CMA Awards 2014 Predictions: Who Will Win?

Miranda Lambert, Fashion Rocks 2014.
Heather Wines/CBS

Miranda Lambert performs during Fashion Rocks, a star-studded concert that honors the extraordinary relationship between fashion and music on September 9, 2014 on CBS Television Network.

On Wednesday night, ABC will broadcast the 48th annual Country Music Association Awards from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. For the seventh consecutive year, the broadcast will be hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, and will feature performances from many of the biggest stars in the format -- and, in the case of Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande, even outside of it.

CMA Awards Exec Producer Gives the Inside Scoop on This Year's Show

This year, it seems the awards themselves are tougher to predict than ever. Without one dominant song or artist leading the way, it seems that almost every category could be up for grabs. Billboard takes a look at four of the top categories and offers predictions on who might need to clear off some trophy space on the mantle:

SINGLE RECORD OF THE YEAR
"Automatic," Miranda Lambert
"Drunk on a Plane," Dierks Bentley
"Give Me Back My Hometown," Eric Church
"Meanwhile Back at Mama's," Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill
"Mine Would Be You," Blake Shelton

The Lowdown: You could make a valid argument for any of these five nominees. Shelton has been on a CMA roll the past few years, Church is a fan favorite and a critical darling, and Bentley is one of the genre's most consistent artists. With that said, look for this category to come down to either" Automatic," which talks about the music and lifestyle from a bygone era, or a song that sounds exactly like it could have been from that era, a la the McGraw and Hill collaboration.

Who Will Win: We think it's a draw, but look for Tim and Faith to surprise a few with a win here.

Eric Church Brings the Outsiders Tour to New York's Madison Square Garden

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Dierks Bentley
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

The Lowdown: This one is tough. Again, you could easily see any of these five gentlemen walking away with this. Shelton has won it four years, Bryan and Church have become consistent sell-out artists at the biggest arenas in America, and Urban is a three-time winner of this award previously. Bentley has never won this award. Hmmmm… we would almost go out on a limb, but look for the status quo to continue.

Who Will Win: Bentley could very well garner his first win in this category, but we think Shelton will claim this one more time.

Miranda Lambert Scores Record Fifth Career-Opening No. 1 on Top Country Albums Chart

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Kacey Musgraves
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

The Lowdown: First, let me say that including Martina McBride in this category is like nominating George Jones for male vocalist of the year in the 1980s. Any questions, class? But there's more to it than live performance. McBride didn't tally an entry on the singles chart. Musgraves might very well win this category in the not-too-distant future, Underwood remains one of the power vocalists of all time, and Swift...oops, she's not country (anymore). At the same time, none of this matters. Lambert is on a collision course with history, and she's going to make it there.

Who Will Win: Miranda Lambert. Look for her to pass McBride and Reba McEntire with her fifth straight win in this category -- and deservedly so.

George Strait: The Billboard Cover Story Q&A

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Luke Bryan
Miranda Lambert
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Keith Urban

The Lowdown: Having seen each of these artists live over the past year, in our humble opinion, Keith Urban live is simply too good to believe. He makes two hours seem like 20 minutes. He's one of the best at what he does. At the same time, he's won this award before -- in 2005 -- and it is rare to have someone return to the pinnacle of this category after winning it. But last year, George Strait won it for the first time since 1990, so it can be done. Speaking of Strait, can he repeat for his final leg of The Cowboy Rides Away tour? Never bet against Strait. Everybody learned that last year. Shelton continues to be one of the top stars in the format, and Bryan packs one sold-out crowd after another into arenas every night. Look for this one to come down to a race between two Texans: Strait, in his last roundup, and Lambert, who has paid her dues over the past decade to become much more than just a Nashville Star.

Who Will Win: As much as a final win for Strait would be emotionally satisfying, we just think it's Lambert's time.

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