Category Archives: Grammys

2015 Grammy Nominations

Updated:

Little Big TownBest Country Duo/Group Performance

  • The Band Perry, “Gentle on My Mind”
  • Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”
  • Little Big Town, “Day Drinking”
  • Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”
  • Keith Urban featuring Eric Church, “Raise ‘Em Up”

Nickel Creek DestinationBest American Roots Performance

  • Greg Allman & Taj Mahal, “Statesboro Blues”
  • Rosanne Cash, “A Feather’s not a Bird”
  • Billy Childs featuring Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas, “And When I Die”
  • Keb’ Mo’ featuring the California Feet Warmers, “The Old Me Better”
  • Nickel Creek, “Destination”

carrie-underwood-something-in-the-waterBest Country Solo Performance

  • Eric Church, “Give Me Back My Hometown”
  • Hunter Hayes, “Invisible”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Automatic”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Something in the Water”
  • Keith Urban, “Cop Car”

 

Brandy Clark StripesBest New Artist includes last year’s actual best new artist!

  • Iggy Azalea
  • Bastille
  • Brandy Clark  (!!!!)
  • HAIM
  • Sam Smith

rosanne-cash_12Best Americana Album

  • Rosanne Cash, The River & The Thread
  • John Haitt, Terms of My Surrender
  • Keb’ Mo’, Bluesamericana
  • Nickel Creek, A Dotted Line
  • Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

glencampbellBest Country Song

  • “American Kids” – Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally
  • “Automatic” – Nicolle Galyon, Natalie Hemby, and Miranda Lambert
  • “Give Me Back My Hometown” – Eric Church and Luke Laird
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” -Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
  • “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” – Tom Douglas, Jaren Johnston, and Jeffrey Steele

The best lineup for Best Country Album that we can remember:

Best Country Album

  • Dierks Bentley, Riser
  • Eric Church, The Outsiders
  • Brandy Clark, 12 Stories
  • Miranda Lambert, Platinum
  • Lee Ann Womack, The Way I’m Livin’

Record of the Year includes a former country artist and a CMA Awards duet partner:

Record of the Year

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2014 Grammy Winners

56th Grammy AwardsThis year’s Grammy winners will be posted here as they are announced.

Here are the awards, in the order of presentation:

Pre-Telecast Winners:

American Roots Song: Edie Brickell & Steve Martin, “Love Has Come For You”

Americana Album: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon

Bluegrass Album: The Del McCoury Band, The Streets of Baltimore

Folk Album: Guy Clark, My Favorite Picture of You

Country Solo Performance: Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”

Country Duo/Group Performance: The Civil Wars, “From This Valley”

Country Song: Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves, and Josh Osborne, “Merry Go ‘Round”

Telecast Winners:

Best Country Album: Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park

Best New Artist: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Song of the Year: Joel Little and Ella Yelich O’Connor, “Royals”

Album of the Year: Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

Record of the Year: Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, “Get Lucky”

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2014 Grammy Awards: Staff Picks & Predictions

The Country Universe staff has picked and predicted the 2014 Grammy Awards below, strange bunch that they are. Chime in with your thoughts, and catch the show on Sunday at 7 p.m. CST.

daftpunk-randomaccess-vinyl_grande-1.jpg?v=1368726630Album of the Year

Should Win:

  • Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest
  • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories  – Kevin
  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid m.A.A.d. cityJonathan
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist
  • Taylor Swift, Red

Will Win:

  • Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest
  • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories  – Kevin, Jonathan
  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid m.A.A.d. city
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist
  • Taylor Swift, Red

Kevin: With electronic music so mainstream now, it would be wise and timely for NARAS to acknowledge the excellent comeback of one of its pioneers, especially as the year’s best country albums (Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, etc.) and the year’s best rap album (Kanye West) didn’t score nominations in the top category.

Jonathan: Lamar and Daft Punk would both be worthy winners of an award that rarely seems to go to one. Hip-hop and R&B have notoriously struggled in the general field in recent years, so Daft Punk’s cachet with the rock contingent should give them the edge over Swift, who didn’t score the across-the-board support many were expecting from her this year. If the voters are feeling especially timid, though, watch out for “Brave” yelper Bareilles as a spoiler.

Bruno-Mars-LockedOutOfHeavenRecord of the Year

Should Win:

  • “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams – Kevin, Jonathan, Tara
  • “Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
  • “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons
  • “Royals” – Lorde – Dan

Will Win:

  • “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams – Tara
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
  • “Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars – Kevin, Jonathan, Ben
  • “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons
  • “Royals” – Lorde – Dan

Kevin:  “Get Lucky” was retro and modern at the same time, featuring the charismatic Williams.  That guy makes everything better.  I’m guessing Mars will get it because he’s the most established and arguably is overdue for a big win.

Dan: “Royals” was the most refreshing to me. Winner feels like a real toss-up, though.

Jonathan: Prevailing logic as to why hip-hop tracks have fared so poorly in this category is that NARAS voters are still hell-bent on rewarding live instrumentation, so it’s hard to imagine something as spare as “Royals” winning, even if it’s the most distinctive choice. “Get Lucky” would get my vote, but look for Bruno Mars to head off to his Super Bowl Halftime gig with some new hardware in hand to reward his Police homage.

Tara: Lots of atmospheric tunes here. “Get Lucky” seems like the one that will feel no less groovy in ten years time. I wouldn’t put any money on it, but I could see the voters ignoring controversy and rewarding the biggest hit of the year.

macklemore-samelove-1Song of the Year

Should Win:

  • “Just Give Me a Reason”  – Jeff Bhasker, P!nk, and Nate Reuss – Kevin, Ben
  • “Locked out of Heaven” – Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and Bruno Mars
  • “Roar” – Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry, and Henry Walter
  • “Royals” – Joel Little and Lorde – Jonathan
  • “Same Love” – Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert, Ryan Lewis, and Curtis Mayfield – Dan, Tara

Will Win:

  • “Just Give Me a Reason”  – Jeff Bhasker, P!nk, and Nate Reuss – Kevin, Ben, Dan
  • “Locked out of Heaven” – Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and Bruno Mars
  • “Roar” – Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry, and Henry Walter
  • “Royals” – Joel Little and Lorde 
  • “Same Love” – Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert, Ryan Lewis, and Curtis Mayfield – Jonathan, Tara

Kevin: P!nk is long overdue for a top tier award, and her co-write with previous winner Nate Reuss was, in my opinion, the best duet in a year chock full of ‘em.

Dan: The Macklemore & Ryan Lewis composition is somehow the most personal of the group even as it makes the biggest, broadest statement. And the climactic third verse still gives me chills.

Jonathan: I don’t care that Kacey Musgraves is a fan of hers: Perry’s nomination is indefensible, with four adults credited on a song that rhymes “zero” with “hero” and that allows pop music’s least-capable vocalist to scream a series of self-help cliches. The broad, even-in-the-flyover-states popularity of “Same Love,” though, gives the voters a safe opportunity to make a political statement and to recognize one of the year’s breakthrough acts.

Tara: It’s a toss-up between “Royals” and “Same Love” for me in terms of substance and purposeful songwriting, but I can’t ignore the chills I also get listening to the latter. I agree with Jonathan that this is a win-win way for the voters to make a statement.

Kacey+Musgraves+KACEY++PNGBest New Artist

Should Win:

  • James Blake
  • Kendrick Lamar – Jonathan
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Dan
  • Kacey Musgraves – Kevin, Ben, Tara
  • Ed Sheeran

Will Win:

  • James Blake
  • Kendrick Lamar 
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Dan, Kevin, Tara
  • Kacey Musgraves – Jonathan, Ben
  • Ed Sheeran

Kevin: Gotta root for the home team.  I think Macklemore & Lewis  will win, though.

Dan: For once, this category is hot across the board; you could make a great argument for any of these folks. Personally, I find Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to be the most exciting.

Ben:  I don’t always gravitate toward the country-affiliated New Artist nominee, but then again it’s rare for me to be so invested in a country newcomer’s artistry as I am with Musgraves. To see her win would make my heart happy.

Jonathan: Lamar is making the most compelling music of this lot, but this category’s history dictates that it’s Musgraves’ award to lose. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis pose a real threat, but being the only woman nominated plays in Musgraves’ favor.

Tara: It’s hard to tell if Musgraves’ profile outside of the country sphere is big enough to nab her this one, but I’d be happy if it did. I hope she keeps the face in check if it doesn’t, though.

REdBest Country Album

Should Win:

  • Jason Aldean, Night Train
  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different ParkDan, Kevin, Ben, Jonathan, Sam, Tara
  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story
  • Taylor Swift, Red

Will Win:

  • Jason Aldean, Night Train
  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story – Sam
  • Taylor Swift, Red – Kevin, Ben, Jonathan, Tara

Kevin:  Don’t see how Taylor doesn’t win, though Musgraves made the best album by a decent margin, regardless of how country any of ‘em are.

Dan: Here’s the most logical place to reward Musgraves, though I guess Red’s nomination in the general Album of the Year field makes it the frontrunner in this category. And that’s fine; whatever. I’ve been hoping for Swift’s albums to be grouped under “Pop” at the Grammys since Fearless. It ain’t gonna happen.

Ben:  Should Win – easy choice. Will Win – also an easy choice.

Sam: Just to be contrary, I think Shelton’s built up enough recognition with his “The Voice” gig that he has name recognition from voters who know next to nothing about country music. The fact that it was a terrible, terrible album doesn’t really matter.

Jonathan: No, Red shouldn’t be nominated in the Country field, so I wouldn’t vote for it on principle, even though its best tracks are far and away the strongest material in this line-up. NARAS has no qualms about rewarding pop crossover albums here, so it would be a huge upset were Swift to lose. When we were all prepping our ballots for our year-end countdowns, I had Musgraves’ album at #38. It’s good and I certainly understand why it has as many fans as it does, but I’m just not as bullish on it as others seem to be. Still, it would be my personal choice from this paltry line-up, since Aldean’s, McGraw’s, and Shelton’s albums ranged from pedestrian to downright unlistenable.

