The Grammy Awards are just two weeks away. I won’t bother to predict the winners, but I’m happy to begin sharing my preferences. Here’s a rundown of the country vocal categories. My picks are in bold:
Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Alison Krauss, “You Will Be My Ain True Love”
Loretta Lynn, “Miss Being Mrs.”
Martina McBride, “In My Daughter’s Eyes”
Shania Twain, “She’s Not Just A Pretty Face”
Gretchen Wilson, “Redneck Woman”
The Martina track is boring, and the Gretchen and Shania tracks seem a bit trite for Grammy recognition. For me, this comes down to a race between a legend and a legend-to-be. I love the Alison track, but Loretta’s tribute to her late husband is wrenched with emotion. She deserves the Grammy.
Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Johnny Cash, “Engine-One-Forty-Three”
Lyle Lovett, “In My Own Mind”
Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying”
Willie Nelson, “You Are My Flower”
Keith Urban, “You’ll Think Of Me”
This category usually veers away from mainstream country; this year, only two radio hits are nominated. Unlike most years, however, the radio hits the strongest in the category. Keith Urban rightfully won the Male Vocalist award at the CMA’s this year for great performances like “You’ll Think Of Me,” and he’d be my pick if there wasn’t that pesky Tim McGraw career record running against him. Tim’s entire album is built around this brilliant song. He deserves the Grammy.
Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo or Group
Asleep At The Wheel, “New San Antonio Rose”
Big & Rich, “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)”
Brooks & Dunn, “You Can’t Take The Honky-Tonk Out Of The Girl”
Dixie Chicks, “Top Of The World”
The Notorious Cherry Bombs, “It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long”
This is the strongest lineup in this category in years. Granted, that’s not saying much. The Notorious Cherry Bombs features frequent Grammy winner Vince Gill and legend Rodney Crowell, but I think their song, along with the Big & Rich entry and the Brooks & Dunn hit, is too silly to deserve a Grammy. The Chicks have deservedly won in this category three times already, and they’re nominated with a live version of “Top Of The World,” the greatest song they’ve ever recorded. I hope they win.