Who Will Win Song of the Year at the 2023 CMA Awards?

Country music’s biggest stars and most captivating rising acts will come together for the 2023 CMA Awards on Wednesday (November 8). Held at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville, the annual event acts as a celebration of the best new music from the past year.

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[RELATED: 2023 CMA Awards: Lainey Wilson Tops the List With 9 Nominations]

As we count down the hours until the winners are unveiled, American Songwriter is examining each set of nominees and why they’re being recognized. Below, we look at all the nominees for Song of the Year, which is awarded to the songwriter or writers who created each track.

The Nominees

“Fast Car”

Influential singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman made a triumphant debut onto the mainstream music scene with the release of “Fast Car” in 1988. The hit single connected with country star Luke Combs, who recorded his own cover version for his 2023 record Gettin’ Old. His laid-back take on the track was chosen as his second single to country radio, who immediately embraced it.

When “Fast Car” shot to No. 1, Chapman unexpectedly made history, becoming the first black solo female artist to take a fully self-written track to the top of the U.S. country radio chart. Although there’s strong competition in this category, “Fast Car” earning the title of Song of the Year would give much-deserved accolades to an often under-appreciated artist.

“Heart Like a Truck”

Few artists have had as transformative of a year within their country music career as Lainey Wilson. As the introductory lead single to her celebrated record Bell Bottom Country, “Heart Like a Truck” helped elevate the singer/songwriter from an artist to watch to an established star.

Penned by Wilson, Trannie Anderson, and Dallas Wilson, “Heart Like a Truck” is a confident radio-friendly hit that certainly earned its spot on this list. It might be outshined by Wilson’s other contribution on this list (see below), but a win would still mark a much-deserved achievement.

“Next Thing You Know”

One of this year’s most surprising success stories came from the long-deserved rise of Jordan Davis. His sophomore album, Bluebird Days, showcases the singer/songwriter at his creative best. The Louisiana native and ASCAP Songwriter-Artist of the Year tugs at listeners’ heartstrings with “Next Thing You Know.”

Co-written by Davis, Chase McGill, Josh Osborne, and Greylan James, the sweet track was sent to country radio in response to praise from fans. “Next Thing You Know” is a relatable, heartfelt single that spotlights Davis’ ability to channel emotion into art.

“Tennessee Orange”

Arguably, the biggest debut single in country music this year came courtesy of Megan Moroney. The gifted Georgia native hit gold with “Tennessee Orange,” which became a viral hit. The song earned so much buzz that it led her to sign a record deal, following the paths of artists like Maren Morris and fellow nominee Luke Combs. The song’s early streaming success eventually led to a platinum certification from the RIAA. That acheivement marked a significant career shift in a matter of months for Moroney.

The track’s clever use of sports imagery intermixed with Moroney’s captivating drawl is a fresh but accessible mixture. Born out of a rapid co-writing session with Ben Williams, David Fanning, and Paul Jenkins, “Tennessee Orange” taking home Song of the Year would offer the perfect ending to a monumental year for Moroney.

“wait in the truck”

You don’t see many murder ballads pop up in mainstream country music these days. HARDY and Lainey Wilson decided to change that trend with their haunting duet “wait in the truck.” Penned by HARDY, Renee Blair, Hunter Phelps, and Jordan Schmidt, the song teeters the line sonically between pop-country and rock.

Lyrically, “wait in the truck” tells the story of a man who stumbles upon an injured woman and her abuser. The man chooses to enact his own type of revenge, killing the abuser, which eventually lands him behind bars. Both Wilson and HARDY are artists who the industry has actively embraced. Their nod to traditional country songwriting may be enough to win over voters.

Photo by Danielle Del Valle/Getty Images

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