Thus far Blake Shelton has been bulletproof in the CMA Awards race for Male Vocalist of the Year, winning the last five years in a row. Can he overcome tough competition to win a record-breaking sixth prize?
Shelton is tied with Vince Gill and George Strait for most Male Vocalist victories, and only Shelton and Gill won their five awards consecutively. But there's reason to believe the Country Music Association may not be as enthusiastic about Shelton this time around. Consider that after four straight nominations for Entertainer of the Year (2011-2014, including a win in 2012), he was left out of that top category this year. In fact, his only other nomination this year is Musical Event of the Year for "Lonely Tonight" with Ashley Monroe.
Meanwhile, two of Shelton's Male Vocalist rivals this year did score nominations for Entertainer of the Year: Luke Bryan and Eric Church; Bryan actually won the top prize in 2014, while Church leads this year's nominations with five bids overall. Then there's newcomer Chris Stapleton, who also contends for Album of the Year for his solo debut "Traveller," which may suggest greater industry support for him too.
Nevertheless, Shelton has a narrow lead in our predictions, getting leading odds of 6/5. Our Top 24 Users (those two dozen folks who scored highest predicting last year's CMA winners) give Shelton the advantage, with 16 betting on the returning champ.
However, out of all Users we've polled, 41% say Bryan will prevail, compared to 39% backing Shelton. And our Editors (those of us who cover awards year-round at Gold Derby) are split down the middle with three favoring Bryan and three favoring Shelton, but based on our complete rankings in the category we Editors give Bryan an ever-so-slight edge to prevail.
Overall Bryan ranks second with 21/10 odds. Church is right behind in third place with odds of 8/1. Stapleton is farther behind (14/1), while Dierks Bentley is an underdog (22/1).
What do you think? Will Shelton make history with a record-breaking sixth victory? Or are his days numbered?
Make your own CMA picks now to the right or at the bottom of this post, and you could win a $100 Amazon gift card as well as a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year's Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year's CMA winners).
Last year, our Editors (Gold Derby's in-house team of writers and prognosticators), Top 24 Users and all Gold Derby Users tied with an accuracy rate of 66.67% when it came to predicting the CMA winners. (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)
Which group will be victorious this year? User Dehlavi got the top score predicting the CMAs last year with a whopping 89% accuracy rate. As some of our Users turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, it's important that you give us your predictions. Your picks influence our Users racetrack odds, which also factor into our official combined odds.
Photo: Blake Shelton performs. Credit: Amy Harris/REX