Tara: Seems like an easy Swift win, but I get where Sam’s head is at re: Shelton. There’s no question Musgraves made the best music, though, and what a shame she’s not surrounded by her peers who made even better music.

Miranda-Lambert-Mamas-Broken-Heart-2013Best Country Solo Performance

Should Win:

  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Hunter Hayes, “I Want Crazy”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Dan, Kevin, Ben, Jonathan, Sam, Tara
  • Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”
  • Blake Shelton, “Mine Would Be You”

Will Win:

  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Hunter Hayes, “I Want Crazy”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Dan, Kevin, Ben, Jonathan, Sam, Tara
  • Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”
  • Blake Shelton, “Mine Would Be You”

Kevin:  Lambert is the only female and the only previous winner.  I’d be shocked if she lost.

Ben:  To me, Lambert’s performance alone claims the distinction of making an already-great song even better.

Sam: This could be one of those rare occasions where the best nominee actually wins a Grammy. I think Hunter Hayes is a long shot, as most Grammy voters are not teenaged girls.

Jonathan: What Kevin said. Also, he’s a talented instrumentalist, but the Grammy voters’ fascination with Hunter Hayes is baffling.

Tara: Lambert’s is the most distinct and impactful performance here, but I’ll throw in my defense of Hayes’ “I Want Crazy,” a song and vocal that’s as breathlessly exuberant as Keith Urban’s best work.

5448-thumbBest Country Duo/Group Performance

Should Win:

  • The Civil Wars, “From This Valley”
  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush”
  • Little Big Town, “Your Side of the Bed” – Jonathan
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, “You Can’t Make Old Friends” – Kevin, Ben, Tara

Will Win:

  • The Civil Wars, “From This Valley”
  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush”
  • Little Big Town, “Your Side of the Bed” 
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care” - Kevin, Ben, Tara
  • Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, “You Can’t Make Old Friends” – Jonathan, Sam

Kevin: The high octane collaboration of McGraw/Swift/Urban has been unstoppable thus far.  Kudos to NARAS for noticing Rogers & Parton’s beautiful work, their best together since “Islands in the Stream.”

Ben: “You Can’t Make Old Friends” is enough to give many a longtime country music lover warm fuzzies, but the commercial clout of “Highway Don’t Care” may be too much to beat.

Sam: If you’re a Grammy voter and have to decide on a zillion categories, do you take the time to sit and listen to each nominee, or do you skim over the names and pick the ones you’re most familiar with? Kenny and Dolly for the win.

Jonathan: One of the strongest sets of nominees anywhere on the Grammy ballot this year. Little Big Town would get my vote so that they have a win for something besides “Pontoon” to their credit, but I think NARAS’ older voters will be swayed by the effortless charm of the Rogers and Parton duet.

Tara: I don’t love any of these except for the Rogers and Parton collaboration, as much as I wanted to embrace “Don’t Rush” (Kelly Clarkson! Vince Gill!). I think the middle-of-the-road McGraw / Swift / Urban song will win out, but here’s to hoping the voters act on warm fuzzies.

Merry_go_'roundBest Country Song

Should Win:

  • “Begin Again” – Taylor Swift
  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves – Kevin, Jonathan, Sam, Tara
  • “Merry Go ‘Round” – Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves, and Josh Osborne - Ben
  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Deric Ruttan

Will Win:

  • “Begin Again” – Taylor Swift – Jonathan, Sam
  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves – Kevin, Tara
  • “Merry Go ‘Round” – Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves, and Josh Osborne - Ben
  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Deric Ruttan

Kevin:  Gotta root for the Brandy Clark co-write, which is conveniently the best composition anyway.  Still, I think  voters will use this category to acknowledge Musgraves for writing her own hit instead of Miranda’s.

Ben:  I seem to be in the minority here, but I actually consider “Merry Go ‘Round” to be the finer of the two Musgraves co-writes – which is not to say that I don’t adore “Mama’s Broken Heart” or that I wouldn’t be thrilled to see Brandy Clark also gain a mantle decoration. This would seem a comfortable place for voters to acknowledge Musgraves – as well as a likely consolation prize should she lose Best New Artist – and like Kevin, I expect it will be for the hit she performed as well as wrote.

Sam: I’d just like to point out that this is an incredibly strong group of nominees and shows there is some substance to country music once you weed out all the tailgate songs.

Jonathan: Things could play out here in a similar fashion to the CMAs, with vote-splitting among the multiple nominations for Musgraves, McAnally, Alexander, and Harrington. That worked to the latter pair’s advantage at the CMAs, where “I Drive Your Truck” pulled off a surprise win, but Shelton’s powerballad could siphon votes from Brice’s hit this time. As much as I love the idea of Brandy Clark as a Grammy winner, I think the various vote-splits will allow one of Swift’s best-written songs to win.

Tara: As strong as Lambert’s spitfire performance is, I’d argue that the bones of “Mama’s Broken Heart” are even stronger. I’ve never been able to connect with “Merry Go Round” the way others have, but agree this is likely where the voters will single Musgraves out.

Build+Me+Up+From+Bones+Sarah+JaroszBest American Roots Song

Should Win:

  • “Build Me Up From Bones” – Sarah Jarosz – Jonathan
  • “Invisible” – Steve Earle
  • “Keep Your Dirty Lights On” – Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott – Kevin
  • “Love Has Come From You” – Edie Brickell and Steve Martin
  • “Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed” – Allen Touissant

Will Win:

  • “Build Me Up From Bones” – Sarah Jarosz 
  • “Invisible” – Steve Earle
  • “Keep Your Dirty Lights On” – Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott
  • “Love Has Come From You” – Edie Brickell and Steve Martin- Kevin, Jonathan
  • “Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed” – Allen Touissant

Kevin:  Can voters resist Steve Martin? If they do, I hope it’s to acknowledge again the unique talents of Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott.  They are so good together.

Jonathan: Jarosz draws favorable comparisons to Alison Krauss, and, if ever there were a surefire way to appeal to Grammy voters, that would be it. She’d get my vote for the exceptional title track from her third album, though, like Kevin, I’m a big fan of O’Brien’s and Scott’s work together. Martin’s charm and name recognition are likely to give his duet with erstwhile New Bohemian Brickell the edge here.

harris-crowell-old-yellow-moonBest Americana Album

Should Win:

  • Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow MoonKevin, Jonathan, Sam
  • Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Love Has Come For You
  • Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim
  • Mavis Staples, One True Vine
  • Allen Touissant, Songbook

Will Win:

  • Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon – Kevin, Ben
  • Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Love Has Come For You - Jonathan
  • Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim
  • Mavis Staples, One True Vine
  • Allen Touissant, Songbook - Sam

Kevin:  Martin & Brickell might be the most logical choice, but in a category stacked with veterans, Harris & Crowell must be tempting to voters who are long time fans of both.

Sam: The fact that Jason Isbell wasn’t nominated here shows that Americana music has a long way to go before Grammy voters stop using it at the place where all veteran singer/songwriters end up. As for this year, Allen Touissant is older and has past Grammy love, so my money is on him.

Jonathan: The strongest, most vital year for Americana music in a decade is rewarded with a staid slate of nominees. Old Yellow Moon is the obvious standout and could very well win, but I think Martin’s well-received album with Brickell has the edge based on Martin’s celebrity.

0011661914124Best Bluegrass Album

Should Win:

  • The Boxcars, It’s Just a Road
  • Dailey & Vincent, Brothers of the HighwayJonathan
  • Della Mae, This World Oft Can Be
  • James King, Three Chords and the Truth
  • Del McCoury Band, The Streets of Baltimore

Will Win:

  • The Boxcars, It’s Just a Road
  • Dailey & Vincent, Brothers of the Highway
  • Della Mae, This World Oft Can Be
  • James King, Three Chords and the Truth
  • Del McCoury Band, The Streets of Baltimore - Kevin, Jonathan, Ben

Kevin: Haven’t heard these albums enough to have a personal favorite, but I think the Del McCoury Band’s name recognition will power it to a win.

Jonathan: Both the Del McCoury Band and Dailey & Vincent are nominated for some of their very best work, and either would be a richly deserving winner. Della Mae have a fairly vocal fanbase, but it isn’t clear if that fanbase overlaps with the Grammy voter bloc enough to unseat one of the two bigger-name acts.

GuyClarkMFPOYCoverSenorMcGuireBest Folk Album

Should Win:

  • Guy Clark, My Favorite Picture of YouKevin, Ben
  • The Greencards, Sweetheart of the Sun
  • Sarah Jarosz, Build Me Up From BonesJonathan
  • The Milk Carton Kids, The Ash & Clay
  • Various Artists, They all Played for Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration

Will Win:

  • Guy Clark, My Favorite Picture of You – Kevin, Ben, Jonathan
  • The Greencards, Sweetheart of the Sun
  • Sarah Jarosz, Build Me Up From Bones
  • The Milk Carton Kids, The Ash & Clay
  • Various Artists, They all Played for Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration

Kevin: Sentimental favorite who also put out a great album? How can they deny Guy Clark?

Jonathan: I’m tempted to pick the Arhoolie Records without having heard it, simply because it just seems like something the idiosyncratic Grammys would go for. Clark is a safer bet for his beautifully observed album, while the ascendant Jarosz would get my vote for her career-best work.

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2014 Grammy Nominees

The nominations for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards have been announced.   Taylor Swift has the top nomination connected to country music, earning her second nomination for Album of the Year.  She took home the award four years ago for Fearless.

Here are the general category nominees, along with all country and country-related categories:

Taylor Swift RedAlbum of the Year

  • Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest
  • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid m.A.A.d. city
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist
  • Taylor Swift, Red

If Taylor Swift wins, she will be the first country-related artist in history to win the category twice with individual projects. Alison Krauss also has two victories, one for her collaboration with Robert Plant (Raising Sand, 2009), and another for her contributions to the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack (2002.)  The award has only been won by country artists in two other years: Glen Campbell for By the Time I Get to Phoenix (1968), and the Dixie Chicks for Taking the Long Way (2007).

daft-punk-get-lucky-612x612Record of the Year

  • “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
  • “Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
  • “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons
  • “Royals” – Lorde

For the third time in the last eight years, no country or country-related records make the cut. Only four country-related winners have triumphed in this category, but three of them have been in the last few years. Olivia Newton-John won for “I Honestly Love You” in 1975, followed much later by the Dixie Chicks for “Not Ready to Make Nice” in 2006; Robert Plant & Alison Krauss for “Please Read the Letter” in 2009; and Lady Antebellum for “Need You Now” in 2011.

