The Academy of Country Music Awards will be on television May 18, but the nominations were announced recently.
And Kenny Chesney leads the pack with 11. Isn't it hard to believe that this east Tennessee country boy has emerged to superstar status over the past decade.
For Entertainer of the Year, he'll compete against Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, George Strait and Keith Urban. I'd like to see BP win this category. He's the best pure entertainer whereas Strait's the best vocalist of the bunch.
The second category, male vocalist of the year, has the same contestants with Rodney Atkins in place of Rascal Flatts. This one needs to go to Strait.
Female vocalist of the year is between Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Martina McBride and LeAnn Rimes. I'd be shocked if Rimes won it or if Underwood didn't.
Who's the top vocal duo? Big & Rich, Montgomery Gentry, Halfway to Hazard, Brooks & Dunn and Sugarland. Well, Halfway to Hazard should get the 'thanks for showing up' accolade. But you know B & D are going to win this one, hands down.
Top new male vocalist - I've got to go with Luke Bryan over Jack Ingram and Jake Owen. Whether it's a ballad or a party song, Bryan can perform with the best of them. And give Taylor Swift the nod over Kellie Pickler and Sarah Buxton for new female vocalist. Buxton is great, and I always like to see folks from Lawrence, KS succeed, but I think you need to have a full album out in order to be nominated.
Same goes for Lady Antebellum in the new vocalist/group category. This is one thin category. You have The Wreckers, who are probably breaking up, and Carolina Rain, which hasn't had a radio single since last summer. Can Chesney find a duet partner and go for an award in this category, too?
Other winners I'd like to see:
Album of The Year Brad Paisley, 5th Gear
Single of The Year "Famous In A Small Town" Miranda Lambert
Song of The Year "Moments" Emerson Drive
Video of The Year "Online" Brad Paisley
Vocal Event of the Year "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" Tracy Lawrence/Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw