2018 CMA Awards Predictions and Preview

Country music’s biggest night is back and we are ready to celebrate Nashville’s brightest stars. Before it’s here, check out who’s in the running for the top prizes with our 2018 CMA Awards predictions. Check out all the nominees below with our predicted winners signified in bold. *denotes early category winners announced prior to the show.

Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

A decade after picking up his fourth Entertainer of the Year award, Kenny Chesney is one track to win the night’s biggest category for a fifth time. He certainly proved being worthy of the prize on his Trip Around the Sun Stadium tour, which was one of this year’s hottest country tours. Three-time winner Luke Bryan could also give Chesney a run for his money.

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Maren Morris
Miranda Lambert
Carrie Underwood
Kacey Musgraves

Carrie Underwood has shown a great amount of resiliency in the past year, from recovering from a fall that left a gruesome facial injury to enduring several miscarriages on the road to becoming pregnant with her second child. But her trials and triumphs shine through brightest in her music. Her latest record Cry Pretty explores new vulnerable, emotional, and vaguely political territory – doing so all with a powerful voice that is one of the best in the biz.

Male Vocalist of the Year

Dierks Bentley
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

The Country Music Association loves Chris Stapleton and his rugged, authentic artistry that oozes traditional country roots. Despite the commercial appeal and radio-friendliness of nominees Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett, Luke Combs and Keith Urban, Stapleton is a shoo-in for this prize any time he’s nominated (hence his wins in this category for the past three years straight).

Vocal Group of the Year

Lady Antebellum
LANCO
Little Big Town
Midland
Old Dominion

Little Big Town has dominated this category for the past six consecutive years and with success from their latest record The Breaker still going strong, expect them to go for lucky #7 this year. Hand it to fellow nominees Lady Antebellum, Old Dominion, LANCO and Midland, but this one is LBT’s to lose.

Vocal Duo of the Year

Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae
Sugarland

Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush (a.k.a. Sugarland) are familiar with this award, having won it four times before. Their triumphant return after a six-year hiatus was widely celebrated by fans and critics alike and are likely to reclaim this award from 2017 winners Brothers Osborne.

New Artist of the Year

Lauren Alaina
Luke Combs
Chris Jansen
Midland
Brett Young

Although Lauren Alaina has been in the Nashville scene for a few years now, her major breakthrough this year should certainly win her the CMA New Artist prize. She was named New Female Vocalist at this year’s ACM Awards and scored her first No. 1 with “What Ifs,” her collaboration with Kane Brown. Should Alaina be snubbed, expect it to be at the hands of either Luke Combs or Midland.

Single of the Year

“Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
“Drinkin’ Problem” – Midland
“Drowns the Whiskey” – Jason Aldean feat. Miranda Lambert
“Meant to Be” – Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line
“Tequila” – Dan + Shay

Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line scored one of the best-selling pop and country singles of 2018 with the wistful “Meant to Be.” The collaboration reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 while it set a record with an astonishing 45 weeks at No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart. It might be a radical move for the CMAs to give one of its most coveted awards to a pop artist, but Rexha and the guys of FGL more than earned it with their multi-Platinum hit.

Song of the Year

“Body Like a Back Road” – Sam Hunt
“Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
“Drowns the Whiskey” – Jason Aldean feat. Miranda Lambert
“Drunk Girl” – Chris Janson
“Tequila” – Dan + Shay

Chris Stapleton’s reflective and poignant take on grief earned the Grammy for Best Country Song earlier this year, making it the heavy favorite for the CMA’s Song of the Year honor. Although Sam Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road” was a certified crossover smash, it may be considered too dated (it was released in February of 2017) to do some damage at the CMA Awards.

Album of the Year

From A Room: Volume 2 – Chris Stapleton
Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves
Graffiti U – Keith Urban
Life Changes – Thomas Rhett
The Mountain – Dierks Bentley

Chris Stapleton’s previous two records earned him a CMA Award for Album of the Year, so it’s hard to believe that a three-peat isn’t in his future. From A Room: Volume 2 joined Stapleton’s past efforts Traveller and From A Room: Volume 1 to hold the top three spots on the U.S. Country Albums chart, making him the first artist to do so since Garth Brooks accomplished the feat over 25 years ago.

Musical Event of the Year

“Burning Man” – Dierks Bentley feat. Brothers Osborne
“Dear Hate” – Maren Morris feat. Vince Gill
“Drowns the Whiskey” – Jason Aldean feat. Miranda Lambert
“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” – David Lee Murphy feat. Kenny Chesney*
“Meant to Be” – Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

“Dear Hate” not only brings together two of the most prolific voices in the genre, but focuses on an event that united the entire country community. Morris released the track in response to last year’s horrific shooting at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas, a gig she had played just moments before a gunman opened fire and claimed 58 lives. The poignant musical letter addresses the hate and darkness that consumes much of the world but assures that it will not prevail in the end. Its sincere message, along with Morris and Gill’s soothing vocals, make it the category’s front-runner.

Music Video of the Year

“Babe” – Sugarland feat. Taylor Swift
“Cry Pretty” – Carrie Underwood
“Drunk Girl” – Chris Janson
“Marry Me” – Thomas Rhett* 
“Tequila” – Dan + Shay

Despite a whimsical appearance from Taylor Swift in Sugarland’s “Babe” music video, Thomas Rhett will likely take home this award. His music video for “Marry Me” garnered over 120 million views all while pulling at the heartstrings of viewers with visuals to perfectly depict the melancholy lyrics.

The 2018 CMA Awards air Wednesday, November 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood return as the night’s co-hosts for the 11th straight year. The night will feature performances from Eric Church, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan and more.

Do you agree with our 2018 CMA Awards predictions? Let us know in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “2018 CMA Awards Predictions and Preview

  1. I’d rather see Keith Urban get Entertainer!! Chesney takes an army of well established artist on tour with him to draw in huge crowds whereas Keith takes usually one up and coming artist, women, on tour with him and if you’ve seen his shows, you wouldn’t forget it! He also does so much to represent country music! He’s a true entertainer!!

    1. Well said, Gloria! Keith Urban is certainly worthy of Entertainer of the Year but guess we will have to watch tonight’s show to see what happens.

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