Archive for the ‘Grammys’ Category

Grammy Flashback: Best Male Country Vocal Performance

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Updated for 2009

While the Grammys have honored country music from the very first ceremony in 1959, they did not begin honoring by gender until 1965, when the country categories were expanded along with the other genre categories. This year, the 45th trophy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance will be awarded.

In a continuation of our Grammy Flashback series, here is a rundown of the Best Country Vocal Performance, Male category. It was first awarded in 1965, and included singles competing with albums until the Best Country Album category was added in 1995. When an album is nominated, it is in italics, and a single track is in quotation marks.

As usual, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back. Be sure to vote in My Kind of Country’s Best Male Country Vocal Performance poll and let your preference for this year’s race be known!

jamey-johnson-lonesome2009

  • Trace Adkins, “You’re Gonna Miss This”
  • Jamey Johnson, “In Color”
  • James Otto, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”
  • Brad Paisley, “Letter to Me”
  • George Strait, “Troubadour”

As with the album race, this year’s contenders for Best Male Country Vocal Performance are a combination of unrecognized veterans and promising newcomers. In fact, none of this year’s nominees have won in this category, and only one of them – Brad Paisley – has a Grammy at all.

First, the veterans. Paisley has numerous ACM and CMA victories to his credit, including two each for Male Vocalist.  Although he’s been nominated for this award twice before, this is the first time he’s contended with a cut that can’t be dismissed as a novelty number. The touching self-penned “Letter to Me” is his best shot yet at taking this home.

Trace Adkins has been at this a bit longer than Paisley, but this is his first Grammy nomination. His crossover exposure from Celebrity Apprentice might help him out here, along with the fact that the song was considered strong enough by voters to earn a nomination of its own.

But the real veteran to watch out for is George Strait. After being nominated only twice for this category in the first 25 years of his career, voters have now given him three consecutive nominations. This is one of four nods he’s earned for the 2009 ceremony, and “Troubadour” is essentially the story of his epic career distilled into a radio-length song. It would be the perfect way to honor the man and his music in one fell swoop.

However, there’s a newcomer that might be a Grammy favorite already.  We just haven’t found out yet. Not James Otto, of course, who is nominated for his charming romantic romp “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”, but rather, Jamey Johnson. The recent Nashville Scene critics’ poll further confirmed the depth of his support among tastemakers, and his nominations for Best Country Song and Best Country Album indicate that he’s very much on the academy’s radar. It helps that he has the most substantial track of the five, and it’s the obvious choice for traditionalists, who have little reason to split their votes in this category. If voters aren’t considering legacy when making their selections, he has a great shot at this.

2008

  • Dierks Bentley, “Long Trip Alone”
  • Alan Jackson, “A Woman’s Love”
  • Tim McGraw, “If You’re Reading This”
  • George Strait, “Give it Away”
  • Keith Urban, “Stupid Boy”

The often offbeat Grammy voters have been surprisingly mainstream in this category for the past three years, a trend best exemplified by this lineup, which was the first in more than a decade to feature only top ten radio hits. Tim McGraw and Keith Urban were the only two who had won this before, and it was Urban who emerged victorious. “Stupid Boy” was a highlight of his fourth studio album, and this was the only major award that the impressive collection would win.

2007

  • Dierks Bentley, “Every Mile a Memory”
  • Vince Gill, “The Reason Why”
  • George Strait, “The Seashores of Old Mexico”
  • Josh Turner, “Would You Go With Me”
  • Keith Urban, “Once in a Lifetime”

Vince Gill returned to win in this category for a ninth time with “The Reason Why.” Not only is he, by far, the most honored artist in this category, his wins here account for nine of the nineteen Grammys currently on his mantle.

2006

  • George Jones, “Funny How Time Slips Away”
  • Toby Keith, “As Good As I Once Was”
  • Delbert McClinton, “Midnight Communion”
  • Willie Nelson, “Good Ol’ Boys”
  • Brad Paisley, “Alcohol”
  • Keith Urban, “You’ll Think of Me”

Urban’s biggest and probably best hit launched his second album to triple platinum and established him as a crossover artist. He gave a killer performance of the song on the show. Toby Keith was a first-time nominee here, and while he publicly groused that the Grammys put too little emphasis on commercial success in picking their nominations, he lost to the only track that was a bigger hit than his own.

