It’s that time of the year again where we take a look the general, country, and country-adjacent nominees for the Grammy Awards.
To simplify presentation this time around, we’re formatting our predictions and picks like this:
Bold Initials: Will Win
Italic Initials: Should Win
Bold and Italic Initials: Will Win & Should Win
Let us know who you’re rooting for in the comments, and see if you can do better than we do in your predictions!
Record of the Year
- ABBA, Don’t Shut Me Down – KC
- Adele, Easy On Me
- Beyoncé, Break My Soul – JK
- Mary J. Blige, Good Morning Gorgeous
- Brandi Carlile featuring Lucius, You and Me On the Rock
- Doja Cat, Woman
- Steve Lacy, Bad Habit
- Kendrick Lamar, The Heart Part 5
- Lizzo, About Damn Time
- Harry Styles, As it Was – JK, KC
JK: ABBA have some of the most perfectly constructed records in the pop canon, but a win here, however solid “Don’t Shut Me Down” may be, would feel like the ultimate consolation prize, given at the expense of some stronger and more relevant nominees. The layering of samples on “Break My Soul” is some of the most riveting and most thoughtful production in ages, and it’s one of the two major awards I hope Beyoncé wins. But will she? I think her biggest competitors in this race– other than ABBA– are perennial Grammy-magnet, Adele, peaking-at-the-right-time Lacy, and the ubiquitous Styles. “As It Was” is still in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100, months after its 15-week run at #1 ended. It’s a terrific record, too, and I think its homage to 80s rock hits (A-ha’s “Take On Me,” most notably) will lead to a win.
KC: I think the ABBA record is nothing short of a miracle: a pop band reunites after 40 years and creates a perfect pop gem that can stand tall among their best records. It’s got the hook, the harmonies, and the Google Translate lyrics. But it didn’t find a wide audience, so I’m doubtful it could win.
I can see Lizzo taking this one home, but Harry Styles had the biggest hit among the nominees, and there’s a lot of support for the project across the ballot. This seems like the best place to acknowledge him.
Album of the Year
- ABBA, Voyage
- Adele, 30
- Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti – JK
- Beyoncé, Renaissance – JK, KC
- Mary J. Blige, Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)
- Brandi Carlile, In These Silent Days
- Coldplay, Music of the Spheres
- Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
- Lizzo, Special
- Harry Styles, Harry’s House
JK: Part of me feels very strongly that, if ABBA had enough support to make the final ballot, then ABBA has enough support to get the plurality of votes needed to win, and it’s exactly the kind of thing the Grammys are notorious for doing. As a cohesive artistic statement, truly none of the nominees are on the level of Renaissance; the only album I’ve heard in recent memory that is great in a similar way is Tami Neilson’s KINGMAKER, and everyone knows by now how I feel about that one to understand that I mean the comparison as the highest of high praise. But Beyoncé has been the presumptive favorite in this category before and lost, and I can envision a scenario wherein the other hip-hop and R&B albums here pull enough votes from her to clear the way for someone like ABBA, Styles, or the wildly popular Bad Bunny. Just please, for the love of God, don’t give it to that dull Adele album.
KC: Beyoncé has arguably been robbed twice already in this category already, and after losing for Lemonade, she’d need to come back with something even more impactful than that project to win. And hot damn, she did. Renaissance broke new artistic ground in a category dominated by established artists repeating themselves.
