55th Annual Grammy Awards Preview

February 9, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  14 Comments

grammy-awardsSunday night is the most important night in music of the year as the 55th annual Grammy Awards will be transpiring in Los Angeles. Independent-minded music consumers can go back and forth about just how important Grammy night is, but regardless if you like the winners or even care to pay attention, what transpires Sunday night will have effects on the entire music world.

And in 2013, the effects on roots music could be greater than they have ever been before, with artists like Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, and The Lumineers up for some of the night’s most prestigious awards. Sunday night could be the crowning of “roots” music as the most influential force in popular music right now, whether roots fans like it or not, or feel the artists who will be bestowed with awards truly represent the essence of the modern roots world is all about.

Another primary interest will be the Taylor Swift performance that will start the show. Rumored to be her smash bubblegum pop hit, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor will once again test the will of country-dom to continue to number her amongst their ranks despite the parade of pop songs she has released from her latest album, including her latest single, “22.”

Oh, and then there’s the ever-present possibility that Taylor Swift bombs the performance like she did New Year’s night. But on Sunday, Taylor will not benefit from half the press core vomiting into toilets while the other half holds their hair back. All eyes and ears will be on Taylor, with vivid memories of her awful 2010 performance on these very Grammy Awards very much front of mind.

Here’s some observations, and half-cocked predictions.

Best Country Album

If you need any more evidence that the Grammys do their best to reward not just commercial success, but artistic substance, look no further than this list of Best Country Album candidates. The Time Jumpers? The Jamey Johnson Hank Cochran tribute? Sure, it wouldn’t be my list. I would have Kellie Pickler’s 100 Proof on here to start, but it’s certainly interesting. Zac Brown would be the pick for an album that both performed well commercially, and has some good points artistically. But this is a peer-voted award, and the sheer number of collaborators on Living For A Song, and the friends of those collaborators might put it over the top. I believe this is how the Guy Clark tribute won Album of the Year at the Americana Music Awards. Despite Hunter playing most of the instruments on his album, he would be the commercial pick.

Uncaged — Zac Brown Band2nd

Hunter Hayes — Hunter Hayes3rd

Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran — Jamey Johnson1st pick

Four The Record Miranda Lambert

The Time Jumpers The Time Jumpers

Best Country Solo Performance

Okay, all those nice things I said about the Grammys and rewarding substance? Strike that. This list is awful. Jason Isbell claimed in the past that Dierks Bentley stole “Home” from him. Once again we see Hunter Hays has powerful friends. Blake Shelton might win another award based solely on his reality show celebrity status from The Voice. And however powerful “Blown Away” is, it’s in no way country. Ronnie Dunn should probably win, but does he have enough buddies in Grammy land to pull it off? I’m fearing a big night for Hunter Hays.

“Home” — Dierks Bentley

“Springsteen” — Eric Church

“Cost Of Livin’” — Ronnie Dunn – Let’s hope

“Wanted” — Hunter Hayes

“Over” — Blake Shelton

“Blown Away” — Carrie Underwood

Best Country Song

We should all hope that Will Hoge finally gets recognized for the brilliant songwriter that he is. This list isn’t nearly as bad as the “Best Solo Performance, but Eric Church’s “Springsteen” summer anthem, though catchy, doesn’t belong being nominated for anything. It wasn’t even the best song on his own album.

“Blown Away” — Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (performed by: Carrie Underwood)

“Cost Of Livin’” — Phillip Coleman & Ronnie Dunn, songwriters (performed by: Ronnie Dunn) - One to root for

“Even If It Breaks Your Heart” — Will Hoge & Eric Paslay, songwriters (performed by: Eli Young Band) – One to root for 

“So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore”Jay Knowles & Adam Wright, songwriters (performed by: Alan Jackson)

“Springsteen”Eric Church, Jeff Hyde & Ryan Tyndell, songwriters (performed by: Eric Church)

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

I was surprised “Safe & Sound” didn’t win at the CMA’s. It feels like a strong contender here, but with The Civil Wars on indefinite hiatus, voters may want to give their nod to a project with a brighter future. Even if it doesn’t win, Don Williams’ “I Just Came Here For The Music” already scores a victory for simply being noticed. An excellent song, and an even better performance by Don and Alison. “Pontoon” is a borderline joke song, and it is an embarrassment to country music it was even nominated. Are The Time Jumpers the 2013 Grammy sleeper? With all these nominations, they could rise up and be one of the big winners of the night.

Even If It Breaks Your Heart” — Eli Young Band

“Pontoon” — Little Big Town

“Safe & Sound”Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars

“On The Outskirts Of Town” — The Time Jumpers

“I Just Come Here For The Music” – Don Williams Featuring Alison Krauss – Feel Good Story

Best Americana Album

This is the toughest to handicap. By sales, impact, and influence, Mumford & Sons should walk away with this easily, like them or not. But since they are the favored for the more prestigious (and televised) Album of the Year, will voters favor another candidate here? The runner up would be The Lumineers, but they are up for the “Best New Artist” as well. Meanwhile there sit The Avett Brothers who were actually making this type of music when Mumford and The Lumineers were still going through puberty, and it wasn’t cool or commercially successful. And don’t count out Bonnie Raitt. She has a lot of friends with Grammy votes. John Fullbright is a real feel good story, but I’m not sure he stands a chance in this strong of a field.

