CMA Awards: 10 Surprises, Quirks and Early Picks

Nelly and Tyler Hubbard of Florida-Georgia Line perform during the 2013 CMT Music awards on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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The nominations for the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards are out, and among the familiar artists were quite a few surprises. The 615 had their own thoughts about the morning's announcements. 

Kacey and Taylor Lead the Pack | Full Nominees List

Check out 10 observations, plus our snap picks for nine of the awards.

1. Mighty Kacey
The moment that Kacey Musgraves released her debut album "Same Trailer Different Park" in March, it seemed a foregone conclusion that she was going to be a contender on the awards show circuit. The ACMs got in on the party early – listing her as a four-time nominee before her album was ever released, and the CMAs followed suit – giving the Sulphur Springs, TX native six nominations -- sharing "Most nominated" status alongside of Taylor Swift. And, she also has two nominations as producer of her Single and Album nominations, as well.

2. Strait Returns With A Bang
Over two decades after his last win in the CMA Entertainer of the Year, George Strait has a chance to win his third trophy in the category. Having just announced the final leg of his "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour, this is more than just a sentimental choice. He has been packing them in since the early 1980s, and 2013 has been no exception. The nod was his 82nd – giving him more nominations than any act in history.

3. Where's Carrie?
Carrie Underwood tallied a trio of nominations for this year's awards, but was conspicuously absent in the list for the Entertainer of the Year. Taking nothing away from either of the five artists who were nominated, but this feels like an oversight by CMA voters. Her "Blown Away" tour was a sonic and visual delight that left attendees wanting more. 

4. A Very Varied Album Category
If you need proof of just how eclectic country music is these days, take a look at the Album of the Year category. With the crossover stylings of Swift and Underwood, the irreverence of Blake Shelton, the high-octane fun and passion of Little Big Town, and the traditional sound of Musgraves, this one is going to be one of the toughest categories to pick, although I am leaning towards Musgraves on this one.

5. Song Of The Year Irony
Some interesting points about the Song of the Year class. Lee Brice is highly respected for his vocalizing and writing skills, as he has won acclaim for writing hits by Garth Brooks and the Eli Young Band, but he didn't have a hand in writing his single "I Drive Your Truck," which finished with a nomination. Musgraves had the distinction of co-writing both her nominated hit ("Merry Go ‘Round") as well as one for another artist (Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart"), and after recording some of his most classic sounds in Nashville close to five decades ago – Bob Dylan with his first CMA nod? Cool!

6. A Female Vocalist Observation
Last year, at this time, Kelly Clarkson made headlines with a nomination in spite of never having a (country) solo record inside the top 20. Taking nothing away from Clarkson, because we love her in the 615, but it was kind of a surprise that Sheryl Crow didn't receive some love in this category. "Easy" has performed well on the charts, sitting at No. 18 on Country Airplay -- numbers that actually surpass Clarkson on a solo level. Nominate six, we say!

7. An All-Star Event
If a track has ever qualified as Musical Event of the Year – from an awards standpoint, it would have to be "The Only Way I Know." The single features three of the five nominated acts for Male Vocalist of the Year in Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Eric Church.

8. Status Quo
If you experience a sense of deja vu when reading the nominees for Musician of the Year or Vocal Group, there's a reason. The 2013 list reads the same as 2012. We have a feeling that the winner of the Vocal Group category will also be a repeat, as Little Big Town has had too strong of a year. In the Musician category, we're crossing our fingers from steel wizard Paul Franklin. A longtime nominee, maybe the press from "Bakersfield," his collab with Vince Gill, will help earn him some long-overdue recognition.

9. And The Winner Is... Nelly?
Each year, there are always a few unlikely nominees for the CMA Awards. Last year, Snoop Lion was in the running for Musical Event of the Year, and 2013's outside the Nashville mainstream nominee is Nelly – who contributed to the wildly popular "Cruise" remix with Florida Georgia Line. However, it's not his first collaboration with a country act. Almost a decade ago, he paired with Tim McGraw for the top-5 pop hit "Over And Over," helping Tim to his biggest Hot 100 peak in his career. With the sales of "Cruise," Nelly might have a cross over history making moment of his own in November.

10. Early Picks, Anyone?
While we will save the Entertainer, Male, and Female Vocalist picks until CMA Week, here's some predictions from The 615 on who might win big on Nov. 6.

Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
Musical Event of the Year: "Highway Don't Care"
Musician of the Year: Paul Franklin
Single of the Year: "Cruise"
Song of the Year: "Merry Go 'Round"
Album of the Year: "Same Trailer, Different Park"
Video of the Year: "Blown Away"
New Artist of the Year: Kacey Musgraves

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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