Song of the Year
- “abcdefu” – Sara Davis, GAYLE & Dave Pittenger
- “About Damn Time” – Melissa “Lizzo” Jefferson, Eric Frederic, Blake Slatkin & Theron Makiel Thomas
- “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” – Liz Rose & Taylor Swift – JK, KC
- “As it Was” – Tyler Johnson, Kid Harpoon & Harry Styles
- “Bad Habit” – Matthew Castellanos, Brittany Fousheé, Diana Gordon, John Carroll Kirby & Steve Lacy
- “Break My Soul” – Beyoncé, S. Carter, Terius “The-Dream” Gesteelde-Diamant & Christopher A. Stewart
- “Easy On Me” – Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin
- “God Did” – Tarik Azzouz, E. Blackmon, Khaled Khaled, F. LeBlanc, Shawn Carter, John Stephens, Dwayne Carter, William Roberts & Nicholas Warwar
- “The Heart Part 5” – Jake Kosich, Johnny Kosich, Kendrick Lamar & Matt Schaeffer
- “Just Like That” – Bonnie Raitt
JK: By every important metric by which I evaluate songwriting, “abcdefu” is one of the worst songs ever nominated for any Grammy, let alone for Song Of The Year. It won’t win, thankfully, but what an absolute trash nomination that is. If anyone were to sweep the General Field this year, I have a sneaking suspicion it won’t be Beyoncé but Harry Styles, who would give NARAS’ main voting bloc an opportunity to rally around a current superstar while also retaining their historically white biases. Of the major categories, this is the one I think Beyoncé is least likely to win based upon the other nominees who could all siphon votes away from her, and she’s regarded as most overdue to win Album Of The Year anyway. In terms of being overdue, that Swift has never won this category despite career-long acclaim for her songwriting is noteworthy. This year, she’s nominated for what is widely– and correctly– regarded as her finest work as a songwriter. Those of us who feel passionately about the strengths of “All Too Well” as a composition are likely to pounce on the opportunity to vote for it, and I believe there will be enough NARAS members who will do just that.
KC: The best songwriter of her generation is nominated for the best song she’s ever written. Taylor Swift should win this in a walk.
Best New Artist
- Anitta – JK, KC
- Omar Apollo
- DOMi & JD Beck
- Muni Long
- Samara Joy
- Tobe Nwigwe
- Molly Tuttle
- Wet Leg – JK
JK: Anitta has been charting hits in Brazil for nearly a decade but has only more recently caught the attention of US markets with her brand of outsized pop; that she’s already an eight-time nominee at the Latin Grammys should give her a slight edge to win over a field with no clear frontrunner. Latto has the biggest hit of anyone here and could win, but I question if voters are really going to embrace her artistry when that hit is essentially built around a sample (Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”) of a sample (Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love”) that’s used in the exact same way. Hat tip to Molly Tuttle for breaking into the General Field as a Bluegrass act who isn’t Alison Krauss, and she’s probably the only nominee here who I think will still be contending for Grammys a decade from now. I wish I felt the same way about Wet Leg, because their self-titled debut was one of the best releases of 2022, and their sardonic brand of indie-rock would get my vote.
KC: We’re talking Shelby Lynne levels of “how is she nominated for Best New Artist?” when it comes to Anitta, who is already a legend in South America. But anyone who can go toe to toe with Madonna on a dance track has earned herself a trophy, don’t you think?
Best Country Solo Performance
- Kelsea Ballerini, Heartfirst
- Zach Bryan, Something in the Orange – JK, KC
- Miranda Lambert, In His Arms
- Maren Morris, Circles Around This Town
- Willie Nelson, Live Forever – JK
JK: Nelson seems like the safest bet as the lone veteran up against four contemporary stars; I’m thrilled to see his album nominated, but this specific performance wasn’t my favorite on the set. Of this lackluster group, I’d actually go for Bryan, with what is easily the best song and performance of the 9274859 tracks he released last year. Had Morris been nominated for “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” instead, she’d have been my pick.
KC: Just looking at recent winners in this category, Zach Bryan seems best positioned to win, as he’s the artist with indie cred that’s also having mainstream success. I think “Something in the Orange” was big enough to get the consensus votes from those who don’t reflexively vote for the legend that they recognize.
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
- Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, Wishful Drinking
- Brothers Osborne, Midnight Rider’s Prayer – KC
- Luke Combs & Miranda Lambert, Outrunnin’ Your Memory
- Reba McEntire & Dolly Parton, Does He Love You (Revisited) – JK
- Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, Never Wanted to Be That Girl – JK, KC
- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Going Where the Lonely Go
JK: What a mess of a category. I have no idea why that Plant & Krauss track was picked over the actual AAA singles from the album. BrOs could win if the voters are just feeling lazy and voting for a name they’ve voted for before in this category. Pearce & McBryde are the obvious choice here in terms of actual quality, and I’d love to see them win for what is ultimately a more fascinating and complex dialogue between two women than is the song that is more likely to win.
