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The Success of Taylor Swift is Not a Moral Issue

February 4, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 103

I slept through the Grammys this year. I’m not being figurative here. I was literally asleep before the show began, and I read about the telecast winners the next morning.

In the days since, there has been a lot of chatter, including some at Country Universe, regarding both her wins and her performance on the show. Reading through the comments for the first time yesterday, I was struck by how passionate both sides are when debating Swift’s worthiness to be a Grammy winner, standard bearer for country music, or even a recording artist at all.

I’d like to suggest that there is no moral dilemma being created by the success of Taylor Swift. Country music has been around for a long time before she came along, and it will remain long after she’s gone, whether that’s a year from now or fifty years from now.

I say this as someone who is remarkably indifferent to Swift, even though I tend to agree with the major criticisms of her. Can she sing? Dear God, no. At least not on a live microphone. I’m sure that pairing her with Stevie Nicks was the travesty that it’s being described as.

But it’s not like country music hasn’t been embarrassed before. Anyone who witnessed John Michael Montgomery’s atrocious butchering of “I Swear” on the Grammys or saw the Cyrus Virus at its mullet and exposed armpit peak can attest to that. Country music will survive.

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Grammy Pre-Telecast Winners

January 31, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 110

Here are the winners in the country and country-related categories from the pre-telecast:

Best Country Song: Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, “White Horse”

Best Country Instrumental Performance: Steve Wariner, “Producer’s Medley”

Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis, “I Told You So”

Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Lady Antebellum, “I Run to You”

Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Taylor Swift, “White Horse”

Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Keith Urban, “Sweet Thing”

Best Contemporary Folk Album: Steve Earle, Townes

Best Bluegrass Album: Steve Martin, The Crow/New Songs for the Five-String Banjo

Best Americana Album: Levon Helm, Electric Dirt

Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Gospel Album: Jason Crabb, Jason Crabb

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Grammy 2010 Staff Picks & Predictions

January 31, 2010 Dan Milliken 7

Even in Grammy’s darkest hours, CU brings its picking powers!

– Superhero television show about our blog from the 50’s.

Share your own picks and predictions in the comments, and be sure to check back for our live blog! The awards telecast starts at 8 pm Eastern, and I imagine there will be some red carpet action in the hour prior.

Record of the Year


  • Beyonce, “Halo” – Kevin
  • Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling”
  • Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody” – Tara
  • Lady GaGa, “Poker Face” – Dan
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong with Me”


  • Beyonce, “Halo”
  • Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling”
  • Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody” – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • Lady GaGa, “Poker Face”
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong with Me”

Kevin: Am I wrong for preferring Eric Cartman’s rendition of “Poker Face” over the original? This is a pretty lightweight slate of contenders. I really like “Halo”, but I suspect Kings of Leon will win, simply because it’s the only rock song in a lineup of pop hits.

Dan: “Poker Face” just feels very representative of popular music in 2009. I wouldn’t whine if it got passed over so that “Bad Romance” could take this award next year, though.

Tara: I would’ve pulled for “Single Ladies” in a heartbeat had it been submitted, but “Use Somebody” is just as deserving of this award. It’s a fantastic song even outside the context of its moment in pop culture, and it’s the kind of larger-than-life song that the voters have picked to win in the past.

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My Grammy Wish List: 2010 Edition

January 28, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 24

Since this was a solo blog, doing a Grammy Wish List has been an annual tradition. I’m not too excited about this year’s Grammys, to be honest. 2009 was a weak year in my opinion, and the shortened 11-month eligibility period didn’t help matters. But a tradition is a tradition, so here are my picks in the eleven categories that I care about this year:

* denotes my personal wish:

Record of the Year

  • Beyoncé, “Halo” *
  • The Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling”
  • Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody”
  • Lady Gaga, “Poker Face”
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”

It’s always nice to see a country radio hit in there, but I honestly can’t stand “You Belong With Me.” I dig the Kings of Leon song, but the record that I enjoy the most here is “Halo.” Some pundits have suggested that Beyoncé threw her chances at this trophy by submitting “Halo” instead of “Single Ladies”, but I like that song even less than “You Belong With Me.” Love “Halo”, though.

Song of the Year

  • Lady Gaga & RedOne, “Poker Face”
  • Hod David & Musze, “Pretty Wings”
  • Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”
  • Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill, “Use Somebody” *
  • Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”

Great to see Liz Rose in there, too, but I still can’t stand the song. I think “Use Somebody” is a great composition that could easily be a hit in other formats if the right artist covered it. Are you listening, Sugarland?

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2010 Grammy Nominees

December 2, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 39

Not too bad, given the slim pickings on the ballot this year. Taylor Swift is the top country nominee with eight noms. Keith Urban earned four, while Willie Nelson, George Strait, Lee Ann Womack, and Zac Brown Band earned three.

Country Categories

Best Country Album

  • Zac Brown Band, The Foundation
  • George Strait, Twang
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity
  • Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

  • Miranda Lambert, “Dead Flowers”
  • Martina McBride, “I Just Call You Mine”
  • Taylor Swift, “White Horse”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Just a Dream”
  • Lee Ann Womack, “Solitary Thinkin’”

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Grammy Wish List

September 1, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 14

brad-paisleyYesterday marked the end of the eligibility period for the 2010 Grammy Awards, which will be presented in January. To accommodate the earlier award ceremony, this year’s period lasted one month shy of a year: October 1, 2008 – August 31, 2009.

It’s been something of an underwhelming year musically from my perspective, but I have a few nominations that I’d like to see:

George Strait

  • Best Male Country Vocal Performance: “El Rey”
  • Best Country Album: Twang

Strait’s been on a roll since It Just Comes Natural, releasing his most consistent string of albums since the mid-nineties trifecta of Easy Come Easy Go, Lead On and Blue Clear Sky. It’s often been said that Strait could sing the phone book and make it sound great, and “El Rey” proved that he’d do just as well with la guía telefónica.

Todd Snider

  • Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album: The Excitement Plan

This category has been great at acknowledging artists who essentially make acoustic music that isn’t particularly commercial, with previous winners including Nickel Creek and Emmylou Harris. Snider put out one of his strongest albums this year, and he’s long overdue for some Grammy love.

Brad Paisley

  • Best Country Album: American Saturday Night
  • Best Male Country Vocal Performance: “Welcome to the Future”
  • Best Country Instrumental Performance: “Back to the Future”

Paisley has reaffirmed himself as a creative force to be reckoned with and deserves to be amply rewarded with multiple Grammy nominations this year. The rock edge to his token instrumental track is a refreshing new take on his guitar-playing virtuosity.

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