Yes, it’s awards time again, with the 2010 Grammy’s due to be handed out on January 31 this year.
Who do we want to win this time around?
Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Trace Adkins – ‘All I Ask For Anymore’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
Billy Currington – ‘People Are Crazy’
Jamey Johnson – ‘High Cost Of Living’: Razor X
George Strait – ‘Living For The Night’
Keith Urban – ‘Sweet Thing’
Jordan: Trace gives one of his best vocal performances on record, on an above average song. Among the nominees it fits the “Vocal Performance” part the best.
Razor: While I like the Trace Adkins song very much, I think the award for Male Vocal Performance should go to Jamey Johnson. This was a true highlight of 2009.
OH: I think Jamey’s song is better, but Trace’s vocal is outstanding. I’d be really happy with either winning though.
Chris: I’m not a fan of Jamey Johnson because of his voice, but I understand the merits of his work – but Adkins can really knock stuff out of the park when he picks the right song.
J.R.: I prefer ‘High Cost of Living’ as a song, but am definitely more into Trace Adkins’ vocal performance than Jamey’s.
Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Miranda Lambert – ‘Dead Flowers’: Chris
Martina McBride – ‘I Just Call You Mine’
Taylor Swift – ‘White Horse’
Carrie Underwood – ‘Just A Dream’
Lee Ann Womack – ‘Solitary Thinkin”: Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey, Razor X, Occasional Hope
Jordan: Give Lee Ann Womack one of the worst singles of the year (‘There Is A God’) and she can still somehow make it enjoyable simply ’cause of her beautiful vocal delivery. ‘Solitary Thinkin” in my opinion is a better performance and song overall than ‘Last Call’ which was robbed last year; hopefully the voters get it right this time.
Razor: I can’t recall any other year with a such a weak offering of choices for Female Vocal Performance. ‘Solitary Thinkin” is not my favorite Lee Ann Womack song, nor is it particularly vocally challenging, but I’d still like to see this one win, simply because I don’t like any of the other choices at all.
OH: I’m really uninspired by all of these. I think I’ll go with ‘Solitary Thinkin”, because although I’m not crazy about the song, Lee Ann sounds good and the vocal works with the song rather than overwhelming it (‘Just A Dream’) or being simply inadequate (‘White Horse’). Martina’s song is forgettable, and Miranda’s is far from her best work.
Chris: Underwood’s performance is great, but a little bombastic for my taste. ‘Dead Flowers’ has just always struck a chord with me and I love how she sings it – she deserves the award with Lee Ann Womack being next in line.
J.R.: Weak, yes. I’ll go with Razor’s reasoning that I ‘Solitary Thinkin’ is the only one I don’t actively dislike. Plus I think Womack is the best of this bunch presently.
Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals
Brooks & Dunn – ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’: Razor X
Zac Brown Band – ‘Chicken Fried’: Occasional Hope
Lady Antebellum – ‘I Run To You’: Jordan Stacey
Rascal Flatts – ‘Here Comes Goodbye’
Sugarland – ‘It Happens’: Chris, J.R. Journey
Razor: If this were an award for the most annoying song of the year, it would be a three-way tie between Sugarland, Rascal Flatts and the Zac Brown Band. I’d like to see this trophy go to Brooks & Dunn, since ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ is the only song on the list that I don’t actively dislike.
Jordan: Not too big a fan of any of these but ‘I Run To You’ is the best vocally, and was the second biggest hit of the lot.
OH: I don’t care much for any of them either, but at least ‘Chicken Fried is something different. ‘Cowboys Don’t Cry’ is OK and probably the best here, but verging on the generic.
Chris: ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ is great, but ‘It Happens’ is just such a fun and infectious tune, I can’t turn it down.
J.R.: Sugarland renewed my faith in country radio at a time when I was just about to jump ship and re-program the memory on my car radio. I’ve been a fan of ‘It Happens’ since Love On The Inside dropped. And I was happy to see it become a chart-topper for the duo.
Best Country Vocal Collaboration
Dierks Bentley and Patty Griffin – ‘Beautiful World’
Kenny Chesney and Mac McAnally – ‘Down The Road’
Brad Paisley and Keith Urban – ‘Start A Band’
Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis – ‘I Told You So’
Lee Ann Womack and George Strait – ‘Everything But Quits’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope, Razor X
Razor: There is no question that Lee Ann Womack and George Strait turned in the best performance in this category and I’d really like to see the Grammys recognize that. Surprisingly, it wasn’t released as a single – which would have been the logical way to try and get Lee Ann back in the Top 10. But I think the fact that it wasn’t released as a single puts it at somewhat of a disadvantage.
Jordan: They’ve done two duets so far and both were stellar. I’m hoping that this one brings home the gold. (Grammies are gold, right?)
OH: This is the best performance of those nominated. I love Randy Travis, but his contribution isn’t much more than a cameo, and an afterthought at that.
Chris: I really love these nominees, but Womack and Strait are just the best by far. I wouldn’t be upset if any of them won.
J.R.: I remember being a bit surprised that ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ wasn’t nominated in this category, since the addition of Reba made into a collaboration between the two artists. I’d have still voted for Strait and Womack, but I’d have a stronger second-choice.
Best Country Song
‘All I Ask For Anymore’ – written by Casey Beathard and Tim James: Razor X
‘High Cost Of Living’ – Jamey Johnson and James Slater: Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
‘I Run To You’ – Tom Douglas, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott
‘People Are Crazy’ – Bobby Braddock and Troy Jones
‘White Horse’ – Liz Rose and Taylor Swift: Chris
OH: ‘High Cost Of Living’ is by far the best song, with its unsparing emotional honesty.
Jordan: This is as country as it gets these days; a strong performance mixed with great lyrics that were too hot for radio is only the beginning. When you realize just how autobiographical it is your appreciation of the song just may double.
Razor: ‘All I Ask For Anymore’ is my favorite in this category; I’d really like to see it win.
Chris: I love ‘White Horse’ – it’s very mature and Swift actually sounds good singing it. It’s not an amazing performance, but the song is good enough that it doesn’t matter.
J.R.: I didn’t have to think about this one much.
Best Country Album
Zac Brown Band – The Foundation
George Strait – Twang: Razor X
Taylor Swift – Fearless: Jordan Stacey
Keith Urban – Defying Gravity
Lee Ann Womack – Call Me Crazy: Chris, J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
Chris: Call Me Crazy is just so fantastic, I hope it will win
OH: Call Me Crazy is flawed, but has enough genuine high points that I think it’s more worthy than the other selections. Twang is a solid Strait album but only ‘Arkansas Dave’ really stands out; The Foundation is inventive but not quite consistent enough.
Razor: Twang is my favorite amongst these albums. I’d love to see it win.
Jordan: The Foundation is a good debut that has a couple of weak tracks, Twang is my least favorite George Strait album of the last decade, Defying Gravity is a little too lightweight, and Call Me Crazy is a great runner up that could’ve used a more up tempo song here or there. Out of all the albums Fearless is the most cohesive. It is one of the better written, there’s different moods displayed throughout the album, and it was the biggest selling.
J.R.: This is truly the toughest race to pick a favorite in. Strait, Womack, and Zac Brown all delivered worthy albums. Even Urban’s repeating formula and Swift’s puberty anthems made for memorable albums. My personal pick would have to the contemporary side of the reigning honky tonk queen Womack, with her excellent Call Me Crazy release.
We’ll share our actual predictions later in the week. Meanwhile, who are your favorite nominees? Who would you cast your vote for this year?