As fans review the ACM nominees, there are a thousand different storylines to consider with about as many possible outcomes. Picking the winners is a tough business, with so many factors in the conversation. A few trends are strong enough to be worth mentioning, though, and could give you the inside track towards earning a victory lap as the winners are announced.
The Fish In A Barrel
Let’s be honest. Luke Bryan is a runaway train for Entertainer of the Year. He’s sold out Madison Square Garden for two shows and handled more music downloads than the servers on a college campus.
While he’s in great company–Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton (a previous juggernaut himself), Miranda Lambert (ditto), and George Strait–picking against Luke at this point is about like picking against snow in Siberia. He’ll also be the smart money for male vocalist. Enjoy your trophy (trophies), Luke.
The Tough Call Among Tough Women
Country is fielding strong female after strong female lately. From the “done-me-wrong” stylings of Taylor Swift to Miranda Lambert (the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” herself), these aren’t dainty little fairies yodeling about sipping on iced tea. These are hard-charging, from-the-heart singer/songwriters who call them like they see them, and that makes the field that much harder to handicap.
Kacey Musgraves joins these two ladies with a lot of momentum thanks to her songwriting credits. Then there’s Sheryl Crow logging in from the folk/rock/country/you-name-it genre, and the field is rounded out by the powerful pipes of Carrie Underwood.
While Crow and Musgraves aren’t ringing up the country airplay of the other three, they’re still very influential and highly regarded in the industry. That could position them to slide right in there for the win. It’s still the category to lose for the big names, but it’s not the runaway it might first seem.
Thank goodness for wide-screen televisions. Without them, there probably wouldn’t be enough room on the screen for a video like “Highway Don’t Care”, a safe pick for Video of the Year. Crammed with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift singing, Keith Urban rocking his Telecaster, and oh yeah, a storyline, this video grabs about every demographic imaginable.
Miranda Lambert’s mascara-smeared breakdown in “Mama’s Broken Heart” and the two vengeful mistresses in Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs” run a close second, but star power is star power and it’ll be tough to top this trio.
George Strait is hanging it up, heading back to Texas to bask in the gleam of his flotilla of industry awards from 30-plus years under the hat. That’s a powerful factor in voting, since it’s clearly understood that any award that voters feel George should have coming must arrive this year, lest he be relegated to some special recognition on a future broadcast.
The impact of that could pluck Strait from the crowd for Entertainer of the Year, and that mindset could also impact other categories.
Song of the Year might gravitate toward Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel”, written by Bob Dylan. Seriously. Few fans recognize that the Minnesota Mumbler himself penned that tune and instead assume it was the product of Old Crow Medicine Show, which first released it. But it’s Bob’s, and the desire to pay tribute to a genre-busting hit like “Wagon Wheel” could bring it to the forefront.
The ACM Awards will be broadcast LIVE from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the CBS Television Network.