While the power of the Vocal Duo of the Year category has waned in recent years, the Vocal Group of the Year pool at the 2012 CMA Awards is overflowing with talent. How tight is this category? Rascal Flatts weren’t even nominated for what seems like the first time since mullets were en vogue. Who do you think will win the Vocal Group of the Year award at the CMAs?

Lady Antebellum have won this award for three straight years, but the Band Perry and Eli Young Band have both had career 2012s. Will that be enough to steal votes from the perennial favorites? Zac Brown Band and Little Big Town are far from long-shots. Predicting the winner of this award is like predicting a Super Bowl winner in August.

Read our cases for all five nominees and then vote for who you think will win the Vocal Group of the Year award at the 2012 CMAs in the readers poll below.

The Band Perry: Two gold singles and another that made the Top 10 make for a pretty good year for any band, but one could argue the Band Perry actually had a down year after their success in 2011. The sibling trio remains white-hot, with fans very excited to hear new music soon.

Eli Young Band: Momentum from the 2012 ACM Awards could carry the Eli Young Band to a CMAs win, but the foursome is up against stiff competition in this category — which is perhaps the most competitive of all artist categories. Despite back-to-back hit songs, they’re still something of an enigma, having not totally saturated the country conscious like a few others in this category.

Lady Antebellum: This year, Lady Antebellum added a strong touring presence to accompany success on the radio. Darius Rucker opened for them, not the other way around — a sure sign of how popular the group has become. The trio’s trajectory may have been leveled slightly, but Hillary, Charles and Dave are still one of the hottest acts in all of country music.

Little Big Town: While Little Big Town has released arguably the best album of any of these five in 2012, ‘Tornado’ is technically not eligible for recognition at this show. ‘Pontoon’ began to heat up in mid-June, becoming the song of the summer by August. Will it be too late to steal votes from the other four nominees?

Zac Brown Band: One of country music’s great mysteries is why Zac Brown Band don’t have a few of these trophies already. They continue to score radio hit after radio hit, and no one in this category draws more fans to live shows. Their new album is a solid collection of styles and sounds, but they further push boundaries. That’s not often rewarded at the CMA Awards.

Our Prediction: This is a two-horse race at the wire, with Lady Antebellum squeaking by the Band Perry to win their fourth straight Vocal Group of the Year award. Little Big Town likely has a better shot in 2013, after the songs from ‘Tornado’ have had a better chance to leave an impression.

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