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by Cyndi Hoelzle

November 5, 2013

CMAs 2013: Who Will Win/Who Should Win

by Cyndi Hoelzle  |  November 5, 2013

The airwaves are crowded with awards shows, but the Country Music Association Awards are the king of them all. Referred to as "Country Music's Biggest Night," the CMAs are the longest-running music awards show, a time each year when Nashville's music industry pulls out all the stops to reward artists, songwriters, musicians and producers. This year, we've asked some friends -- Country Weekly's deputy editor, Jon Freeman, CMT.com contributing writer Alison Bonaguro, Country Music Is Love's Lauren Black and Rhapsody's Cyndi Hoelzle -- to weigh in on who will win (and who should win).

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: Blake Shelton
Who Should Win: Jason Aldean. Blake took home the vocalist prize the last three years and hasn't slowed down yet. But Jason's Night Train is his most vocally confident album to date.

CMT
Who Will Win: Blake Shelton
Who Should Win: Eric Church, because his voice keeps it country, no matter what kind of song he's singing.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: Blake Shelton
Who Should Win: This is always one of the toughest categories to predict! We could argue all day about why each nominee is worthy of the honor.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: Blake Shelton
Who Should Win: Keith Urban. Always a class act, Urban has stayed true to himself.


FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Kelly Clarkson
Miranda Lambert
Kacey Musgraves
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: Carrie Underwood
Who Should Win: Carrie Underwood. Miranda Lambert's taken this one home for the last three years, but with only a new Pistol Annies record to her credit this year, Carrie gets the edge for keeping the hit streak going with Blown Away.

CMT
Who Will Win: Taylor Swift
Who Should Win: This award belongs to the woman with the flat-out best voice. And that's Carrie Underwood. If you stripped away any preconceived notions about who's who in country, and just listened, there's no one else who can sing like her.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: Miranda Lambert
Who Should Win: The battle for Female Vocalist of the Year once again comes down to Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Underwood, who is riding the wave of success from Blown Away, more than deserves to reclaim her crown after the year she's had.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: Miranda Lambert
Who Should Win: Miranda Lambert. Clarkson and Underwood may technically be better singers and Taylor has more reach, but Miranda is fearless.


ALBUM OF THE 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

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: Red, Taylor Swift
Who Should Win: Same Trailer, Different Park, Kacey Musgraves. This is a savvy debut record that's as tuneful as the songwriting is sharp. But Red is the multiplatinum and critically acclaimed juggernaut that keeps on barreling along.

CMT
Who Will Win: Red, Taylor Swift
Who Should Win: Same Trailer, Different Park, Kacey Musgraves. If the CMA gave out the AOY award to the one with 12 tracks that are consistently country, and made from well-crafted songs that each have a different kind of story to tell, and from a fresh new voice, this one would win.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: Based on a True Story, Blake Shelton
Who Should Win: Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer, Different Park is the album everyone was talking about in 2013. Many believe Musgraves is changing the direction of country music with her raw and honest lyrics and impeccable songwriting skills. On this album she said what most would never dare to say, which is why she should be recognized for the effort.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: Though it sold less than any of the others, Kacey Musgraves will be rewarded for taking risks.
Who Should Win: Kacey Musgraves. See above.


SINGLE OF THE YEAR
"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

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: "Cruise," Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: "Cruise." Like it or not, Florida Georgia Line's breakout smash fairly recently broke a decades-old country chart record. That should tell you all you need to know about what single was really reaching lots of ears in the marketplace over the last year.

CMT
Who Will Win: "Cruise," Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: "Wagon Wheel," Darius Rucker, because nobody didn't love this song.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: If we were the betting kind, all of our money would be on "Cruise."
Who Should Win: Not only did "Cruise" set the Billboard record for the longest-running No.1 in history, it also earned the duo massive success with the country music audience and beyond. If this one doesn't take home the Single of the Year Award, we'll be shocked.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: "Cruise" sold over 10 million singles and was inescapable.
Who Should Win: "Merry Go 'Round," Kacey Musgraves' honest debut single, was different from anything else out last year.


