Counterpoint: Chris Stapleton for Entertainer + More Way-Too-Early 2018 CMA Awards Predictions
No, nominees for the 2018 CMA Awards haven't officially been announced yet -- but why let that stand in the way of wild speculation over who might take home trophies on Country Music's Biggest Night this November? A little under three months out from the ceremony, we expect to see Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris and Luke Combs among this year's big winners.
Here's what we do know about the 2018 CMA Awards: The show is scheduled for Nov. 14, and Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are back as co-hosts. Here's what we're pretty certain about: When nominees are announced on Aug. 28, we'll be seeing, among others, Luke Bryan, Ashley McBryde and Midland among them ... and, yes, we predict they'll walk away with trophies in November, too.
Entertainer of the Year: Chris Stapleton
Seriously, can you believe Stapleton hasn't won Entertainer of the Year yet? After his stock skyrocketed at the 2015 CMA Awards, the singer-songwriter ... well, kept doing what he does best: writing killer songs and putting out traditional-leaning country music. All three of his albums -- including 2017's From A Room: Volume 1 and Volume 2 -- have been chart successes, and in 2018, Stapleton finally earned his first country radio No. 1 ("Broken Halos"). He's also headlined two big summer tours in the last two years. C'mon, give him this one already!
Album of the Year: Ashley McBryde's Girl Going Nowhere
Out of all these predictions, this one's the dark horse. But if McBryde has taught us anything, it's that she's gritty and determined enough to win it. Girl Going Nowhere is a stellar debut album -- one of The Boot staff's very favorites of the year so far -- full of incredible songwriting and beautiful messages. It perfectly sums up McBryde: a powerful vocalist, a dynamic personality and one hell of a storyteller.
Female Vocalist of the Year: Maren Morris
Thanks to her increasing clout in the country music world, her successful Hero Tour and her smash crossover hit "The Middle" -- not to mention her speak-your-mind, take-no-s--t attitude -- Morris is a lock for CMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 2018. It's been fun watching Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert battle it out year after year, but we're ready for a fresh face.
Male Vocalist of the Year: Thomas Rhett
Almost everything Rhett touches turns to gold, to so speak. He's now got two headlining tours under his belt, and another No. 1 album (2017's Life Changes). Out of 14 career singles, 10 of them have hit No. 1 (his most recent, "Life Changes," is in the Top 5 and climbing), and he continues to prove his prowess as a songwriter for other artists with, for example, Danielle Bradbery's "Hello Summer" and Abby Anderson's "Dance Away My Broken Heart." When Rhett won Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2017 ACM Awards almost a year and a half ago, it was a shock; at the 2018 CMAs, it wouldn't be.
Vocal Group of the Year: Midland
This country trio is H-O-T right now. Their harmonies are on point, they've got lauded songwriters in their camp, and they've brought a classic sound (and look) back to mainstream country music. Sorry, Little Big Town, but we think your reign in this category is about to end.
Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland
Sugarland's long-awaited reunion began at the 2017 CMA Awards; new singles, a new album and a new tour have all followed in the past year. Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles were fan and industry favorites the first time around, and even after a six-year hiatus, they still fit in (perhaps even better than before). Although the duo hasn't earned a major chart hit (yet) with their new tunes, everybody loves a good comeback, so expect to see them onstage on Nov. 14.
New Artist of the Year: Luke Combs
After a nomination in this category in 2017, 2018 is Combs' year for victory. Three consecutive No. 1 singles can't be wrong -- oh, and did we mention two of them are certified platinum and one of them's gone gold? Combs has started his career on a hot streak, and in addition to earning that string of radio hits, his headlining Don't Tempt Me With a Good Time Tour was a success. His rabid fan base can't seem to get enough of him!
Song of the Year: Luke Bryan's "Most People Are Good"
Expect to see songwriters David Frasier, Ed Hill and Josh Kear take the stage to accept this trophy at the 2018 CMA Awards. Released as a single in early January, "Most People Are Good" hit No. 1 by the end of March, buoyed by its simple, but timely, message: "I believe this world ain't half as bad as it looks ..."
Single of the Year: Bebe Rexha feat. Florida Georgia Line's "Meant to Be"
Complain all you want about a (technically) pop artist's single getting played on country radio, but it's hard to argue with the success of "Meant to Be." The catchy, feel-good song was, undeniably, the biggest single of the year, making it a shoo-in for this CMA trophy. Since its release late in 2017, Rexha and Florida Georgia Line's collaboration has gone three-times platinum in the U.S. and hit No. 1 on a number of Billboard charts, including Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs; in August, after 35 weeks at No. 1 on the latter chart, it helped FGL reclaim the record for the longest run at No. 1 on that chart, besting Sam Hunt's record set last year.
Additional CMA Awards categories are Musical Event of the Year, Music Video of the Year and Musician of the Year. The 2018 CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena; the show is scheduled to begin at 8PM ET on ABC.
The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about winners, fashion and moments at the 2018 CMA Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to TheBoot.com for the latest CMAs headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.
The Boot and Taste of Country’s collaborative Point / Counterpoint series features staff members from the two sites debating topics of interest within country music once per month. Check back on Sept. 21 for another installment.
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