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Grammy Flashback: Best Country Album

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

A look back at the previous winners and nominees of the Best Country Album Grammy, updated to include the 2009 contenders.

The Grammys have been doing better in the country categories since they reintroduced the Best Country Album category in 1995, which had only been in existence for two years in the 1960s. Prior to 1995, albums and singles were both eligible in the vocalist categories, so full albums would compete against single tracks in Best Male Country Vocal Performance,  for example.

Looking over the history of this fairly young category, you can see trends emerge, with certain acts clearly being favorites of NARAS. You see the same trend with the CMAs, just with different people. What is clear with the Grammys is that radio and retail success will only carry you so far. For awards that are supposed to be based on artistic merit, that’s how it should be.

As with the CMA flashbacks, we’ll begin with a look at this year’s nominees, then discuss previous year’s in reverse chronological order. Winners are in bold.

Be sure to drop by My Kind of Country and vote in their Best Country Album poll. Let your preference be known!

trisha12009

  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
  • Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights
  • George Strait, Troubadour
  • Randy Travis, Around the Bend
  • Trisha Yearwood, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love

Four veterans and one newcomer vie for this year’s Best Country Album, and it’s a wide-open race with no obvious favorite. The critically acclaimed breakthrough album of Jamey Johnson could earn him his first Grammy. The legendary George Strait would like to start a Grammy collection of his own. Like fellow nominee Patty Loveless, this is his third nomination for this award. While Loveless has also yet to win this one, she does have a Grammy already, for her contributions to the multi-artist collaboration “Same Old Train.”

Randy Travis is a real contender here; five of his previous albums have won Grammys. Two of them (Always & Forever, Old 8×10) won in the Best Male Country Vocal Performance category, back when albums and singles competed with each other in that race. And while this is his first nomination for Best Country Album, he was won Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album three times, for Glory Train (2007), Worship & Faith (2005) and Rise and Shine (2004.)

While Vince Gill broke the all-female trend in this category last year, he was nominated in an all-male field. If the trend begins again this year, this will be a battle between Loveless and Trisha Yearwood. The latter’s Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love is arguably the strongest album in this category, and while Yearwood won three Grammys in the nineties, she has never won Best Country Album, despite earning more nominations than any other artist in the history of the category – Heartache is her eighth set to contend for the trophy. She’s beyond overdue, but her competition is formidable.

vince-gill-these-days2008

  • Dierks Bentley, Long Trip Alone
  • Vince Gill, These Days
  • Tim McGraw, Let it Go
  • Brad Paisley, 5th Gear
  • George Strait, It Just Comes Natural

With the exception of Shania Twain’s Come On Over, no album that has also been nominated for the general Album of the Year race has failed to win Best Country Album. So it was no surprise when Vince Gill picked up the trophy for his four-disc opus These Days. In his acceptance speech, he good-naturedly ribbed Kanye West, providing one of the evening’s brightest moments.

2007

  • Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way
  • Alan Jackson, Like Red On a Rose
  • Little Big Town, The Road to Here
  • Willie Nelson, You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker
  • Josh Turner, Your Man

The Chicks became the first artists in Grammy history to win four genre Best Album awards, breaking their tie with Eminem, who has won three Best Rap Album trophies. This was one of five trophies they took home at the February 2007 ceremony, and the album returned to #1 on the country chart and back to the pop top ten on the strength of those victories.

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Various Artists, Ultimate Grammy Collection: Classic Country and Contemporary Country

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Various Artists

Ultimate Grammy Collection:

Classic Country

Contemporary Country

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Earlier this year, the Grammys celebrated their fiftieth anniversary with a series of compilations focusing on winners in different fields.  Two of the best entries in this series focused on country music.  With five decades of winners to choose from, it’s no surprise that Ultimate Grammy Collection: Classic Country and Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary Country are solid collections.

