No surprise that reigning country queen Taylor Swift is among the leading contenders in Tuesday's announcement of first-round nominees for the ninth annual CMT Music Awards. Swift landed three nominations, including bids for video of the year and female video for "You Belong to Me." Swift took home both of these awards last year for "Love Story" and in 2008 for "Our Song."
Taylor Swift is the only woman to win video of the year twice and is tied with Keith Urban ("Better Life," 2006; "Days Go By," 2005) and Toby Keith ("American Soldier," 2004; "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," 2003), both of whom are back in that race this year. Urban contends with "Til Summer Comes Around" while Keith vies with "American Ride."
Taylor Swift is also contending for collaborative video for her duet with Kellie Pickler on "Best Days of Your Life." Pickler picked up a female video nom as did Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood. Underwood's video for "Cowboy Casanova" is also up for the top award, and her rendition of "Temporary Home" on the CMT show "Invitation Only" is nominated for the performance prize.
A trio of acts scored four nominations apiece -- Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum and Sugarland. Aldean and Lady Antebellum both contend for video of the year for "The Truth" and "Need You Now," respectively. Sugarland was shut out of the top race, landing competing bids for duo video of the year ("Keep You," "Nightswimming/Joey") as well as two noms for their collaboration with the B-52s on "Love Shack," a highlight of last year's CMT Awards.
Brad Paisley is back in the hunt for his first video of the year win with a bid for "Welcome to the Future." Last year, Paisley was the big winner at the CMT Awards, taking home his first male video award ("Waiting on a Woman") plus laurels in two other categories: collaborative video ("Start a Band" with Keith Urban) and performance of the year ("Country Boy" with Alan Jackson, George Strait and Dierks Bentley).
Eight of the nine categories have eight contenders apiece. Online voting that runs till May 3 will winnow these to four finalists in each category, which will be announced May 11. Then another round of online voting through June 8 will determine the winners.
Voting for video of the year is different. There are 10 semifinalists, which will be cut down to a final five that will be revealed at the start of the awards ceremony airing live on CMT June 9 from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. The winner of the top prize will be determined by votes cast online and via text message during the kudocast.
Photo: Taylor Swift performing on the 8th annual CMT Awards. Credit: CMT