SONG OF THE YEAR
"I Drive Your Truck" (Jessi Alexander/Connie Harrington/Jimmy Yeary)
"Mama's Broken Heart" (Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Kacey Musgraves)
"Merry Go 'Round" (Kacey Musgraves/Josh Osborne/Shane McAnally)
"Pontoon" (Natalie Hemby/Luke Laird/Barry Dean)
"Wagon Wheel" (Bob Dylan/Ketch Secor)

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: "I Drive Your Truck"
Who Should Win: "Merry Go 'Round." It's tough to call. Both "I Drive Your Truck" and "Merry Go 'Round" are masterfully written country songs carrying powerful messages, but Lee Brice's recording of "I Drive Your Truck" was a bigger commercial success in terms of radio airplay.

CMT
Who Will Win: "Mama's Broken Heart"
Who Should Win: The Song of the Year award celebrates songwriting. And I know no better opening line, from this year or any year, than "Eighty nine cents in the ashtray." So "I Drive Your Truck" should be celebrated for its lyrical imagery, and for the way it gives listeners permission to mourn in a new way.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: In previous years, voters have opted for the song that tugs at your heartstrings. "I Drive Your Truck" does just that.
Who Should Win: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary brought us one of the best songs of the year with "I Drive Your Truck." Considering the emotional connection many people have to this song, it's more than deserving of the Song of the Year title.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: "Wagon Wheel" has become part of the American songbook, but CMA voters will go for "Merry Go 'Round."
Who Should Win: Any other song in this category would be a good choice for Single of the Year, but for Song, the emotional "I Drive Your Truck" is the clear winner.


VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: Little Big Town
Who Should Win: Little Big Town. Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry have both had admirably big years with new albums, but LBT's Tornado is the culmination of a long journey that displays these industry darlings at the top of their game.

CMT
Who Will Win: Little Big Town
Who Should Win: Little Big Town. They've had a big couple of years, and they've deserved all the critical acclaim that has finally come their way. Little Big Town is doing everything right, and we should be celebrating them properly until someone outdoes them.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: Reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year Little Big Town
Who Should Win: It was truly The Band Perry's year; the sibling trio earned a No. 1 album as well as back-to-back chart-topping singles. They avoided the dreaded "sophomore slump" with Pioneer and had what many consider to be the biggest year of anyone in this category.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: Little Big Town
Who Should Win: Zac Brown Band. They haven't had the radio success of the other nominees, but the ZBB are road warriors, gaining fans across all genres. They even invited the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl to perform with them on the CMA Awards.


VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Big & Rich
Florida Georgia Line
Love and Theft
Sugarland
The Civil Wars
Thompson Square

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: Thompson Square. Although they don't have a monster gazillion-selling song like "Cruise" to their credit, Thompson Square just keep notching the hits, and being super adorable.

CMT
Who Will Win: Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: Florida Georgia Line will win because they deserve to -- but also because there's no competition in this category. Even if they weren't on fire, Florida Georgia Line would bring home the CMA simply because they've had hits in a year when the other nominees have barely even released singles.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: With an incredibly successful year like Florida Georgia Line has had, it's hard to imagine voters awarding this title to anyone other than Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard.
Who Should Win: Hands down, Florida Georgia Line. A platinum-selling debut album, three consecutive No. 1 singles, and a Billboard record for longest-running No. 1 with "Cruise" are just a few of this duo's accomplishments throughout the past year.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: Most of the nominees in the category didn't have much going on this last year. Florida Georgia Line are the clear winner.


MUSICAL EVENT
"Boys 'Round Here," Blake Shelton with the Pistol Annies
"Cruise," Florida Georgia Line with Nelly
"Don't Rush," Kelly Clarkson with 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

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: "Highway Don't Care"
Who Should Win: "Highway Don't Care." The Musical Event category is super-stacked this year, with several No. 1 singles. Tim McGraw's breathtaking "Highway Don't Care" is one of the finest things he's ever laid down. Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here" was a surefire conversation starter, but it doesn't match the carpool trifecta of Tim, Keith and Taylor.