Pink Nate Reuss Just Give me a ReasonSong of the Year

  • “Just Give Me a Reason”  – Jeff Bhasker, P!nk, and Nate Reuss
  • “Locked out of Heaven” – Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and Bruno Mars
  • “Roar” – Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry, and Henry Walter
  • “Royals” – Joel Little and Lorde
  • “Same Love” – Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert, Ryan Lewis, and Curtis Mayfield

For the third straight year, country is shut out of the top songwriting category, a streak that began after the writers of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” won in 2011.

Kacey-Musgraves-Same-Trailer-Different-ParkBest New Artist

  • James Blake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Ed Sheeran

Kacey Musgraves is the latest new artist to represent country music in this category, which has become a nearly annual occurrence since LeAnn Rimes was nominated and won back in 1997.  Previous country winners also include Bobbie Gentry (1968), Carrie Underwood (2007) and Zac Brown Band (2010).

Tim_McGraw_Two_Lanes_of_FreedomBest Country Album

  • Jason Aldean, Night Train
  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story
  • Taylor Swift, Red

Despite the presence of four big, established stars, only Taylor Swift has actually earned a victory in this category.  She won in 2010 for Fearless.  She contended again in 2012 with Speak Now, which lost to repeating victors Lady Antebellum, who won two years in a row for Need You Now (2011) and Own the Night (2012).   Kacey Musgraves earns a nomination for her debut album, the first artist do so since 2005, when Gretchen Wilson contended with Here For the Party.

darius wagon wheelBest Country Solo Performance

  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Hunter Hayes, “I Want Crazy”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”
  • Blake Shelton, “Mine Would Be You”

Since this category combined the solo categories into one, this award has been one by Taylor Swift (“Mean”) and Carrie Underwood (“Blown Away.”)  Lambert is the only previous winner in a predecessor of this category.

Kenny Rogers Dolly Parton Old FriendsBest Country Duo/Group Performance

  • The Civil Wars, “From This Valley”
  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush”
  • Little Big Town, “Your Side of the Bed”
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”

There’s really only one hit here, but there are plenty of former Grammy winners scattered among this category.  In case you’re wondering, the answer is no, they didn’t win a Grammy for “Islands in the Stream.”

MirandaMamasBrokenHeartBest Country Song

  • “Begin Again” – Taylor Swift
  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
  • “Merry Go ‘Round” – Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves, and Josh Osborne
  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Deric Ruttan

It’s not too common for people to receive double nominations, but here there are four songwriters competing against themselves: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves.

Sarah Jarosz Build Me Up From BonesBest American Roots Song

  • “Build Me Up From Bones” – Sarah Jarosz
  • “Invisible” – Steve Earle
  • “Keep Your Dirty Lights On” – Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott
  • “Love Has Come From You” – Edie Brickell and Steve Martin
  • “Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed” – Allen Touissant

This category is brand new this year, encompassing songs from all of the subcategories in the American Roots field: Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk, and regional roots music.

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell Old Yellow MoonBest Americana Album

  • Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon
  • Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Love Has Come For You
  • Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim
  • Mavis Staples, One True Vine
  • Allen Touissant, Songbook

Collaborations dominate this category, which is populated with many previous Grammy winners.  Emmylou Harris won this award twice, back when it was called Best Contemporary Folk Album.

James King Three Chords and the TruthBest Bluegrass Album

  • The Boxcars, It’s Just a Road
  • Dailey & Vincent, Brothers of the Highway
  • Della Mae, This World Oft Can Be
  • James King, Three Chords and the Truth
  • Del McCoury Band, The Streets of Baltimore

Del McCoury Band are the only returning victors in this category, winning back in 2006 for The Company We Keep.   Perhaps because of the broad voter base, this category has been dominated by acts with explicit ties to country music, including multiple wins by Ricky Skaggs, Jim Lauderdale, and Alison Krauss & Union Station, and one-off victories by Patty Loveless and Dolly Parton.  This year is the second in a row without crossover contenders; last year’s winner was the Steep Canyon Rangers for Nobody Knows You.

The Greencards Sweetheart of the SunBest Folk Album

  • Guy Clark, My Favorite Picture of You
  • The Greencards, Sweetheart of the Sun
  • Sarah Jarosz, Build Me Up From Bones
  • The Milk Carton Kids, The Ash & Clay
  • Various Artists, They all Played for Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration

A tribute to Guy Clark earned a nomination in this category last year, and now Clark himself is in contention for the prize.  None of the acts in contention have won in the folk fields before.

Also of note, the Pistol Annies set Annie Up earned nominations for engineer Chuck Ainlay and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category.  It competes against Daft Punk, another album mastered by Ludwig, along with sets by Alice in Chains, Queens of the Stone Age, Andrew Duhon, and Madeline Payroux.

 

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Grammy Pre-Telecast Winners

55th Grammy Awards

Grammy Pre-Telecast Winners

Here are the winners in country and country-related categories, including all-genre categories that include a

country-related nominee:

Best Long Form Music Video: Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros & Old Crow Medicine Show, Big Easy Express

Song Written for Visual Media:  T Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, John Paul White & Joy Williams, “Safe and Sound”

Americana Album:  Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream

Bluegrass Album: Steep Canyon Rangers, Nobody Knows You

Folk Album: Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile,  The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Country Duo/Group Vocal Performance: Little Big Town, “Pontoon”

Country Song: Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, “Blown Away”

 

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Grammy Awards 2013: Staff Picks and Predictions

Grammy 2013We’re only two days away from the annual event billed as Music’s Biggest Night – the 55th Grammy Awards.  Among the live performances scheduled for the night, the country music genre will be represented by the likes of Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood.  In addition, genre favorite Zac Brown is scheduled to participate in a star-studded tribute to the late Levon Helm along with Elton John, Mumford & Sons, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, while T. Bone Burnett will as musical director for the tribute performance.

We at Country Universe have busily pored over the list of this year’s nominees, and now we’re pleased to share our picks and predictions for the all-genre, country, and country-adjacent award categories.  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Share your thoughts in the comments section, and tell us who you think will emerge victorious.  Tune in for the live broadcast on Sunday, February 10 at 8:00 pm Eastern on CBS.  We will be live blogging the show here at Country Universe, and we hope you will drop by and join in the fun.

Album of the Year:mumford and sons babel

Should Win:

  • The Black Keys, El Camino Sam
  • fun., Some Nights - Kevin
  • Mumford & Sons, Babel
  • Frank Ocean, Channel Orange - Dan
  • Jack White, Blunderbuss

Will Win:

  • The Black Keys, El Camino
  • fun., Some Nights
  • Mumford & Sons, Babel - Kevin, Dan, Sam, Ben
  • Frank Ocean, Channel Orage
  • Jack White, Blunderbuss

Kevin:  I think that Mumford & Sons hit the Grammy sweet spot, and would already have a pair of general category trophies if they hadn’t been nominated during the year of Adele.   I like the point of view presented on the fun. album.

Ben:  I have no rationale for who should win, but I can’t see this going to anyone but Mumford & Sons.

Dan:  I’d love to see Ocean take it for his zeitgeister, and wouldn’t count out his and fun.’s chances.  But Mumford have the broadest appeal in a fairly niche-y pool.

Sam:  It’s more of an award for Sigh No More, which was really good, than it is for Babel, which was good but seemed like a holding pattern.  But I think Mumford & Sons take it.

Record of the Year:Gotye_featuring_Kimbra_-_Somebody_That_I_Used_to_Know

Should Win:

  • The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”
  • Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
  • fun., “We Are Young” - Kevin
  • Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know” - Dan, Sam, Ben, Tara
  • Frank Ocean, “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You”
  • Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Will Win:

  • The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”
  • Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” - Kevin
  • fun., “We Are Young”
  • Gotye featuring Kimbra – “Somebody That I Used to Know” - Dan, Sam, Ben, Tara
  • Frank Ocean, “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You”
  • Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Kevin:  This is a hard year to handicap, so I’m assuming that Kelly Clarkson’s name recognition with a wide number of voters will put her over the top.

Ben:  Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” is the one that I enjoy listening to the most, but “Somebody That I Used to Know” is the one that strikes me as having the most staying power.

Dan:  “We Are Young” could spoil, but Gotye’s hit is already a classic.

Sam:  I couldn’t turn on a Top 40 station

and not hear the Goyte song, even more so than the fun. and Swift songs.  A song that’s unique compared to the rest of the pop universe seems tailor-made for Grammy success.

Tara:  “Somebody That I Used to Know” is one of those rare hits that captures an emotion so uniquely yet so universally.  I think it’ll nab the award based on memorability.

Song of the Year:Carly_Rae_Jepsen_-_Call_Me_Maybe

Should Win:

  • “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran
  • “Adorn” – Miguel Pimentel
  • “Call Me Maybe” – Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen, & Josh Ramsay - Kevin, Dan, Ben, Tara
  • “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi
  • “We Are Young” – Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost, and Nate Ruess – Sam

Will Win:

  • “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran - Kevin, Tara
  • “Adorn” – Miguel Pimentel
  • “Call Me Maybe” – Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen, & Josh Ramsay – Ben
  • “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi
  • “We Are Young” – Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost, & Nate Ruess - Dan, Sam

Kevin:  “The A Team” seems like Grammy catnip.  I don’t think there’s a truly great song nominated, but I do think that teenybopper pop anthems are more  difficult to craft than is usually acknowledged.

Ben:  From a purely fannish perspective, there’s nothing that can topple my undying love for “Call Me Maybe.”  But even with that tempered, I still consider Jepsen’s ubiquitous summer smash to be a well-written, memorable, and deceptively creative song with a hook that’s pure pop magic, so… Grammy maybe?

