CMA Awards 2015: What to Expect From the Show

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are hosting the show, which airs tonight.

ByANDREA DRESDALE
November 04, 2015, 4:36 PM

— -- Here's what we know and don't know about the 49th annual CMA Awards: Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will likely make jokes about this year’s multiple high-profile break-ups in country music, at least partially because Miranda Lambert’s ex, Blake Shelton, has given them his permission.

Keith Urban will sing “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” and he will sing with John Mellencamp -- but we don’t know if the rock legend will sing on the No. 1 hit that name-checks his earlier alter-ego.

Of course, most of the winners are still unknown, though "Girl in a Country Song" by Maddie & Tae was named Music Video of the Year on "Good Morning America" earlier today, while "Raise 'Em Up" by Urban featuring Eric Church picked up Musical Event of the Year Award.

Eric Church and Little Big Town have the best odds of taking home a trophy during the broadcast, as each have five nominations. Kenny Chesney and Lambert aren’t far behind, with four apiece. Sam Hunt, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, and Maddie & Tae are all triple-threats when it comes to CMA nods.

Duo of the Year nominees Maddie & Tae admitted they're not even letting themselves think much about the possibility of winning. (Of course, they've already got one!)

"That hasn't even, honestly, crossed our mind, because, you know, we're brand new," Maddie said. "We're the only female act too and we're up against some really great duos."

Add nominees Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, and Zac Brown Band to the mix, and you’ll have a near-complete list of all the show’s performances.

"I'm comfortable just getting to go up and perform...getting to do it live in front of everybody at home...and try to help everybody there have a good time," Zac Brown said. (No, he's not concerned with winning, he admitted.)

The three-hour extravaganza will kick off with Hank Williams Jr. and Eric Church performing a new version of “Are You Ready for the Country,” before seguing into Urban's stage time with Mellencamp. Chris Stapleton may have secured the most high-profile guest, inviting Justin Timberlake to join him for a set that will include “Tennessee Whiskey” from his CMA-nominated album. Thomas Rhett and Fall Out Boy will trade lines on “Crash and Burn” and “Uma Thurman.” Vegas co-headliners and old friends Reba and Brooks & Dunn will also collaborate.

While we don’t know who will win, we do know who’ll be handing out the CMA statues. Kiefer Sutherland, Steve Martin, and Wicked City’s Erika Christensen will be presenting. Edie Brickell and Pentatonix stop by from the pop world. Brett Eldredge, Charles Kelley, Jennifer Nettles, Darius Rucker, Cole Swindell, and Lee Ann Womack will pass out trophies to their country compadres.

The 49th Annual CMA Awards airs at 8 p.m. ET tonight on ABC.

Here’s a complete list of the 2015 nominees:

Entertainer of the Year

  • Garth Brooks
  • Luke Bryan
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Eric Church
  • Miranda Lambert

Female Vocalist

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Lee Ann Womack

Male Vocalist

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Blake Shelton
  • Chris Stapleton

Album of the Year

  • Jason Aldean, "Old Boots, New Dirt"
  • Kacey Musgraves, "Pageant Material"
  • Little Big Town, "Pain Killer"
  • Kenny Chesney, "The Big Revival"
  • Chris Stapleton, "Traveller"

New Artist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Sam Hunt
  • Maddie & Tae
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton

Song of the Year (Award to Songwriter)

  • "American Kids," Kenny Chesney
  • "Girl Crush," Little Big Town
  • "Like a Cowboy," Randy Houser
  • "Like a Wrecking Ball," Eric Church
  • "Take Your Time," Sam Hunt

Single of the Year

  • "American Kids," Kenny Chesney
  • "Girl Crush," Little Big Town
  • "I Don't Dance," Lee Brice
  • "Take Your Time," Sam Hunt
  • "Talladega," Eric Church

Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae
  • Thompson Square

Musical Event of the Year

  • Django and Jimmie, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
  • "Lonely Tonight," Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe
  • "WINNER: Raise 'Em Up," Keith Urban featuring Eric Church
  • "Smokin' and Drinkin'," Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
  • "Wild Child," Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter

Music Video of the Year

  • "Biscuits," Kacey Musgraves
  • "Girl Crush," Little Big Town
  • WINNER: "Girl in a Country Song," Maddie & Tae
  • "Little Red Wagon," Miranda Lambert
  • "Something in the Water," Carrie Underwood

Musician of the Year

  • Sam Bush
  • Jerry Douglas
  • Paul Franklin
  • Dann Huff
  • Mac McAnally

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