Countrytown's 2023 Golden Guitar Predictions

20 January 2023 | 2:02 pm | Stephen Green

Who should win? Who will win? We take a look across all the nominees for tomorrow night's big awards and make some (possibly foolish) predictions

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All Or Nothing - Adam Brand

Memory Lane - Brooke McClymont & Adam Eckersley

Get To Know Ya - Casey Barnes

Small Town - James Johnston

Sing Along Drink Along - Morgan Evans

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Who Should Win: This is such a tough category. There are some of the best songs of recent years in contention. How do you split legends like Brandy and Brooke & Adam schooling on how it's done with artists like Morgan and Casey who are clearly punching at the top of their game and then James Johnston, the hottest new thing on the block? Ultimately if the audience is always right, then James Johnston should have this in the bag. Streaming numbers have him the firm favourite and of all the nominees he was the most heard on country radio last year. 

Who Will Win: It will be close but we think Casey Barnes will take this one. While James has the statistics, based on when the voting occurred, Casey might have the sentimental vote with a general feeling like this year is his time. And try getting Get To Know Ya out of your head. 


Star Of The Show - Brooke McClymont & Adam Eckersley – Directed by Brad Murnane

Small Town - James Johnston – Directed by Elijah Cavanagh

South East Queensland - Luke O'Shea – Directed by Luke O'Shea and Jay Seeney

Something Good's Gonna Happen - The Wolfe Brothers featuring Amy Sheppard – Directed by Jay Seeney

One Of Them Nights - Travis Collins – Directed by Jay Seeney

Who Should Win: We kinda want to give this to Brooke and Adam, just for that piano. How awesome does that look in the rolling hills? But it's hard to go past James Johnston's international-class stunner. The image of him with the fire in the background is one of the iconic shots in country music over the last year. 

Who Will Win: James Johnston. There's fire cannons. He wins. There might be some sentimental voting for the Wolfies and Amy Sheppard, given a large portion of the clip is of their Golden Guitars performance last year, but if James doesn't take that away there's something wrong with the world. 


James Johnston & Kaylee Bell - Same Songs

Kirsty Lee Akers, Amber Lawrence and Ashleigh Dallas - Let The Girls Sing

Lee Kernaghan, Mitch Tambo and Isaiah Firebrace - Come Together

Lyn Bowtell & Shane NicholsonWiser

Melanie Dyer & Caitlyn Shadbolt - Dumb Decisions   

Who Should Win: There's some important ones in this category. Let The Girls Sing is great and there's no doubt that Lee, Mitch and Isaiah's contribution to the national debate has been a really important one. Lyn and Shane's track is fantastic too: how great are their voices together? But for us, Melanie Dyer and Caitlyn Shadbolt are two of the most underrated singers in Australia, so they've got our sentimental vote. It's hard to suggest that with the polish and commercial success of James Johnston and Kaylee Bell, that they aren't the frontrunner though. It's hard to argue they shouldn't take this out. 

Who Will Win: If it turns out to be James Johnston's night, then he could deservedly sweep all the categories including this one with Kaylee, but we suspect that perhaps with the older voting cohort Lee Kernaghan, Mitch Tambo and Isaiah Firebrace might take this one. 


Blake Dantier

Cass Hopetoun

James Johnston

Max Jackson

Taylor Moss

Who Should Win: James Johnston. You can't have the year he's had and not walk away with this trophy. To be talked about as being one of the biggest acts in Australian country music before you've even dropped your debut album makes this an easy choice. 

Who Will Win: James Johnston. It's a shame if you're up against him in this category. He'd better have the speech prepared. 


Brooke McClymont & Adam Eckersley

Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes

McAlister Kemp

The Buckleys

The Weeping Willows

Who Should Win: This a much tougher category, but we've got our money on Brooke McClymont & Adam Eckersley on this one. Oops I Love You was a great tune from The Buckleys too. 

Who Will Win: Brooke & Adam.


Adam Brand

Andrew Swift

Casey Barnes

James Johnston

Morgan Evans

Who Should Win: Arrgh! This is the hardest one to pick. James Johnston, Adam Brand and Casey Barnes are all pretty deserving after the year they've had and it wouldn't surprise us if any of the three win. Our heart would love to see Swifty take it too... and Morgan's successful homecoming tour? It's hard to argue that James Johnston's commercial success doesn't put him in a worthy position, but it's also the year that Casey Barnes really stamped his authority on Australian country with an album full of bona fide hits. If we have to jump off the fence, then we think it's Casey's year. 

Who Will Win: We think Casey will take it. There's always next year for James, but Light It Up was such a massive record and cemented Casey in country music history, so that's where the votes will go. 


Amber Lawrence

Ashleigh Dallas

Hayley Jensen

Lyn Bowtell

Melanie Dyer

Who Should Win: Another REALLY tough category. We think Melanie Dyer SHOULD win, because she's just so bloody great and underrated, but we love every artist in the category. Objectively though, Amber Lawrence has had such a great year and her top five mainstream chart debut was a real achievement, so it's hers for the taking we reckon. 

Who Will Win: Amber Lawrence. 


All Or Nothing - Written by Adam Brand, Nicholas Wolfe and Tom Wolfe – Recorded by Adam Brand         

Star Of The Show – Written by Brooke McClymont, Adam Eckersley, Dan Biederman and Tiggy Heart Eckersley  – Recorded by Brooke McClymont & Adam Eckersley

Small Town – Written by Casey Barnes, Michael DeLorenzis and Michael Paynter – Recorded by Casey Barnes

Small Town – Written by James Johnston and Nolan Wynne – Recorded by James Johnston

South East Queensland – Written by Luke O'Shea, Fred Smith and Mitchell Lynham – Recorded by Luke O’Shea

Who Should Win: There are some killer songs in this category. On popularity, James Johnston should have this one in the bag. It's been a big year for Casey Barnes, but Small Town isn't one of the strongest off Light It Up, so we think it'll be between Adam and James. If we're right and Casey and James are given trophies elsewhere on the night, it'd be nice to see Brandy take this one out. 

Who Will Win: Adam Brand. All Or Nothing is one of his best tunes in years and he'll be a sentimental favourite with the judges. 


All Or Nothing - Adam Brand - Produced by Adam Brand, Vesa Matara, Benjy Pocock and Luke Wooten

Living For The Highlights - Amber Lawrence – Produced by Stuart Stuart

In The Moment - Ashleigh Dallas – Produced by Brett Dallas

Light It Up - Casey Barnes – Produced by Michael DeLorenzis and Michael Paynter

Silver Linings - Kaylee Bell – Produced by Simon Oscroft, Andy Mak and Joseph Faris

Who Should Win: Another really tough choice here, but we're going to go with Kaylee Bell. She's having SUCH a moment right now and this is such a good record. The female artists seem to be overshadowed sometimes while the world focuses on the battle of the blokes, but take a look at the streaming numbers and radio success this year of Kaylee and it's hard to argue she shouldn't walk away with a trophy. On the other hand, it's hard to argue that Casey Barnes hasn't delivered a career-defining album with Light It Up

Who Will Win: Casey Barnes. If he doesn't walk away with multiple trophies we'll be shocked and this will probably be one of them. 

At the end of the day, what would we know? You'll have to check back here at Countrytown to find out who the winners are after tomorrow night's big show. If we got our predictions right, we'll link back to this story. If we don't we'll quietly take it out the back and pretend we never wrote it. All the best to all the nominees!