Dan:  Though Carly Rae doesn’t command the same level of respect as Beyoncé, I think “Call Me Maybe” could win for the same reason “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” did a few years ago.  It’s a universally liked song that really should be up for Record, but strangely isn’t – so voters could turn here to reward it instead. But fun.’s anthem is a little easier to take seriously, so…

Tara:  What the boys said.  Confused that it’s nominated for “Song,” but nonetheless impressed by Jepsen’s smart, shameless approach to pop music.

Best New Artist:frank ocean

Should Win:

  • Alabama Shakes
  • fun.
  • Hunter Hayes
  • The Lumineers - Sam
  • Frank Ocean - Kevin, Dan

Will Win:

  • Alabama Shakes
  • fun.
  • Hunter Hayes
  • The Lumineers - Kevin, Sam
  • Frank Ocean - Dan

Kevin:  Voting has been going on while the Lumineers are peaking  with “Ho Hey”, so I’ll give them the edge.  But Ocean seems to be the talent built best for long-term success.

Dan:  As Bon Iver and pre-21 Adele proved, It helps to have nominations in the general fields when you’re up for New Artist but not yet universally known.  I think that makes it a battle between fun. and Ocean – and I’d wager the latter will rally more support.

Sam:  Unless 10 million teenage girls infiltrated the Grammy voter ranks this year, I don’t see Hunter Hayes winning this one.  Considering the Best New Artist award has been going to the most obscure artist nominated, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Alabama Shakes win.

Best Country Solo Performance:Carrie Underwood Blown Away Single

Should Win:

  • Dierks Bentley, “Home” - Leeann
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen”
  • Ronnie Dunn, “Cost of Livin'” - Dan, Sam, Jonathan
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted”
  • Blake Shelton, “Over”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away” - Kevin, Ben, Tara

Will Win:

  • Dierks Bentley, “Home”
  • Eric Church, “Springsteen” - Leeann
  • Ronnie Dunn, “Cost of Livin'”
  • Hunter Hayes, “Wanted”
  • Blake Shelton, “Over”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away” - Kevin, Dan, Sam, Jonathan, Ben, Tara

Kevin: I don’t think it’s even close.  Underwood’s performance blows all the competition away.

Ben:  It’s hard to choose between Dunn and Underwood, but for me the latter has the edge.  Underwood has always had a strong, powerful voice, but “Blown Away” finds her using it more effectively than ever before.  It’s as if she’s finally realized that she’s capable of more than just power notes – that she can use her voice to imbue added layers of emotion and complexity to an already striking song.  At any rate, I think she’s the most likely winner – with Underwood’s Grammy record, this category is her turf.

Dan:  In my dreams, Dunn takes it for a terrific single that flew sadly under the radar.  But Underwood’s performance is one of the best of her career so far, and this will be her most deserved win in this category.

Jonathan:  Ignoring the fact (as the voters did) that it should’ve been eligible last year, Dunn’s graceful, understated turn on the best-written song here is easily the class of this field.  But if Underwood could beat far more deserving competition to win for “Last Name,” there’s no reason to think she can’t win again for something significantly better, especially when she stands out even further as the only woman nominated against five men.  Any other outcome would be a huge surprise.

Leeann:  I’d be happy with a win for Dierks Bentley, Ronnie Dunn or Eric Church, but I feel Church has had a great year, though I wouldn’t be surprised if young Hunter Hayes took this one in the end.

Sam:  Sorry Blake, but the Grammy Awards doesn’t have the same incentive to heap awards on you as half of country music’s top power duo that the CMAs and ACMs have.  I don’t think any of the other nominees have the same visibility as Carrie Underwood.

Tara:  “Cost of Livin’” is far and away the best song in this category, but Underwood’s performance is the most intriguing.  I’m not as convinced as the others that Underwood’s a shoo-in, but she’s my best guess.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:Don Williams Alison Krauss I Just Came Here for the Music

Should Win:

  • Eli Young Band, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” - Sam
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
  • Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound” - Leeann
  • The Time Jumpers, “On the Outskirts of Town”
  • Don Williams featuring Alison Krauss, “I Just Come Here for the Music” – Kevin, Dan, Jonathan, Ben, Tara

Will Win:

  • Eli Young Band, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
  • Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
  • Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound” - Leeann
  • The Time Jumpers, “On the Outskirts of Town” - Sam
  • Don Williams featuring Alison Krauss, “I Just Come Here for the Music” - Kevin, Dan, Jonathan, Ben, Tara

Kevin:  Because it’s Alison Krauss, who has seven wins already in the history of the two categories that have been combined into this one for the past two years.  Great performances by two legends of the genre.

Ben:  A formidable lineup indeed, but my favorite record of this lot is “I Just Come Here for the Music,” which is nothing short of a classic performance.  That aside, Alison Krauss is one of the biggest Grammy magnets in history, so I imagine the voters would gravitate toward her name anyway.

Dan: Can’t count out Little Big Town’s commercial breakthrough or the Swift-Wars combo.  But I’m still voting with the pack.

Jonathan:  Top-to-bottom, this may be the strongest set of nominees in any of the 5,749 categories this year, and it’s a great example of how and why the ACMs and CMAs should combine their duo and group categories to trim the fat.  But that also makes for a tough prediction, with two big commercial hits from Eli Young Band and Little Big Town squaring off against two of Grammy-voters’ all-time favorite artists (Krauss, Vince Gill as part of The Time Jumpers), leaving the lovely collaboration between Swift and the Civil Wars, both of whom have solid Grammy track records.  This really could go to any of the five – and none would be an outright terrible choice – but it’s foolhardy to bet against Krauss.

Leeann:  The popularity of The Hunger Games movie paired with the continued popularity of Taylor Swift, not to mention the cool factor of The Civil Wars, makes this a sure win.

Sam:  It’s a Grammy favorite (Alison Krauss) and a veteran singer who may not get another nomination (Don Williams).  That’s like heroin to voters.

Tara:  Strong set.  I’ll put my vote and money behind the most charming of the collaborations.

Best Country Song:Springsteen_single Eric Church

Should Win:

  • “Blown Away” – Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins
  • “Cost of Livin'” – Phillip Coleman & Ronnie Dunn - Leeann
  • Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge & Eric Paslay - Dan
  • “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” – Jay Knowles & Adam Wright - Kevin, Jonathan, Ben, Tara
  • “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, & Ryan Tyndell

Will Win:

  • “Blown Away” – Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins - Kevin, Dan
  • “Cost of Livin'” – Phillip Coleman & Ronnie Dunn
  • “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge & Eric Paslay
  • “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” – Jay Knowles & Adam Wright
  • “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, & Ryan Tyndell - Sam, Jonathan, Ben, Tara, Leeann

Kevin:  I think “Blown Away” will win because it’s topical and it’s performed by Carrie Underwood.  The recent history of the category has been winning by writing a big  thematic number and/or writing for a crossover star.  My personal favorite is  “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore,” which is my favorite country single from the past few years.

Ben:  I believe any one of these nominees would make a worthy winner for Best Country Song, but “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” is easily the one that impacts me the hardest.

Dan:  Another category stacked with five legitimately strong nominees, two of which weren’t hits; it reminds you why the Grammys were once the class of the country music awards, and makes you hope they can be again.  The Will Hoge/Eric Paslay co-write is my personal favorite, but I’ll be content with any winner here.

Jonathan:  Though it would be my choice here without reservation, “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” isn’t nominated elsewhere, which the other four songs all have in their favor, so it’s probably the longest-shot to win.  Based on the broad crossover appeal that, as Kevin said, usually wins in this category, this one likely comes down to “Blown Away” and “Springsteen.”  Grammy voters have never been shy about showing their love for The Boss, a fact that works in Church’s favor.  That Church is both the songwriter and performer on his track will likely give “Springsteen” the edge with enough voters who get hung up about whether or not that kind of thing matters over the Underwood hit.

Leeann:  I just can’t fight the feeling that Eric Church will continue his good run.

Tara:  I’d be happy with any of these, but the quietly potent “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” has my heart.  I think Church may take this based on both his rising star and the strength of The Boss.

Best Country Album:jamey johnson living for a song

Should Win:

  • Zac Brown Band, Uncaged - Jonathan
  • Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes
  • Jamey Johnson, Living for a Song:  A Tribute to Hank Cochran - Kevin, Dan, Sam, Ben, Tara, Leeann
  • Miranda Lambert, Four the Record
  • The Time Jumpers, The Time Jumpers

Will Win:

  • Zac Brown Band, Uncaged
  • Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes - Kevin
  • Jamey Johnson, Living for a Song:  A Tribute to Hank Cochran
  • Miranda Lambert, Four the Record - Dan, Jonathan, Ben, Tara
  • The Time Jumpers, The Time Jumpers - Sam, Leeann

Kevin:  I only find the Johnson and Hayes sets interesting.  I think Hayes’ higher profile will help him win.  Underwood’s lack of a nomination is a shame, but also makes the competition a bit more unpredictable.

Ben:  The Time Jumpers album is a hard one for me to pass over, but between the tracklist of Hank Cochran classics, and the who’s who of legendary talent behind the mic, Living for a Song is just too much to resist.  There’s no clear frontrunner for who will win, but my gut says that voters will seize the opportunity to recognize Lambert.

Jonathan:  I was glad to see the voters’ restraint and good taste in passing over Lambert in the Solo Performance and Song categories for either of the two worst singles of her entire career, but I think she’s still likely the favorite to win in this category.  There’s some sentiment that she’s due here, after Crazy Ex-Girlfriend failed to score a nomination and Revolution indefensibly lost to Lady Antebellum.  Though it’s by far her weakest album by several orders of magnitude, Four the Record would still trump some of the recent winners in this category in terms of quality, even if it’s only the fourth-best album nominated this year.

Leeann:  I’d be very happy if either Johnson or The Time Jumpers won, but I’m thinking Vince Gill will help The Time Jumpers have an edge, since Grammy voters have been historically supportive of him.

Sam:  I think enough Grammy voters will have figured out that Vince Gill is in The Time Jumpers, which is almost as compelling to them as an Alison Krauss nomination.  I love the Jamey Johnson but can’t see it getting enough support.

