Predicting the 2018 Grammy Awards Country Nominations
The 2018 Grammy Awards nominations announcement should bring big news for Sam Hunt and his loyal fans, but how big? "Body Like a Back Road" is a sure as sunrise in one or two country categories, but it's also country music's best chance to be chosen and win one of the big all-genre categories.
The song is the biggest commercial country hit in years — it spent 30 weeks atop Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in 2017. While the artist has all but disappeared since wrapping the 15 in a 30 Tour over the summer, the track maintains a strong foothold nationwide. That both have pop appeal only works to improve the chance of a big four win (Song, Record, Album and Best New Artist). There is nothing a Grammy voter appreciates more than genre-bending.
That's bad news for straight-down-country-Main St. artists like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton. It's hard to predict a nomination for any of country music's leading men, except when he is paired with an interesting country female. At least one country female will shine on Grammy nomination day (Nov. 28), and groups will be recognized (we see you, Little Big Town).
Here are predictions in every country category plus a few more. The nominations will be revealed at 8:30AM ET on Tuesday (Nov. 28).
Record of the Year (All Genre)
Expect to find Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road" in this all-genre category. It's a perfect mix of pop poetry and technical innovation that sacrifices nothing in the name of melody. Hunt was nominated for a pair of awards in 2016, but won neither Best Country Album or Best New Artist.
Album of the Year (All Genre)
Grammy voters love left-of-center, artistic country albums, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit's The Nashville Sound checks the boxes. But like Sturgill Simpson's nomination in this category in 2017, it's not quite fair to justify the nomination by saying it fits what voters are looking for. Isbell has delivered a beautiful, at times dark, but always satisfying 10-song collection of country music. The album is more than worthy.
Best Country Album
The last three Miranda Lambert albums have been nominated in this category, and The Weight of These Wings will make it four straight. The double-disc project has an outside chance to nab some all-genre love, but she's more likely to be found here. Isbell's The Nashville Sound will also earn a nomination. Little Big Town's The Breaker and Glen Campbell's Adios could also crack what is arguably country music's most prestigious category.
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Best Country Song
Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road" is an obvious pick, and Lambert's "Tin Man" is also safe. Elsewhere expect Little Big Town to get some love with the Taylor Swift-penned "Better Man." While it was seemingly released years ago, the ballad is still eligible. A dark horse would be the debut single for country trio Midland. "Drinkin' Problem" is one of the most delightful surprises of 2017.
Best Country Solo Performance
Any outliers will be found in this category, the least competitive of the four major country categories. Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road" is again a likely pick, but not quite the sure thing it is in other categories, as the song's magic isn't in how he performs it. That can't be said of "Tin Man," the most likely country nominee. Chris Stapleton is likely to earn some attention in this category, although it could be from any song on his From A Room, Vol. 1 album. The Grammys don't insist that one choose radio singles.
Best Country Duo / Group Performance
Country music's most competitive category is likely to feature Little Big Town ("Better Man") and Lady Antebellum ("You Look Good"). Then there's true duets like Thomas Rhett and 2017 Grammy girl Maren Morris, plus the CMA-winning Campbell and Willie Nelson duet. Did you know "The Fighter" from Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood is eligible this year? That's the most likely nomination and winner in a category that could feature eight performances and still not feel weak.
Like Hillary Scott at the 2017 Grammy Awards, Reba McEntire is going to pick up nominations in one or more Christian categories. Her Sing It Now ... album is high art that's as genuine as it is humble. The Dove Awards winner should expect to have a speech prepared come January 28.
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