The latest album from Kacey Musgraves called Star-Crossed is more pop than country, and any objective and informed individual who listens to the album solely for musical content irrespective of opinions on Kacey Musgraves or her importance in the country genre would would easily come to that conclusion.
Nonetheless, in the polarizing time we live in, the recent decision by the Grammy Awards to move Star-Crossed from consideration in the country category to the pop one for the upcoming awards in January of 2022 has set off yet another firestorm, with widespread accusations against both the Grammy Awards and country music at large for being operated by misogynistic gatekeepers who continue to target Kacey Musgraves due to her outspoken nature on certain topics, and for being a woman.
It’s important to note here that no different than other mild tempests turned into Category 5 tornados by opportunistic journalists and outlets looking to stir controversy for clicks and social credit on Twitter, “country music” as a genre has made no decision when it comes to Kacey Musgraves. This was simply a decision by a Grammy Awards screening committee, similar to when Billboard unilaterally made the decision to remove Lil Nas X from the country charts. Yet somehow, the entirety of the genre get yoked with these decisions.
Still, the idea that the Grammy Awards are exclusionary to women, or Kacey Musgraves specifically, is absolutely preposterous, unfounded, and completely unsupported by the numbers when zooming out, and looking at the track record of the Grammy Awards over the last few years.
So in an attempt to bust through all of the slanted rhetoric and opportunistic mischaracterizations, here is a breakdown of the Grammy’s track record when it comes to Kacey Musgraves, The Grammy Awards, the Best Country Album category specifically, and all major awards generally.
1. The Three Previous Winners of the Grammy’s ‘Best Country Album’ Were All Women
That’s right. In 2021, the winner for Best Country Album was Miranda Lambert’s Wildcard. In 2020, in was Tanya Tucker’s While I’m Livin’. And in 2019, it was Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves. This means that the organization that we’re being told is actively working to exclude women—and Kacey Musgraves specifically—has awarded women in the same Best Country Album category currently under discussion in three consecutive years, including giving the award to Kacey Musgraves. If the Grammy’s master plan is to exclude women, and Kacey Musgraves specifically, they’re sure doing a poor job of it.
2. In 2021, ALL the Nominees for the Grammy’s “Best Country Album” Were Women.
Shocking, huh? In 2021, it would have been impossible for a solo male or male group to win in the supposedly exclusionary Best Country Album category at the Grammy Awards, because there weren’t any nominated. The nominees were Miranda Lambert’s Wildcard, Brandy Clark’s Your Life Is A Record, Ashley McBryde’s Never Will, and Nightfall by the female fronted Little Big Town. And by the way, Brandy Clark is a member of the LGBT community.
3. The Last Time Kacey Musgraves Was Eligible for the Grammy Awards, SHE WON FOUR GRAMMY AWARDS, and THREE in the country category.
So somehow, through the Grammy’s supposed exclusion of women and Kacey Musgraves specifically, in 2019, she was still able to win for Best Country Album, Best Country Song for “Space Cowboy,” Best Country Solo Performance for “Butterflies,” and also won the biggest award that is given out in all of popular music, the Grammy’s all-genre Album of the Year for Golden Hour. So the Grammy Awards did all of this for Kacey Musgraves, and then have turned around and decided for no other reason than sexism and exclusion to ban her from country consideration in 2022? Seems quite strange.
4. Kacey Musgraves Has Been Nominated for NINE Grammy Awards, and WON SIX of them.
Again, this is pretty shocking if we’re to believe the Grammy Awards (and specifically the country categories) have it out for Kacey Musgraves. Along with the four awards she won in 2019, Kacey Musgraves also won Best Country Album for Same Trailer, Different Park in 2014, won Best Country Song in 2014 for “Merry Go ‘Round,” and was also nominated as a songwriter on the song “Mama’s Broken Heart” recorded by Miranda Lambert from 2014. Musgraves was also nominated for the all-genre Best New Artist in 2014, and her 2016 album Pageant Material was also nominated for Best Country Album. Kacey Musgraves is one of the most nominated and awarded artists at the Grammy Awards in country music over the last eight years.
5. All of Kacey Musgraves’ Previous Albums Have Been Nominated for The Grammy’s Best Country Album, and Two of the Three Won The Award.
Again, it’s very hard to make the case that Kacey Musgraves or women are being excluded at the Grammy Awards when all three of Kacey’s previous albums were nominated for Best Country Album, and two of the three won. Strangely though, this particular fact is specifically being used by some against the Grammys as evidence that Musgraves is being purposely excluded this year. But what would be the motive of the Grammy Awards? Wouldn’t Kacey’s history mean that the Grammy Awards would be extra careful with this decision? In fact, they were.
6. Three Separate Grammy Committees Ruled on “Star-Crossed” by Kacey Musgraves, and All Three Committees Ruled It Was Pop.
