In just a few short days, the Country Music Association will reveal the winners for the 2018 CMA Awards during their annual event. Hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley for the 11th year, fans and artists will learn the fate of each category as part of the live three-hour telecast.
Ahead of “Country Music’s Biggest Night,” we’re offering up our predictions for the outcome of the awards and share our reasoning behind these choices. While we won’t know the answers until November 14, it’s always fun to take a guess and see what sticks.
The 52nd Annual CMA Awards will take place live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.
See the full list of nominees here.
Entertainer of the Year
SLN Pick: Honestly, Entertainer of the Year is one of the hardest categories to decide on. Each of the five nominees are equally deserving of the honor, however, we think this year it could come down between Jason Aldean or Kenny Chesney. Both of these nominees headlined major tours and made waves with their latest releases, Rearview Town and Songs for the Saints, respectively. Though he’s been snubbed in years past, we think this might be Aldean’s time to reign as the CMA EOTY.
Female Vocalist of the Year
SLN Pick: All of these incredible women have different reasons to appear in this sought after category. While each is deserving of the title, we think that CMA voters may still be waving the Miranda Lambert flag and put their votes in her corner.
Male Vocalist of the Year
SLN Pick: There are arguments to made for each of these talented men, but we think Thomas Rhett edges out the competition by a hair. There’s no denying that Rhett is a superstar in the making, with each of his singles blazing up the radio charts in record time. Fans and voters also share a common love for the man, who openly shares both his family life and artistry with transparency and ease. We have no doubt it’ll be Rhett taking this one home.
Vocal Group of the Year
Little Big Town
SLN Pick: Could Old Dominion sweep the Vocal Group of the Year awards for 2018? It’s entirely possible, after the quintet’s surprising (even to them!) win at the ACM Awards earlier this year. The hitmakers have earned a rabid fan base, the likes of which includes Kenny Chesney as they’ve opened on his tours for several years. The group continues to release hit after hit and likely have CMA voters in their corner.
Vocal Duo of the Year
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae
SLN Pick: While many might be looking towards Florida Georgia Line or Brothers Osborne for this category (deservedly so!), we think the dark horses and eventual winners will be Dan + Shay. The duo have seriously hustled over the past year and their hard work has paid off. Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney released their self-titled, third studio album featuring the smash hit “Tequila.” The track took off and soared to become one of the most played tunes of the year. Any time you hear “When I taste tequila…” you can’t help but sing along!
Album of the Year
Nominees: (Award goes to Artist and Producer(s))
From A Room: Volume 2 – Chris Stapleton; Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton
Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves; Producers: Ian Fitchuk, Daniel Tashian, Kacey Musgraves
Graffiti U – Keith Urban; Producers: Keith Urban, Dan McCarroll, J.R. Rotem, Josh Kerr, Jason Evigan, Greg Wells, Benny Blanco, Ed Sheeran, Johnny McDaid, Jesse Shatkin, Jimmy Robbins, Oscar Holter, Matt Rad, Eric Valentine, Ian Kirkpatrick, Mike Elizondo, Captain Cuts, Ross Copperman, Dann Huff, Peter Karlsson
Life Changes – Thomas Rhett; Producers: Julian Bunetta, Jesse Frasure, Dann Huff, Joe London, Thomas Rhett
The Mountain – Dierks Bentley; Producers: Ross Copperman, Jon Randall Stewart, Arturo Buenahora Jr
SLN Pick: Album of the Year is undoubtedly one of the most sought after categories at any awards show. Winning this title means that the full-length work you’ve poured your heard and soul into has been validated by your peers around you. Many artists spend years working on their records, sharing sides of themselves through the lyrics and melodies. In 2018, there was no shortage of music that made you stop and think about the world around you and five of those projects made enough of an impact to get nominated. This category is extremely hard to choose and honestly, it could be any one of them. This year, however, we’re putting our money on Thomas Rhett or Chris Stapleton, both are favorites in the industry and created timeless collections of work. But we wouldn’t be all that surprised if Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour also pulled out a win here too!
New Artist of the Year
SLN Pick: All of these newcomers have spent years paying their dues and have earned spots in the country music landscape. All are incredible acts, but after the year he’s had, we think Luke Combs might just be the one to take this home. Earlier this year, Combs celebrated with a Platinum party for his songs – 3x Platinum “Hurricane,” 2x Platinum “When It Rains It Pours” and Platinum “One Number Away” – and learned his debut album, This One’s For You, became the most stream country album of the year with over one billion streams (that’s billion with a B!). Fans are obsessed with this guy and we think voters are too!
Agree or disagree with our predictions? Let us know yours with a comment on Facebook or Twitter! We’d love to hear your thoughts!