The 52nd annual Grammy Awards show airs January 31, 2010 at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Earlier we told you who we’d each like to see winning in the country categories this year. Now it’s time to go out on a limb and say who we expect to win. We didn’t do very well last time, due to collectively underestimating the CMA voters’ enthrallment to commercial success.
Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Trace Adkins – ‘All I Ask For Anymore’: Chris
Billy Currington – ‘People Are Crazy’
Jamey Johnson – ‘High Cost Of Living’: Jordan Stacey, Occasional Hope, Razor X
George Strait – ‘Living For The Night’: J.R. Journey
Keith Urban – ‘Sweet Thing’
Jordan: The Grammys always go for this type of song: critically acclaimed, sold a lot of albums, and has been listed in best of lists all year. The Grammy’s won’t ignore Jamey Johnson.
Razor: While I like the Trace Adkins song very much, I think the award for Male Vocal Performance will – and should – go to Jamey Johnson. It received a tepid response from country radio, but the Grammy’s are somewhat less inhibited and Puritanical in their selections. This was a true highlight of 2009, and I expect that the Grammy voters will recognize that and reward the song appropriately.
OH: See my comments below on Song. I believe Jamey will win at least one of these categories, but possibly not both.
J.R.: Strait is long overdue for a string of trophies from the Grammy’s. His first-ever statuette came from the NARAS last year in the Best Country Album race, and I think he’ll add to his collection this year.
Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Miranda Lambert – ‘Dead Flowers’
Martina McBride – ‘I Just Call You Mine’
Taylor Swift – ‘White Horse’: J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
Carrie Underwood – ‘Just A Dream’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, Razor X
Lee Ann Womack – ‘Solitary Thinkin”
Razor: ‘Just A Dream’ and ‘White Horse’ are the only two songs in this category that can legitimately be called hits. It would be a further travesty for Taylor Swift to win over Carrie in a vocal performance categeory. The Grammy’s are more prone than the CMAs or ACMs to reward artistry over commercial success. While ‘Just A Dream’ is no artistic masterpiece, Carrie is hands down the superior vocalist.
OH: The Grammy voters don’t always care if something’s a hit, but nothing here is sufficiently artistically compelling to win on that account. I agree it’s between Taylor and Carrie, and travesty or not, I think Taylor will carry it on her current awards and commercial momentum.
J.R.: Taylor is white hot right now, pardon the pun. Grammy voters have traditionally either went for tracks that make strong artistic statements or the flavor of the day. This year, with nothing really standing out from the pack as brilliant in this category, I think name-recognition will swing it for Swift.
Jordan: They seem to like Carrie, and it’s a much stronger song than ‘Last Name, so she will probably walk away with this one.
Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals
Brooks & Dunn – ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’
Zac Brown Band – ‘Chicken Fried’: Jordan Stacey, Occasional Hope
Lady Antebellum – ‘I Run To You’: J.R. Journey, Razor X
Rascal Flatts – ‘Here Comes Goodbye’
Sugarland – ‘It Happens’: Chris
Razor: I think this is probably Lady Antebellum’s year. I was surprised when Brooks & Dunn went home empty-handed from the CMAs. I really thought they would win for sentimental reasons. The Grammy’s are generally less sentimental than the CMAs, and since ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ isn’t anything spectacular, and the remaining choices are truly awful, I expect this one to go to Lady A.
J.R.: This category has more competition this year than any in recent memory. With lots of strong competition, I believe the real race lies between Lady Antebellum and Sugarland. The reigning CMA Vocal Group and Vocal Duo, respectively, have both had excellent years. I’m thinking Lady Antebellum’s recent rush will give them the edge.
OH: I think it’s between Lady A and the Zac Brown Band purely because they’ve both been invited to perfrom on the telecast. I’m going to go with the Zac Brown Band because they were the later of the two to be announced, which might be after the votes were counted. The ZBB has also been nominated as overall Best New Artist across genres.
Jordan: Probably their worst song, but it was a big hit for the Zac Brown Band, their breakthrough. And seeing as the nominees are generally more mainstream this year, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this win.
Best Country Vocal Collaboration
Dierks Bentley and Patty Griffin – ‘Beautiful World’: Occasional Hope
Kenny Chesney and Mac McAnally – ‘Down The Road’
Brad Paisley and Keith Urban – ‘Start A Band’: Razor X
Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis – ‘Told You So’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey
Lee Ann Womack and George Strait – ‘Everything But Quits’
J.R.: Not only was it a huge hit, Carrie has been a Grammy favorite for the past few years. I think the voters will want to reward her somehow, and this is the most likely trophy for her to take home.
Chris: I wouldn’t be upset if any of them won, but I think Underwood and Travis have the best chance.
Jordan: If Carrie doesn’t get the Female Vocal award, she’ll get a trophy here.
Razor: I think this award will probably go to Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, on the strength of their considerable skills as guitarists.
OH: I think the Grammy voters will pick Dierks and critical favorite Patty.
Best Country Song
‘All I Ask For Anymore’ – written by Casey Beathard and Tim James
‘High Cost Of Living’ – Jamey Johnson and James Slater: Jordan Stacey, Occasional Hope, Razor X
‘I Run To You’ – Tom Douglas, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott: J.R. Journey
‘People Are Crazy’ – Bobby Braddock and Troy Jones
‘White Horse’ – Liz Rose and Taylor Swift: Chris
OH: It’s a great song, and in addition, the controversial lyric will make the Grammy voters think they’re being daring, which they like to do occasionally. Then they can play safe in most of the other categories.
Jordan: For much the same reasons I want it to win, and the reasons I gave for Jamey winning the Male Vocal Performance award, I think this will win the Song category.
