Nominees for the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards (the CMAs) are being announced this morning, with nominees in 5 categories being revealed on Good Morning America and nominees in the the remaining seven artist categories being revealed at around 9:45 AM Eastern. Watch this space for updates!
UPDATE: For our blog-related stats, Blake Shelton has 5 nominations, Keith Urban has 4 (3 of them related to “Highway Don’t Care”), Carrie has 3, and Kelly has 2. Overall, Kacey Musgraves deservedly slays with 6 nominations (8 if you count her nomination as co-producer of her album and nominated single). Taylor Swift’s campaigns continue to bear fruit despite the fact that she is inarguably a pop gal whose only use for country music is the marketing platform, and she ties Kacey with 6 nominations (although 3 of Taylor’s nominations are for her feature role in “Highway Don’t Care”).
Entertainer Of The Year
Quick analysis: Taylor’s campaigns continue to override the inescapable musical truth: she is “never ever getting back together” with country music. George Strait is nominated for Entertainer because he will retire from touring next year and his team has masterfully built a publicity game around that (and his age, with the 60 #1s for his 60th birthday campaign). I had figured King George would win Entertainer in 2014, but he may be a factor this year against Luke and Blake. Carrie gets snubbed for Entertainer Of The Year again despite firing on cylinders from a huge tour that extended overseas, album and download sales to critical acclaim to multimedia presence and ambassadorship. Not surprising by now as insider politics are what they are, and she’s on a weak label. A joke that she has yet to be nominated for this award. Also not nominated: Kenny Chesney, who had a giant stadium tour and a hit album during the eligibility period – in his case, he has at least won this award several times, so it appears the voters have just moved on from him.
Female Vocalist Of The Year
Quick analysis: Kelly gets the 5th filler slot thanks to industry support. Sheryl Crow had a bigger hit but didn’t make the 2nd round of voting in this category, surprisingly, and Jana Kramer, who had the biggest hit out of the 3, doesn’t command much industry support (and Jana is newer, because Kelly and Sheryl have collaborative histories in the genre). This will come down to Miranda and Carrie. Both have critical acclaim and nominations in 2 other categories, Carrie has the stats, Miranda has the industry support.
Male Vocalist Of The Year
Quick analysis: 4 out of the 5 are “next generation” superstars, with Keith Urban the lone holdover beating out Tim McGraw, who had a big year at radio (and a nominated single in “Highway Don’t Care”) and Brad Paisley, who continued his radio and touring success with a challenging album, Wheelhouse. Also not in this category: Kenny Chesney, despite continued success with his new album and tour. In fact, Keith didn’t release an album during the eligibility period, and had limited touring compared to the other three veterans. George Strait got nominated for Entertainer but not Male Vocalist, which goes to show where his campaign was focused. Let’s also note Hunter Hayes’s absence from this category and the nominations altogether – it wasn’t for lack of trying or a lack of momentum. Jake Owen, another guy on the rise, is also missing from this category.
New Artist Of The Year
Quick analysis: This likely comes down to Florida-Georgia Line, by far the most commercially successful act in this group, and Kacey Musgraves, by far the most critically acclaimed act in this group and also the most nominated. Save us, Kacey!
Duo Of The Year
Big & Rich
The Civil Wars
Love & Theft
Quick analysis: 6 nominees in a category where 3 of the nominees are stretches?! Sure, that makes sense. Sugarland wasn’t even active in eligibility period, with Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush pursuing solo projects. But I guess this will provide a good excuse for Jennifer Nettles to perform at the CMAs. Big & Rich did release an album but it didn’t make a big impact in sales or critical attention. Florida-Georgia Line likely has this one on lock despite Thompson Square’s win last year.
Musician Of The Year
Quick analysis: Paul Franklin has never won this award, despite being one of Nashville’s most revered musicians. He and Vince Gill just released the acclaimed Bakersfield, so will this be his year, or will this go to Dann Huff or Mac Macanally again?
“Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood, directed by Randee St. Nicholas
“Boys Round Here” by Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies, directed by Trey Fanjoy
“Downtown” by Lady Antebellum, directed by Peter Zavadil
“Highway Don’t Care” by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban, directed by Shane Drake
“Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert, directed by Trey Fanjoy
“Tornado” by Little Big Town, directed by Shane Drake
Quick analysis: The favorites here are the ones nominated in single/song, so that probably means “Highway Don’t Care” and “Mama’s Broken Heart” have the edge. This is presented pre-telecast, so whoever wins here is probably in for a pretty good night in other categories.
