2008 Grammy Forecast

On Thursday, December 6, the final nominees for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards will be announced. This show can be difficult to handicap, given the wide breadth of music that is in the running. The country categories in particular always hold surprises, with mainstream acts nominated along with legends that have been off the radio for a generation, not to mention bluegrass, Americana and alternative country acts.

There are usually some country nominees in some of the big four categories as well: Album, Record, Song and Best New Artist. One thing’s for certain: country music is unlikely to have a night like last year again, where genre acts swept the big four for the first time in history.

Here’s a look at some of the country artists who might be invited to the party this year. Feel free to comment on anyone you think I’ve missed!

Carrie Underwood

Last year’s Best New Artist also took home Best Country Vocal Performance, Female for “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” This year, she’s a contender in that category again for “Before He Cheats”, which has a shot at a Record of the Year nomination, too.

Taylor Swift

Many are predicting that she will score a Best New Artist nomination. She would be the fourth consecutive country act to score a nod in that race, following Carrie Underwood, Sugarland and Gretchen Wilson. She’s also a contender for Best Country Album, Best Country Female and Best Country Song.

Vince Gill

He won his eighteenth Grammy last year for “The Reasons Why,” the lead single from his ambitious These Days. That set is eligible for Best Country Album. Depending on where he submitted it, he’s also likely to get a nod for “What You Give Away” in the Male or Collaboration race.

Alison Krauss

This twenty-time winner may pop up all over the ballot this year. Her collaboration with John Waite could score a nod, and so could the lead single from her album with Robert Plant, though the album itself won’t be eligible until the 2009 Grammys. “Simple Love” should also score a nod for either Best Female or Best Duo/Group, again depending on how it was submitted.

Keith Urban

His 2005 album Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing should score him a Best Country Album nomination. I’d expect him in the Male race as well, for either “Stupid Boy” or “I Told You So.”

Trisha Yearwood

The lead singles from her last six albums have scored a Best Country Female nod, so I expect her to be nominated in that race for the title track from her new album, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.   That album missed the deadline, so it will have to wait until next year.   All seven of Trisha’s eligible albums have scored Best Country Album nods, so don’t be surprised if she’s up for that award again in 2009.

Brad Paisley

Brad’s been nominated for Best Country Album in the past, and might be in the running again this year. It’s conceivable that one of his novelty singles (“Ticks”, “Online”) could also score a nod or two.

Tim McGraw

The country shows have been overlooking him lately, but he’s likely to score nods in the genre races for Best Male, Best Album and Best Collaboration (“I Need You.”)

Dixie Chicks

The downside to sweeping the Grammys is that you’re ineligible next year for anything from the same album. However, last year’s belles of the ball put out a limited release digital single in February for “The Neighbor”, a track newly recorded for the documentary Shut Up & Sing. In 2006, the Chicks scored two nods for their digital release “I Hope”, so it wouldn’t be shocking to find “The Neighbor” nominated this year for Best Country Duo/Group.

So there’s my list. Who’s missing?


  1. I’ll post more later, but two quick points:

    – “Simple Love” was submitted for Best Female Vocal Performance.

    – The Dixie Chicks’ song wasn’t submitted at all.

  2. I’d love to see the Keith Urban record nominated in the overall Best Album category, but don’t know if it’s eligible there. I keep hearing Daughtry will get a nod in that category, but would hate to see him get a nod and have Keith shut out of that category. It’s also, frankly, better than the Springsteen record almost which is almost sure to get a nod there.

    Wonder if Garth will get a nod anywhere for “More than a Memory.”

    I wonder if the voters will screw the majors and give some nods to The Eagles. I wonder if they made it in under the wire for Long Road Out of Eden.

    I fear the show will be more about if Amy Winehouse can perform sober than anything else. I love her record, but she’s a personal train wreck.

    BUT – I fear, in the end, the Grammys will be Fergie-fest 2008. Lord help us.

  3. Once more with feeling:

    – Since no single that touches on hip-hop / contemporary R&B has won Record of the Year, I think “Before He Cheats” stands a very strong chance to win that award… so long as it manages the nomination. And because Record and Song of the year nominees often overlap, I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Before He Cheats” nominated in the latter category, as well, though I don’t think it can win there.

    – Winehouse’s public meltdown will be off-putting to NARAS’ conservative older members, meaning that she isn’t the obvious frontrunner for Best New Artist that she was 9 months ago. Swift will be nominated because she’s sold a ton of albums, but whether or not she can win will depend on who else is nominated. I don’t see them giving the award to another “country” artist two years running, and someone like Feist or even the godawful Colby Caillat could be seen as a better alternative. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if she ended up like Sugarland two years ago– nominated in the General field for Best New Artist and then left out of the Country races.

    – I don’t see any country album scoring a nomination for Album of the Year, with the possible exception of Vince Gill’s These Days. They’ve nominated Nickelback for that award, though, so there’s a precedent for an album like Daughtry getting in.

    – Martina McBride’s cloying “social conscience” videos usually score a nomination for Short-Form Music Video, so “Anyway” will likely turn up there.

    – Last year’s nominations skewed toward contemporary country compared to the last several years. But I still wouldn’t count out Porter Wagoner, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, or Dolly Parton, all of whom have songs and albums on the ballot.

    – Keeping my fingers crossed for Miranda Lambert, who is helped by the fact that the people who like her really like her and will likely give her enough first-place votes on a weighted ballot to keep her in the running. I’m less optimistic for Dale Watson, Kelly Willis, Cherryholmes, and Old Crow Medicine Show.