Tara:  I’m enamored by the Johnson album, but agree with the rest that Lambert is likely the voters’ favorite.  Four the Record is an odd one for me; what was once my favorite album of the year is now somewhat unlistenable.  I can’t figure it out.

Best Americana Album:bonnie raitt slipstream

Should Win:

  • The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
  • John Fullbright, From the Ground Up
  • The Lumineers, The Lumineers - Sam
  • Mumford & Sons, Babel
  • Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream - Jonathan, Leeann, Ben

Will Win:

  • The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
  • John Fullbright, From the Ground Up
  • The Lumineers, The Lumineers - Leeann
  • Mumford & Sons, Babel - Sam, Jonathan, Dan, Ben
  • Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream

Ben:  Slipstream is my favorite of this lot, but is it any match for the red-hot momentum of Mumford & Sons?  I doubt it.

Jonathan:  The Raitt album is uneven (and not a particularly good fit for this category), but its spectacular opening run of four songs is still far, far stronger than anything on any of the other four albums combined.  Given the Album of the Year nod in the general field, though, there’s no way Babel loses this one.

Leeann:  I wouldn’t be surprised if either the Lumineers or Mumford and Sons took this considering the big buzz around them, but Bonnie Raitt’s quality, though more under the radar, album seems most deserving to me.

Sam:  Not a super-strong category, as there are a few albums that are good, not great.  The Lumineers is probably the best of the bunch with catchy tune after catchy tune, but Mumford & Sons gets the name recognition.

Best Bluegrass Album:Noam Pikelny Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail

Should Win:

  • Dailey & Vincent, The Gospel Side Of
  • The Grascals, Life Finds a Way
  • Noam Pikelny, Beat the Devel and Carry a Rail - Jonathan
  • Special Consensus, Scratch Gravel Road
  • Steep Canyon Rangers, Nobody Knows You

Will Win:

  • Dailey & Vincent, The Gospel Side Of
  • The Grascals, Life Finds a Way - Jonathan
  • Noam Pikelny, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail
  • Special Consensus, Scratch Gravel Road
  • Steep Canyon Rangers, Nobody Knows You

Jonathan:  Pikelny’s album was one of my favorites from 2011, so its nomination is one of the most pleasant surprises on the Grammy ballot.  A win isn’t out of the question, either:  This category can go anywhere in a Krauss-less year.  The Grascals and Dailey & Vincent are the two biggest “names” in the field, but it’s questionable whether or not there’s a huge amount of overlap between the Grammy voters and the diners at Cracker Barrel, where the Dailey & Vincent set was an in-store exclusive album.

Best Folk Album:220px-The_goat_rodeo_sessions

Should Win:

  • Carolina Chocolate Drops, Leaving Eden
  • Ry Cooder, Election Special
  • Luther Dickinson, HamboneG’s Meditations
  • Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, & Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions – Sam, Jonathan, Leeann
  • Various Artists, This One’s for Him:  A Tribute to Guy Clark

Will Win:

  • Carolina Chocolate Drops, Leaving Eden
  • Ry Cooder, Election Special
  • Luther Dickinson, HamboneG’s Meditations
  • Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, & Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions - Sam, Jonathan
  • Various Artists, This One’s for Him:  A Tribute to Guy Clark

Jonathan:  The Goat Rodeo album seems like Grammy-bait that’s almost too good to be true.  Even if the album weren’t as impressive as it is, the pedigree alone would make it the presumptive frontrunner here.  Still, this is a very strong line-up overall:  Dickinson, though he’s a terrific guitarist, is the only nominee out of the five who would be a surprising (though not undeserving) winner, based upon his comparatively lower profile.

Leeann:   I can’t even venture a guess on who will win this category.  I’d be happy for The Guy Clark tribute album or the Carolina Chocolate Drops to win, but my personal favorite is the crisp, bright Goat Rodeo Sessions album.

Sam:  It would be a toss-up between the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Guy Clark tribute, as both were just excellent.  The tribute album probably gets the nod just because the songs were matched so perfectly to the singers, which is no small feat.  However, the star power on Goat Rodeo Sessions is tough to beat.

 

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2013 Grammy Nominations

The Grammy season is upon us.  In some ways each year is different, and yet in some ways each year is the same.  Some nods we see coming from a mile away (“Just Somebody That I Used to Know” for Record of the Year – Called it!), some come as pleasant surprises (Finally some recognition for “Cost of Livin'”!), and of course there are some records that sell well enough to score nominations even though they stink (Take your pick).

This year’s crop of nominees were just announced last night.  Here are the nominees for the all-genre, country, and country-adjascent award categories.  Please share your thoughts freely in the comments section.  The live broadcast will air Sunday, February 10 on CBS.  Join us for more Grammy coverage the week of the show, including our staff picks and predictions, and of course don’t forget to join in the live blogging fun on show night!

 

Record of the Year:

 

“Lonely Boy”

The Black Keys
The Black Keys & Danger Mouse, producers; Tom Elmhirst & Kennie Takahashi, engineers/mixers; Brian Lucey, mastering engineer
[Nonesuch]

“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

Kelly Clarkson
Greg Kurstin, producer; Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Greg Kurstin & Jesse Shatkin, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
[RCA Records/19 Recordings Limited]

“We Are Young”

Fun. Featuring Janelle Monáe
Jeff Bhasker, producer; Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dawson & Stuart White, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
[Fueled By Ramen]

“Somebody That I Used To Know”

Gotye Featuring Kimbra
Wally De Backer, producer; Wally De Backer & Francois Tetaz, engineers/mixers; William Bowden, mastering engineer
[Universal Republic]

“Thinkin Bout You”

Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean, producer; Jeff Ellis, Pat Thrall & Marcos Tovar, engineers/mixers; Vlado Meller, mastering engineer
[Def Jam]

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Taylor Swift
Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, producers; Serban Ghenea, engineer/mixer; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer
[Big Machine Records]

Album of the Year:

 

El Camino

The Black Keys
The Black Keys & Danger Mouse, producers; Tchad Blake, Tom Elmhirst & Kennie Takahashi, engineers/mixers; Brian Lucey, mastering engineer
[Nonesuch]

Some Nights

Fun.
Janelle Monáe, featured artist; Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, Jake One & TommyD, producers; Jeff Bhasker, Pete Bischoff, Jeff Chestek, Andrew Dawson, Emile Haynie, Manny Marroquin, Sonny Pinnar & Stuart White, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
[Fueled By Ramen]

Babel

Mumford & Sons
Markus Dravs, producer; Robin Baynton & Ruadhri Cushnan, engineers/mixers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer
[Glassnote]

Channel Orange

Frank Ocean
André 3000, John Mayer & Earl Sweatshirt, featured artists; Om’Mas Keith, Malay, Frank Ocean & Pharrell, producers; Calvin Bailif, Andrew Coleman, Jeff Ellis, Doug Fenske, Om’Mas Keith, Malay, Frank Ocean, Philip Scott, Mark “Spike” Stent, Pat Thrall, Marcos Tovar & Vic Wainstein, engineers/mixers; Vlado Meller, mastering engineer
[Def Jam]

Blunderbuss

Jack White
Jack White, producer; Vance Powell & Jack White, engineers/mixers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer
[Third Man/Columbia Records]

Song of the Year:

 

“The A Team”

Ed Sheeran, songwriter (Ed Sheeran)
[Elektra; Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing]

“Adorn”

Miguel Pimentel, songwriter (Miguel)
[RCA/Bystorm Entertainment; Publisher: Art Dealer Chic]

“Call Me Maybe”

Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen & Josh Ramsay, songwriters (Carly Rae Jepsen)
[604 Records/Schoolboy Records/Interscope; Publishers: Jepsen Music Publishing, Regular Monkey Productions, Crowe Music Publishing]

“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi, songwriters (Kelly Clarkson)
[RCA/19 Recordings; Publishers: Universal Music Publishing MGB Scandinavia, Perfect Storm Music Group/Sony ATV Music Publishing Scandinavia, BMG Gold Songs, Kurstin Music/EMI April Music]

“We Are Young”

Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Fun. featuring Janelle Monáe)
[Fueled By Ramen; Publishers: WB Music, FBR Music, Bearvon Music/Rough Art/Shira Lee Lawrence Rick Music/Way Above Music/Sony ATV Songs]

Best

New Artist:

 

Alabama Shakes
Fun.
Hunter Hayes
The Lumineers
Frank Ocean

 

Best Country Solo Performance:

“Home”

Dierks Bentley
[Capitol Records Nashville]

“Springsteen”

Eric Church
[EMI Records Nashville]

“Cost of Livin'”

Ronnie Dunn
[Arista Nashville]

“Wanted”

Hunter Hayes
[Atlantic]

“Over”

Blake Shelton
[Warner Bros. Records]

“Blown Away”

Carrie Underwood
[19 Recordings Limited/Arista Nashville]

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:

“Even If It Breaks Your Heart”

Eli Young Band
[Republic Nashville]

“Pontoon”

Little Big Town
[Capitol Records Nashville]

“Safe & Sound”

Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars
[Big Machine Records/Universal Republic]

“On the Outskirts of Town”

The Time Jumpers
[Rounder]

“I Just Come Here For The Music”

Don Williams featuring Alison Krauss
[Sugar Hill Records]

Best Country Song:

“Blown Away”

Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
Track from: Blown Away
[19 Recordings Limited/Arista Nashville; Publishers: Global Dog Music/Lunalight Music, Big Loud Songs/Angel River Songs]

“Cost of Livin'”

Phillip Coleman & Ronnie Dunn, songwriters (Ronnie Dunn)
[Arista Nashville; Publishers: Tractor Radio Songs, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Showbilly Music]

“Even If It Breaks Your Heart”

Will Hoge & Eric Paslay, songwriters (Eli Young Band)
[Republic Nashville]

“So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore”

Jay Knowles & Adam Wright, songwriters (Alan Jackson)
[EMI Records Nashville/ACR Records; Publishers: Alrighty Den Music, Dean-Parnell Music, Acme Nashville]

“Springsteen”

