Video of the Year is one of the more unpredictable categories at the upcoming CMA Awards. Currently our predictions place Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" way out in front with 54% of our users picking it to take home the prize, resulting in odds of 9/10. The popularity and multiple nominations for this single have led many to believe there could be a Little Big Town sweep for the night, but let's break down this category a bit further. According to CMA rules, "The video should be judged on all audio and video elements including, but not limited to, the artist's performance, video concept and production." Keeping that in mind, I have a few observations about the nominees this year that might shake up the odds in this category.
Carrie Underwood, "Something in the Water"
Pros: The cinematography and choreographed dance sequences separate Underwood's video from the pack. The quality of the overall production also seems to be a cut above the rest. It doesn't hurt that this video is a fan favorite – it won the Country Music Television (CMT) Award for Video of the Year in 2015. Granted, that is a fan-voted award, but still makes it a proven winner. This is also a category where the academy may want to honor Underwood partly as a reward for co-hosting the CMA Awards for the last seven years. Although she is nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year, that award seems more likely to go to five-time champ Miranda Lambert or to Kacey Musgraves, who had a breakthrough year with a critically acclaimed sophomore album ("Pageant Material").
Cons: For all the awards Underwood has taken home since her debut in 2005, one award that has eluded her is this one, even despite the fact that she has been a dominant force at the CMT Awards, winning more than any other artist in the history of those kudos. Will she finally end her CMA losing streak this year?
Current Racetrack Odds: 8/1 (third place)
Pros: This is the sassiest, most fun video in this category. In it, Miranda makes a pit stop in the desert as she tours around the country and gives some flirtatious "Oooos" and "Aahhhhs" to the employees at the local motel, including a front desk clerk, a sexy maid and a hunky pool boy. The video works well with the song and has more of a storyline than any other video in this category. Another perk for Lambert is that she has won this award before, for "The House That Built Me" in 2010. "Little Red Wagon" is also somewhat reminiscent of the cheeky, girl-power video that won this award in 2002, "Goodbye Earl" by the Dixie Chicks. If CMA members vote purely on entertainment value, Lambert could be on her way to her second win in this race.
Cons: The video lacks Underwood's overall production values. It may also be too similar to the videos of rival nominees Kacey Musgraves and Maddie and Tae. These country girls in cowboy boots might split the votes, leaving the door open for someone with a more original theme.
Current Racetrack Odds: 5/1 (second place)
Little Big Town – "Girl Crush"
Pros: "Girl Crush" is one of the biggest country hits of the year and the power behind that single may lead Little Big Town to their biggest night yet at the CMA Awards. They're already strong contenders for Single, Song, Album and Vocal Group of the Year, so Video of the Year could be another box voters check on the way to a Little Big Town sweep.
Cons: The video is uneventful. If there were even a minimal storyline, Little Big Town could have easily walked away with this award. But the video is just a series of shots of the group singing on-stage. The black-and-white cinematography seems more upscale and on par with Underwood's video, but that's about it. If Little Big Town wins this award it'll be due to the song's popularity rather than the merits of the video itself. It's a missed opportunity: the song lyrics could have even supported a short film.
Current Racetrack Odds: 9/10 (first place)
Kacey Musgraves – "Biscuits"
Pros: Kacey Musgraves had a great year with her sophomore hit album, "Pageant Material." She also contends against Underwood and Lambert for Female Vocalist of the Year, but unlike them she is also up for Album of the Year. This might be the place the academy can reward her success. She released a tongue-in-cheek video that one can't help but chuckle at – with purposely cheesy costumes and a throwback theme to old-school country that screams "Hee Haw" barn party.
Cons: It's hard to take this video seriously, and it's not quite as funny as it thinks it is. Kacey doesn't quite have the showmanship to pull off this kind of video like Underwood or Lambert have. To me this video looks a bit slapdash, and if they are truly voting on video quality, I can't see this winning.
Current Racetrack Odds: 17/2 (fourth place)
Pros: Maddie and Tae are the only newcomers in this field and may stand out for being fresh-faced in a crowd of CMA vets. Like Lambert and Musgraves, their video is full of good ol' country scenery with cowboy hats and boots galore.
Cons: Maddie and Tae seem like little fish in a big pond here. Putting these newcomers up against four competitors who have all triumphed at the CMAs seems like a tough battle for them to win. This looks like a case of the nomination being the reward – and I'm a bit surprised they were. I can't see the Country Music Association's 6,000 members giving this award to this duo over much bigger names in country music. Especially for a video with limited production value.
Current Racetrack Odds: 10/1 (fifth place)
I'm predicting this award will come down to the two reigning queens of country: Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. With the more polished video, a unique concept and a stronger vocal performance I'm forecasting that Carrie Underwood outclasses the competition on her way to her first CMA Award for Video of the Year.
But maybe you think I'm dead wrong. If so, 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: Carrie Underwood, "Something in the Water." Credit: Arista Nashville
Photo: Little Big Town, "Girl Crush." Credit: Capitol Nashville/Interscope