    – Submitting four separate songs should guarantee enough vote-splitting to keep Brad Paisley out of the Male Vocal Performance category.

  4. I just don’t understand why Brad Paisley is considered that great of a vocalist! Keith Urban runs rings around him…IMO! I guess since he is more Traditional that makes him better…..right! Still not over that TICKs song going to #1. He is just so boring to me! Sure do wish Keith could get a nomination!

  5. I’ve never had a lot of respect for the Grammy awards so I’ll let Kevin worry about these awards while I go listen to my Christopher Cross records and “heavy metal” Jethro Tull recordings (yeah)

    I do expect that Taylor Swift is a marginal enough talent that she will scoop up an award or two

  6. Jon,

    Thanks for the heads up on the actual ballot. Methinks this will be yet another year where the Grammy country nominees completely outclass and outshine the spring and fall pageants from the ACM and the CMA. I just don’t know who the heck will win the Duo/Group Grammy, in a year where both the Dixie Chicks and Alison Krauss & Union Station didn’t submit anything for consideration. I’d say Sugarland, but I don’t think “Everyday America” is gonna do the trick!

  7. Another thought on an artist that could be nominated. The Grammy’s love “older” artists that make career comebacks, which would certainly desribe Reba this year. Further, they’re also a big fan of artists mixing genres (as you mentioned with Alison Krauss above).

    I would think Reba is a shoe in for at least one collaboration nomination. Even though its done nothing on the charts, I would guess her “duet” with Justin Timerberlake might make the cut over other options because it seems like such as odd pairing. (Speaking of though, what’s up with that song. I thought I had read that it was going to be released as a single a month or two ago, but I haven’t seen it even in the lower registers of any of the charts. I would have thought Country Radio would jump at the chance to include Justin Timberlake in anything–even if its no more than a barely audible background vocal.)

  8. Brad Paisley is sort of a litmus test for the older country fan – most of the over 60 crowd regards Brad Paisley, George Strait, Josh Turner, Alan Jackson and (sometimes) Womack and Bentley as the only artists working out of the Nashville scene producing worthwhile country music. Some of them do like Keith Urban (almost none of them can stand Rascal Flatts) but categorize him as a “crossover” or “pop” act, not as “country”.

    At 55, I sort of straddle the two groups in that I prefer the “old country” but like a lot of the “new country” with acts such as the Dixie Chicks, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Mark McGuinn, etc in my collection – acts the over 60 group regards as complete garbage. I personally think that both Paisley and Urban are supremely talented artists, equals as musicians and singers with Paisley having an edge as a songwriter. They simply aren’t mining the same territory.

  9. Another thought. Did Tim McGraw’s people submit, “If You’re Reading This.” If so, I could see the academy throwing support behind that song. Didn’t he win for “Live Like You Were Dying.” My perception is that they take themselves way too serious to award “Ticks” over something like “If You’re Reading This”

  10. If Brad Paisley does have an edge as a songwriter over Keith, then it’s a slight edge. Paisley’s wit and humor gives him one dimension Keith doesn’t seem to focus on, but I think it’s important for an artist to be comfortable in their own skin.

  11. Chad,

    I’m going to be doing a Best Country Song Grammy Flashback later this month, and you’re right. They do tend to favor more serious songs, even when lighter stuff is winning the Vocalist awards. (Example: Faith Hill won Female Vocal for “Breathe”, but “I Hope You Dance” was named Best Country Song.”)

    “If You’re Reading This” certainly came out within the eligibility period, and was far more memorable than “Last Dollar”, IMO. I hope he gets a nod for it.

  12. If I never hear TICKS and LAST DOLLAR again…..it would suit me fine!! It is certainly strange that LAST DOLLAR would be #1 and READING THIS is not!
    Paul, I respect your comments about Brad, but to me he just cannot hold a candle to Keith in his singing or musicianship. Maybe Brad does, in most opinions, write better songs and his wit gets him really noticed, but there is just something there that I cannot connect with. I think it’s because of his wit, he reminds me of the kid in school that always had to be the center of attention and that’s what Brad reminds me of! Keith has a new cover tune on his Greatest Hits that I hope he releases as a single called ROMEO’S TUNE and it seems like a little more lighthearted song than Keith usually records! I guess we have varying taste and I guess that’s what makes everything more interesting. Kevin, I just about always agree with you!

  13. Vince Gill was announced today as one of the artists set to read the nominations at the Grammys’ press conference on Thursday morning– and, unless you get Mraz’ed, that usually corresponds to at least one high profile nomination.

    Best Country Album was a foregone conclusion, but maybe he did sneak into the general Album of the Year category after all…

    Other “artists” set to announce the nominations are: Akon, Fergie, Linkin Park, and Taylor Swift. I’m guessing “One of these things is not like the other” will play as Gill walks onstage to join that group. Because that lineup is some kind of talent vacuum…

  14. I have no idea who’s on the actual ballot or anything so this is just pure speculation, but since the Chicks and AKUS aren’t in the group category, anybody think Little Big Town might be able to score an unexpected win? “Boondocks” got the nod last year, and though none of their singles this past year have had as much impact, I get the sense that there’s a lot of support for them within the country community (the rest of the world probably has no idea). I don’t know. Pretty much anything that’s not a Rascal Flatts win will probably work for me.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.