Just because Miranda Lambert received seven Academy of Country Music nominations does not mean she will take home a lot of hardware tonight either. No doubts he already has gotten a lot of mileage out of being the leading nominee for yet another awards show.
Lambert even received three more than Taylor Swift! Zac Brown Band had the second most nominations with five.
So, being the not necessarily so great prognosticator that I am, here goes with few predictions.
Entertainer of the Year:this is the last one and the biggest of course because even if you had a bad night with the awards per nomination ratio, if you win this, not much else matters. My hunch is that Lambert, Swift and Keith Urban are the prime contenders. Toby Keith barely registers at awards shows, and while Jason Aldean has enjoyed a good year, I can't imagine him beating out Urban or Brad Paisley. Before this gets any more convoluted, I'm going with Swift. She released the best album by far of her career last year, did some cool things to engage her fans and has been quite active in promoting country music (not to mention her own career, but I can't blame her there). Of course, if Lambert wins, I also won't be surprised.
Album of the Year:I have to go with Jamey Johnson's "The Guitar Song." After all, it was my pick for best of 2010, so how could I go against it now? I also was keen on Swift's "Speak Now," Dierks Bentley's "Up on The Ridge" and Zac Brown Band's "You Get What You Give." I'll suspect that Swift will actually win this, but I also could see Lady Antebellum bringing home the honor with "Need You Now." The album wasn't all that good - too many mediocre tunes - but the trio catapulted to the big time since its release.
Top Vocal Duo: Sugarland. I mean, how did The Janedear Girls even get nominated? Their debut album came out on the day the nominations were announced. Joey + Rory are real good through two albums now. Montgomery Gentry's biggest news was that they were leaving their Sony home. Steel Magnolia has enjoyed some success, but I just don't see anyone taking it over Sugarland. Please note - this definitely goes in the category of who I think will win, not who I want to win (Joey + Rory) because I am not a Sugarland fan.
Top Vocal Group: this is a tough one with Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band, The Band Perry and Lady A nominated along with the Randy Rogers Band. RRB has zero chance of winning - nothing to do with quality. People just don't know who they are. Based partially on how they've done at other awards show, I'll give this to Lady A, although Zac Brown Band could easily win also.
Top Male Vocalist: another tough category with Aldean, Paisley, Urban, George Strait and show co-host Blake Shelton nominated. I'll predict Urban to win - he usually does pretty well at these awards shows. Shelton had an excellent 2010 career-wise though, so it'd be hard to count him out. Well, it's hard to count any of these folks out.
Top Female Vocalist: I'll go with Taylor Swift again over show co-host Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Lambert and Lee Ann Womack. All except Womack have a real shot at winning this. It's the kind of vote that maybe deserved a recount to ensure accuracy.
Top New Act: this is now between Eric Church and The Band Perry because both won their respective categories (Top New Vocalist and Top New Band respectively) prior to tonight. I'll go with TBP. They had a very good debut CD, and they have generated buzz. Church would be deserving as well, however.
Song of the Year:I'm going with Lambert's The House That Built Me by songwriters Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin. It's just a great song about going back home and recalling a different stage of life without being schmaltzy or maudlin. The song also shows a tender Lambert. The other song that seemed to resonate was The Band Perry's If I Die Young, written by Kimberly Perry. Lambert's too strong in this category.
Vocal Event: I have a hard time figuring out this category. I can't say I'm familiar with Emily West's Blue Sky with Urban. This was no hit. Neither was Cold Beer, by Colt Ford featuring Johnson and Good to Be Me, Uncle Kracker featuring Kid Rock. That'll leave As She's Walking Away, Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson and Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow and Lambert. I like the latter more, and I liked the cross-generational thing gong on with Lynn and Lambert in particular. I didn't think Jackson was all that huge a presence on As She's Walking Away, but apparently enough to be nominated. Tough choice. I guess I'll pick ZBB/Jackson. Not sure it matters all that much, but the song did get a lot of airplay and reached the top of the charts.
Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year:I confess. I have always had a lot of trouble figuring out the difference between these two awards whether it's the ACMs, CMAs or whatever the awards show is. Regardless, I'm going with Lambert again and The House That Built Me for the same reasons as above. One song can carry you through several different categories. Interestingly, the following songs were nominated in both categories: A Little More Country Than That, Easton Corbin, As She's Walking Away, Zac Brown Band featuring Jackson, If I Die Young by The Band Perry and Love Like Crazy by Lee Brice. Kenny Chesney was nominated in the Single Record category for The Boys of Fall.
Video of the Year:This is a tough category for Lambert. She competes not only against herself (both Only Prettier and The House that Built Me were nominated), but also fiancé Blake Shelton for Hillbilly Bone with Trace Adkins (By the way, how did that not get nominated for Vocal Event of the Year?). Hillbilly Bone is fun, although predictable. Stuck Like Glue also goes go for the cutesy look, but that reggae rap killed the song for me big time. And I'm not so sure about keeping the tied up and then punched at the end. Kenny Chesney's The Boys of Fall resonates about sports (especially the pre-game pep talk from the high school coach) and life. It's the kind of song Chesney excels on and sounds believable. Only Prettier maintains that cutesy feel prevalent in this category, and Lambert does a good job with it, but she excels on The House That Built Me. You can feel the emotion in her eyes of going back home. The videos of a young girl work well, and it's a song that we can all relate to or imagine. Another award for Lambert.
No guarantees, but I think it could be a great night for Lambert and Swift.
Follow us on Twitter during the ACMs tonight, and I'll be blogging away also.