2014 Grammy Nominees

The nominations for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards have been announced.   Taylor Swift has the top nomination connected to country music, earning her second nomination for Album of the Year.  She took home the award four years ago for Fearless.

Here are the general category nominees, along with all country and country-related categories:

Taylor Swift RedAlbum of the Year

  • Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest
  • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid m.A.A.d. city
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist
  • Taylor Swift, Red

If Taylor Swift wins, she will be the first country-related artist in history to win the category twice with individual projects. Alison Krauss also has two victories, one for her collaboration with Robert Plant (Raising Sand, 2009), and another for her contributions to the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack (2002.)  The award has only been won by country artists in two other years: Glen Campbell for By the Time I Get to Phoenix (1968), and the Dixie Chicks for Taking the Long Way (2007).

daft-punk-get-lucky-612x612Record of the Year

  • “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
  • “Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
  • “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons
  • “Royals” – Lorde

For the third time in the last eight years, no country or country-related records make the cut. Only four country-related winners have triumphed in this category, but three of them have been in the last few years. Olivia Newton-John won for “I Honestly Love You” in 1975, followed much later by the Dixie Chicks for “Not Ready to Make Nice” in 2006; Robert Plant & Alison Krauss for “Please Read the Letter” in 2009; and Lady Antebellum for “Need You Now” in 2011.

Pink Nate Reuss Just Give me a ReasonSong of the Year

  • “Just Give Me a Reason”  – Jeff Bhasker, P!nk, and Nate Reuss
  • “Locked out of Heaven” – Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and Bruno Mars
  • “Roar” – Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry, and Henry Walter
  • “Royals” – Joel Little and Lorde
  • “Same Love” – Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert, Ryan Lewis, and Curtis Mayfield

For the third straight year, country is shut out of the top songwriting category, a streak that began after the writers of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” won in 2011.

Kacey-Musgraves-Same-Trailer-Different-ParkBest New Artist

  • James Blake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Ed Sheeran

Kacey Musgraves is the latest new artist to represent country music in this category, which has become a nearly annual occurrence since LeAnn Rimes was nominated and won back in 1997.  Previous country winners also include Bobbie Gentry (1968), Carrie Underwood (2007) and Zac Brown Band (2010).

Tim_McGraw_Two_Lanes_of_FreedomBest Country Album

  • Jason Aldean, Night Train
  • Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
  • Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story
  • Taylor Swift, Red

Despite the presence of four big, established stars, only Taylor Swift has actually earned a victory in this category.  She won in 2010 for Fearless.  She contended again in 2012 with Speak Now, which lost to repeating victors Lady Antebellum, who won two years in a row for Need You Now (2011) and Own the Night (2012).   Kacey Musgraves earns a nomination for her debut album, the first artist do so since 2005, when Gretchen Wilson contended with Here For the Party.

darius wagon wheelBest Country Solo Performance

  • Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck”
  • Hunter Hayes, “I Want Crazy”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”
  • Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”
  • Blake Shelton, “Mine Would Be You”

Since this category combined the solo categories into one, this award has been one by Taylor Swift (“Mean”) and Carrie Underwood (“Blown Away.”)  Lambert is the only previous winner in a predecessor of this category.

Kenny Rogers Dolly Parton Old FriendsBest Country Duo/Group Performance

  • The Civil Wars, “From This Valley”
  • Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill, “Don’t Rush”
  • Little Big Town, “Your Side of the Bed”
  • Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”
  • Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”

There’s really only one hit here, but there are plenty of former Grammy winners scattered among this category.  In case you’re wondering, the answer is no, they didn’t win a Grammy for “Islands in the Stream.”

MirandaMamasBrokenHeartBest Country Song

  • “Begin Again” – Taylor Swift
  • “I Drive Your Truck” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
  • “Merry Go ‘Round” – Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves, and Josh Osborne
  • “Mine Would Be You” – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Deric Ruttan

It’s not too common for people to receive double nominations, but here there are four songwriters competing against themselves: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves.

Sarah Jarosz Build Me Up From BonesBest American Roots Song

  • “Build Me Up From Bones” – Sarah Jarosz
  • “Invisible” – Steve Earle
  • “Keep Your Dirty Lights On” – Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott
  • “Love Has Come From You” – Edie Brickell and Steve Martin
  • “Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed” – Allen Touissant

This category is brand new this year, encompassing songs from all of the subcategories in the American Roots field: Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk, and regional roots music.

