It’s hard to argue with pure numbers, and the record-shattering success of Sam Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road” proved too much for Grammy voters to ignore this year — netting the MCA Nashville superstar a pair of nominations this morning (Nov. 28). But, while chart stats and downloads put Hunt in contention, it will be interesting to see if those metrics transform themselves into Grammy gold on Jan. 28, 2018.
In the country solo performance of the year category, Hunt has some stiff competition ranging from Alison Krauss’s evocative cover of Brenda Lee’s “Losing You,” Chris Stapleton’s dramatic “Either Way,” Maren Morris’s current hit “I Could Use A Love Song” and Miranda Lambert’s emotional “Tin Man.” Though the numbers seem to be in Hunt’s favor here, don’t be too surprised if Grammy voters — as they have been prone to do over the years — go in a more artistic direction.
The duo/group performance category featured the commercial punch of Lady Antebellum’s “You Look Good” and Little Big Town’s “Better Man,” along with critical favorites Brothers Osborne (“It Ain’t My Fault”) and Zac Brown Band (“My Old Man”). Might that perhaps open the door for highly-touted newcomers Midland with the throwback vibe of their “Drinkin’ Problem” smash? Perhaps, but look for Little Big Town to enter this race as the favorite, thanks to their performance of the lyrics, which were penned by Taylor Swift.
Swift’s listing as the writer on “Better Man,” which has already netted the country-turned-pop princess a CMA Award for song of the year, will likely give her an edge in the best country song field. With stellar releases by Stapleton and Lambert having struggled at radio, Midland — though being deserving — likely too new and Hunt’s overwhelming commercial success aside, some voters might decided to align with the Georgia native in the solo performance category, rather than crowning the mega-hit as the best composition of the year.
Then you have the album of the year category, which is more than a little shocking with the absence of Lambert’s double-disc The Weight Of These Wings in spite of the singer receiving a pair of nods for “Tin Man,” from the disc. This looks to be one of the tightest races of all, with Kenny Chesney figuring into the race with his diverse Cosmic Hallelujah, Thomas Rhett’s commercial sparkle (and No.1 Billboard 200 debut) of Life Changes, and the newest discs from Little Big Town (The Breaker) and Lady Antebellum (Heart Break), which could cancel each other out considering both are groups on Universal. (That being said, it would be great to see the team of Kelley, Scott, and Haywood be recognized for their excellent seventh LP). All of that — plus Lambert’s shocking omission — should open the door for Grammy-favorite Stapleton to walk off with the trophy for his From A Room, Volume 1, especially after its big album of the year win at this year’s CMAs.
There were some other country/Nashville-slanted nominations of note this morning. Country Music Hall of Fame member Reba McEntire was included in the roots gospel album category for her two-disc set Sing It Now, while Krauss (“I Never Cared For You”) and the late Glen Campbell (“Arkansas Farmboy”) were listed in the roots recording field. Legendary Grand Ole Opry star Bobby Osborne was mentioned in the bluegrass album listing, at the age of 86, for his appropriately titled album Original.