“The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!” was an amazing show of musical talent and diversity with remarkable performances and an Album of the Year category that carries an eclectic group of nominees that stretch across four genres of music.
Country music was well represented last night with an electrifying performance from Taylor Swift. Even from Sydney, Australia Taylor captured the night with her rendition of “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Opening her performance Taylor was in a white and gold angelic like gown surrounded by dancers who appeared to be at a masquerade ball. Halfway through the performance, in true Taylor fashion, her wardrobe changed to a flirtatious black lace outfit. One thing is certain, Taylor knows how to entertain and she owns the stage. Taylor received 4 GRAMMY nominations, including Album of the Year, Best Country Song for “Begin Again,” Best Country Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Highway Don’t Care” with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.
Keith Urban and R&B artist Miguel paid tribute to Bill Withers with a killer performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine.” It was a slow, sexy and very soulful rendition of the oldie but goodie GRAMMY award-winning song. Keith is already a four-time GRAMMY winner and could add another to his mantel for his collaboration with Tim and Taylor on “Highway Don’t Care.”
It was a big night for country music newcomer Kacey Musgraves who earned four nominations. The “Follow Your Arrow” singer is likely to take home at least one win. Kacey received nominations for Best Country Song for Miranda Lambert‘s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” on which she was a songwriter, as well as receiving a nod for her own release, “Merry Go ‘Round.” Kacey also netted a nomination in the Best Country Album group for Same Trailer Different Park. She represents country music for Best New Artist — an all-genre category which includes Taylor’s tour mate Ed Sheeran, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, plus Macklemore + Ryan Lewis.
The real competition for country music will be in the Best Country Album category. All 5 albums in this category hit #1 and are seriously strong contenders. Jason Aldean’s‘ Night Train was released in 2012, but was still spinning strong on radio through all of 2013. Tim McGraw’s Two Lanes of Freedom packed on the hits for him this year and it would be great to see him return to the GRAMMY stage with a win. Based on a True Story put Blake Shelton at the #1 Billboard spot for three weeks and could earn him his first GRAMMY. Taylor Swift’s Red album clearly outsold, outplayed and outperformed all the other albums in this category, but the winner isn’t always what looks best on paper.
It is a good thing Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” received a nomination for Best Country Solo Performance, otherwise, in his words “country music would be screwed.” Darius admits he doesn’t necessarily have to win, but he felt the song certainly deserved the nomination. Hunter Hayes also received a nomination in this category for his upbeat, fun-loving “I Want Crazy” single. Rounding out this category is Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck,” Miranda’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” and Blake’s “Mine Would Be You.”
The Best Country Duo/Group performance nominees show the true range of today’s country music. Little Big Town’s “Your Side of the Bed” would be a great follow-up to their win for “Pontoon” in 2012. A great surprise in this category is to see the traditional side of country music being represented with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s nomination for “You Can’t Make Old Friends.” The Civil Wars came away with a nom for “From This Valley.” Although the duo is no longer performing together, the magic The Civil Wars make together still shines through. Rounding out this category is Kelly Clarkson’s duet with GRAMMY award winner Vince Gill. “Don’t Rush” was a big hit with country radio and the fans seemed to love the throwback sound. Again, the undeniable team of Keith, Tim and Taylor make “Highway Don’t Care” an obvious threat in this category.
This year’s country music GRAMMY nominees represent a variety of sound and music. While the songs and artists who received nominations are well deserving there was a noticeable absence of some of country music’s most popular artists. Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party and Florida Georgia Line’s Here’s to the Good Times are two of the best-selling county albums in 2013, but were passed over for nominations for Best Country Album. FGL was also missing from the Best New Artist category. Lady Antebellum’s last two albums, Need You Now and Own the Night both won the Best Country Album honor in earlier years, but Golden was completely shut out.
The excitement is building and with both fun country newcomers and veteran artists nominated, the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be a surefire battle to the end.
Be sure to tune in on “GRAMMY Sunday,” Jan. 26, 2014, as The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. Let the countdown to the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards begin!