Razor: In the end I think ‘High Cost of Living’ will come out on top.
J.R.: This is another very strong category. I don’t think ‘High Cost of Living’ will impress Grammy voters enough to push it over. So my prediction is for ‘I Run to You’ to win.
Best Country Album
Zac Brown Band – The Foundation
George Strait – Twang
Taylor Swift – Fearless: Chris, Jordan Stacey, J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope, Razor X
Keith Urban – Defying Gravity
Lee Ann Womack – Call Me Crazy
Razor: Taylor has reached a level of commercial success at which Grammy voters will probably feel that she cannot be ignored. Giving her the Best Album trophy would be less of a travesty than giving her the Female Vocal Performance award.
J.R.: It was the best-selling album of the year, and Swift is on a major career high right now. I don’t think the momentum will stop with the Grammy awards. I’m most confident about this prediction.
OH: She’s also nominated in the general Album Of the Year category. It would seem odd if she didn’t win this one (although not impossible, as the voter pool is slightly different).
Chris: Call Me Crazy will probably fall to the behemoth that is Fearless – a good album and personal favorite in its own right.
Finally, we speculated as to how Taylor Swift will do in the non-country categories in which she is nominated. These are: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance (all for ‘You Belong With Me’); Album of the Year (for Fearless); and Best Pop Collaboration for a duet with Colbie Caillat (‘Breathe’).
Jordan: Record of the year will go to ‘Poker Face’ or ‘I Got A Feeling’; Taylor won’t be in the running. Lady Gaga deserves this one – that song alone got me to go see her live. I can’t say the same for any of the others. For Album it’s going to be a toss up between Lady Gaga or Taylor, and I think Taylor has the advantage; it’s a more rounded album. Song is going to be hard to predict, I’d like it to go to ‘Use Somebody’, but I get the feeling that ‘Single Ladies’ is going to get it. Female Pop will hopefully go to ‘Sober’ but Swift will be a favorite. Overall Taylor should be nominated but I don’t think many of the awards will end up going to her. I think this is the one award show she’ll be walking away from empty handed, if any.
Chris: Swift has good chances – especially in Album of the Year. While ‘You Belong With Me’ has strong competition in the form ‘Use Somebody’ by the Kings of Leon in Record of the Year, Fearless is by far the best album nominated for Album of the Year. In Song of the Year, ‘Pretty Wings’ by Maxwell – a song I highly recommend- will probably win, besting Swift again. In Best Female Pop Performance, Swift should be beaten by either Adele or P!nk who have their stellar ‘Hometown Glory’ and ‘Sober’ respectively. In Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, Swift is entered with Colbie Caillat for ‘Breathe’, an album cut off Fearless. With stiff competition from Rosanne Cash and Bruce Springsteen, it’s uncertain who will win.
Razor X: I expect that Taylor will win a couple of trophies in the non-country categories. In fact, I’m kind of rooting for her to do well in these categories, if only as a means of reinforcing that she doesn’t really belong in the country genre.
OH: It’s hard to predict with any degree of confidence without being as familiar with her rivals, but I think Taylor is riding a wave of success at the moment which could bring her a few more trophies.
J.R.: I honestly have no opinion on the matter. I haven’t followed any genre outside country well enough in the past year to make a prediction, and I don’t have any strong feelings one way or another if Taylor sweeps the non-country categories. What would her success do for country music in the long run? Couldn’t hurt, but I don’t see how it could help either. I like ‘Sober’ a lot, and most everything else by Pink though.
We haven’t ventured to make any other predictions, but there are several other categories where country-related performers are nominated this year. I mentioned above that the Zac Brown Band is nominated as Best New Artist. Taylor Swift’s rivals in the Best Pop Collaboration category include Rosanne Cash and rock star Bruce Springsteen with their duet on the country classic ‘Sea Of Heartbreak’ (mentioned above by Chris), and Willie Nelson duetting with Norah Jones on pop classic ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’. Willie’s latest collection of standards, American Classic, also gets a nod in the Traditional Pop Album category. Tracy Lawrence’s Christian album The Rock is nominated for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album.
Americana Album nominees include Willie Nelson and Asleep At the Wheel for their collaboration Willie And The Wheel, as well as fringe-country artists Levon Helm (Electric Dirt) and Lucinda Williams (Little Honey). Bluegrass Album nominees are singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale who has many mainstream country cuts, for Could We Get Any Closer, actor Steve Martin for his mainly-instrumental banjo album The Crow, former country star Michael Martin Murphey for Buckaroo Bluegrass, virtuoso guitarist Bryan Sutton for Almost Live, and Rhonda Vincent for Destination Life.
One of the nominees for Traditional Folk Album is Loudon Wainwright’s tribute to one of the pioneers of old-time country music, High, Wide And Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. The Contemporary Folk Album nominees include another tribute, Steve Earle’s Townes, and Neko Case’s alt-country Middle Cyclone (a favorite of My Kind Of Country’s Chris).
Brad Paisley’s ‘Playing With Fire’ is nominated for Best Rock Instrumental (but not in the country section, where the nominees are Alison Brown, the Greencards, Sarah Jarosz, and Steve Wariner). Versatile occasional bluegrass banjoist Bela Fleck, whose band New Grass Revival had minor country hits in the late 80s, is nominated for Best Pop Instrumental, and for Best Contemporary World Music Album. The official soundtrack for Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5 musical is nominated for Best Musical Show Album. There are also some country and alt-country tracks on the True Blood soundtrack (recognized in the Film/TV/Visual Media Compilation Soundtrack category).
Finally, Keith Urban’s Love, Pain And The Whole Crazy World Tour Live is competing in the Long Form Video category, where his rivals include Johnny Cash’s America.
Who do you think will walk away a winner?