Single of the Year
In what may be the closest category of the night, five smash hits are duking it out: Blake Shelton's "Mine Would Be You," Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "Meanwhile Back at Mama's," Dierks Bentley's "Drunk on a Plane," Eric Church's "Give Me Back My Hometown" and Miranda Lambert's "Automatic."
Who Will Win: This one is a toss-up. "Drunk On a Plane" elevated bro-country tropes into something surprisingly winsome. "Automatic" appeals to simpler times. "Give Me Back My Hometown" reflected on a break-up with a fresh song structure. "Meanwhile Back at Mama's" felt as cozy as a slice of apple pie. "Mine Would Be You" was the finest song on Shelton's CMA-winning Based on a True Story… album, and although it wasn't his biggest hit, there's a good chance that votes will be split so evenly between the nominees, that Shelton's consistent popularity with CMA voters will give his song the victory.
Who Should Win: Tim McGraw sputtered at the start of this year with the overly auto-tuned "Lookin' for That Girl," which never took off. So his duet with wife Faith Hill felt like a refreshing reprieve from trend-chasing. "Meanwhile Back at Mama's" connected with critics and listeners alike, and its popularity was rooted in real emotion, not just flash.