The Classic Country set is particularly strong, including a diverse selection of significant artists from the sixties and seventies.   Even better, most of them are represented with their signature tracks.    Roger Miller opens the set with “King of the Road”, easily his biggest hit.   Other superstars include Tammy Wynette (“Stand By Your Man”), Johnny Cash (“A Boy Named Sue”) and Waylon & Willie (“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”)

As the collection moves on to the seventies and eighties, there is a healthy portion of pop-country classics from the likes of Kenny Rogers (“The Gambler”), Dolly Parton (“9 to 5″), Crystal Gayle (“Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue”) and Willie Nelson (“Always on My Mind”).   In the midst of that crossover sound, however, there’s  a healthy dose of traditional country, courtesy of George Jones  with “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

That Jones track is the only one that wouldn’t be familiar to fans that buy the set because they remember those crossover hits, even though it’s a country classic.   They might also revel in the discovery of  Ray Price (“For the Good Times”) and Jerry Reed (“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot”), which were both AM radio staples back when top 40 regularly played country records.     The set also includes mega-hits from Charlie Daniels Band, Lynn Anderson, Donna Fargo and Jeannie C. Riley.   The only real misstep is the inclusion of Johnny Cash & June Carter’s “If I Were a Carpenter”,  an unnecessary inclusion that was no doubt shoehorned in because of lingering sentiment for all things Cash.   That slot would’ve been better represented with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn’s “After the Fire is Gone.”

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Grammy Grace and Gratitude

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Eschewing the “I never wanted it one anyway” posing of one of his most prominent peers, Kenny Chesney is loudly proclaiming his joy in getting a Grammy nomination:

“I’m not gonna say that I gave up or didn’t care about it,” Kenny says. “This is an award given by your peers in all genres of music … the people who make it. You get to a point where you realize you can’t force it or get them to listen if they’re not there, because that’s not how this works, and you just have to accept that. But that said, I’m really honored to finally be nominated.”

GAC has some other reactions, including my favorite:

Randy Travis: “It has been almost 25 years since I released my first album, and this is the first time I have been nominated for Best Country Album. I spent years going through songs with my longtime producer Kyle Lehning for ["Around The Bend"], and my career has really come full circle with this release. To be able to go and record this album was amazing, and now to be nominated for it is more than I could ask for.”

Check out the article for reactions by James Otto, Trisha Yearwood, and more.

2009 Grammy Nominees

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

This year’s Grammy nominees are about as good as it gets.   Multiple nominations for Alison Krauss (5), George Strait (4), Trisha Yearwood (3), Jamey Johnson, (3), Sugarland (2.5), Patty Loveless (2),  Lady Antebellum (2), James Otto (2) , Jerry Douglas (2), Brad Paisley (2), and Cherryholmes (2), plus two each for songwriters Ashley Gorley and Thomas Lee Miller.   Much-deserved acknowledgment for the latest albums by Kathy Mattea, Rodney Crowell, and Emmylou Harris.    Nominations for excellent singles by LeAnn Rimes, Trace Adkins and the Steel Drivers.

There will always be minor quibbles, but overall, this is what Country Universe believes is the best of country music.   I’ve been a big champion of the Grammys for getting it right for the past fifteen years, and this is the best list I’ve ever seen from them, and by a comfortable margin.

2009 Nominees:

Country Categories

Best Country Album

  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
  • Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights
  • George Strait, Troubadour
  • Randy Travis, Around the Bend
  • Trisha Yearwood, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

  • Martina McBride, “For These Times”
  • LeAnn Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Last Name”
  • Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
  • Trisha Yearwood, “This Is Me You’re Talking To”

Best Male Country Vocal Performance

  • Trace Adkins, “You’re Gonna Miss This”
  • Jamey Johnson, “In Color”
  • James Otto, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”
  • Brad Paisley, “Letter to Me”
  • George Strait, “Troubadour”

Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals

  • Brooks & Dunn, “God Must Be Busy”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Love Don’t Live Here”
  • Rascal Flatts, “Every Day”
  • Steel Drivers, “Blue Side of the Mountain”
  • Sugarland, “Stay”

Best Country Vocal Collaboration

  • Kenny Chesney & George Strait, “Shiftwork”
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Killing the Blues”
  • George Strait & Patty Loveless, “House of Cash”
  • Sugarland, Jake Owen & Little Big Town, “Life in a Northern Town”
  • Trisha Yearwood & Keith Urban, “Let the Wind Chase You”

Best Country Song

  • Ashley Gorley & Bob Regan, “Dig Two Graves”
  • Rodney Clawson, Monty Criswell & Wade Kirby, “I Saw God Today”
  • Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller & James Otto, “In Color”
  • Jennifer Nettles, “Stay”
  • Ashley Gorley & Lee Thomas Miller, “You’re Gonna Miss This”

