garth wins because he’s Garth and he more than deserved the win. Hell, he deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award already! However, it’s also hard to say none of the nominees deserve to be in this category because they’re all EXCELLENT performers! With that said, though, we definitely need new blood in there and some female nominees because they’re just as worthy. And then, of course, there’s the always elephant in the room, which is why the hell has Church not been nominated or won yet?!

Colin: Eric Church opened for himself.. with a full set, enough said.

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR

Should win:

Kelsea Ballerini   – AW

Miranda Lambert  – LS, MM, CB

Reba McEntire   

Maren Morris – AW

Carrie Underwood   

Will win:

Kelsea Ballerini   

Miranda Lambert – MM, CB, AW

Reba McEntire   

Maren Morris – LS

Carrie Underwood   

Markus: I guess Miranda should win on the strength of “Tin Man”, though it would be nice to see Maren Morris or even Ballerini win (though I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the latter’s). I would have also liked to see some younger talent (Ell, Alaina) showcased.

Lydia: I just love the way Miranda’s voice and lyrics ooze authenticity.  I’m also a fan of Maren’s but IMO Miranda is more of the standout.

Amanda: I think Morris and Ballerini are both worthy of winning this award and one of them should. I’m sick of Miranda winning every year, even though “Tin Man” is an excellent song. But again, why are these the only nominees when we have someone like Lindsay Ell who had the #1 album! As a new artist and a female, she is KILLING it out on tour and with her album going number one and now with “Criminal” #1 at Canadian Country radio… It’s like, does the board of people voting for the ACMs not pay attention to any of that stuff at all?

Colin: I’ve been a little bit annoyed over the years at Miranda constantly winning female vocalist of the year and other females in the genre not getting recognition, but this year Miranda truly deserves the award. The Weight Of These Wings was an ambitious project that absolutely showcased her great vocal talent.

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR

Should win:

Jason Aldean

Chris Stapleton – LS, MM, CB

Thomas Rhett

Keith Urban – AW

Chris Young

Will win:

Jason Aldean

Chris Stapleton – CB, AW

Thomas Rhett – LS, MM

Keith Urban

Chris Young

Lydia:  How can you even compare Chris Stapleton to most anyone else?  He’s one of a kind. However, it’s a tough feat to beat the commercial success of Thomas Rhett which is why I believe he will win this category.  

Markus: I think Stapleton should win this going away, and he just might, but Rhett is white hot these days. I think he’ll take it home in was is essentially a two-horse race. Also interesting that Young gets a nod here.

Amanda – This is another tough one! They’re all worthy and I know The Highway is rooting for Chris Young as the underdog, and I get why. Hasn’t Stapleton won this award so many times already? Not that he doesn’t deserve it, but I feel like he’s turning into another Miranda. I know I voted for Urban, but I wouldn’t be upset if Thomas Rhett won this either. He really has come a long way and works his butt off. But again, wouldn’t mind seeing some fresh new blood in place of Aldean, Stapleton and even Urban.

Colin – Stapleton is far and away the best vocalist of this group and I predict he will win again this year despite maybe not having as much commercial success as a guy like Rhett.

VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR

Should win:

Brothers Osborne  – LS, MM, AW, CB

Dan + Shay   

Florida Georgia Line   

LOCASH   

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill   

Will win:

Brothers Osborne  – MM, CB

Dan + Shay   

Florida Georgia Line   – AW

LOCASH   

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill   – LS

Lydia:  Come on, how great are Brothers Osborne?  From their unique vocals and live in the moment spirit,  which are always prominently on display, I can’t think of a more deserving duo.  Would love to see them continue to be recognized for being out of the box. With that said, I do think Tim & Faith will take this one.  They have stolen the hearts of most country music fans and their “Soul2Soul World Tour” has only taken it to another level.

Markus: As per usual I have a hard time getting worked up about this category. I think Bros. Os. takes it home again, as FGL seems to have fallen out of the good books to an extent, though who knows, really.

Amanda: This is a tough one to get excited about. Brothers Osborne deserve it, but it’s hard to be disappointed if Tim & Faith or Dan + Shay win. I think even though they’re likely to win, it’s time to replace FGL with some fresh blood as well. I’d like to see Sugarland nominated again and then the newer duos as well.

Colin: I feel like this was kind of a down year for most in this category. I’m going to guess that Brothers Osborne wins this award again. I’m excited for new music from them. I will also use this spot to say that I really hope to see Maddie and Tae back in this category again next year. We’ll be hearing new music from them again real soon.

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR

Should win:

Lady Antebellum  – AW

LANCO  

Little Big Town

Midland   – LS, MM, CB

Old Dominion    

Will win:

Lady Antebellum  

LANCO  

Little Big Town – MM, AW, CB

Midland   – LS

Old Dominion    

Markus: I will not vote against LBT until they lose. To be honest, as much as I love The Breaker, I would like to see some new blood here, and Midland may just (rightfully) pull it off. Maybe one of the other three get the win? Not impossible. Really interested in seeing what direction this category goes.

Lydia: I really think Midland is hot enough to take this one.  They’ve had so much success as of late and IMO are a breath of fresh air. 

Amanda: I’m going to be the minority here and say that I don’t think Midland should be nominated. After the article came out about them basically being manufactured by their label, I lost all respect for them. I like LBT but wasn’t a fan of The Breaker. I do strongly believe Lady A deserves this award because their album and tour last year were just across the board excellent.

Colin: Despite what some critics may say about Midland, it really should be about the music and if that is the case, Midland deserves this award. On The Rocks is a country gold masterpiece from start to finish.

SONG OF THE YEAR

Should win:

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

Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne  

“Female” by Keith Urban  

Songwriters: Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon and Shane McAnally  

“Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert  – LS, MM, CB

Songwriters: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert Jon Randall   

“Whiskey And You” by Chris Stapleton   

Songwriters: Lee Thomas Miller, Chris Stapleton   

Will win:

“Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt

Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne  

“Female” by Keith Urban  – LS

Songwriters: Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon and Shane McAnally  

“Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert  – MM, AW

Songwriters: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert Jon Randall   

“Whiskey And You” by Chris Stapleton – CB

Songwriters: Lee Thomas Miller, Chris Stapleton   

Markus: What a bizarre category. Only four nominees. One of them is an album track from a 2015 project. One is “Body Like a Back Road”. Like, what? Lambert the favorite here in mind, almost by default. Just mind-boggling.

Lydia:  Hoping for “Tin Man” but I think Keith Urban’s “Female” came out at a time when it was, for the most part, extremely well received.  Although it’s not one of my favorites, I think given the current social climate the song will be the winner.

Amanda: Again, I’m going to be the minority here. “Tin Man” is a phenomenal song, no doubt. “Female” deserves just as much to win this category because of the timing of when it was released and just how well written and powerful the song is. I think Miranda will win this one, but I’m rooting for Sam Hunt because despite the whole “that ain’t Country” debate that is always never ending. He is killing it in the genre and everyone knows it. Pop Country, Bro-Country, whatever you want to call it, the song is a SMASH and was ALL OVER RADIO! You can’t deny the impact Hunt and “Body Like a Backroad| have had on the genre. The song crossed over to pop stations too, the same way Shania, Faith, Taylor and even Urban sometimes do. He broke FGL’s record for “Cruise” with “Body Like a Backroad” for number of weeks spent at #1! Like it or not, this is the direction of country music. Sam deserves his spotlight.

Colin: This category is a train wreck. First off, for some reason there’s only four nominees. I guess there wasn’t any other song worth mentioning. Secondly, we have an album track that was released in 2015. How do they even come up with this stuff? I’m reluctantly saying that Miranda should and will win this award.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Should win:

“Breaker,” Little Big Town – LS

California Sunrise,” Jon Pardi – AW

“From A Room Vol. 1,” Chris Stapleton – MM, CB

“Happy Endings,” Old Dominion

“Life Changes,” Thomas Rhett

Will win:

“The Breaker,” Little Big Town – LS, AW

California Sunrise,” Jon Pardi

“From A Room Vol. 1,” Chris Stapleton – MM, CB

“Happy Endings,” Old Dominion

“Life Changes,” Thomas Rhett

Markus: Pretty solid category quality wise, actually. Three of these are great country projects, and one (Rhett) works on its own merits. I see Stapleton winning pretty easily, though. Also, interesting to note that Pardi’s was released almost two years ago and is nominated because stuff.