KC: I am also rooting for Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, but I think there are so many superstar duets in this category that they’re leaving the door wide open for Brothers Osborne, a well-respected act who are the only standard duo or group nominated. They took down repeat winners Dan + Shay last year when the two duos were up against star collaborations, so they should have an easier time walking away with the win this year.
Best Country Song
- “Circles Around This Town” – Ryan Hurd, Julia Michaels, Maren Morris & Jimmy Robbins
- “Doin’ This” – Luke Combs, Drew Parker & Robert Williford
- “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)” – Lori McKenna & Taylor Swift – JK, KC
- “If I was a Cowboy” – Jesse Frasure & Miranda Lambert
- “I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die” – Rodney Crowell & Chris Stapleton – JK
- “‘Til You Can’t” – Matt Rogers & Ben Stennis
JK: “You, in your house, with your organic shoes,” is still one of my favorite lines in Swift’s entire catalogue– hell, in anyone’s– and I wouldn’t even look at the other nominees. But Grammy voters tend to feel the same way about all things Stapleton, so I assume he’ll win here. That he’ll bring the brilliant Rodney Crowell along with him makes it all the more palatable.
KC: It’s hard to bet against Chris Stapleton, but it feels like Taylor Swift is enjoying yet another peak career moment where everyone is eager to acknowledge her immense talent. Swift has two Best Country Song Grammys already, and she’s nominated with Lori McKenna, who has three. Another McKenna win will make her the most honored songwriter in this category’s history, a record she currently shares with Josh Kear.
Best Country Album
- Luke Combs, Growin’ Up
- Miranda Lambert, Palomino
- Ashley McBryde, Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville – JK, KC
- Maren Morris, Humble Quest – KC
- Willie Nelson, A Beautiful Time – JK
JK: I had the McBryde and Nelson albums in my personal top 10 for last year, so I’m thrilled to see both of them included here. Morris is nominated for her best album to date, and Lambert is here with what is, by my count, her sixth-best album. Either would be a fine enough winner, too. Combs’ album isn’t terrible– Lady [Redacted] has won this award twice, so there’s a very low bar to clear– and is the biggest-selling project here by some margin. So, all in all, not the worst line-up I’ve ever seen. Combs could win on his commercial stats, but I think this is another instance in which Nelson benefits from a vote-split among the younger generation. While I think A Beautiful Time is in the very top-tier of Nelson’s extraordinary catalogue, I’m pulling for the Lindeville crew to win.
KC: Echoing Jonathan’s love for Lindeville, and I agree that Nelson is well positioned to win. I think Maren Morris has a slight edge, given the warm reception to her album and her presence in all three country categories she was eligible for. Of course, Miranda Lambert is in every category this year and has two previous wins, but I’m not going to risk willing that outcome into existence by predicting it.
AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC
Best American Roots Performance
- Bill Anderson featuring Dolly Parton, “Someday It Will All Make Sense (Bluegrass Version)” – KC
- Madison Cunningham, “Life According To Raechel”
- Fantastic Negrito, “Oh Betty”
- Aaron Neville with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, “Stompin’ Ground” – JK
- Aoife O’Donovan & Allison Russell, “Prodigal Daughter” – JK, KC
JK: Part of me thinks Dolly’s brighter-than-ever star power will make for a, frankly, lazy and undeserved win for that duet with Bill Anderson, but she’s not really a Grammy magnet. NARAS garnered some bad press– and rightfully so– for giving the Best Americana Album award last year to a middling covers album by Los Lobos instead of to Allison Russell’s landmark Outside Child. They could use this as an opportunity to give Russell a “make-up” award for her tremendous duet with O’Donovan. That would be fine by me, since it’s the best of these nominees. I do love the Fantastic Negrito track, too. But giving this to a random Aaron Neville track just feels like the kind of WTF thing they’d do in a year with so many uninspiring nominations.
KC: Dolly Parton is the biggest name in this category, and Bill Anderson is long overdue for a Grammy win. Parton’s won three Grammys in recent years for collaborations, and I think she’ll pull Anderson over the finish line here.