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell Old Yellow MoonBest Americana Album

  • Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon
  • Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Love Has Come For You
  • Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim
  • Mavis Staples, One True Vine
  • Allen Touissant, Songbook

Collaborations dominate this category, which is populated with many previous Grammy winners.  Emmylou Harris won this award twice, back when it was called Best Contemporary Folk Album.

James King Three Chords and the TruthBest Bluegrass Album

  • The Boxcars, It’s Just a Road
  • Dailey & Vincent, Brothers of the Highway
  • Della Mae, This World Oft Can Be
  • James King, Three Chords and the Truth
  • Del McCoury Band, The Streets of Baltimore

Del McCoury Band are the only returning victors in this category, winning back in 2006 for The Company We Keep.   Perhaps because of the broad voter base, this category has been dominated by acts with explicit ties to country music, including multiple wins by Ricky Skaggs, Jim Lauderdale, and Alison Krauss & Union Station, and one-off victories by Patty Loveless and Dolly Parton.  This year is the second in a row without crossover contenders; last year’s winner was the Steep Canyon Rangers for Nobody Knows You.

The Greencards Sweetheart of the SunBest Folk Album

  • Guy Clark, My Favorite Picture of You
  • The Greencards, Sweetheart of the Sun
  • Sarah Jarosz, Build Me Up From Bones
  • The Milk Carton Kids, The Ash & Clay
  • Various Artists, They all Played for Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration

A tribute to Guy Clark earned a nomination in this category last year, and now Clark himself is in contention for the prize.  None of the acts in contention have won in the folk fields before.

Also of note, the Pistol Annies set Annie Up earned nominations for engineer Chuck Ainlay and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category.  It competes against Daft Punk, another album mastered by Ludwig, along with sets by Alice in Chains, Queens of the Stone Age, Andrew Duhon, and Madeline Payroux.



  1. Just FYI, Speak Now was not nominated in 2012, but in my humble opinion it should have been, especially over a couple of noms that year. As a matter of fact, I think it deserved it that year more than Red does this year, because I think it’s better as a cohesive, across-the-tracklist “album” and I’m surprised the Academy, given how predictably it follows trends like a moth, didn’t nominate Kanye’s album that year either and take advantage of an opportunity to manufacture a “Round 2: Taylor v. Kanye” cultural moment. Heh.

  2. Sorry for the mistake in my above comment. I meant that it wasn’t nominated for Album of the Year that year, and I believe it should have been. I also don’t think Red should be up for Best Country Album this year, but I doubt I’m alone. And I’m a shameless Swiftie.

  3. Pretty much EXACTLY how I expected the country-related nominations to stack up, with a notable exception in the Best Country Album category.

    And I’m not at all surprised to see both “Cruise” and Luke Bryan shut out. Look, this is the Grammy Awards we’re talking about here, not the American Music Awards. Even though the Grammy Awards obviously lack the depth and effort to research talent beyond blockbusters like the Academy Awards effectively do even to this day, the median committee demographic skews decidedly more older and is teeming with baby boomers and Generation X and early Generation Y-types.

    If the American Music Awards resembled Entertainment Weekly, the Grammy Awards resemble Rolling Stone. Still shamelessly commercial and has lost a lot of quality, but at least critical success has some weight on the judging procedure. Thus, “Cruise” and Luke Bryan having no sure shot from the onset.

    That said, it is interesting to see “Night Train” get a nod for Best Country Album. Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift and Blake Shelton were no-brainers (the latter because of the industry lovefest with him and his wife) but I thought “Wheelhouse” was certain to claim a spot as well because Paisley is so well-respected outside of the country genre itself as an ambassador of sorts. I know the controversy surrounding “Accidental Racist” didn’t help matters, but he was coming off of two #1 hits on Mediabase and a wave of critical acclaim. And while I’m actually relieved it didn’t happen because I don’t think he deserves it, I thought “Love Is Everything” would claim the fifth and final spot because of all the sentimentality surrounding Strait’s imminent retirement from touring.

    It’s no secret that the Grammy Awards have over the years appealed heavily to nostalgia and sentimentality in times of a beloved artist passing. And while Strait obviously is just retiring, I still couldn’t help but feel that would dawn heavily on the nomination process. Oh well. “Love Is Everything” is one of Strait’s weakest albums to date so not all that sad there, honestly.