Best Country Instrumental Performance

  • Cherryholmes, “Sumatra”
  • Jerry Douglas & Lloyd Green, “Two Small Cars in Rome”
  • Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, “Sleigh Ride”
  • Charlie Hayden, Pat Metheny, Jerry Douglas & Bruce Hornsby, “Is This America (Katrina 2005)”
  • Brad Paisley, James Burton, Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert & Steve Wariner, “Cluster Pluck”

Best Bluegrass Album

  • Cherryholmes, Cherryholmes III: Don’t Believe
  • Del McCoury Band, Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
  • Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends, The Ultimate Collection/Live at the Ryman
  • Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947
  • Dan Tyminski, Wheels

Other Categories with Country Nominees

Album of the Year

  • Coldplay, Viva La Vida
  • Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
  • Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
  • Radiohead, In Rainbows

Record of the Year

  • Adele, “Chasing Pavements”
  • Coldplay, “Viva La Vida”
  • Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love”
  • M.I.A., “Paper Planes”
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Please Read the Letter”

Best New Artist

  • Adele
  • Duffy
  • Jonas Brothers
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Jazmine  Sullivan

Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals

  • Alicia Keys & John Mayer, “Lessons Learned”
  • Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, “4 Minutes”
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Rich Woman”
  • Rihanna & Maroon 5, “If I Never See Your Face Again”
  • Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown, “No Air”

Best Traditional Folk Album

  • Kathy Mattea, Coal
  • Tom Paxton, Comedians & Angels
  • Peggy Seeger, Bring Me Home
  • Pat Seeger, At 89
  • Rosalie Sorrells, Strangers in Another Country

Best Contemporary Folk Album

  • Joan Baez, Day After Tomorrow
  • Ey Cooder, I, Flathead
  • Rodney Crowell, Sex and Gasoline
  • Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand

Discussion: Pick the Grammy Nominees – Best Country Song

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

The old country music adage remains: It’s all about the song.  Grammy voters have 161 of them to choose from on this year’s Country Ballot.   Recent winners in this category have included “Before He Cheats”, “Live Like You Were Dying”, “I Hope You Dance”, “You’re Still the One” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”

I found this category the most difficult to narrow down because there were so many to choose from.  Here are the five that I’d like to see nominated:

  1. “Dig Two Graves”, Ashley Goran & Bob Regan
  2. “Gunpowder & Lead”, Miranda Lambert & Heather Little
  3. “Stay”, Jennifer Nettles
  4. “Stronger Woman”, Marv Green & Jewel Kilcher
  5. “This is Me You’re Talking To”, Tommy Lee James & Karyn Rochelle

What do you think should be this year’s Best Country song nominees?

Discussion: Pick the Grammy Nominees – Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

The next category on this year’s Country Ballot is a wide open race this year.  Usually, the award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals goes to the Dixie Chicks or Alison Krauss & Union Station.  However, for the second consecutive year, neither act is eligible.

That probably means the award will go to last year’s victor, The Eagles, assuming that enough people heard their “Do Something” to get it past the first round.  In a field with such weak name recognition,  it might get through either way, especially given the tepid submissions by higher-profile acts like Big & Rich and Montgomery Gentry.

My five picks are an eclectic bunch, though I will confess that I haven’t heard a good half of this ballot.  Maybe my choices would change if I knew what to seek out, so I look forward to reading everyone’s picks. I’ve narrowed it down to:

  1. Cadillac Sky, “Baby Don’t Cry”
  2. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, “Rattlin’ Bones”
  3. Eli Young Band, “When it Rains”
  4. Joey & Rory, “Cheater Cheater”
  5. Sugarland, “Stay”

What do you think of the submissions in this category? What five nominees would you choose?

Discussion: Pick the Grammy Nominees – Best Male Country Vocal Performance

Monday, October 20th, 2008

The next category on the Country Ballot is Best Male Country Vocal Performance.  There are more performances to choose from among the men, with 83 entries compared to 64 for the women.  It’s a typically eclectic mix, as one would expect from the Grammys.  I had less trouble narrowing down this list.

The five nominees I would pick for Best Male Country Vocal Performance are:

  1. Gary Allan, “Learning How to Bend”
  2. Rodney Crowell, “Sex and Gasoline”
  3. Alan Jackson, “Small Town Southern Man”
  4. Jamey Johnson, “In Color”
  5. Randy Travis, “Dig Two Graves”

What do you think of the submissions in this category? What five artists would you nominate, and for which recordings?

