Carrie Underwood could sit out a year and still gather a nomination in this category. Even when she's not putting out new music -- she had no new singles in 2011 -- it still seems like she is, because her songs receive so much airplay long after they've peaked.

She will win if: Voters were impressed by her live show, her appearances on 'American Idol,' at the Super Bowl and other high-profile events. It would not be a shock to see her accepting the trophy for the first time since 2009, but her chances will be better in 2013.