    Other than that, utterly predictable. The “Best Country Solo Performance” category is exactly as I figured it would be set up. “Best Country Song” is exactly as I figured it would be set up. And it’s quite clear that the Best Country Duo/Group Vocal Performance” category was going to bypass pretty much every duo and group on “country” radio presently in favor of less commercially-known favorites.

  4. I see that in the album of the year category you referred to TS as a “country related artist”. I can’t even listen to TS so, while I won’t watch the show, I’ll root for my wife’s favorite, Sara Bareilles.

    Hope Kacey wins in her categories. Too bad Brandy Clark’s album isn’t eligible this year. I’m not very impressed by the country solo, duo or song categories.

    The album that’s gotten the most play in my house this year is “Finally Home” by Blue Sky Riders. Besides Kenny Loggins, BSR includes country songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman. The album did not receive a nomination in any category.

  5. If you considered Taylor Swift as country-related artist, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was up for Record Of The Year last year.

  6. Quote by Michael A:

    I’m pleasantly surprised to see Florida Georgia Line and “Cruise” shut out.

    Yes, it got boring after, oh, three thousand listens (LOL).

  7. I’m a little confused about Ashley Monroe’s snub. I get the CMA (and very likely ACM) shutting her out but the Grammys?! What does she have to do or where does she have to go to find the success she deserves?

    Looking at these nominees, especially the Country Album category, proves the Grammy committee needs to create a ‘Best Traditional Country’ album category like they have Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Traditional Pop Album. That way the likes of Ashley Monroe aren’t competing for a nomination with the likes of Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, etc. It’s not fair if the mainstream act wins out by default every time.

    I was also kind of surprised that Taylor didn’t score nominations for her songs. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ deserved to dominate in the pop categories as well as Record of the Year.

  8. Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves (Brandy Clark as well, even though she wouldn’t have been eligible for this year anyway) makes for a fascinating case study in terms of the hype factor.

    Regardless of how much I enjoy seeing her get recognized all around, there’s no question Kacey Musgraves has ridden quite a wave of leviathan hype the vast majority of up-and-coming artists could ever dream of having. It’s been impossible to avoid her in 2013 despite the hype not exactly translating to Jamey Johnson-esque album sales or a Top Ten hit. And you’d figure her cult appeal would result in higher digital sales figures as well, but that just hasn’t been the case thus far.

    Ashley Monroe, in comparison, received virtually no hype despite her aggregate Metacritic score being about equal to that of “Same Trailer Different Park”. She is a superior vocalist in my opinion, as well as at the very least equally as sharp a songwriter.

    And it matters. “Same Trailer Different Park” debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and debuted atop the Hot Country Albums chart. “Like A Rose” debuted at #43 on the Billboard 200 and barely made the Top Ten of the Hot Country Albums chart (Brandy Clark, despite critical acclaim that parallels both artists in question, debuted at a woeful #23 on the Billboard Hot Country Albums chart and #163 on the Billboard 200(.


    All of this underscores the general issue I have with overhyping anyone and deifying that person as the “next great hope” or savior of sorts of the genre. It just creates ridiculously lofty expectations that the artist likely won’t be able to live up to, and in falling short is inevitably characterized a disappointment.

    But, in addition, it eclipses others who have just as much to give to the genre whose opportunity for press and publicity is overshadowed by the frenzied attention doted on another. Kacey Musgraves should be beyond grateful and fortunate she has gotten even a fifth of the scrutiny and press she has received, because it rarely happens for artists of her caliber in this day in age.

    That, I believe, is why we are not seeing Ashley Monroe get paid the due recognition she deserves with a nomination of her own. Even though many are boasting 2013 is the “Year of the Woman”, Kacey Musgraves is the de facto face of strong, independent-minded women of the genre in an up-and-coming sense, while Miranda Lambert is the de facto face in the more established sense. What sense would Ashley Monroe represent in this situation?

  9. I used to pin hopes that the Grammys know better than the ACMs and CMAs and that deserving artists who are not part of the power bloc and Nashville clique would get nominated. So it is a bit disappointing that the Blake-Miranda lovefest seems to have finally penetrated the Grammys (although Blake is yet to win one). While “Mama’s Broken Heart” totally deserves a nod, and even a win; it just pains me that Blake is getting lots of nominations for his very mediocre album era of ‘Based on a True Story’. I think Narvel and Warner are really trying to finally get Blake a Grammy since he’s the only ‘The Voice’ judge who is yet to win one. lol :p

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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