Grammys 2015: The Lowdown on the Country Music Nominations

 RCA Records Nashville
Miranda Lambert in 2014 for RCA Records Nashville.

The nominees in the country field for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards have been announced, and there are interesting names among the contenders. The decision to scale back on the number of categories a few years ago by NARAS led many to believe that the organization was looking to increase the number of nominees for acts who were more accepted at a mainstream level. That might be true, but to an extent, the country nods show that Grammy voters looked at many different factors other than just straight airplay. Billboard breaks down the nominations in four of the biggest categories: 

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BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE
"Give Me Back My Hometown" - Eric Church
Track from: The Outsiders
Label: EMI Nashville

"Invisible" - Hunter Hayes
Track from: Storyline
Label: Atlantic Records

"Automatic" - Miranda Lambert
Track from: Platinum
Label: RCA Nashville

"Something In The Water" - Carrie Underwood
Label: Sony Nashville

"Cop Car" - Keith Urban
Track from: Fuse
Label: Capitol Nashville

The Lowdown: If you wanted to make the argument about more of the Grammy nominees being mainstream hit singles, that makes sense here. Each of the five nominees were breakout hit singles. Early momentum would have to be affixed to Underwood, who is coming off of a well-received performance of the song on the CMA Awards last month, but in reality it could be anybody's ball game.

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BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE
"Gentle On My Mind" - The Band Perry
Track from: Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me Soundtrack EP
Label: Big Machine Records

"Somethin' Bad" - Miranda Lambert With Carrie Underwood
Track from: Platinum
Label: RCA Nashville

"Day Drinking" - Little Big Town
Track from:
Pain Killer
Label: Capitol Nashville

"Meanwhile Back At Mama's" - Tim McGraw Featuring Faith Hill
Track from: Sundown Heaven Town
Label: Big Machine Records

"Raise 'Em Up" - Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church
Track from: Fuse
Label: Capitol Nashville

The Lowdown: An interesting batch of nominees, with maybe The Band Perry's inclusion being the biggest surprise. Not because they are nominated -- as they've been there before, but their exquisite version of Glen Campbell's "Gentle On My Mind" definitely turned more than a few heads and ears. Could it win? Possibly, but early house money tends to favor collaborations between Lambert and Underwood or McGraw and Hill.

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BEST COUNTRY SONG
"American Kids" -
Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird & Shane McAnally, songwriters (Kenny Chesney)
Label:
Blue Chair Records, LLC / Columbia Nashville

"Automatic" -
Nicolle Galyon, Natalie Hemby & Miranda Lambert, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
Track from:
Platinum
Label:
RCA Nashville; Publishers: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Pink Dog Publishing admin. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC/Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./EMI Blackwood Music Inc./Wruckestrike

"Give Me Back My Hometown" -
Eric Church & Luke Laird, songwriters (Eric Church)
Track from:
The Outsiders
Label: EMI Nashville; Publishers: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Longer And Louder Music, admin. by Sony/ATV Music PublishingLLC/Songs Of Universal , Inc./Creative Nation Music/Twangin And Slangin, admin. by Songs Of Universal, Inc.

"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" -
Glen Campbell & Julian Raymond, songwriters (Glen Campbell)
Track from:
Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me Soundtrack
Label:
Big Machine Records

"Meanwhile Back At Mama's" -
Tom Douglas, Jaren Johnston & Jeffrey Steele, songwriters (Tim McGraw Featuring Faith Hill)
Track from: Sundown Heaven Town
Label: Big Machine Records

The Lowdown: It was refreshing to see the final song from Glen Campbell -- the centerpiece of the excellent I'll Be Me documentary -- in the running. The song brought Campbell his highest chart position on the country charts in well over twenty years, and touched many hearts and lives in the process. Will that be enough to win? Don't bet against it, but "Automatic" might be the big winner here.

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BEST COUNTRY ALBUM
Riser -
Dierks Bentley
Label:
Capitol Records

The Outsiders -
Eric Church
Label:
EMI Nashville

12 Stories -
Brandy Clark
Label:
Slate Creek Records

Platinum -
Miranda Lambert
Label:
RCA Nashville

The Way I'm Livin' -
Lee Ann Womack
Label:
Sugar Hill Records

The Lowdown: This is what one calls the category of surprises. Bentley, Church, and Lambert have each performed well with both radio and critics with their latest albums, Clark struck with an album that topped many 2013 lists, and Womack's should do the same this month. Neither featured a radio hit single, however. In Clark's case, we're not sure that is going to matter. She is the real deal -- vocally and creatively. This could be the statement of the Grammys -- and it would be a well-deserved one. 

Clark's nomination for overall Best New Artist proves the admiration that her peers has for her -- a pretty big deal considering her lack of a radio hit. It's also great to see Roseanne Cash figure so prominently in the American Roots category, thanks to her excellent The River and The Thread album. Other nominees in that section with Nashville ties include Rhonda Vincent, Keb' Mo', and Sturgill Simpson. Longtime country favorite T. Graham Brown is in the running for Best Roots Gospel Album for his Forever Changed project, and kudos to the Grammys for nominating one of the best singers in Nashville -- Tim Menzies -- in the same category for His Way Of Loving Me.


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