Country’s Representation in the Grammy’s
The Grammy nominations have been announced for the upcoming annual awards show. The last two years I have been pleasantly surprised by the nominations in both the country categories as well as in the broad category of Best Album due to the inclusion of Sturgill Simpson’s Sailor’s Guide To Earth being nominated last year and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller in the year before that. Obviously they didn’t win that one (but they did win best country album), as they were going up against traditional mainstream pop icons, but the simple fact that they were recognized helped brighten my outlook on country music’s representation in the Grammy’s going forward.
I was wrong.
This year, as similarly echoed by many country music sites that I respect, has been a great year for music. To pick a favorite album is nearly impossible between Tyler Childers’ Purgatory, Jason Isbell’s Nashville Sound, John Moreland’s Big Bad Luv, Turnpike’s A Long Way From Your Heart, and plenty of other great offerings from 2017. However, if you look at the representation of “Country” in the Grammy’s, the only inference you can make is that this year was an average AT BEST year for the genre. See below:
Best Country Song:
Better Man – written by Taylor Swift, performed by Little Big Town
Body Like A Back Road – fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis soooooooooooooong
Broken Halos – Chris Stapleton
Drinkin’ Problem – Midland
Tin Man – Miranda Lambert
To be fair, I do enjoy all of Broken Halos, Drinkin’ Problem, and Tin Man – where if Tin Man wins this category I’ll be very satisfied. Also, I don’t usually get too caught up in the “song” categories because they are usually single based and I don’t listen to the radio. So we’ll call this one fine as long as Body like a Backhoe doesn’t win.
Best Country Album:
Cosmic Hallelujah – Kenny Chesney
Heart Break – Lady Antebellum
The Breaker – Little Big Town
Life Changes – Thomas Rhett
From A Room, Vol 1 – Chis Stapleton
Stapleton is great, and his album is great – if he wins, then I’ll be content. The inclusion of Thomas Rhett’s album is a slap in the face to country musicians everywhere EVEN IF this year wasn’t such a strong year with many contenders that should be included instead. The most egregious part of this category’s nominations is not that they are all shitty. Rather, that there are so many great albums that came out this year to high acclaim, that the exclusion of all of those albums for the several bland ones included above is really a travesty.
Best Americana Album: (Included for reference)
Southern Blood – Gregg Allman
Shine On Rainy Day – Brent Cobb
Beast Epic – Iron & Wine
The Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Brand New Day – The Mavericks
The Americana nominations are perfectly fine with me, and I’ve never had a problem with the Americana portion (or the Folk/Bluegrass/Roots nominations). The problem is that legitimate Country artists probably only have a shot at nominations if they go for these categories now instead of the actual “Country” categories. I also think its unfair that the representation of Americana doesn’t extend into the broad categories… why are artists and songs from the best genre when it comes to songwriting being snubbed from the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories?
I realize the Grammy’s are a pop awards show that brings along other genre’s just to pretend they matter too, but after Sturgill and Stapleton’s nominations the last two years, and the very strong slate of albums that came out this year, I guess I was just overly hopeful for that trend to continue.