This is by far my weakest field. I don’t really follow country music at all. However I do take time to know what’s up with this genre and what I know is that it hasn’t been a big year for country except for a handful of artists. Another obstacle with these predictions is that NARAS throws here a couple of traditional and less mainstream acts that not many people (or even other country music awards show) think they could get a nomination.
Best Country Solo Performance: By consent, the sure bet here is Kacey Musgraves (“Merry ‘Go Round”) not only the leading CMA-nominee but also the most prominent (country) singer/songwriter of the year. Two of the best-selling country hits of the year should not have any difficulties getting here: Miranda Lambert (“Mama’s Broken Heart”) and Darius Rucker (“Wagon Wheel”). The other likely contenders are Taylor Swift (“Begin Again”); Carrie Underwood (“Two Black Cadillacs”); Luke Bryan (“That’s My Kind of Night”) and Lee Brice (“I Drive Your Truck”). On the other hand mind that we’re more likely to see more traditional country artists sneaking here rather than half of the aforementioned.
Best Country Duo/Group Performance: There are two collaborations that shouldn’t have any problems getting here: Taylor Swift/Tim McGraw (“Highway Don’t Care”) and Brad Paisley/LL Cool J (“Accidental Racist”) . Groups to be considered as locks are, off course, Florida Georgia Line (“Cruise”) which is also the best-selling country track of the year (Nelly’s collab. should not be considered as it is a remix) The Band Perry (“Better Dig Two”) and Thompson Square (“If I Didn’t Have You”). Other performances to look at: Lady Antebellum (“Downtown”); The Civil Wars (“From this Valley”) and Vince Gill/Kelly Clarkson (“Don’t Rush”).
Best Country Song: The nominees in this category tend to be somewhat different to those within the ‘performances’ category. Anyhow, I’m just going to list the five songs (also considered for ‘performance’) that are most likely to make the cut here in order of likelihood: Shane McAnally/Kacey Musgraves/Josh Osborne (“Merry Go ‘Round”); Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Kacey Musgraves (“Mama’s Broken Heart); Mark Irwin/Josh Kear/The Warren Brothers (“Highway Don’t Care”); Jessi Alexander/Connie Harrington/Jimmy Yeary (“I Drive Your Truck”); Josh Kear/Hilary Lindsey/Carrie Underwood (“Two Black Cadillacs”).
Best Country Album: There are two albums here that are impossible to be snubbed. The commercial success Taylor Swift (Red) and the critically-acclaimed Kacey Musgraves (Same Trailer Different Park). The other lock here should be George Strait (Love is Everything) his four latests albums have made it so why not this one. The other strong contenders are The Band Perry (Pioneer); Lady Antebellum (Golden) and Blake Shelton (Based On A True Story). Darkhorses include: Jason Aldean (Night Train); Luke Bryan (Crash My Party); Pistol Annies (Annie Up); Gary Allan (Set You Free); Brad Paisley (Wheelhouse).