We now know from reporting by both Variety and Billboard that the Grammy Awards brought Star-Crossed up for consideration by three separate screening committees. When the country committee deemed that the album was not country enough to meet the requirements, they sent the album to the pop committee, who listened to the album, and agreed with the country committee’s decision. In other words, not only did the country committee deem the album pop, the pop committee deemed it pop too.
Nonetheless, due to the high-profile nature of Kacey Musgraves, and her track record of being a Grammy Awards contender and winner, the Grammy Awards also had the decision taken up by what the awards call their “Core” committee, which includes some of the biggest heavy hitters and experts in the organization. They also deemed the album was more pop than country.
So even if supposed “gatekeepers” on the country committee, or supposed rival representatives on the country committee actively worked to exclude Kacey Musgraves, why did the pop committee accept it? Why did the Core committee uphold that decision? These committees have nothing to do with country music, and still upheld the decision.
7. The Kacey Musgraves Song “Camera Roll” WAS Deemed Acceptable By The Country Grammy Committee.
That’s right. So again, this same Grammy committee that is being accused of sexism and gatekeeping against Kacey Musgraves allowed one of the album’s tracks to be considered for nomination in the country category. Why would they do that if their effort was at exclusion?
“Camera Roll” is a rather sedate, stripped-down song accompanied with an acoustic guitar. Though it might be hard to deem the song “country,” it’s also not as exclusively pop as much of the rest of the tracks from Star-Crossed. You certainly could deem the track pop as well. But showing deference to Kacey Musgraves, the Grammy Awards accepted the song in the category she submitted it in.
Nonetheless, consistency at the Grammy Awards is a fair concern. Perhaps they could have sent “Camera Roll” to pop too. But the fact that they didn’t seems to imply more that the Grammy’s were making judgement calls on content, not on artists, or their identities. Otherwise, they would have moved Kacey Musgraves to pop entirely.
This is also a good place to underscore that Kacey Musgraves and Star-Crossed is still eligible for Grammy Awards in the pop and all-genre categories. She still has just as much of a chance of winning Grammy Awards as in previous years. They’ve just changed the genre category for her album specifically.
8. Kacey Muysgraves won the SUPERFECTA of Awards (CMA, ACM, Grammy, All-Genre Grammy) for Her Previous Album, Golden Hour.
Understand, there are major periodicals, and prominent music critics and journalists out there as we speak proclaiming that country music has always been exclusionary of Kacey Musgraves. Meanwhile, with her last album, Kacey Musgraves won the unprecedented superfecta of country awards, that being the Country Music Association Album of the Year, the Academy of Country Music Album of the Year, The Grammy Award for Best Country Album, and the Grammy’s all-genre Album of the Year.
Only two other titles have achieved this feat in over 50 years of history—Taylor Swift’s 2008 album Fearless, and the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack from 2000. This achievement puts Kacey Musgraves in an extremely elite class, and would be impossible if country music as a whole, or any awards organization specifically was working to exclude her.
9. All Major Awards Shows Combined, Kacey Musgraves Has Amassed an Incredible 17 Wins, and 46 Nominations Over The Last 8 Years.
Simply put, Kacey Musgraves is one of the most awarded country music artists in the last decade, only out-awarded by Chris Stapleton, and only out nominated by Miranda Lambert, though Kacey has won more awards lately than Lambert. A strong case could be made that Kacey Musgraves is the most critically-acclaimed of all country artists in the last decade—a strange label to give someone who is being purposely excluded from the genre. And this includes major awards, like the CMA’s Album of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, and Song of the Year, specifically for Kacey’s song “Follow Your Arrow,” even though this song specifically is being cited as one of the reasons country music is working to exclude her.
It is extremely clear when looking over the track record of Kacey Musgraves, awards organizations, the Grammy Awards specifically, and even more specifically the Grammy’s Best Country Album category that there has been absolutely no effort and any point in her career to exclude her from contention. In fact, the opposite is the case. These organizations have stepped up to fill the void of attention created by country radio’s lack of support to make sure Kacey Musgraves and her contributions are not overlooked.
Claims that Kacey Musgraves is being excluded from awards is incorrect, irresponsible, and arguably dangerous by mischaracterizing her legacy. Kacey Musgraves has achieved incredible heights through her country award wins, and her Grammy Awards specifically. Attempting to exclude these achievements so that accusations of sexism and exclusion can be levied does a disservice to Kacey’s legacy.
Furthermore, characterizing the Grammy Awards as excluding women or Kacey Musgraves from awards contention proves that there will never be enough inclusion for some critics. When women have won the last three Grammy Best Country Album awards, when last year women and a female fronted band were the only ones nominated in the category, and Kacey Musgraves specifically won four Grammy Awards the last time she was eligible, there is literally no way to represent women and Kacey Musgraves at the Grammy Awards in the album category more.
Star-Crossed by Kacey Musgraves is a pop record. That is the reason it was moved from country to pop at the Grammy Awards. Any other accusations again the Grammy Awards or country music at large are completely unfounded, and are not supported by any evidence, or the history of the organization.