Eric Church, Jeff Hyde & Ryan Tyndell, songwriters (Eric Church)
[EMI Records Nashville; Publishers: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Sinnerlina Music/Purple Cape Music, Bug Music/Mamma’s Cornbread Music]

Best Country Album:

Uncaged

Zac Brown Band
[Southern Ground/Atlantic]

Hunter Hayes

Hunter Hayes
[Atlantic]

Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran

Jamey Johnson
[Mercury Records]

Four the Record

Miranda Lambert
[The RCA Records Label Nashville]

The Time Jumpers

The Time Jumpers
[Rounder]

Best Americana Album:

The Carpenter

The Avett Brothers
[Universal Republic]

From the Ground Up

John Fullbright
[Blue Dirt Records]

The Lumineers

The Lumineers
[Dualtone Music Group]

Babel

Mumford & Sons
[Glassnote]

Slipstream

Bonnie Raitt
[Redwing Records]

Best Bluegrass Album:

The Gospel Side Of

Dailey & Vincent
[Rounder]

Life Finds a Way

The Grascals
[Mountain Home Music Company]

Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail

Noam Pikelny
[Compass Records]

Scratch Gravel Road

Special Consensus
[Compass Records]

Nobody Knows You

Steep Canyon Rangers
[Rounder]

Best Folk Album:

Leaving Eden

Carolina Chocolate Drops
[Nonesuch]

Election Special

Ry Cooder
[Perro Verde/Nonesuch]

Hambone’s Meditations

Luther Dickinson
[Songs Of The South]

The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile
[Sony Classical]

This One’s For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark

(Various Artists)
Shawn Camp & Tamara Saviano, producers
[Icehouse Music]

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Grammy Live-Blog 2012

Winners

Album of the Year: Adele, 21

Record of the Year: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”

Song of the Year: Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, “Rolling in the Deep”

Best New Artist: Bon Iver

“Best” Country Album: Lady Antebellum, Own the Night

Best Pop Vocal Performance: Adele, “Someone Like You”

Best Country Solo Performance: Taylor Swift, “Mean”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:  The Civil Wars, “Barton Hollow”

Best Country Song: Taylor Swift, “Mean”

Best Americana Album:  Levon Helm, Ramble at the Ryman

Best Bluegrass Album: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplane

Best Folk Album:  The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

- – – – – 

11:33 Ben: I had a blast. Big thanks to Dan for doing a bang-up job leading the live blog, and thanks to everyone who partipated in the comments. See y’all at ACM season!

11:32 Tara: Thanks for hanging out, y’all! Tonight’s show kind of grew on me, with its surprising focus on the music (how quaint). And lest we forget: when Adele wins, we all win.

11:27 Dan: And we close the show with a spirited “Carry that Weight” with Paul McCartney, The Boss, Dave Grohl, and a bunch of guitar dudes I’m ashamed to say I don’t recognize. Slow night, but some really nice moments!

11:24 Dan: “A little bit o’ snot” is literally the best thing I’ve ever heard in an acceptance speech. I don’t know how you could hate Adele.

11:22 Ben: Does Adele need to come up with her own version of the Surprised Face?

11:21 Dan: So many upsets tonight!

Album of the Year: Adele, 21

11:20 Ben: I love the chirpy way Diana Ross talks.

11:13 Ben:  “Still to come:  Will Diana Ross present the Grammy for Album of the Year to Adele…” or to someone who is not Adele.  Gotta love how they at least attempt to build supense.

11:11 Ben: “Thank you so much.  This is ridiculous.”  Oh, how she makes me smile.

Record of the Year: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”

11:1o Ben: Go ahead, Lady A.  Remind us of all the undeserved awards you won last year.

11:10 Dan: I wish I had liked that song more on first listen. Nicki’s a great talent, but that felt self-indulgent.

11:10 Ben: It’s…interesting.

11:08 Tara: From a visual standpoint, this is the coolest performance of the night. Jury’s still out on the song. I’m kind of scared?

11:06 Dan: I can’t believe the Grammys let Nicki Minaj get away with this “Roman’s Revenge” “Exorcism” spectacle. God bless ‘em.

10:53 Ben: Oh gosh. Kill the AutoTune. Please.

10:52 Dan: I have one word to the Grammys for each Chris Brown performance tonight: 1) F*** 2) you.

10:49 Tara: Stunning performance by J Hud. As frustrated as I am with some of the nominations and wins, tonight’s shining moments have come in the form of naked voices – and that’s really refreshing.

10:46 Ben: So genuine.  So sincere. So…wow.

10:44 Ben: Jennifer Hudson is the right person for the job.

10:43 Dan: Jennifer Hudson’s Whitney tribute starting now. Looking and sounding awesome on “I Will Always Love You.”

10:36 Ben: He’s clearly putting on no airs here.  Very down-to-earth.

10:35 Dan: I was rooting for Nicki, but this is well deserved. Justin Vernon is the real deal.

Best New Artist: Bon Iver

10:33 Ben: The first hour was blah, but this show has picked up a heck of a lot of steam.  I am loving this Bennett-Underwood duet.

10:33 Tara: Carrie proving why she won this award five years ago. That voice.

10:31 Dan: Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood on “It Had to Be You” now. Quality, as you’d expect. I have to wonder how these old-guy-young-girl duets usually manage to avoid sounding creepy.

10:26 Ben: The Adele performance and the Glen Campbell tribute are, so far, this year’s “Grammy moments.”

10:23 Tara: Very sincere, sweet tribute. If we ignore the Lady A win, country music is cleaning up tonight.

10:22 Ben: My heart has a happy.

10:22 Dan: Glen sounds lively and buoyant, rephrasing “Rhinestone Cowboy” as a career retrospective and advice to the young ones. And between-line commentary. Just wonderful.

10:21 Dan: Blake Shelton does justice to “Southern Nights.” But here comes the man!

10:20 Ben: I think they’re sounding really great tonight.  Love hearing that mandolin!

10:17 Dan: Thank goodness – they’re sounding nice and string-bandish on “Gentle on My Mind.” I usually find Kimberly’s vocal style a little shouty, so it’s good they’re performing a song with a quick, percussive feel.

10:16 Dan: Glen Campbell time! Don’t blow this, Perrys.

10:10 Ben: THIS IS ADELE’S MOMENT.

10:09 Tara: Adele looking as gorgeous as she sounds. The nuance in her performance is just incredible.

10:09 Ben: Adele is looking great tonight.  That new haircut suits her well.  Oh yeah… sounding great too.

10:08 Ben: At least we can enjoy the long-awaited Adele performance as I’m reeling from the Lady A victory.

10:04 Ben: I already knew that Lady A’s new music was ovverrated as heck, but honestly… This isn’t even funny anymore.

9:59 Tara: I told you guys I had a feeling about this. What a disappointment, and what a waste of sheer talent.

9:59 Kevin: They must own the accounting firm that tabulates the votes.

9:59 Ben: Oh gosh. This is the part where I start throwing things at the TV.

9:59 Dan: AGGGGH

“Best” “Country” Album: Lady Antebellum, Own the Night

9:58 Ben: Country Album now. Let it be anyone but Lady A.

9:57 Tara: Katy Perry reminding me that I’ll take sleepy performances by legends over dynamic performances by substance-less pop stars any day.

9:57 Ben: Still lip-synching, I think.

9:55 Well, this second song maybe sounds a little more raw and pitchy. Maybe it was just on “E.T.”

9:54 And the most obvious lip-synching of the night: Katy Perry.

9:52 Ben: Happy face for Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth!

Song of the Year: Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, “Rolling in the Deep”

9:37 Ben: I hate how the host network away has to stick the stars of their current programs in random spots just like ABC does with the CMAs.  I know they want to drive ratings, but it seems to take the focus off the music.

9:50 Ben: I must have missed the “OMG!” face.  Either that or I’m so used to it that it goes by without notice.

9:46 The Taylor Swift “OMG!” face returns. It was so ridiculous that you had to laugh.

9:46 Ben: My favorite performance so far by a long shot.  A wonderful and unabashedly fun performance.

9:44 Tara: A lovely 60 seconds of “Barton Hollow” followed by Taylor Swift’s best live performance in a while on one of 2011’s best country singles. Country music victory on the Grammys. Wonder what Lefsetz is thinking right now?

9:42 This is kind of surreal, seeing her perform the song that was probably inspired by the backlash over her last Grammy performance.

9:42 Ben: It’s great to see a Taylor Swift performance that actually feels representative of the country music genre.

9:41 Ben: Yay!  It’s our jam!  “Mean”!

9:40 Ben: I can’t get over how much John Paul White looks like Johnny Depp.

9:38 Ben: Finally!  The Civil Wars are here to restore order.

Best R&B Album: Chris Brown, F.A.M.E.

9:34 Paul McCartney crooning some very Valentine’s-Day-ish song. The Grammys are determined to send us to an early sleep.

From Twitter: Stevie is never allowed to die. @SaraJBenincasa

9:35 Tara: I’m so in, Dan. I can’t even pinpoint why the show is dragging so much – the performances haven’t been awful.

9:31 It’s only an hour and a half in and I think everybody is already super-duper bored. You guys wanna play Never Have I Ever?

9:20 Tara: The Beach Boys make my heart smile. But this is oh so sleepy…

9:20 Foster the People are faring slightly better with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” but…this could be any bar band, really.

9:18 Maroon 5 start off the Beach Boys tribute/reunion with a rather tepid “Surfer Girl.” They need to turn up Adam Levine’s mic, but this just isn’t the right song choice, either.

9:15 Terrific acceptance speech from Krohl about keeping music organic and craft-centered.

Best Rock Performance: Foo Fighters, “Walk”

9:12 However it ends up going, I’m really excited to see the Glen Campbell tribute. Really cool of the Grammys to honor him and his music on the telecast.

9:09 Tara: Y’all, I paid more attention to the countrified Chipotle commercial than anything on the show so far. True story.

From Twitter: Have a Pavlovian response to Coldplay. Gotta go fail to make out with a gay guy in my dorm room. Bye. @JillMorris

9:01 Tara: Chris Brown: 0, Rihanna: 1. No?

