Posted in Blogs

Country Pocket CMA Awards Picks

Of the numerous country music awards shows dotted throughout the year, it’s typically the Country Music Academy Awards that come the closest to getting it right. Rather than try to predict them, I’m simply going to share what my ballot would look like if I had one along with some commentary on why I made the pick. Though there are a couple of categories I’d like to see go to someone who isn’t nominated, I’ll do my best to stick to the parameters.

Entertainer of the Year – In a totally awesome and unexpected twist, this category went to George Strait as a sort of lifetime achievement award. But if ‘entertainer’ goes beyond the scope of album quality to include things like concert performances and public personality, it’s hard to imagine anyone has anything on Blake Shelton, except maybe his equally awesome wife. Now go follow their Twitters. You won’t regret it.

Luke Bryan
Miranda Lambert
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year – Taylor Swift has moved on from country. As upsetting as it is, I think the CMA Awards should move on from her. While Lambert has a winning streak going in this category and Kacey Musgraves has the best material to work with, Carrie Underwood just released the incredibly performed ‘Something in the Water’ and probably has the strongest voice of the five. She deserves the award.

Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Kacey Musgraves
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year – Dierks Bentley and Urban both had their strongest album in years during this voting period while Shelton did not have an album. Luke Bryan might be a top seller, but he’s also a bit controversial in his excessive use of pop in crossover songs. While Bentley and Urban are both fine choices, Eric Church is a better one. He has the top selling country album of 2014 with the critical acclaim to match.

Dierks Bentley
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

Vocal Group of the Year – Little Big Town’s latest album is fiercely original and sounds amazing. Lady Antebellum, their competitor with the biggest name, had an off year. Considering the Zac Brown Band didn’t release anything original this year, LBT should have an easy time winning it out.

Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Album of the Year – This award should make like a Christian on Sunday morning and go to Church. Only Bryan doesn’t totally deserve the win, though.

‘Crash My Party,’ Luke Bryan
‘Fuse,’ Keith Urban
‘Platinum,’ Miranda Lambert
‘Riser,’ Dierks Bentley
‘The Outsiders,’ Eric Church

Song of the Year – It pains me not to hand this award to Church and Laird, but ‘Follow Your Arrow’ is too significant with its liberal lyrics and sweet, casual melody to ignore. Plus, Brandy Clark’s ’12 Stories’ deserved a few more nominations and this is the only way I can think to make up for it.

‘Automatic,’ Miranda Lambert (Written by Nicole Galyon, Natalie Hemby and Miranda Lambert)
‘Follow Your Arrow,’ Kacey Musgraves (Written by Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally)
‘Give Me Back My Hometown,’ Eric Church (Written by Eric Church and Luke Laird)
‘I Don’t Dance,’ Lee Brice (Written by Lee Brice, Rob Hatch and Dallas Davidson)
‘I Hold On,’ Dierks Bentley (Written by Brett James and Dierks Bentley)

Vocal Duo of the Year – Congratulations, Florida Georgia Line. You two are the most significant country music band that features more than one and fewer than three vocalists. Take that as you will.

Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Love and Theft
The Swon Brothers
Thompson Square

New Artist of the Year – Thomas Rhett may have one of the better albums in the sub-genre known as bro-country, but Clark had a traditional album for the ages. Moore wouldn’t be a bad choice, though.

Brandy Clark
Brett Eldredge
Kip Moore
Thomas Rhett
Cole Swindell

Single of the Year – Can all the party singles be please be as catchy and clever as ‘Drunk on a Plane?’ Still, Church deserves to dominate this year. I wouldn’t be upset if any of these won, though. This is definitely the best slate of options of any of the categories this year.

‘Automatic,’ Miranda Lambert
‘Drunk on a Plane,’ Dierks Bentley
‘Give Me Back My Hometown,’ Eric Church
‘Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,’ Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
‘Mine Would Be You,’ Blake Shelton

Musical Event of the Year – ‘Meanwhile Back at Mama’s’ is more than an event. It’s a really good song. Again, there isn’t really a bad choice among these.

‘Bakersfield,’ Vince Gill and Paul Franklin
‘Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,’ Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
‘Somethin’ Bad,’ Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
‘We Were Us,’ Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert
‘You Can’t Make Old Friends,’ Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

Music Video of the Year – ‘Bartender’ might not be the best song among these, but the music video was hilarious.

‘Automatic,’ Miranda Lambert
‘Bartender,’ Lady Antebellum
‘Drunk on a Plane,’ Dierks Bentley
‘Follow Your Arrow,’ Kacey Musgraves
‘Somethin’ Bad,’ Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood

Musician of the Year – I had the privilege of seeing Jerry Douglas in concert this year. It was an experience worth my imaginary vote.

Sam Bush
Jerry Douglas
Paul Franklin
Dann Huff
Mac McAnally

Thanks to CBS for the photo of the greatest CMA Awards moment ever and The CMA website for the list of nominees.



I host Country Pocket on WUSB Stony Brook 90.1 FM. Content from the show will appear on

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