CMA Awards 2014: Who Will (and Should) Win on Country's Big Night

We predict the victors in the largely unpredictable categories, plus make our case for who really deserves the high country honors

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New Artist of the Year
Thomas Rhett Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images7/12

New Artist of the Year

It's a boys' club of radio stars in the New Artist category, with one female critical favorite in the mix. Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore, Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell, all of whom have scored at least two Number One country airplay hits, are going up against songwriter extraordinaire Brandy Clark.

Who Will Win: Thomas Rhett's back-to-back hits "It Goes Like This" and "Get Me Some of That," when coupled with his successful songwriting history (he's co-written singles for Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and Lee Brice), make him a strong contender for the prize. Still, if Rhett splits votes with his fellow party-hearty male competition, the door could be open for Brandy Clark to pull off a huge upset.

Who Should Win: Brandy Clark may not match the commercial success of the bros in her category, but she's earned massive industry respect in Nashville. Clark co-wrote hits like the Band Perry's "Better Dig Two" and Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart," and her debut album 12 Stories drew wide acclaim from all corners of the pop culture landscape.

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