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.
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.
Depending on my situation and mood, artists and songs often fill different purposes for me. If I need to hear a good weeper, I have my go to songs and even artists that I can count on. The same goes for if I need to be inspired. Likewise, there are certain songs that will instantly make me feel happy no matter how many times I’ve heard them. As you’ll see on my list, the songs that make me feel simple happiness aren’t lyrically groundbreaking, but have fun productions and addictive beats. What songs can you rely on to make you feel happy? Shovels and Rope, “Birmingham” Shovels and Rope, “Hail Hail” Brandi Carlile, “Hard Way Home” Sugarland, “It Happens” The Little Willies, “Tennessee Stud”
It would be futile of us to ignore the recent sad news of Miranda Lambert’s and Blake Shelton’s divorce announcement, since it is a reality. We, however, have no desire to participate in the speculation or sensationalism of the news. Instead, it seems most appropriate to put some focus back on the music right about now. It’s no secret that Miranda Lambert is one of the few mainstream country artists that I enjoy anymore. As I contemplated this FSBFA, I wondered if she would have 25 songs that would warrant such a feature on her, since she’s only released five albums so far. It turns out that, as is the case with every FSBFA feature, not only are there 25 Lambert songs that I love, the 25 slots felt limited, as I had to leave many songs off the list. So, here are 25 of my favorite Lambert songs in Read More
2014 was a banner year for country music albums. In addition to the predictably solid entries from the Americana, folk, and bluegrass scenes, some excellent albums also surfaced from the unlikeliest of sources: mainstream, radio-friendly contemporary country artists! Here are our twenty favorite albums from 2014. Fingers crossed that 2015 is as good or better than this year has been. #20 Jennifer Nettles That Girl KJC #8 | LW #16 A confident, intelligent solo project that washes away all of the bitter taste left by Sugarland’s preceding studio album, The Incredible Machine. Nettles manages to remind us what was so appealing about the trio-turned-duo in the first place, while also staking out her own musical territory that has room for independence anthems alongside wry, humorous commentary on society and, of course, palpably vulnerable heartbreak numbers. – Kevin John Coyne Recommended Tracks: “Me Without You”, “Know You Wanna Know”, “Jealousy”
As reflected by the title of our web site, our choices for Top 40 Albums of 2012 span the farthest reaches of the country music universe. In previous years, the Country Universe staff has counted down twenty albums and forty singles, but this year our album picks included such a wide variety that we were able to stretch our Top Albums countdown to a full forty slots. What did we miss? That’s where you, our readers, come in. Please join in the discussion, and share which albums you had in heavy rotation over the past year.
The Garden of Love – Songs of William Blake
Martha Redbone Roots Project
Although the question and ensuing discussion regarding whether a certain artist “is country enough” has generally gotten old, discussing “what is country music” has not…nor should it ever. In order for the genre to thrive, and indeed to survive, discussion about the history, significance and boundaries of the genre is important. (Hey, that’s why we’re here!) I generally have a broad view of what encompasses country music. I believe all of the so-called sub-genres of country music (e.g., bluegrass, alt-country, red dirt music, pop-country, classic country, Bakersfield country, Texas country, americana, etc.), in their infinite variety, are not only within the boundaries of country music, but are extremely important. The genre needs to continue to stretch and grow and test its limits in order to stay, not only relevant, but interesting. Let’s be honest, as much as it pains me to say, there is such a thing as too much bluegrass. Read More