CMT
Who Will Win: "Highway Don't Care," Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
Who Should Win: "Boys 'Round Here," Blake Shelton, because there just wasn't enough Pistol Annies music this year. So a little background vocal from them made this song backwoods legit.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: "Highway Don't Care"
Who Should Win: "Highway Don't Care" brought fans a triple-threat of superstars with Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. If that's not THE Musical Event of the Year, we're not sure what is.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: "Boys 'Round Here," Blake Shelton with the Pistol Annies
Who Should Win: "Highway Don't Care," Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban


NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Lee Brice
Brett Eldredge
Florida Georgia Line
Kip Moore
Kacey Musgraves

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: Kip Moore. If the New Artist category is really about awarding promising, exciting new talent, this should go to Kip, who has quietly racked up a series of successive No. 1 hits off his debut album, Up All Night. But it's hard to deny F.G.L.'s leap from virtually unknown kids to country's newest headliners. They'll cruise right to the podium.

CMT
Who Will Win: Florida Georgia Line
Who Should Win: Kacey Musgraves. Because while all of the nominees are new, Musgraves is the only true artist on the list.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: We think Kacey Musgraves will ultimately be awarded the title. If our predictions are correct, Florida Georgia Line will go on to receive the Vocal Duo of the Year honor, so voters will most likely save this one for the "Follow Your Arrow" singer.
Who Should Win: Florida Georgia Line have the numbers and chart success, while Musgraves has endless praise from critics behind her. Each are equally deserving of the honor in their own way.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: Kacey Musgraves
Who Should Win: Kacey Musgraves


MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
"Blown Away," Carrie Underwood
"Boys 'Round Here," Blake Shelton (featuring the Pistol Annies)
"Downtown," Lady Antebellum
"Highway Don't Care," Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
"Mama's Broken Heart," Miranda Lambert

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: "Highway Don't Care"
Who Should Win: "Tornado." Little Big Town and Shane Drake evoke the language of classic suspense films -- stormy skies, a creaky gate and a child jumping rope, all interspersed with scenes of the villain doing his dastardly deeds, and L.B.T. look flawless in gray and black, stomping the streets on a mission. But it's kind of tough to compete with country's favorite leading man, Tim McGraw, who displays his finely honed acting chops for a dramatic narrative that gives the song an entirely new meaning. Put those cell phones down, kids.

CMT
Who Will Win: Miranda Lambert, "Mama's Broken Heart"
Who Should Win: A good video can take a song to another level. Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away" does that. Man, does it do that. You know it's going to be about a fatal tornado, but the tortured relationship between abusive father and daughter isn't part of that image until you see this powerful video.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: Voters love Miranda Lambert and director Trey Fanjoy. We're thinking they might take this one home again (they won in 2010 with "The House That Built Me").
Who Should Win: The "Highway Don't Care" music video was truly a work of art. Not only did it follow the storyline of the song perfectly, it also delivered a meaningful message, reminding fans of the dangers of texting and driving.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: Director Shane Drake's mini movie for "Highway Don't Care" has everything voters love: suspense, a heart-wrenching story and Tim McGraw lifting weights.
Who Should Win: Director Trey Fanjoy's take on "Boys 'Round Here" softens the song's exclusionary tone, but it's her other nominated video that should take home the prize. She captures an amazing and hilarious performance from Miranda Lambert on "Mama's Broken Heart."


ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Taylor Swift

Country Weekly
Who Will Win: Luke Bryan
Who Should Win: George Strait. George is a legend and he's retiring from the road, so he's been kicking tail all over the country to say farewell.

CMT
Who Will Win: Luke Bryan
Who Should Win: Luke Bryan. Because every part of Bryan is entertaining: The way he writes a song, the way he sings, the way he talks and yes, the way he dances.

Country Music Is Love
Who Will Win: Considering the fact that much of Shelton's year has been devoted to The Voice, we think voters will award the night's biggest honor to Luke Bryan.
Who Should Win: While it would be nice to see the industry send George Strait off into retirement from the touring front with an Entertainer of the Year trophy, we're not sure it's going to happen. This category ultimately comes down to Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton.

Rhapsody
Who Will Win: This is a tough one to call. George Strait is retiring from the road and likely to get some sentimental votes. Blake Shelton is all over the radio and the only thing that makes The Voice worth watching. We're gonna give it to Luke, an underdog you can't help but love.
Who Should Win: Taylor Swift, country music's best ambassador. She's already played for over 1.5 million people this year, and is about to take her dizzying Red tour to the U.K. and Australia.

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