CMA Awards Predictions: Best New Artist
CMA Awards Predictions: Best New Artist

The 46th Annual Country Music Association Awards will be broadcast live on ABC this Thursday, November 1. Over the next four days, we'll give you our thoughts on who just might walk away with some of the top awards. Today's category is New Artist of the Year.

The nominees are:

Lee Brice
Brantley Gilbert
Hunter Hayes
Love & Theft
Thompson Square

All five of these are worthwhile contenders. After a slow start, Brice has carved out a niche as one of the country music's most distinctive stylists. Gilbert has evolved from regional star to national headliner, and Love & Theft has undergone a successful relaunch after their first deal with Lyric Street ended a few years ago.

As deserving as these are, I think it comes down to the beautiful harmonies of Keifer and Shawna Thompson, and a young man who just might be the most overall talented newcomer the format has seen in a while. Hayes has an impressive stage presence, and can sing, write, and play -- and do each exceedingly well. After seeing his Country Radio Seminar performance earlier this year, we quickly became fans! Hayes - by that much!

The 615 Pick: Hunter Hayes