With a win for Musical Event of the Year, Keith Urban could break two records: most wins ever in this category (it would be his fourth) and most consecutive wins (it would be his third in a row); Urban is currently tied with Tim McGraw in this category for the most wins at three each.
Last year Urban won his second straight Musical Event trophy for his duet with Miranda Lambert, "We Were Us." In 2013 he teamed up with country heavyweights McGraw and Taylor Swift on the winning collaboration "Highway Don't Care." And four years before that, in 2009, Urban won his first award in this category for "Start a Band" with Brad Paisley. Will Urban's streak continue, or will his luck run out this year as he goes into battle against some of the toughest competition he's faced yet?
Musical Event is Urban's only nomination this year, but he is teamed up with five-time nominee Eric Church on their hit "Raise 'Em Up." Church is also nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist, Song ("Like a Wrecking Ball") and Single of the Year ("Talladega"). Urban and Church currently lead our racetrack odds at 4/5 with support from all Gold Derby Editors and the majority of Users and Top 24 Users (those two dozen folks who did the best predicting last year's CMA winners).
Right on their heels are CMA favorites Miranda Lambert (Urban's winning partner in 2014) and Little Big Town, who teamed up for "Smokin and Drinkin." Lambert is also nominated this year for Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist and Video of the Year ("Little Red Wagon"). Even more impressive are her collaborators who have five total nominations, including Album of the Year ("Pain Killer"), Single of the Year ("Girl Crush"), Vocal Group and Video of the Year ("Girl Crush"). "Girl Crush" is also nominated for Song of the Year, but Little Big Town didn't pen the tune. Currently Lambert and Little Big Town rank second in our predictions, getting odds of 4/1 to end Urban's streak.
With 8/1 odds are country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, who reunited for their well-received album and single "Django and Jimmie." This is Haggard's first nomination in this category while Nelson has lost twice before. In 2005 Nelson contended with Lee Ann Womack for "I'll Never Be Free" but lost to another Womack duet, "Good News, Bad News" with George Strait. Then in 2012 Nelson lost for a second time with his most unique collaboration to date, "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" with Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson. They ended up losing out to Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw's "Feel Like a Rock Star." The third time could be the charm for Nelson, and it's not hard to imagine an upset for this legendary duo, despite it being the only nomination for each.
Aiming for his third win in this category is Chesney, whose duet with Grace Potter, "Wild Child," has current odds of 10/1. Chesney and Potter have lost this category before. In 2011 their duet "You and Tequila" lost to the cross-over hit from Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, "Don't You Wanna Stay."
Chesney is no stranger to this category: since its inception in 2004 he has been nominated a staggering nine times. Two of those nominations led to wins – in 2007 for a collaboration with Tracy Lawrence and Tim McGraw ("Find Out Who Your Friends Are") and again in 2012 for the aforementioned "Feel Like a Rock Star." Chesney is also having a comeback year with four other nominations: Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year ("The Big Revival") and Single and Song of the Year ("American Kids").
Trailing with 20/1 odds are five-time reigning Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton and breakout star Ashley Monroe's "Lonely Tonight." The song reached number-one on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and number-two on the Hot Country Songs chart. Shelton has one other nomination this year, Male Vocalist, while this is Monroe's only bid, which doesn't indicate much across-the-board support for either of them. But never underestimate Shelton: as I mentioned he has won Male Vocalist of the Year for five years running and has gone home with this trophy once before, in 2010 with Trace Adkins for "Hillbilly Bone."
With this category arguably the most stacked of the night, can Urban prevail for a record-setting fourth win? Or will another giant in country music end his streak?
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: Keith Urban. Credit: Erik Pendzich/Rex/REX
Photo: Miranda Lambert. Credit: Jim Smeal/BEI/REX