The O’Donovan/Russell record is the strongest effort here.
Best Americana Performance
- Eric Alexandrakis, “Silver Moon [A Tribute To Michael Nesmith]”
- Asleep at the Wheel featuring Lyle Lovett, “There You Go Again” – JK
- Blind Boys Of Alabama featuring Black Violin, “The Message”
- Brandi Carlile featuring Lucius, “You and Me On the Rock” – JK
- Bonnie Raitt, “Made Up Mind”
JK: I love that Asleep at the Wheel collab with Lyle Lovett, and I like the Carlile and Lucius collab that will inevitably win well enough, too. The other three, not so much. Tami Neilson and Willie Nelson were submitted in this category for “Beyond the Stars” and should be walking away with this award, instead.
KJC: I’m with Jonathan on both counts here. Asleep at the Wheel and Lyle Lovett made for an entertaining pairing, but NARAS voters are far more enthusiastic overall about this Brandi Carlile project.
Best American Roots Song
- “Bright Star” – Anaïs Mitchell
- “Forever” – Sheryl Crow & Jeff Trott
- “High and Lonesome” – T Bone Burnett & Robert Plant
- “Prodigal Daughter” – Tim O’Brien & Aoife O’Donovan – JK
- “You and Me On the Rock” – Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth & Tim Hanseroth – JK, KC
JK: I’m not betting against Carlile in any of the American Roots field categories. I think she’s likely to sweep, and with material that’s generally very strong. Here, “Prodigal Daughter” is my pick for the best composition, but Carlisle’s entry is well-written, too. I love Sheryl Crow, but “Forever” is just awful.
KC: Brandi Carlile is Grammy catnip these days, and there isn’t much competition for her here, especially since Bonnie Raitt isn’t nominated in this category. “Rock” is my favorite of the five, but that may have more to do with familiarity than anything else.
Best Americana Album
- Brandi Carlile, In These Silent Days – JK, KC
- Dr. John, Things Happen That Way
- Keb’ Mo’, Good to Be…
- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raise the Roof
- Bonnie Raitt, Just Like That…
JK: A dreadful bore of a category. Raitt’s album is fine in the way her late-career albums are always fine, but it’s absurd to call it “Americana.” And, as much as I love the late Dr. John, that album of covers is one of the worst records I heard last year. The Plant & Krauss reunion is solid– theirs is now my fourth-favorite version of Randy Weeks’ “Can’t Let Go”– but it’s clear NARAS didn’t like this one as much as its predecessor. No matter, though: Carlile will win this in a walk, and with the best album of the five.
KC: Brandi Carlile easily made the best album of the five, and its presence in the General Field should set it up for a straightforward win, despite the category being stacked with other Grammy favorites.
Best Bluegrass Album
- The Infamous Stringdusters, Toward the Fray – JK
- The Del McCoury Band, Almost Proud
- Peter Rowan, Calling You From My Mountain
- Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, Crooked Tree – JK
- Yonder Mountain String Band, Get Yourself Outside
JK: Two years running, this is probably the strongest category on the entire Grammy ballot, so much so that even Billy Strings didn’t make the final cut. Molly Tuttle’s surprising and wholly deserved nomination for Best New Artist will most likely translate to a win in this category, especially with more genre-purist voters likely to split between the two fantastic albums from Del McCoury Band and, especially, Infamous Stringdusters. But there’s no way for a weak album to win this award, however it shakes out.
Best Folk Album
- Judy Collins, Spellbound
- Madison Cunningham, Revealer
- Janis Ian, The Light at the End of the Line
- Aoife O’Donovan, Age of Apathy – JK
- Punch Brothers, Hell On Church Street
JK: This category has skewed toward more current acts than legacy artists in comparison to some other categories, so it’s reasonable to assume that Collins and Ian cancel each other out. No artist has repeated a win in this category, so that may play against Punch Brothers for their technically accomplished stunt performance of a tribute album. That leaves Cunningham, whose consistent appeal to Grammy voters (she’s been nominated in three of the last four years) is lost on me, and O’Donovan, who’s here with her career-best album That she has a couple of other nominations to Cunningham’s one suggests she has a slight edge.
