POLL: Who Should Win Album of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards?
The CMA for Album of the Year celebrates the cumulative effort of not just the artist, but everyone who works diligently to create an album, from the songwriters to the musicians to the producers. An album is much more than just an album, it's a labor of love, and while every record nominated for Album of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards is attached to a name we've loved for years (or are quickly falling in love with this year, in one case), the people behind the scenes on each project are also worthy of celebration.
The one and only newcomer in the Album of the Year category this year is actually quite a force to be reckoned with. Along with her Album of the Year nomination (for a debut album, no less!), Maren Morris is also the most nominated artist at the 2016 CMAs, with nods in four other categories. Her record Hero was released in June and includes the gold-certified (and doubly nominated) "My Church," as well as 10 other tracks that had both critics and listeners fawning. If Chris Stapleton showed us the danger in underestimating the winning power of a new act last year, Morris may very well prove it once again this year.
If Morris is following in someone's footsteps, it's those of someone equally edgy and unique -- like Eric Church. Church's Mr. Misunderstood album delighted fans with its surprise release last November and has churned out hit after rocking hit since then. Critics praised the record for its authentic celebration of music and the musicians who have become Church's heroes. With references to everyone from Waylon Jennings to Willie Nelson to James Brown, Mr. Misunderstood honors the greats who have come before while becoming a great in its own right.
When Carrie Underwood released her sixth studio album, Storyteller, she also made history. The record, released in October of 2015, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, making Underwood the only artist in the chart's 51-year history to have her first six albums debut in the top spot. To celebrate, Underwood embarked on a 30-plus date world tour, including a string of dates with good friend (and fellow collaborator) Keith Urban in New Zealand and Australia. Do you think this year's CMA co-host will take home the win for Album of the Year?
Speaking of Urban, the Aussie's newest studio album is also up for the big award at the 50th annual CMAs. Ripcord hit shelves in May and debuted at No. 1 in the U.S., Canada and his native Australia, which just so happened to also set a new record. But while Ripcord performed amazingly well on the charts and inspired Urban's 2016 Ripcord World Tour, the record became especially meaningful to the singer after the death of his father while he was recording it; Urban says that he feels his father's fingerprints all over the album.
Dierks Bentley's Black is the final record for be nominated for Album of the Year, and its a personal and nostalgic project for the singer in more ways than one. Partially named because of his wife's maiden name, Bentley's May release was written after he and wife Cassidy celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. After over a decade in the music industry, eight albums and 10 years of marriage, Bentley says that Black is "more about looking back" than his past studio offerings.
Who should win Album of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards? You can vote in the poll below as often as once an hour until 11:59PM ET on Oct. 31. We’ll compile the results for our readers vs. staff predictions the following day (Nov. 1).
The 2016 CMA Awards are set to air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2 on ABC at 8PM ET.
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