Lydia: I really enjoyed The Breaker.  I loved hearing each member really shine on lead vocals and the album covered a wide spectrum.  Wouldn’t be upset at all if Stapleton wins, though. The man can do no wrong.

Amanda: I think The Breaker will win but LBT spent so long as the Susan Lucci of award show that now they’re making up for it. But I’d like to see California Sunrise win, even though it doesn’t deserve to be nominated because the album is two years old already. It is an incredible album, though. I won’t be disappointed if Life Changes wins because again, Rhett really worked his butt off this past year and the album isn’t bad at all.

Colin: If I had to pick the best album in this category, I pick Jon Pardi every time, but it came out almost two years ago, and for that reason I stayed away from it. I really wish Midland’s On The Rocks was nominated because that would be my pick. I will predict Stapleton walks away with another Album of the Year award.

SINGLE RECORD OF THE YEAR

Should win:

“Better Man,” Little Big Town

“Body Like A Back Road,” Sam Hunt – CB

“Broken Halos,” Chris Stapleton –  LS, MM

“Drinkin’ Problem,” Midland

“I’ll Name The Dogs,” Blake Shelton – AW

Will win:

“Better Man,” Little Big Town

“Body Like A Back Road,” Sam Hunt – LS, MM, CB

“Broken Halos,” Chris Stapleton – AW

“Drinkin’ Problem,” Midland

“I’ll Name The Dogs,” Blake Shelton

Markus: Not a bad group outside of Hunt’s atrocity, which I see as the easy favorite. Hopefully Stapleton or LBT or Midland pull it off though.

Lydia:  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this song.  That’s all I can say!

Amanda: I’m rooting for Blake because “I’ll Name the Dogs’ is just such a great song and really feels like the Blake the world fell in love with. I won’t be upset if Hunt wins, though for all the reasons I listed above. I do see Stapleton or LBT taking this one home, though.

Colin: Say what you want about it, debate whether it’s even county or not, but “Body Like A Back Road” was a major smash hit and that’s what single record of the year should be about.

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Should win:

“Black,” Dierks Bentley

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

“Legends,” Kelsea Ballerini

“Marry Me,” Thomas Rhett – AW CB

“We Should Be Friends,” Miranda Lambert

Will win:

“Black,” Dierks Bentley

“It Ain’t My Fault,” Brothers Osborne 

“Legends,” Kelsea Ballerini

“Marry Me,” Thomas Rhett – LS, AW, CB

“We Should Be Friends,” Miranda Lambert

Lydia:  Not a big fan of videos, but Brothers Osborne made me laugh with this one.  I think the majority of popular country fans can’t resist a Thomas Rhett love song so I think “Marry Me” is the winner.  

Amanda: TR should definitely win this one because he did exactly what country music is about and that’s tell a heartbreaking story. I won’t be surprised if either him or Brothers win, though.

Colin: Thomas brought the major feels with this one and for that he should win video of the year.

VOCAL EVENT OF THE YEAR

Should win:

“Craving You,” Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris – CB

“Dear Hate,” Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill –LS, MM

“Funny (How Time Slips Away),” Glen Campbell And Willie Nelson

“The Fighter,” Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood – AW

“What Ifs,” Kane Brown Featuring Lauren Alaina

Will win:

“Craving You,” Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris – LS, MM AW, CB

“Dear Hate,” Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill

“Funny (How Time Slips Away),” Glen Campbell And Willie Nelson

“The Fighter,” Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood

“What Ifs,” Kane Brown Featuring Lauren Alaina

Markus: Would be cool to see Morris win as she’s the class of this group in my opinion. I see voters leaning more towards the Brown or Rhett commercial heavyweights, however.

Lydia: I personally love “Dear Hate” and it’s message, just not sure it got enough attention for it to win.  Anything Thomas Rhett does seems to be gold and I don’t think “Craving You” will be the exception.

Amanda: I’m not crazy about any of these in an ‘OMG’ kind of way, but because of the crossover impact it had, I’m rooting for Urban and Underwood. I think Maren and Thomas might take it home though.

Colin:  “Craving You” was one of the catchiest hits of the year, sang by two of my absolute  favourite artists in the genre. I’m giving this one to Thomas and Maren.