Kacey Musgraves has taken issue with the Recording Academy classifying her album star-crossed as pop rather than country. As a result of the Academy’s decision, the album will vie for a Grammy nomination for best pop vocal album rather than best country album, a category in which Musgraves has won twice.
The pop album category is considerably more competitive than its country equivalent. Last year, there were twice as many entries in the pop album category (186) as in the country album category (92).
But Musgraves is far from the first country crossover artist whose recordings were classified as pop. Often, the placements occurred in a year in which the artist had another recording that was classified as country, which gave the artist two shots at Grammy glory.
Here are 10 artists who straddled the line between pop and country. All were nominated for Grammys in pop categories in the year(s) in question.
Dolly Parton: Parton’s first major crossover hit “Here You Come Again” (1977) was nominated for best pop vocal performance, female. Parton was also nominated in the equivalent country category that year for a cover version of Jackie Wilson’s R&B classic “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher.” She didn’t win either award, and would have had an uphill climb even if “Here You Come Again” had been slotted in the country female category, which was won that year by Crystal Gayle’s smash “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” (a record of the year contender). Parton won the female country award the following year for her Here You Come Again album. Parton’s Grammy scorecard: 10 awards — seven in country, two in contemporary Christian music, one in bluegrass.
Glen Campbell: At the Grammys for 1967, Campbell won both best contemporary male solo vocal performance for “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and best country & western vocal performance, male for “Gentle on My Mind.” The following year, “Wichita Lineman” was nominated for the male pop award, while “I Wanna Live” was nominated for the male country award. At the Grammys for 1975, “Rhinestone Cowboy” was nominated in the male pop category, while the sound-alike follow-up “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)” was nominated in the male country category. Campbell’s Grammy scorecard: six awards — three in country, two in contemporary/pop, one for album of the year.
Kenny Rogers: The poignant ballad “She Believes in Me” (1979) was nominated for best pop vocal performance, male. Rogers won best country vocal performance, male that same year for “The Gambler.” The following year, Rogers’ megahit rendition of “Lady” was nominated in the male pop category. At the Grammys for 1983, his smash duet with Parton “Islands in the Stream” was nominated for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal, where it lost to The Police’s even bigger smash “Every Breath You Take.” It would have had an easier time in the country duo/group performance category, won that year by Alabama’s The Closer You Get… album. Rogers’ Grammy scorecard: three awards — all in country.
Linda Ronstadt: Ronstadt blended aspects of pop, country, rock and adult contemporary throughout her career. Hasten Down the Wind (1976) climbed higher on Top Country Albums (No. 1 for three weeks) than it did on the Billboard 200 (No. 3), but it won a Grammy for best pop vocal performance, female. Likewise, “Blue Bayou” (1977) climbed higher on Hot Country Songs (No. 2) than it did on the Hot 100 (No. 3), but it was nominated in that same category. Ronstadt’s Grammy scorecard: 11 awards — three in pop, three in country, two in Mexican-American, one each in music film, musical album for children and tropical Latin.
Anne Murray: “Snowbird” (1970), “Danny’s Song” (1973) and “You Needed Me” (1978) were all top 10 hits on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs. All received Grammy nominations for best pop vocal performance, female. (“You Needed Me” won.) In the year of “You Needed Me,” Murray was also nominated for best country vocal performance, female for her cover version of The Everly Brothers’ “Walk Right Back.” Murray’s Grammy scorecard: four awards — three in country, one in pop.
Bobbie Gentry: At the Grammys for 1967, Gentry won best contemporary female solo vocal performance for “Ode to Billie Joe.” The enigmatic smash was a crossover hit, reaching No. 1 on the Hot 100 and No. 17 on Hot Country Songs. Two years later, Gentry’s “Fancy” was nominated in the same category. It too was a crossover hit, reaching No. No. 31 on the Hot 100 and No. 26 on Hot Country Songs. Gentry’s Grammy scorecard: three awards — two in contemporary/pop, one for best new artist.
Taylor Swift: “You Belong With Me” (2009) was nominated for best pop vocal performance, female. That same year, Swift won the equivalent country award with “White Horse.” Swift’s Grammy scorecard: 11 awards — five in country, three for album of the year, one each in pop, music video and song written for visual media.
Juice Newton: Newton’s cover of Merilee Rush’s “Angel of the Morning” was nominated for best female pop vocal performance (1981). That same year, “Queen of Hearts” was nominated for best country vocal performance, female. The following year, she was nominated in the same two categories with “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me” and a cover of Brenda Lee’s “Break it to Me Gently,” respectively. (The latter hit won.) Newton’s Grammy scorecard: one award — country.
Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus: The megahit remix of “Old Town Road” (2019) won best pop duo/group performance. Their Grammy scorecard: two awards — one in pop, one in music video.