“I Drive Your Truck” (Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary)
“Mama’s Broken Heart” (Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves)
“Merry Go Round” (Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osbourne and Shane McAnally)
“Pontoon” (Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird and Barry Dean)
“Wagon Wheel” (Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor)
Quick analysis: Last year’s winner for Single Of The Year, “Pontoon,” is nominated for Song Of The Year. That makes sense! #not Other than that, these truly are 4 of the 5 best written singles of the past year. Left out are Grammy winner “Blown Away,” “Better Dig Two,” and arguably “Highway Don’t Care,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” Zac Brown Band’s “Goodbye In Her Eyes,” Eric Church’s “Creepin'” and “Like Jesus Does.” The songs also nominated for Single have the edge here, so “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Merry Go Round” and “Wagon Wheel” are probably a step ahead. There’s a risk of split votes from Kacey Musgraves supporters though, since she’s nominated twice.
“Cruise” (Florida-Georgia Line, produced by Joey Moi) Republic Nashville
“Highway Don’t Care” (Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, produced by Byron Gallimore and Tim McGraw), Big Machine Records
“Mama’s Broken Heart” (Miranda Lambert, produced by Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf and Chuck Ainlay), RCA Nashville
“Merry Go Round” (Kacey Musgraves, produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves), Mercury Nashville
“Wagon Wheel” (Darius Rucker, produced by Frank Rogers), Capitol Records Nashville
Quick analysis: Tough category. “Cruise” got nominated as the massive crossover smash but is by far the weakest song. “Highway Don’t Care,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Merry Go Round,” and “Wagon Wheel” also have multi-category support so it’s a tough race to call. Left out: Grammy winner “Blown Away,” “Better Dig Two,” “Boys Round Here” (thank GOODNESS, although Blake’s team was pushing “Mine Would Be You” despite the fact that it was released after the eligibility period ended), “Wanted” (though Hunter Hayes’s team appeared to be pushing “I Want Crazy”), “Crash My Party,” Gary Allan’s “Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain),” Zac Brown Band’s “Goodbye In Her Eyes”
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
Quick analysis: No Rascal Flatts again, though they had a quiet period with respect to new music. Eli Young Band did release a new single during the voting period which probably helped it to get in. Zac Brown Band’s Clay Cook has talked about the band not being “a part of the politics or the cliques in Nashville. There’s a lot of vote trading and all sorts of stuff going on,” so no reason to expect that to change. That leaves a 3 horse race: reigning Vocal Group Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum (which has lost some momentum with this year’s album release but is still big), and The Band Perry, which is on the rise. The lack of support for The Band Perry in other categories probably points to this being a LBT vs. Lady Antebellum race. LBT seems to have more industry support right now.
Musical Event Of The Year
“Boys Round Here” by Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies
“Cruise” by Florida-Georgia Line featuring Nelly
“Don’t Rush” by Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill
“Highway Don’t Care” by Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
“The Only Way I Know” by Jason Aldean featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church
Quick analysis: Three out of these (“Boys Round Here”, “Cruise”, and “The Only Way I Know”) are terrible (at least by critical standards) but “Cruise” and “Boys Round Here” have been huge and big, respectively. “Highway Don’t Care” has the most star power, and “Cruise” also has multi-category support. Hard to count out Blake Shelton’s team/campaign so once again, look for the winner of this pre-telecast category to have a good night.
Album Of The Year
Based on a True Story, Blake Shelton; Produced by Scott Hendricks; Warner Bros. Records
Blown Away, Carrie Underwood; Produced by Mark Bright; 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville
Red, Taylor Swift; Produced by Jeff Bhasker, Scott Borchetta, Nathan Chapman, Dann Huff, Jacknife Lee, Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift, Butch Walker and Dan Wilson; Big Machine Records
Same Trailer, Different Park, Kacey Musgraves, Produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves; Mercury Records
Tornado, Little Big Town; Produced by Jay Joyce; Capitol Records Nashville
Quick analysis: Well, we have a pop album that sold tons out of the gate (Taylor’s) and an album that got mediocre reviews but is tracking to be his career best seller (Blake’s) and a surprise snub of Jason Aldean’s “Night Train” (which admittedly has had 2 underperforming singles). Kacey Musgraves has the best reviewed album and that acclaim was strong enough to get her in. Carrie has strong reviews, strong sales, and strong chart impact for her album’s singles, and Little Big Town also has strong reviews and strong sales (plus 2 #1s and an acclaimed underperformer of a single). Kacey and LBT are in the same label group, and it’s hard to see Taylor getting much support for her album. If this turns into a race between Blake and Carrie, Blake has the industry guns behind him which would mean that by far the worst album in this category would emerge the winner. Not in this category: Brad Paisley’s challenging but acclaimed Wheelhouse, The Band Perry’s Pioneer, Zac Brown Band’s Grammy winning-Uncaged, Gary Allan’s Set Me Free, George Strait’s Love Is Everything, Ashley Monroe’s Like A Rose
The 47th Annual CMA Awards will air on Wednesday, November 6 2013 from 8 PM to 11 PM Eastern, with Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood returning as co-hosts for the 6th straight year.