2013 ACM Awards Predictions
Despite the accuracy (or lack of accuracy) of these predictions for the 2013 ACM Awards, one thing is certain: one group of country fans will be ecstatic come Monday morning, while another will be furious that their favorite wasn't recognized for his or her talent and achievements. Only one out of every group of five can take the trophy for Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist and the other top prizes. This means four more will be left politely applauding for someone the industry says had a little better year. Fans tend to not be as graceful in defeat.
That's the difficult thing about predicting awards show winners. An outsider's opinion of the year Jason Aldean had could be very different from a Nashville insider's. The industry holds the power as voters, so our predictions for the April 7 ACMs ceremony attempt to determine which way Music City winds are blowing currently -- or were blowing when ballots were due.
Taste of Country staff thought long and hard about who will win each of the nine televised categories. The result is a list that looks very similar to previous awards shows. We predict this will be a year that the so-called "favorites" take home the big prizes. Of course, we're aware of our track record.
It's always important to remember the difference between Song and Single of the Year. Song is the lyrics, and Single Record is what an artist and his or her producer do with those lyrics. Little Big Town and producer Jay Joyce innovated in a way few in country music have done over the last five years. 'Pontoon' was a song you immediately had to hear a second time. There's no reason to believe it won't top 'Springsteen' for a second straight awards show.
Lambert's 'Over You' won at the CMA Awards in November, and the ballad will compete above the others with Church's 'Springsteen.' Should the North Carolina native be shut out at the ACM Awards after receiving seven nominations, it's going to be difficult to believe he's not being penalized for rubbing some in the industry the wrong way.
All five nominees have a chance to win this award, and all five are deserving. It's a really strong category, with Underwood getting the edge after her success at the Grammys in February. This won't influence voters, but it could be indicative of how voters feel toward country albums of the past year. A win for Eric Church's 'Chief' or Little Big Town's 'Pontoon' would be a win for critics who poured praise on both efforts. However, these two weren't as commercially successful as the other three.
Brantley Gilbert likely knocked off his toughest competition in the fan-voted upon round of this nomination process. After getting past Hunter Hayes, he should be able to breeze to the acceptance podium. Florida Georgia Line and Gilbert's fiancee Jana Kramer just don't have the resumes to earn this award quite yet.
Little Big Town and Zac Brown Band are the only two nominees in this category that released new music in 2012, and only LBT released the song of the summer with 'Pontoon.' 'Tornado' is full of equally artistic melodies and arrangements -- it's that rare album that satisfies critics and fans. The group took this category at the CMAs in in November, and there's no reason to believe that same momentum has left them.
Thompson Square won this honor in 2012 when the competition was even stiffer. Now, with Sugarland taking time off and no other dominant duo, they should easily take this trophy back to Nashville. Florida Georgia Line still seem one year away from being serious competitors in this grouping, however the Best New Artist nominees could shock the country world.
Taylor Swift has never won this award, but Carrie Underwood has -- on three separate occasions, no less. The superstar returned with a superb new album and headlining tour in 2012. That should be enough to take back the trophy from Miranda Lambert, who's won the last four years.
Aldean is long overdue to win this award, but he's certainly not a sure thing. Eric Church also had a great year, and Luke Bryan is coming on as a future Entertainer of the Year nominee. But Aldean's concert and sales numbers overshadow those two men. Blake Shelton could win, but he's two years removed from new music, and with 'The Voice,' he hasn't been able to tour as much as he'd like to.
For a fourth straight year, Swift will take home this award, putting her alongside Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and Alabama as artists who've won EOTY for four or more straight years. Jason Aldean is equally deserving, but he's struggled to win major hardware in recent years, and has never won Male Vocalist at either country awards show. Miranda Lambert is an underdog to keep an eye on for this honor. For many, this would be a pleasant surprise.