Gwen: What's up next?
Scott: Let's go with Song of the Year first.
Gwen: The nominees are: "Anyway" by Martina McBride, "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood, "Give It Away" by George Strait, "Lost in This Moment" by Big & Rich, and "Stupid Boy" by Keith Urban.
Scott: Personally, none of these songs have the lyrical depth of "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw. I find it a travesty that it's not nominated, regardless of eligibility for the year. But since this is what we have, we have to go with it: of these five, I don't know that there's a clear-cut song that's better than the rest.
Gwen: Just to make it clear to those who aren't familiar with the CMA nominations: The Song of the Year category is awarded to the Songwriter and the Primary Publisher. Single of the Year is awarded to the Artist and the Producer. Therefore, Song of the Year focuses more on the artistic value of the song, and Single of the Year focuses more on the commercial appeal and radio success.
Scott: And, if that was totally true, "If You're Reading This" would be in the top five, so once again, we go with what we have -- which isn't necessarily weak, as all five are huge hits, lyrically they are a bit unremarkable, especially when compared to recent years.
Gwen: I agree. "Anyway," "Before He Cheats" and "Lost in This Moment" aren't filled with any lyrical surprises. They are straightforward songs that sound good for radio but add up to little more than ear candy.
Scott: And don't forget "Stupid Boy," about a man lamenting lost love and what he did wrong -- wow, that's a novel concept!
Gwen: No, it's not a new concept, but what in country music is? It's not necessarily finding a new topic, it's finding a new way to say it. In that regard, "Stupid Boy" is fresh for radio. It's a different angle on an old situation, and that's always refreshing to someone who loves their music a bit off the beaten path.
Scott: Okay, sure. I'm not saying it's a bad song. I've just heard the song of regret before. My personal pick here -- and I stress, personal -- would be "Give It Away." As a fan of both George Strait and one of the writers, Whisperin' Bill, I think this was about as novel as it got this year.
Gwen: I agree...it's a new take on an old topic. Divorce. She's leaving. She's telling him to take everything and do whatever the hell he wants with it. A new take on an old, worn-out topic...kinda like "Stupid Boy," huh?
Scott: Once again, what makes this great is that we can agree to disagree. George Strait for President!
Gwen: We already made the President from Texas mistake once. You go with George Strait, and I'll go with "Stupid Boy." And now, before we get all hot and bothered for the wrong reason, let's move on...
Scott: "Moving On" like the Rascal Flatts song?
Gwen: You've got it! We're now talking about Vocal Group of the Year. The nominees are: Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Dixie Chicks, Emerson Drive, Little Big Town and of course, Rascal Flatts. What say you?
Scott: What a competitive category we have. One of the top bluegrass singers and her backing band, going to head-to-head with a group that doesn't consider themselves country.
Gwen: The mind boggles.
Scott: Emerson Drive has had a great year, but only one real hit, which leaves us with two possibilities. While vocally, Little Big Town might be the cream of the category, you can't deny the power of tickets, the power of sales, and the power of songs chosen. Rascal Flatts has all three in their corner.
Gwen: You can't deny the power of Joe Don Rooney on guitar, either. Just from a woman's point of view, you understand. But seriously, I agree with you on this one. In a perfect world, Little Big Town would walk away with it. They have the talent to justify it.
Scott: However, in a perfect world, the Dixie Chicks would have never lost this award.
Gwen: Scott, are we getting political again? Wait -- this is the CMAs. Never mind.
Scott: Let's go to Video of the Year. Who are the lucky nominees?
Gwen: That would be "Moments" by Emerson Drive, "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood, "Anyway" by Martina McBride, "Online" by Brad Paisley, and "You Save Me" by Kenny Chesney.
Scott: A varied lineup this year, featuring the inspirational hits from Emerson Drive and Martina, a dramatic statement from Mr. Chesney, a side-splitting humor piece by Brad Paisley, and Carrie Underwood wearing leather and carrying a baseball bat.
Gwen: Well, given those descriptions, I could almost guess what you would choose...
Scott: Actually, I would choose "Wasted." Carrie on the beach is much more appealing! But in all seriousness, I think the most entertaining of these videos -- and the most talked-about -- was Paisley's ode to the search for love via cyberspace. Throw in the fact that the CMA always loves attention from Hollywood, and Jason Alexander directing this video fits that bill quite nicely. Plus, cameos from William Shatner and Maurrean McCormick made this one a delight from start to finish.
Gwen: You're the silly one, and I'm the serious one, which might account for our difference in opinion here. I'm all for "You Save Me" on this category, especially when the director's cut is taken into account. So much more backstory is told with an additional two minutes, and it adds a sweet flavor to the video that isn't there with the television-friendly version.
Scott: Then again, there is Carrie Underwood and the bat...
Gwen: And the leather, Scott. Don't forget the leather.
Scott: Well, she is America's Sweetheart...
Gwen: Moving on yet again --
Scott: Do we have to?
Gwen: Tony Romo probably wishes we would.
Gwen: The next category is Musical Event of the Year. Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson with "Because of You," "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" by Tracy Lawrence featuring Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, "Hey Good Lookin' (Live)" by Jimmy Buffet with George Strait and Alan Jackson, "Missing You" by Alison Krauss and John Waite, and finally, "The Reason Why" by Vince Gill with guest vocalist Alison Krauss.
Scott: I find it intriguing that the most high-profile collaboration of the year -- Tim McGraw and Faith Hill -- didn't get nominated.
Gwen: This isn't the only category where the duo are noticably absent. When we talk about numbers, they definitely have it, especially when considering the success of their tour over the last few years. I'm thinking Faith's ill-timed reaction to Carrie Underwood's Female Vocalist win last year caused them a lot of grief among the industry when voting time came around.
Scott: Probably didn't help, but when you have a live version of a song that was a hit from two years ago in "Hey Good Lookin' (Live)" being nominated, you just have to wonder about the validity of this category.
Gwen: My personal pick for this category is the Tracy Lawrence song, "Find Out Who Your Friends Are." I admit, I'm biased thanks to the ridiculous actions of BNA Records when it became apparent Tracy was a true competitor the top slot on the country chart. That move backfired on them and gave Tracy a well-deserved number one, and hopefully the big labels will be taught a lesson when Tracy takes home the CMA Award for the very song BNA tried to make country radio boycott.
Scott: If Nashville music industry were a democratic society, that might be true. Rocky Comfort Records probably doesn't have the clout in this category. You have to look at the one-two punch of one of the most talked-about collaborations of the year between Reba and Kelly.
Gwen: Unfortunately, you're probably right. Even so, my heart beats for the underdogs, so I'm going to be hoping Tracy's name is called from the stage that night.
Come back tomorrow for Part Three, the last of our CMA Predictions. If you missed Part One, check that out here.