Now that our final lists of the 40 Best Singles of 2015 and 20 Best Albums of 2015 are posted and open for discussion, we have decided to post each of our seven writers’ individual ballots for the year-end countdowns, so we can give at least a bit of attention to even more great music from the past year.
The upper half of our albums list reflects the revitalization of country music in 2015, courtesy of mostly younger artists with fresh perspectives in their lyrics and arrangements. There is still a legend or two in the mix, but if this year has proven anything, it’s that the genre’s future is in good hands.
The theme for this week’s Sunday Selections post is, “What year do you think it is?” One of the week’s few new releases has garish cover art that looks like something from the late 90s, while a host of writers made outdated and inexplicable references to “bro country” as a primary talking point in country music in 2015, which is simply wrong on merit. In the week’s more successful throwback efforts, Ashley Monroe, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, and Tami Neilson all shared some old school cover tunes, and Netflix doubled-down on nostalgia with a promo video for an upcoming original series. Onward!
This week’s round-up is a bit light on Chris Stapleton news… if only because we already have a post about the Grammy nominations, where he scored a total of 4 nods, including the all-genre Album Of The Year award. But there are some terrific reissues out this week– Johnny Cash! Dolly Parton! Connie Smith!!!– some pop crossover bids to dissect, an honor for a genre legend, and country music’s second-most impressive beard. Onward!
Country music is well represented in the major categories – numerically, at least – and the overall nominee list proves once again that NARAS voters have the widest, most diverse, and yes, best taste of all industry award voters.
Here are this year’s nominees in the big four and all country and country-related categories. It’s worth noting that because Miranda Lambert won Best Country Album last year for Platinum, nothing from that set was eligible in any of the Country categories.
We can thank the shortsighted radio consultant Keith Hill for one thing: drawing attention to the women of country music in a year where so many of them are making outstanding music. As their mainstream counterparts cycle through a series of one-note styles and themes, female country artists are putting out diverse and decidedly more progressive music, even as they draw influence from previous generations. That they do so while supporting each other makes it all the more impressive.