The Carpenter — The Avett Brothers – Deserve it way more than the Johnny Come Lately’s

From The Ground Up John FullbrightThe Underdog to Root For

The Lumineers The Lumineers

Babel –  Mumford & Sons

Slipstream Bonnie Raitt – Powerful friends and many of them

14 Comments to “55th Annual Grammy Awards Preview”

  • So WPLJ “best of today’ station here in NY has added both the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons to the playlist. Heard Ho Hey sandwiched in between Pink and Bruno Mars (son not I in control of dial). Sure it is related to Grammy nod and will be dropped soon but I never thought I’d hear that on a NY top 40 radio. Now I’d really be impressed if they added say Iris DeMent or Sarah Jarosz, but still see this as a sign of progress. Know hope!


  • I think we are very close to the end of Taylor Swift’s reign as “America’s sweetheart”. She is wearing out her welcome with most of the public except for her hard core fans. Her brand, which I think peaked around the time when she recorded the 60 Minutes interview in 2011, is losing its luster. I predict that 2013 will be the year when country radio and mainstream country fans move on. Taylor has lost enough of her “sweet and innocent” veneer that people will at last be able to say “Taylor, you’re not country” without feeling guilty about making the poor little girl cry on her guitar.

    She will be big for another 2-3 years on the pop scene, where the young female fan base is the key demographic and where the constant tabloid gossip about her short term celebrity relationships might not hurt.


    • And I think Taylor’s “America’s Sweetheart” phase is coming to an end because that is how the marketing plan is transpiring. She now wants to be a sex symbol. That’s fine, she’s a young woman now, but it’s different than all these philosophies she’s expounded over the years, specifically in that 60 minutes piece, and it’s something that’s going to be very hard for her to pull off in country.


      • I think she knows the “young and innocent” act will not last forever. She played that game about as long as she could have. As she got older and the innocent act became less believable, she tried to frame it in terms of being a role model for much younger girls. That played well with tweens and their parents, but probably made her less relevant to the earlier cohorts of fans who were reaching their late teens and going to college.

        I doubt Taylor will have much long term success as a sex symbol. That is simply because she faces a lot of competition from prettier and sexier women in the entertainment business. It’s not necessarily hard to pull of being a sex symbol in country music (male artists do this all the time, it’s a little harder for the women). But it’s hard to pull of being a sex symbol in country music if she dates Kennedy boys and 18 year old boy band members and records music that is not even remotely country.


  • I’m gonna be fine with whoever wins as long as the winner is not named Blake Shelton. Granted, list of nominees for the Country Solo Performance is very weak, but he does not deserve to even be nominated for this, especially for a single as weak as Over. I cannot even remember the song, that is how forgettable it is.


  • Grammy voters love Carrie Underwood. She even won for ” Last Name”. I look for her to win her categories. Is this her best single to date? Yes. Is it country? Hardly. But, Faith Hill won for her best single, “Cry” and it barely resembled a country song. At least they are rewarding quality even if the term “Country” is for marketing purposes only.


    • In Carrie’s recent singles “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs” the lyrics are more country than in some of her previous songs, but the music and production are not country. These two songs are not very pop friendly and their themes are not ones that typical teenage Taylor Swift fans can relate to.

      Carrie was “America’s sweetheart” from 2005 to about 2008, when she was dethroned by Taylor Swift as a result of lack of marketing focus and several poor song selections. When “Jesus Take The Wheel” became a surprise hit on the Christian music charts in 2005, I thought there was a clear path for her as a country-Christian crossover artist. She had an opportunity to turn millions of young Christians into country music fans, which she did not fully capitalize on. She released several songs such as “Before He Cheats” and “Last Name” which brought short term commercial success but hurt her brand in the longer term.

      With Taylor shifting towards full-on pop, Carrie might have a second wind as “country’s sweetheart”. But she needs to choose good songs and focus on COUNTRY. She should record songs that are more country than the majority of songs played on country radio today. For the first time in several years she is in a strong position to compete with Taylor, at least in the country scene. She can play the country vs pop card, she can play the populist card (e.g. the farm girl from Oklahoma vs the uppity northeastern Kennedy groupie), IF she snaps out of the pop funk and shows country fans that she remembers where the came from.


      • As a HUGE Carrie Underwood fan, I have to agree with you. I’m not very happy with her song selection lately. it seems as though she doesn’t belong in the country genre nor does she belong in the pop genre, and it is really hurting her (one has to just look at her album sales – 7+ mill for 1st album and 1.5 mill for 4th album). I long for her to return to the good, wholesome country music from Some Hearts and not these songs that are making her some sort of “vocal entity” instead of the girl-next-door we all fell in love with – but i guess artists evolve and we have to evolve with them.
        But you do have to give her credit for having some of the mot unique/original music on the radio.


  • I think we should also root for “So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore.” Next to “Cost of Living”, it was definitely the best radio single of 2012.


  • My favorite song of the bunch. :)


    • Alan Jackson’s song, that is.

      As for the other categories:

      Album — for my mother’s sake, I’m rooting for Jamey Johnson.

      Solo Performance — hoo boy. I’m not too familiar with most of these, but I agree, “Cost of Living” would be a nice surprise.

      Duo/Group Performance — “Pontoon” is my mother’s favorite, but a win for “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” would be so sweet…

      Americana — I loved the Avetts on ‘CMT Crossroads’ with Randy Travis, so I’m rooting for them; I wouldn’t mind, either, if Bonnie wins.


  • Well LBT won best group performance and Blown Away won best Country Song as early awards.


    • “Blown Away” also just won for Country Solo Performance. :p


  • Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Slipstream’ won for Americana Album (not too surprising, but cool just the same), and ZBB’s ‘Uncaged’ won for Country Album.


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