Discussion: Pick the Grammy Nominees – Best Female Country Vocal Performance

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

The Grammy nominations are a little less surprising when you see the first ballot.  The Grammys allow potential nominees to submit what they consider their best work of the year for consideration.   After a panel judges that it meets the category’s criteria, the submitted work is placed on the first ballot, from which an eventual five nominees will be chosen.

Now that the first ballots have been released, we have a window into the strategies of different artists.  Some choose just to submit one performance for consideration, while others risk vote-splitting by submitting two or more.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at the different categories and ask which five nominees you would select for a given category from the possibilities on the first ballot.   Just remember the rule that an artist cannot be nominated twice in a performance category, even if they earn enough votes to place two records in the top five.   So even if you think Taylor Swift’s three entries are among the five best female performances this year, you’ll have to pick one.

Since it’s the first category on the Country Ballot, we’ll start with Best Female Country Vocal Performance.   The biggest surprise here is the choice made by the camp of Carrie Underwood, who has won this race for the past two years.   They’ve submitted two singles that were about equally successful, “All American Girl” and “Last Name.”  This may have been a mistake, as there doesn’t seem a compelling reason to vote for one over the other if you’re looking to acknowledge Underwood, which voters certainly will be wanting to do.

It would’ve been a safer bet to just submit one, or put up “Just a Dream” instead, which is a much stronger performance overall.   I still expect Underwood to land a nomination, but she’s not the sure bet she could be.  On much shakier ground is Taylor Swift, who hasn’t yet demonstrated appeal among the country voting bloc of the Grammys and has submitted three different singles to boot.   Big Machine’s other female star, Trisha Yearwood, is also present with two singles, but “This Is Me You’re Talking To” is the only one that had a real impact, so she should be good.

This thread is about picking our favorites, not just handicapping the race.  I count about twelve worthy performances, but here’s who I would choose to be the five nominees this year:

  1. Emmylou Harris, “Gold”
  2. Miranda Lambert, “Gunpowder & Lead”
  3. LeAnn Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”
  4. Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
  5. Trisha Yearwood, “This is Me You’re Talking To”

What are your opinions of the submissions in this category? What would your five nominees be?

2008 Grammy Live Blog

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Okay, y’all. Thanks for a fun night, especially in the comments. Let’s do this again when the ACM’s roll around!

11:30 Let me just say that Grammy voters never cease to amaze me. I’m tremendously impressed.

11:28 Album of the Year: Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters

SHOCKER!!!!!!

11:27 Quincy’s won 27 Grammy awards. Alison Krauss is thinking, “Give me six years, and I will own you.”

11:26 Usher & Quincy Jones presenting Album?

11:24 Will.i.am. Seems to be singing Record of the Year winners.

11:20 So, will there be another surprise performance? Or are we just waiting on Album? I don’t think there’s time for much else.

11:17 This is history, and important history at that. I’m blown away.

11:12 Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and John Fogerty. Pretty damn formidable combo.

11:11 Nineteen minutes and only one award left. What’s the big performance that’s still waiting in the wings?

11:07 This has felt like a very “adult” Grammy show, just like the old days. Don’t ya think?

11:03 I counted two: Porter Wagoner and Hank Thompson. And I agree with ending with Luciano Pavarotti.

11:01 Count the country acts in the memoriam clip.

10:57 Grammy Promo Clip Reel. Snack break!

10:51 Good Lord, this is good TV.

10:50 Record of the Year: Amy Winehouse, “Rehab.”

10:48 Very strange to segue from Amy Winehouse to Doris Day. Just sayin’.

10:47 I’m guessing Tony’s giving Record again, like he did last year.

10:44 She knows she’s good, but she’s not cocky about it. I like it. I predict her sales will explode tonight.

10:43 Is it just me, or is the easily the coolest performance of the night?

10:41 Here comes Amy Winehouse. Good luck!

10:35 Jay-Z is slaying tonight. Vince Gill’s got competition.

10:34 Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, “Umbrella.” ella. ella. ella.

10:33 Taylor Swift needs to stop wearing prom dresses everywhere she goes.

10:33 And they get a standing O. Good for them.

10:28 This is why we need the Grammys. This kind of music wouldn’t get a primetime showcase without them. Not all the good music is on the radio, folks.

10:26 I’m curious to hear Herbie Hancock.

10:20 God, I love him. Graceful as ever.

10:19 Best Country Album: Vince Gill, These Days. Scream your heart out, Leeann!

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