I can’t say I’m the world’s foremost authority when it comes to country music. So this year, I farmed out the prediction process to my buddy Matt Bjorke, who runs Roughstock.com! Matt, who has guested on the Blerd Radio podcast in the past, is THE man when it comes to country music, and I thank him for helping me out and offering his take on the country categories this year. Take it away, Matt!!
2010 was considered by many to be one of country music’s best years with a wide variety represented on the charts and on critic’s favorite lists. As usual, Grammy voters didn’t stick with ‘just the main hits’ and instead chose some tracks and albums that fell outside of mainstream but deserved attention. Here’s how I think each of the main country categories will fare on Sunday.
Category: Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Nominees:• Jewel/ “Satisfied”
• Miranda Lambert/ “The House That Built Me”
• LeAnn Rimes/ “Swingin’”
• Carrie Underwood / “Temporary Home”
• Gretchen Wilson / “I’d Love To Be Your Last”
Will & Should Win: Miranda Lambert/ “”The House That Built Me”
This one’s pretty easy for me to call, despite the fact that all the other nominees have been nominated and/or won a previous grammy. Carrie fans will think she is more deserving than anyone else (as they always do) but really, with “The House That Built Me” up for the all-genre Song of the Year category, It’s going to get the award here. If for some reason it doesn’t, the #2 would likely be Rimes’s cover of the John Anderson 80s hit.
Category: Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Nominees: • Jamey Johnson / “Macon”
• Toby Keith / “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)”
• David Nail / “Turning Home”
• Keith Urban / “’Til Summer Comes Around”
• Chris Young / “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)”
Will Win: Keith Urban / “’Til Summer Comes Around”
Should Win: Jamey Johnson / “Macon”
Jamey Johnson is the critical darling here and his song is the only one that wasn’t a Top 20 hit. Young’s is the only one to hit #1 on Billboard while Keith and Urban scored Top 5 hits. Honestly, Urban’s won here a few times before, including last year with “Sweet Thing” so he’s the front-runner here based on name recognition alone. That being said, I can see where Johnson could sneak in and take this. I actually llike all of these songs quite a bit and none are as ‘ditty’ like as Urban’s winner from last year.
Category: Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals
Nominees: • Zac Brown Band / “Free”
• Dailey & Vincent / “Elizabeth”
• Lady Antebellum / “Need You Now”
• Little Big Town / “Little White Church”
• SteelDrivers / “Where Rainbows Never Die”
Will & Should Win: Lady Antebellum / “Need You Now”
This is an easy call, like the female vocal performance. With multiple nominations, Little Big Town is the 2011 Grammy Award program’s country act du jour and they had the best-selling album for most of 2010 with Need You Now. While the Zac Brown Band, Little Big Town, the SteelDrivers and Daily & Vincet all had fantastic songs from even more fantastic albums, it’s hard to see how any of them can take this award away form Lady Antebellum. I guess, if I had to pick somebody outside of Lady Antebellum, it’d be the SteelDrivers who made one of my favorite albums last year and have previously garnered Grammy nominations and are the type of ‘artsy’ act Grammy voters typically enjoy.
Category: Best Country Instrumental Performance
Nominees: • Cheryholmes / “Tattoo of a Smudge”
• The Infamous Stringdusters / “Magic #9”
• The Punch Brothers / “New Chance Blues”
• Darrell Scott / “Willow Creek”
• Marty Stuart / “Hummingbyrd”
Will Win: The Punch Brothers / “New Chance Blues”
Should Win: Marty Stuart/ “Hummingbyrd”
I have never heard most of these songs but really did dig “Hummingbyrd” so I’ll say that one should win although I know each act here is a fantastic live act and most of these are ‘bluegrass’ songs. The Punch Brothers feature previous grammy winner Chris Thile and have a huge non-roots music following so I’ll pick them as the ‘will win’ here.
Category: Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
Nominees: • Dierks Bentley with Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson / “Bad Angel”
• Dierks Bentley with Del McCoury and the Punch Brothers / “Pride (In The Name of Love)”
• Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson / “As She’s Walking Away”
• Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins / “Hillbilly Bone”
• Marty Stuart and Connie Smith / “I Run To You”
Will Win: “Bad Angel”
Should Win: “Pride In The Name Of Love”
Once again, each of the songs here are worthy of being included in this category but it’s even more surprising to see Marty Stuart and his wife Connie Smith nominated. Despite two previous wins in this category in 1998 and 2001, Stuart is likely #5 on the list with the wonderful Bentley collaborations from “Up On The Ridge” being ahead of the song along with the #1 duets by Zac Brown Band/Alan Jackson and Shelton/Adkins. I really love what Dierks, Del and the Punch Brothers did with “Pride (In The Name of Love)” and thought it’d actually be a single. But it wasn’t. Still it can get the attention here but will likely lose to another track from Up On The Ridge, the one with two other highly nominated artists in Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson.
Category: Best Country Song
Nominees: George Strait / “The Breath You Take”
Zac Brown Band / Free”
Miranda Lambert/ “The House That Built Me”
Gretchen Wilson / “I’d Love To Be Your Last”
The Band Perry / “If I Die Young”
Lady Antebellum / “Need You Now”
Will Win: “Need You Now”
Should Win “The House That Built Me”
All 5 songs here were hit singles but it’s kinda head-scratching how a greeting card sentiment “Life’s not the breathe you take but the moments that take your breath away” got nominated for a Grammy so that song’s obviously out. While The Band Perry and Zac Brown Band’s song both are fantastic and deserving of being here (the same can be said about Wilson’s song), they’re not gonna win as the two biggest hits here were Lambert’s “House That Built Me” and Lady Antebellum’s crossover smash “Need You Now.” Both are genuinely good songs and both are nominated in the “Best Song” all-genre category but I still think that Lady Antebellum will take the award although in my heart of hearts I want “The House That Built Me” to win as I think it’s a better song.
Category: Best Country Album
Nominees: • Dierks Bentley / Up On The Ridge
• Zac Brown Band / You Get What You Give
• Jamey Johnson / The Guitar Song
• Lady Antebellum / Need You Now
• Miranda Lambert / Revolution
Will win: Lady Antebellum / Need You Now
Should Win: Johnson or Bentley (tie)
Talk about a category with the who’s who of critically acclaimed country albums from the 2009/2010 eligibility period. Each one landed on most country critics best-of lists and outside of Bentley’s artsy, ‘bluegrass’ album, Ridge, has sold at least Gold. That’s remarkable in an era when albums are selling less and less. Still, its’ hard to argue with any one of these getting the win but it’s my hope that Bentley or Johnson take it home although I suspect Lady Antebellum will win since the album is in the all-genre Album of the Year category.
Category: Best Americana Album
Nominees: • Rosanne Cash / The List
• Los Lobos / Tin Can Trust
• Willie Nelson / Country Music
• Robert Plant / Band of Joy
• Mavis Staples / You Are Not Alone
Will Win & Should Win – Robert Plant / Band of Joy
I have to say that I’ve not heard the Staples or Los Lobos albums and I really don’t think they’ll win here as I think that Grammy Favorite Plant really is the one to beat and he will likely take it home.
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