Every year millions of music fans tune into the Grammy awards to see who the voting members of the Recording Academy will honor with a prestigious golden gramophone. This year, all eyes will be on Adele and Beyonce, who will battle it out for multiple awards including Album of the Year. However, country music fans will be watching to see who claims awards within the genre’s categories.
This year the women of country music, lead by Maren Morris, dominate the country categories. Four of the five nominees in the Best Solo Country Performance are women while three of the five nominees for Best Country Album are sets by women. As usual, I will break down each category by who I think should win versus who will win including the all genre categories that include a country nominee.
Album of the Year
- 25, Adele
- Lemonade, Beyonce
- Purpose, Justin Beiber
- Views, Drake
- A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson
Sturgill Simpson represents the country genre in this all genre category, but will be no competition for the year’s two biggest albums.
Should Win: 25 – Adele; the album shattered sales records upon its release and has spawned a few major Hot 100 hits. Though Beyonce and Adele will inevitably split the night’s biggest awards, this one should go to Adele.
Will Win: Lemonade – Beyonce; there has never been an album so iconic in its production or quality as the visual album from the biggest superstar on the planet.
Best New Artist
- Kelsea Ballerini
- The Chainsmokers
- Chance the Rapper
- Maren Morris
- Anderson .Paak
For the first time in the history of this category two country artists are competing among the five nominees, and they’re both women. Let’s view this, along with the female domination in the country categories, as a sign that the bro-country movement has finally been squashed.
Should Win: Maren Morris; country’s latest “it” girl has done a brilliant job at progressing the genre with her groundbreaking take on modern country music. Her album Hero is exquisite and the best debut album from a country star in years.
Will Win: Chance the Rapper; the rapper has become a viral sensation for not only his music, but for his laid back approach to attending awards shows (see his hilarious actions on the VMA red carpet). Coming into the night as a multiple nominee, it’s hard to bet against the rapper to claim this award.
Best Country Solo Performance
- “Love Can Go to Hell” – Brandy Clark
- “Vice” – Miranda Lambert
- “My Church” – Maren Morris
- “Church Bells” – Carrie Underwood
- “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
For years the women of country music have been releasing the best music while the men enjoy success with material far less superior. This year, the Grammys have finally chosen to recognize that fact by nominating four female artists in this category.
Should Win: “Love Can Go to Hell” – Brandy Clark; easily the best written song of the bunch, Clark’s masterpiece encompasses both a devastatingly beautiful melody combined with lyrics that tell a heart breaking story of love gone wrong. This is the singer songwriter’s third Grammy nomination and it should bring her her first win.
Will Win: “Vice” – Miranda Lambert; the lead single from the singer’s brilliant double album, The Weight of These Wings, is a detailed account of a downward spiral one experiences after a life changing event. With a fantastic vocal performance and a brilliant production, this song is every Grammy voter’s dream tune.
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
- “Different for Girls” – Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King
- “21 Summer” – Brothers Osborne
- “Setting the World on Fire” – Kenny Chesney & P!nk
- “Jolene” – Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton
- “Think of You” – Chris Young with Cassadee Pope
Duets dominated the year 2016 in country music and four of the best are included in this category that is nearly impossible to pick a winner. Side note: shame on the Grammys for not including Beyonce and Dixie Chicks’ fantastic version of “Daddy Lessons” here.
Should Win: “Jolene” – Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton; if we’re picking a winner solely on vocal performance, then this one wins hands down. The acapella group brilliant brings a fresh and modern approach to one of country’s most timeless songs. Add Dolly in the mix and you’ve got an instant classic.
Will Win: “Different for Girls” – Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King; Dierks has yet to claim a Grammy award in his career, but look for that to end tonight when he picks up this award for his collaboration with Elle King.
Best Country Song
- “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen
- “Die A Happy Man” – Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur
- “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna
- “My Church” – busbee & Maren Morris
- “Vice” – Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne
Five of the year’s biggest hits can be found in this category but two rise above the crowd.
Should Win: “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna; a little prayer written for her kids was turned into one of the year’s most moving and biggest hits. Lori McKenna has already cemented herself as a premiere songwriter in Nashville, but “Humble and Kind” proves that she’s a country music treasure.
Will Win: “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna; she won lost year for co-writing “Girl Crush” and she’ll pick up at least one of her four awards tonight.
Best Country Album
- Big Day in a Small Town – Brandy Clark
- Full Circle – Loretta Lynn
- Hero – Maren Morris
- A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson
- Ripcord – Keith Urban
Four of these five albums made my list of top albums of 2016 with the Brandy Clark album topping my list. All five of these albums are groundbreaking in proving these five artists are instrumental in the evolution of country music.
Should Win: Big Day in a Small Town – Brandy Clark; just like her debut album, 12 Stories, the songs found on Clark’s sophomore album tell stories of real life, small town America. The characters found on the album can be found in every single stoplight town throughout the country. Clark’s songwriting and ability to tell stories are why she’s considered to be a songwriting pioneer in Nashville. Though she’s the underdog, I’ll be rooting for her to complete an upset here.
Will Win: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson; it is extremely rare for a country album that is nominated in the all genre Album of the Year category to lost in this category.