(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
In this Los Angeles Times story about the Brad Paisley vs. Blake Shelton competition at the upcoming CMA Awards, it looks like there's a clear winner -- and it's Keith Urban. It's just a reader poll, but still. I've been watching it religiously for about a week, and Urban has roughly 68 percent of the votes for best male vocalist. (Shelton is currently coming in second, but is pretty far away with only 12 percent of the remaining votes). It's hard to argue with Urban. He can flat-out sing and he flat-out deserves to win. Paisley won it in 2007, 2008 and 2009. And then last year, Shelton surprised so many when he won it. Urban is no stranger to the trophy, though. He won it in 2004, 2005 (which was the year he also won entertainer of the year) and 2006. If this newspaper poll is a true reflection of what's going to go down at the November awards show, and Urban does win, he'll be just like George Strait. Strait's the only other guy in recent years to win the title for a few years, take some time off, then come back to reign again. So while this story focuses on the Shelton-Paisley competition, I have a gut feeling that Urban will come out on top.