8:59 Kevin: Rihanna’s Tina Turner look is a brilliant way to acknowledge Brown’s presence on the show.

8:58 Whatever your feelings about Rihanna’s music, she usually sounds really solid live.

8:52 Wasn’t wild about the audio job on that Foos performance, but it’s great to see they’re still on top of their game. Dave Grohl really is an icon.

8:48 Jack Black introducing the Foo Fighters is just the injection of life this show needs after that sleepy duet.

8:45 Ben: I like “Don’t You Wanna Stay” for what it is, but I don’t like the way it sounds in a live setting.  I have an acoustic version in my iTunes, and I so much prefer listening to it in that form.

8:42 Ben: Yeah, leave Kelly’s mic on.  Turn Jason’s off.  Works for me.

8:41 Kevin: For the blog: I think they turned off Jason’s mic.  Thanks for that.

8:41 Tara: “Don’t You Wanna Stay” isn’t an awful representation of country music on the Grammys, I suppose. I just. Don’t. Get. Jason Aldean.

8:39 I like “Don’t You Wanna Stay” but this performance does have a little of that “Ooo is that paint drying over there?” quality.

8:37 Ben: Yay, Reba! Nice little speech about how music brings people together.

8:37 Well okay. Hey, Reba’s here!

Best Rap Performance: Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Otis”

8:30 Tara: Not particularly impressed by this infamous Chris Brown comeback performance. All I know is Ken Ehrlich’s “victim” statement is deplorable.

8:27 Chris Brown performing now. Have y’all read this yet?

8:25 Ben: I love how she thanks her doctors for bringing her voice back.  She’s so adorable.

8:24 Ben: Adele.  Surprised?  No.  Happy?  Yes.

Best Pop Vocal Performance: Adele, “Someone Like You”

8:23 Ben: Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt make a very interesting musical pairing.  I enjoyed that performance.

8:23 Tara: Love the simplicity of this tribute. And damn, Alicia Keys can wail.

8:22 Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt (!) paying awesome tribute to Etta James with “Sunday Kind of Love.” No complaints here!

8:21 Ben: Snippet of “Something to Talk About.”  My toe instantly begins tapping.

8:19 Ben: I’m pumped.  Excited for The Civil Wars, and for Taylor Swift’s “Mean.”  Very well-deserved wins

8:19 Tara: So I’m pretty pumped about the pre-telecast country awards. Y’all?

8:15 Bruno Mars just wrapped up the second performance. Some nice mention of people getting off their “rich asses.” Hey, did you guys see Nicki Minaj and Japanese Taylor Swift?

8:11 Tara: I’m digging this “family of musicians” theme of the night. “Music is universal and healing,” says LL Cool J – absolutely.

8:10 Ben: That was cool how they showed the clip of Whitney singing “I Will Always Love You.”

8:10 “Are we excited to hear Adele’s beautiful voice tonight?!” They’re not even going to pretend this isn’t her show, y’all.

8:06 L.L. Cool J is the first Grammy host in several years, and he’s kicking off the night in beautiful fashion with a prayer in memory of Whitney. “There is no way around this; there’s been a death in the family.”

8:01 Kicking off with Bruce Springsteen is not the worst idea. Sounding lively on “We Take Care of Our Own.” It’s hard for that sentiment to set off some thoughts about last night’s events – I wonder if the whole night will be like this.

7:51 Watching this 60 Minutes on Adele. It’s really cool. I don’t have anything else to say about it, really – I just missed you guys!

7:05  Howdy, guys. Dan here. I’ll be running the blog tonight, though a lot of us CU writers will be chiming in. After last night’s loss, should be an especially dynamic show. It’s a good occasion to remember what a special gift music is. Show starts at 8 PM/7 Central – hope you can join us!

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Grammy Awards 2012: Staff Picks & Predictions

The 54th annual GrammyAdele Awards air this Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern. Look for appearances by Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Lady Antebellum as well as country-ish performances by Jason Aldean, Glen Campbell (with the Band Perry and Blake Shelton), Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. We’ve picked and predicted the awards below – share your thoughts, and be sure to drop by on Sunday night for our live blog!

Album of the Year

Should Win

  • Adele, 21 -Dan, Kevin, Ben, Tara, Sam
  • Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
  • Lady Gaga, Born this Way
  • Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops & Hooligans
  • Rihanna, Loud

Will Win

  • Adele, 21 – Dan, Kevin, Ben, Tara, Sam
  • Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
  • Lady Gaga, Born this Way
  • Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops & Hooligans
  • Rihanna, Loud

Ben: Adele made some of the best and most memorable music of the year, and met with across-the-board critical and commercial success, so it’s hardly a stretch to say that she should and will emerge victorious here.

Tara: I don’t often agree with Bob Lefsetz, but his case for why 21 has resonated so well is spot on: “music trumps everything.” How true, and how refreshing that an album that embraced the hell out of this theme made such a commercial splash.

Sam: Lady Gaga is the only one of the nominees who can rival her for publicity in 2011, but Adele’s record sales should put her over the top. Oh, and it was a great record — not that that means anything where Grammy voters are concerned.

Dan: It helps that this is an especially lazy pool of nominees. 21 is certainly a strong album and a commercial landmark, but I do wish something like Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy were here to help hold up the bar.

Kevin:  Adele made the best album by a wide margin.

Record of the Year

Should Win

  • Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” –  Dan, Kevin, Ben, Tara, Sam 
  • Bon Iver, “Holocene”
  • Bruno Mars, “Grenade”
  • Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”
  • Katy Perry, “Firework”

Will Win

  • Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” –  Dan, Kevin, Ben, Tara, Sam
  • Bon Iver, “Holocene”
  • Bruno Mars, “Grenade”
  • Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”
  • Katy Perry, “Firework”

Ben: The dramatic build-up nature, the simmering intensity, the all-guns-blazing chorus…“Rolling In the Deep” is all but untouchable.

Tara: As rousing a Top 40 hit as we’ve heard in years. I think we all know Adele will sweep.

Sam: I’m a Mumford & Sons fan, but it’s hard to top “Rolling in the Deep.” Anyone who votes for a Katy Perry song in this category should lose their Grammy voting rights permanently.

Dan: Long after it became overplayed, it was still more refreshing to me than everything else on the radio.

Kevin:  Adele cut through the hype by being the best singer and the best songwriter.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Song of the Year

Should Win
  • “All of the Lights” – Jeff Bhasker, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West - Dan
  • “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 – Kevin, Ben, Tara

Will Win

  • “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 – Dan, Kevin, Ben, Tara

Tara: “Rolling in the Deep” shines more as a record than as a composition, but it’s still memorable enough to nab this award, and I think it will.

Dan: Here’s where I’d love to see some variation. “All of the Lights” is a poetic, layered micro-drama. Plus, from a songwriting standpoint, I’ve never fully gotten over how “Rolling in the Deep” cribs its chorus from Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.”

Kevin:  The British slang that the song is built around doesn’t stop “Rolling” from being the most universal of the five compositions. 

Best New Artist

Should Win

  • The Band Perry - Sam
  • Bon Iver
  • J. Cole – Tara
  • Nicki Minaj – Dan, Kevin
  • Skrillex

Will Win

  • The Band Perry – Sam
  • Bon Iver – Dan, Kevin, Tara
  • J. Cole
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Skrillex

Tara: Bon Iver fits the Grammy mold the best. Personally, I’m not married to any of these acts, but I guess J. Cole piques my interest the most right now. This is totally one of those picks I’m going to regret in six months…

Sam: I think this one could be an upset win for the country world. “If I Die Young” was such an unexpected crossover hit, and I think it had more resonance than most other singles from the eligibility period. Plus the Band Perry is cuter than a basket full of puppies, which can only help them.

Dan: I think Bon Iver is the most fully realized act, and predict the band’s Song and Record nods will tip Grammy voters to vote for them like Adele’s did a few years ago. But Minaj’s potential excites me the most, and I had “Super Bass” on loop last year.

Kevin:  Minaj is the most refreshing of the five, though Bon Iver’s the most Grammy-friendly.

Best Country Solo Performance 

Should Win

  • Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”
  • Martina McBride, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”
  • Blake Shelton, “Honey Bee”
  • Taylor Swift, “Mean” – Dan, Kevin, Jonathan, Ben, Tara, Leeann, Sam
  • Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”

Will Win

  • Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem” – Sam
  • Martina McBride, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”
  • Blake Shelton, “Honey Bee”
  • Taylor Swift, “Mean” – Dan, Kevin, Jonathan, Ben, Tara, Leeann
  • Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”

Ben: Swift outclasses the competition by miles.

Jonathan: A depressing line-up here, really. Swift’s single and performance are far and away the strongest of the five nominees, but she didn’t land the general field nominations that many people were expecting her to receive, so I do wonder if her support runs as deep this year as it did during the Fearless juggernaut. If she loses this one, I think it will be to the red-hot-but-I-don’t-get-it-at-all Aldean.

Tara: Embarrassing line-up. “Mean” is the only one that even comes close to Grammy worthy. I think Swift still has the voters on her side, but I could also see Aldean edging her out.

Sam: “Honey Bee?” “Dirt Road Anthem?” Really, Grammy voters? I guess we should be lucky they managed to put one good song in the category, even if it was probably an accident. However, I think voters are going to take a year off on the Swift love and give it to Aldean, because it’s the least country-sounding song in the category.

Dan: I could see Shelton’s familiarity prompting a win here, but suspect Grammy voters are still in Swift’s corner.

Kevin:  They should just make the genre categories line up perfectly with the big three. This is really a race for Country Record of the Year anyway.  Swift’s entry is the best.

Leeann: All of the songs on this are vanilla except for the Swift song, both in lyrics and execution. This is the inarguable standout song.

Best Country Duo / Group Performance

Should Win

  • Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
  • Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter, “You and Tequila” – Kevin, Leeann
  • The Civil Wars, “Barton Hollow” –  Dan, Jonathan, Ben, Tara, Sam
  • Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”

Will Win

  • Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” –  Dan, Jonathan, Ben, Tara, Leeann, Sam
  • Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”
  • The Civil Wars, “Barton Hollow” – Kevin
  • Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”

Ben: It’s a super tough call for me to choose between The Civil Wars and Chesney and Potter.  As much as I adore “You and Tequila,” I’m finally settling on The Civil Wars as my pick.  However, I expect that Aldean and Clarkson will likely triumph over both.

