For the first time in many years, there isn’t a contender in the Record, Song, or Album category that has any connection to country music. Couple that with the reduced number of country categories, and there isn’t too much to write about this year.
Here’s a rundown of categories with country nominees, along with a list of who didn’t make the cut and some brief commentary.
Album of the Year
- Adele, 21
- Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
- Lady Gaga, Born this Way
- Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops & Hooligans
- Rihanna, Loud
Adele will win.
Record of the Year
- Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”
- Bon Iver, “Holocene”
- Bruno Mars, “Grenade”
- Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”
- Katy Perry, “Firework”
Adele will win.
Song of the Year
- “All of the Lights” – Jeff Bhasker, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West
- “The Cave” – Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford & Country Winston
- “Grenade” – Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Bruno Mars & Andrew Wyatt
- “Holocene” – Justin Vernon
- “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth
Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth will win.
Best New Artist
- The Band Perry
- Bon Iver
- J. Cole
- Nicki Minaj
The Band Perry joins a long list of breakthrough country artists that have made the cut in years past, including winners LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood, and Zac Brown Band.
Best Country Solo Performance
- Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”
- Martina McBride, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”
- Blake Shelton, “Honey Bee”
- Taylor Swift, “Mean”
- Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”
Noteworthy Omissions: Miranda Lambert (“Heart Like Mine)”; Brad Paisley (“This is Country Music”); George Strait (“Here For a Good Time”); Keith Urban (“Without You”)
Not a bad year to combine the vocalist categories, as even the high-profile omissions aren’t particularly noteworthy. If past awards are any indication, this is a race between Swift and Underwood.
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
- Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
- Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”
- The Civil Wars, “Barton Hollow”
- Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”
Noteworthy Omissions: The Band Perry (“You Lie”); Zac Brown Band (“Colder Weather”); Alison Krauss and Union Station (“Paper Airplane”); Lady Antebellum (“Just a Kiss”); Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood (“Remind Me”); Rascal Flatts (“I Won’t Let Go”); Sugarland (“Little Miss”)
A lot of Grammy staples didn’t make the cut, including several previous winners in the category. With only four nominees, it’s quite a coup that the Civil Wars slipped in there!
Best Country Song
- “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” – Jim Collins & David Lee Murphy
- “God Gave Me You” – Dave Barnes
- “Just Fishin’” – Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell & Ed Hill
- “Mean” – Taylor Swift
- “Threaten Me With Heaven” – Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Will Owsley & Dillon O’Brian
- “You and Tequila” – Matraca Berg & Deana Carter
Noteworthy Omissions: None
Not too different from the CMA list. Here’s hoping that they recognize the Gill composition next year.
Best Country Album
- Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
- Eric Church, Chief
- Lady Antebellum, Own the Night
- Blake Shelton, Red River Blue
- George Strait, Here For a Good Time
- Taylor Swift, Speak Now
Noteworthy Omissions: Brad Paisley (This is Country Music); Keith Urban (Get Closer)
Impressive breakthrough nominations for Aldean, Church, and Shelton.
American Roots Categories:
Best Americana Album
- Linda Chorney, Emotional Jukebox
- Ry Cooder, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
- Emmylou Harris, Hard Bargain
- Levon Helm, Ramble at the Ryman
- Lucinda Williams, Blessed
Best Bluegrass Album
- Alison Krauss and Union Station, Paper Airplane
- Jim Lauderdale, Reason and Rhyme
- Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Rare Bird Alert
- The Del McCoury Band, Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe
- Ralph Stanley, A Mother’s Prayer
- Chris Thile and Michael Staves, Sleep With One Eye Open
Best Folk Album
- The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow
- Steve Earle, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive
- Fleet Foxes, Hopelessness Blues
- Eddie Vedder, Ukelele Songs
- Gillian Welch, The Harrow & The Harvest
Even more so than usual, the American Roots categories provide a finer showcase of country music than the proper genre categories.
Also of note: I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow, a various artists collection, scored a nomination for Best Children’s Album, and Zac Brown received a nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media for his contribution to the Footloose soundtrack, “Where the River Goes.”
Additionally, the Bear Family collection The Bristol Sessions, 1927-1928: The Big Bang of Country Music, earned two nominations: Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.