GOSPEL/CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC
Best Roots Gospel Album
- Gaither Vocal Band, Let’s Just Praise the Lord
- Keith & Kristyn Getty, Confessio – Irish American Roots
- Willie Nelson, The Willie Nelson Family
- Karen Peck & New River, 2:22
- Tennessee State University Marching Band, The Urban Hymnal – JK
JK: I’ll abstain from making a “should win” pick in this category, as Nelson’s set is the only one I’d heard until the nominations were announced, at which point my curiosity about the Tennessee State University Marching Band’s emergence as a Grammy contender piqued my curiosity. I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in having done that, and that enough voters did the same to pull a plurality of the votes among the more expected nominees for this award. Brent Cobb made my favorite “Roots Gospel” album of the 2022 eligibility year by a pretty huge margin, and it’s a shame he missed out.
Disagree about the country albums. 181 country albums released this last year and this is what they come up with. 3 of the nominees are are on the same label. Morris’ and Lambert albums were commercial failures. Neither made Billboard year end. Lambert’s last single didn’t cracked top 50. Morris will be pulled soon. So that’s 1 single off both albums. That should have never been nominated. Lamberts album is literally a rehash of her last 2 albums. One of her best? Please. It’s the same drivel again and again. Where was American Heartbreak? The top selling and most original album released. Where is Miko Marks? Nope same people again and again. Ashley deserves this award. She should have won last time around. Lambert is a pr created horror.
…don’t think miko marks or ashley mcbryde would share your point of view on miranda lambert, mark. both of them came up with remarkable albums, to say the least, but “palomino” was a fine and deserving effort too. i find, tthis year’s nominations in the “album of the year” category quite challenging. let’s see, which one will win eventually – i’d even put a fiver on willie’s.
Mark needs a hug goodness. Actually Lambert’s album was the most streamed female country album last year and I hope she wins album. So funny that her quality of albums used against her. It’s difficult when year after year her albums are the creative benchmark for all. Anyway, Palomino was all over best albums of the year lists and is still in rotation w/ me. Great album! Would love duo for Carly&Ashley but Alison Krauss always wins. Song could be Stapleton or Taylor. Agree Willie probably winning solo b/c they did that a few years ago for legacy.
Where are you getting that Palomino was the most streamed female country album? Seriously. Is this the same she was the “most streamed female of 2022” Bs. Loved that she was the most streamed artist of 2022-in July. Come on. It was Elle Kings song that streamed well. Not Miranda’s. And I don’t care what list the album was on. God her PR team has a great deal to do with that. It was a commercial failure. Had it been the most streamed it would have been on BB year end top 200. It wasn’t. Saying something is the best streamed is misleading. Even her biggest in pocket critics said how long can she pull off I’m drunk, free, wanderer. Same ole same ole. It’s tiresome to see her nominated over more deserving artists because of who backs her.
I’m pretty sympathetic to the argument that awards shows as a whole have overdone it with Miranda Lambert, but I don’t think the Grammys have been overly generous to her.
The ACMs have been ridiculous. The CMAs, a bit overdone. But she only has three Grammys, and only one of them (Country Album for Wildcard) was a stretch.
In the spirit of acknowledging both our successes and our failures, a recap of how we did on our “will win” predictions…
Album of the Year: 0/2
Record of the Year: 0/2
Song of the Year: 0/2
Best New Artist: 0/2
Country, Solo Performance: JK
Country, Duo/Group: 0/2
Country Song: 0/2
Country Album: JK
Am. Roots Performance: JK
Americana Performance: 0/2
Am. Roots Song: 0/2
Americana Album: KJC, JK
Bluegrass Album: JK
Folk Album: 0/1
Roots Gospel Album: JK
I’ll be insufferable forever for calling the Aaron Neville and the Marching Band wins, but yeah: Grammys really bucked the conventional wisdom this year and went with one of their most– diplomatically speaking– idiosyncratic slates of winners in years.
I only got 50% right at Gold Derby and I still ranked 212 out of 3,020. This was a weird year.
You get permanent bragging rights for Neville and TSU!