Jonathan: Had the Civil Wars scored the Best New Artist nomination that they seemed primed for, I would be more bullish on their chances here. They’re still the only of the four nominees I’d even consider voting for, but Clarkson is the only proven Grammy commodity in this lot, and this is probably the least credibility-straining place to recognize Aldean.

Tara: Confession: I don’t really see the sparkle that others see in “You and Tequila.” The swampy “Barton Hollow” has my heart, but I think Aldean & Clarkson will have the Grammy voters’ hearts. And I’m always OK with a little K. Clarkson love.

Sam: “Barton Hollow” kicks the ass of every other song on the list, including the excellent Chesney/Potter collaboration, and if Grammy voters actually listened to the songs they vote for, it would probably win. However, the Aldean/Clarkson screamfest has the benefit of Kelly Clarkson’s name recognition and Aldean’s current popularity.

Dan: The Civil Wars wail like mad dogs on their track. But Aldean and Clarkson are both having a moment right now.

Kevin:  The Civil Wars seem like Grammy catnip.

Leeann: My vote goes for the Chesney/Potter collaboration or The Civil Wars song, but I won’t be surprised if it goes to the powerhouse duet of Aldean and Clarkson based on crossover appeal. I hope, however, that  it turns out that I’m not giving the Grammy voters enough credit.

Best Country Song

Should Win

  • “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 –  Dan, Ben, Tara, Sam
  • “Threaten Me With Heaven” – Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Will Owsley & Dillon O’Brian –  Kevin, Jonathan, Leeann
  • “You and Tequila” – Matraca Berg & Deana Carter

Will Win

  • “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 –  Dan, Kevin, Jonathan, Ben, Tara, Leeann
  • “Threaten Me With Heaven” – Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Will Owsley & Dillon O’Brian – Sam
  • “You and Tequila” – Matraca Berg & Deana Carter

Ben: Gill’s “Threaten Me with Heaven” is mature and beautifully written, but ultimately, my heart still belongs to “Mean.”

Jonathan: Gill has a real shot at this because it’s the Grammys so Gill always has a real shot at anything he’s nominated for. He’d be a worthy winner here, too, as would “You and Tequila” or the more likely winner, “Mean.”

Tara: I wrestle with this one, but I think the freshness of “Mean” gives it an edge over Gill’s track for me. Gill could easily take this given he’s Grammy royalty, but I’ll predict the voters will stick with Swift.

Sam: It’s Vince Gill in a Grammy category. That’s why.

Dan: I’d be happy with any of those last three. Honestly, I even half-like “Just Fishin’” and “God Gave Me You” as songs.

Kevin:  Can’t believe that Gill’s composition got a nod.  I like Swift’s record the most, but as a song, “Threaten Me With Heaven” is jaw-droppingly good.

Leeann: I’d love to see Vince win another grammy, but I won’t be surprised  or too disappointed if Swift takes this one.

Best Country Album

Should Win

  • Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
  • Eric Church, Chief  - Jonathan, Tara, Leeann
  • Lady Antebellum, Own the Night
  • Blake Shelton, Red River Blue
  • George Strait, Here For a Good Time - Kevin, Ben
  • Taylor Swift, Speak Now – Sam

Will Win

  • Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party – Dan
  • Eric Church, Chief
  • Lady Antebellum, Own the Night - Tara
  • Blake Shelton, Red River Blue
  • George Strait, Here For a Good Time
  • Taylor Swift, Speak Now Kevin, Jonathan, Ben, Leeann, Sam

Ben: Church, Strait, and Swift have the three best albums, and of those three, Strait’s Here for a Good Time is the most fully realized, but I would expect that Swift’s crossover appeal and high sales numbers will lead voters to gravitate toward Speak Now.

Jonathan: The nomination for Lady Antebellum’s godawful album represents Grammy voting at its laziest. I don’t care how many people bought Own the Night: It’s terrible and, at some point, the over-rewarding of Lady A for their aggressively middlebrow, banal music has to stop. Church’s album would get my vote over Strait’s by just a hair and, even though I would’ve nominated it for Best Pop Album instead, Speak Now is Swift’s strongest set to date, so I won’t complain too loudly when she wins here.

Tara: Chief packs a killer, audacious punch…but I have this sinking feeling that Lady A will pull a repeat in this category. Look – I was (and probably still am) Lady A’s biggest advocate at Country Universe, but I can’t get behind the overblown success of their degenerating music. How will they ever be motivated to live up to the massive potential shown on Lady Antebellum if we keep rewarding them like this

Sam: Quality-wise, Speak Now edges out Chief, though I think Chief deserves some recognition for its ambition. Speak Now was a commercial and an artistic triumph, though the only concern is that it was released so long ago that its impact may have faded from the voters’ memories. That might open the door for Lady Antebellum to win, which would be a shame. While I actually kind of liked Own the Night, there are three albums better than it in the category.

Kevin: Strait just keeps getting better lately.  I think he’d win if it wasn’t for category crossover votes for Swift.

Leeann: I wish I cared about this category more this year than I actually do. It’s likely that either Strait or Swift will win the award, but I think Church’s album is the most interesting.

Best Americana Album

Should Win

  • Linda Chorney, Emotional Jukebox
  • Ry Cooder, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
  • Emmylou Harris, Hard Bargain - Jonathan
  • Levon Helm, Ramble at the Ryman
  • Lucinda Williams, Blessed

Will Win

  • Linda Chorney, Emotional Jukebox
  • Ry Cooder, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
  • Emmylou Harris, Hard Bargain
  • Levon Helm, Ramble at the Ryman – Dan
  • Lucinda Williams, Blessed  - Jonathan, Ben, Sam

Jonathan: Of the four veterans nominated, only Harris’ album is anywhere close to her best work, but that rarely matters much. The vitriol directed at Chorney and her exploiting of NARAS’s new social networking initiatives to garner her nomination has reflected very, very poorly on a whole lot of Americana fans and has perpetuated an ugly “us-versus-them” attitude, but there’s no dressing up how poor Chorney’s album actually is, either. But she’s also the only one of the five nominees that anyone has been talking about during the entirety of the voting period… I give the edge to Williams on sales stats alone, but there’s really no frontrunner here.

Sam: Should win: Hayes Carll, KMAG YOYO and other American Stories (yeah, I know it wasn’t nominated). I actually kind of hope that Linda Chorney wins. For one thing, the outcry would be phenomenal. For another, it might shed some light on just how the voting is done, and is there a better way to do it. Do the voters know what Americana music is? Did they listen to any of the albums? I have nothing against any of the nominees, but Hayes Carll released one of the best albums of the year and had no chance in competing against legends like Emmylou, Ry Cooder and Levon Helm. Of the four legitimate nominees, Williams has gone the longest between Grammy wins, so maybe it’s her turn.

Dan: Levon has won for his last two albums. This one is a live set, so Lucinda could definitely unseat him, but still.

Best Bluegrass Album

Should Win

  • Alison Krauss and Union Station, Paper Airplane
  • Jim Lauderdale, Reason and Rhyme
  • Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Rare Bird Alert – Sam
  • 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 – Jonathan

Will Win

  • Alison Krauss and Union Station, Paper Airplane – Jonathan, Dan, Ben, Tara, Sam
  • 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

Ben: I have no rationale for who should win, but I think we all know who will.

Jonathan: I can’t think of anything more foolhardy than betting against Alison Krauss at the Grammys.

Tara: What Ben said.

Sam: Honestly, I thought Krauss’ Paper Airplane was kind of tepid, while Rare Bird Alert was charming and energetic. Still, Krauss is the Jimmy Sturr of the Grammy bluegrass categories (all the polka fans should get that reference), so unless the voters decide to give Martin a lifetime achievement award of sorts, she’s got this one in the bag.

Dan: Steve Martin’s got a chance, but…

Best Folk Album

Should Win

  • The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow – Leeann
  • Steve Earle, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive - Jonathan, Sam
  • Fleet Foxes, Hopelessness Blues
  • Eddie Vedder, Ukelele Songs
  • Gillian Welch, The Harrow & The Harvest

Will Win

  • The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow - Jonathan, Ben
  • Steve Earle, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive - Dan
  • Fleet Foxes, Hopelessness Blues
  • Eddie Vedder, Ukelele Songs - Leeann, Sam
  • Gillian Welch, The Harrow & The Harvest

Ben: If my prediction of an Aldean-Clarkson victory for Duo/Group Performance comes true, I would expect that this is where voters will recognize The Civil Wars.

Jonathan: If NARAS were really committed to the idea of reducing the number of categories, they’d merge the Americana and Folk Album categories with Best Country Album and, considering how fast and loose they’re already playing with genre tags, they probably should do just that and let the chips fall where they may. Welch’s album is the only one of the five that really scans as “folk” music in any traditional sense, so who wins here will depend on whether or not voters are looking for something more traditional or contemporary. I’m guessing it’s the latter case, to the benefit of the Civil Wars.

Sam: Steve Earle released his best album in years with I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. The love songs were tender, the topical songs were sharp and insightful, and there weren’t any love songs about Condoleezza Rice. Eddie Vedder, on the other hand, is in Pearl Jam, so clearly he’s the odds-on favorite. Actually, Ukelele Songs got some pretty good reviews, and if Vedder’s vocals didn’t remind me so much of Bob Dylan’s current voice crossed with an injured goat, I might be more inclined to like it.

Dan: I can imagine a Fleet Foxes or Civil Wars win, but in the end, I’m still guessing Earle, the proven Grammy favorite.

Leeann: It’s sad that I care about this category far more than the Country Album category this year. I love The Civil Wars album the most, but the Welch, Vedder and Earl albums are great too. I’ll be happy to see any of them win, but I have a strange feeling that Vedder will take it.

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2012 Grammy Nominations

The nominations for the upcoming Grammy awards have been announced.

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.

General Categories:

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
  • Skrillex

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.

Country Categories:

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.

 

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