Saddle up, because we’re heading back to Nashville, figuratively speaking, to explain how we were able to correctly predict this year's Country Music Association Awards (CMAs) winners.
On our Sept. 5 podcast episode, we used social and streaming data to make some educated guesses about who would win three of the 12 coveted categories: Single of the Year, Album of the Year, and Musical Event of the Year.
Single of the Year
At the time of the nomination announcements, Maren Morris, who led the pack with a total of six noms, came up at No. 3 in terms of our Cross-Platform Performance (CPP) rank.
Morris' track “Girl" was nominated for Single of the Year, alongside Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country,” and while neither track was charting on Apple Music or Spotify at the time, filtering for genre on Amazon’s Track Charts revealed that Shelton actually had the edge over Morris with a No. 5 showing compared to Morris' No. 12.
While Shelton's No. 7 CPP rank indicated a real tossup, in the end, "God's Country" took gold, leaving Morris to try her shot at Album of the Year.
Album of the Year
Morris’ closest competition in this category, going strictly by streaming performance, was Thomas Rhett’s Center Point Road, which boasted a 79 Spotify popularity score. Looking at our Cities page for Nashville at the time, Rhett also had the seventh highest Spotify Monthly Listener count for the Tennessee capital where the CMAs were held.
Unfortunately, his lower CPP rank and nomination count ceded the win to Morris' Girl.
Musical Event of the Year
And then there was the category everyone was wondering about: Musical Event of the Year. This category is interestingly described on the CMA website as “a collaboration of two or more people either or all of whom are known primarily as a Country artist.”
Even if Lil Nas X was quietly stripped of his brief Country label by Billboard, the Georgia rapper can at least find solace in the fact that his “Old Town Road” collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus landed a Musical Event of the Year nod at this year’s CMAs.
We probably don’t need to go back over how big of a viral sensation that surprise crossover hit was, so we’ll just say that, at the time, Lil Nas X was sitting at No. 32 out of all 1.7M+ artists that we track, and Billy Ray Cyrus was at No. 1 in the Country genre.
Naturally, “Old Town Road (Remix)” was the obvious choice.
Note: Awards show methodologies are, of course, less than explicit, so a data-driven approach may not always be the best one, but it can certainly be informative, and it seemed to have worked out this time around.